In celebration of Womxn’s History Month 2017, I’m collaborating with Femme and Womxn-Identifying Filipinx diaspora friends and friends of friends to reclaim the phrase “Walang Hiya” from its roots to shame Filipinos. Click a photo to read about a different Filipinx’s story and the ways they are working to reclaim the phrase Walang Hiya. Learn more about this digital platform social media movement here.
Spurred from #WalangHiya appearing as recurring theme in my #2017Project. When I first heard of the phrase, I discovered that this reclaiming movement had very little digital presence (like how Asian Americans tend to be the “invisible minority”). Because of the way it empowered me and helped me to reclaim the parts of my Filipinx identity that I felt ashamed of, I wanted to create a digital platform for it, a landing page so Filipinxs all over the world could see how sharing our narratives has power to liberate ourselves both individually and collectively.
What is Walang Hiya?
During the 2017 Womxn’s March, I was looking for unique militant Filipinx phrases to write on my sign that encapsulated the anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, and anti-racist messaging I wanted to get across. That’s when my Filipinx American friend, Liz shared the phrase “walang hiya” with me. The phrase “walang hiya” literally means “no shame” but traditionally has been used as “ugh, you have no shame / you should be ashamed of yourself.”
“Walanghiya ka (you have no shame). Nakakahiya (it is shameful). Mahiya ka naman (you should be ashamed of yourself). In Philippine culture, these words can be used to shame those who are different, unique, radical. For many Philippine Americans, learning the Filipino language is a way of coming to terms with identity. The scholar Leny Strobel calls it an act of decolonization. This amazing anthology goes one step further. It affirms that the process of reclaiming a word signifies a liberating ideology, and features engaging, interrogative, and brilliantly written texts that enable us to understand diaspora nationalism.”
– Joi Barrios, author of “Bulaklak sa Tubig: Mga Tula ng Pag-ibig at Himagsik” (“Flowers in Water: Poems on Love and Revolt”)
There’s a growing movement of Filipinx Americans who are reclaiming the phrase to be positive and powerful. As a Filipinx American womxn who has been raised to have shame in many ways, I was thankful to come across this phrase. It empowers and emboldens me to continue in the struggle for collective liberation on the daily.
Why Launch in March 2017?
March is Womxn’s History Month. I came up with the idea to create this platform in February so I thought it would be a fitting month to try to launch this collaborative campaign project during this month, to uplift the voices and work of femme / womxn identifying Filipinx folks around the world.