“I want the viewers to see my work as a response to the erasure of queer
and feminine identities in Filipino history. Before the “Age of Exploitation”
by European powers, the babaylanes, the priestesses of the different
ethno-linguistic groups in the Philippines, held positions of power in society.
They were either women or men who were made to wear female clothing
and it was up to them if they preferred a male husband and/or a female wife.
It fascinated me how socially progressive our pre-Christian society was.
The feminized male babaylans weren’t lynched or ostracized. The work I did imagines how these effeminate priestesses might have reacted upon the arrival of a foreign power, and their eventual demise when the Cebuanos, the Warays, etc. eventually converted to Christianity.”
Isola Tong is a transfeminine architect and visual artist based in Manila. She graduated cum laude at the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree
in Architecture. Isola’s work examines the intersection of biosemiotics, politics, scenography and ecology through bio-cartography, performance,
video and installation, revealing the relationships between organisms, power, and the built environment.
Formally educated and trained as an architect, Isola’s body of work includes a diversity of media which shows her preoccupation
with architecture, ecosystems and the body politics. She has exhibited both locally and internationally and, currently holds a position
as a lecturer at De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde’s architecture program.