“I want the viewers to see my work as a response to the erasure of queer and feminine identities in Filipino history. For a long time, before the “Age of Exploitation” by European powers, the babaylanes, the priestesses of the different tribes in the archipelago held positions of power in lowland society. They were either women or men who were made to wear female clothing. It was up to them if they preferred to have a male husband and 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. converted to Christianity.”
Isola Tong (b. 1987, Manila) is a transfeminine architect and visual artist based in Manila. Her 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. Being formally educated and trained as an architect, the artist’s body of work includes a diversity of media which shows her preoccupation with architecture, ecosystems and the body politic. She graduated cum laude at the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in Architecture. She has exhibited both locally and internationally. She currently holds a position as a lecturer at the De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde School of Design and the Arts Department of Architecture.