She grew up in the small barrio of Teopaco next door to calesa drivers with their handsome horses and their backyard stables. She shared with her five siblings duties feeding pigs and raising chickens and collecting horse manure for fertilizing the small family garden. Although she grew up colonized (tutored by American missionaries and Peace Corps Volunteers and Filipino teachers who taught strictly in English), she retains memories of sitting at her Lola’s feet listening to stories, making sampaguita leis, and watching her Apu Sinang prepare her betel nut chew with much fascination. Currently, she is a fourth year student at Martin Prechtel’s Bolad’s Kitchen School dedicated to “teaching forgotten things, endangered excellent knowledges, but above all a grand overview of human history…in the search for a comprehension regarding the survival of unique and unsuspected manifestations of the indigenous soul.”
Besides learning how to grow a small vegetable garden with her indigenous theologian hubby in the heart of Motown (Detroit), she is also a scholar and associate professor of Culture and Communication at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, with research interests in critical intercultural communication; indigenous studies; communication and ecology, cultural studies; colonial and postcolonial discourse and theory; theories of identity and subjectivity; cultural politics in national, post- and trans- national contexts; race and ethnicity; and the politics of cross-cultural theorizing.
Lily is especially known in the Philippines and beyond for her pathbreaking work on indigenization and indigenous studies. Her first book publication, Between the Homeland and the Diaspora: Theorizing Filipino and Filipino American Identities (Routledge, 2002; Philippine revised edition by UST Publishing, 2006) is the first comprehensive articulation of the movement for indigenization in the Philippine academy and is referenced widely in the fields of history, Philippine Studies, Asian American Studies, Southeast Asian Studies, and postcolonial and cultural studies. She is the recipient of several distinguished scholarship and top paper awards in intercultural communication and was elected Vice Chair (2011-2012), and consequently, Chair (2012-2013) of the International and Intercultural Communication Division, a division of the National Communication Association in the United States.
Prior to her current position at Oakland University, Lily also served as Associate Professor and Graduate Director at the University of Denver where she headed the doctoral program in Culture and Communication for many years. Currently, she is part of the Core Group of the Center for Babaylan Studies (CfBS) headquartered in Sonoma County, California (the term “babaylan” referring to an indigenous healing tradition in many parts of the Philippines). CfBS is a Filipino and Filipino American movement dedicated to keeping alive the indigenous wisdom and healing traditions of the ancestors. Her current (co-edited) book publication, Back from the Crocodile’s Belly: Philippine Babaylan Studies and the Struggle for Indigenous Memory (2013) is especially dedicated to this work.
To access some of her writings, check her out on Academia.edu