“There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”
— Audre Lorde
Gabes (she/they) was born in Quezon City and raised in the province of Laguna in the Philippines. While she lived most of her formative years in the archipelago islands, she experienced a great deal of geographical movement and cultural and linguistic changes for the majority of her lifetime.
She identifies as a cisgendered woman of color, pansexual, currently able-bodied, educated and Neurotypical, a Third Culture Kid, and a first generation Filipinx islander with English as her second language. Gabes is presently based as a guest on Duwamish land—widely known as Seattle, Washington.
Gabes is a descendant of the Aeta Indigenous tribes of the Luzon and Mindanao islands, and comes from an ancestral lineage of nomadic seers, healers, storytellers, leaders, musicians, theologians, educators, and revolutionists.
Gabes is a researcher, artist, teacher, psychotherapist, and speaker (See speaking engagement list below). Her life’s work is to demonstrate how there’s nothing “post-” about post-colonialism. She studies and teaches how oppression continues to dominate and manifest in our systems, society, inter- + intrapersonal relationships, imaginations, and human psyche.
While Gabes is passionate about exposing and dismantling systems and cultures of injustice and white supremacy, she also aims to create and sustain contexts and practices of freedom, growth, and collective healing for marginalized communities, and to reclaim the fullness of who they are in light of their innate human dignity. With her story and training, she intends to fervently research, mobilize, and offer services and care for the liberation and flourishing of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and refugee + non-refugee migrant/immigrant communities of color.
Her work is inspired and carried through by the influences of esteemed educators, authors, and practitioners such as Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw, Dr. Leny Mendoza Strobel, Dr. Linda Tuhiwai Smith, bell hooks, Dr. Jennifer Mullan, Zadie Smith, Paulo Freire, Ibram X. Kendi, Dr. Melba Maggay, Dr. Joy DeGruy, E.J.R. David, Peter Levine, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Miroslav Volf, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Homi K. Bhabha, and so forth.
Gabes completed a Bachelor’s in Historical Theology & Philosophy at a theological school based in Chicago, Illinois because of her fascination in the birth and growth of the Western church and missionary movements with their irreversible influence on the Philippines’ history of Christian colonization. She completed a Master’s in Theology and Culture at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, focusing on colonialism and how its effects violate the virtue and practice of hospitality. She recently completed her second Master’s in Counseling Psychology, focusing her clinical practice and research on racial trauma and decolonizing mental health.
She now works as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor Associate (LMCHA) and Intake Coordinator at MEND Institute, which is a QTBIPOC-centered (Queer and Trans Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) organization that offers low-cost mental health services with an intersectional feminist and anti-oppressive approach in practicing therapy. Gabes’ particular therapeutic approach pays attention to:
- racial identity and development
- racial, migration, and post-colonial trauma
- politicized somatics
- ancestral trauma and healing
- sexual abuse and trauma
- attachment theory in multicultural contexts
- spiritual abuse
- Filipina/x/o colonized mentality
- internalized oppression
- narrative-based treatment.
Gabes also writes poetry and music, and occasionally performs her repertoire at live events. She independently produced 3 albums of original music, and her first one was launched when she was 17. She has toured in Southeast Asia, Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle.
More fun facts about Gabes:
- Gabes loves movies. Growing up, her dad used to own a VHS rental store called Reel World, which led her and her brother Mirzel (now a professional movie critic) to have an ardent passion for films. Her favorite film of all time is Snowpiercer by Academy Award winning director Bong Joon Ho.
- At age 10, she was selected as one of the children ambassadors from all over the world to represent their respective countries at a UNICEF Convention in Victoria, British Columbia. The convention focused on environmental justice. In the same year, one of her original poems was selected by the Poetry Foundation as one of their highlighted poems at their convention in Washington, DC. The title of her poem was “Sweet Things.”
- Gabes, just like her ancestors, believes that there is life and spiritual essence in all things. This expression of spirituality is called animism, and is common amongst Indigenous communities.
- Before she was led to more intentional decolonization work in education and mental health, Gabes wanted to stay in the Philippines to be a journalist, and aspired to expose the corruption and abuse of power in the Philippine government. She planned on having a pen name to protect her and her family from assaults and death threats by political leaders, which is a common occurrence in Philippine history.
- Since she was young, Gabes does not believe in gender.
- In 2018, Gabes’ Master’s thesis presentation on the Violation of Hospitality at The Seattle School received a standing ovation. This academic presentation is known as the first and only thesis presentation that ever received a standing ovation so far in Seattle School history.
- Gabes was a water baby. Whenever her family went out to hot spring resorts (which was often), they always had to keep an eye out on younger Gabes for constantly sneaking out from their sight to jump in the pool.
- In 2019, Gabes received the La Danse Award in 2019, an annual award named after Henri Matisse’s masterpiece. This award is annually given to the Seattle School community along with four individuals who embody the vision of the school.
- Her favorite Filipino food is sinigang.
Previous Speaking Engagements
Pivot NW Live Podcast Recording
February 13, 2020, Quest Church, Seattle, WA.
Presentation Title: “Xenophobia & the Church: Decolonizing the ‘Stranger'”February 21-23, 2020, The Westin and David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburgh, PA.
Bare Witness : On vulnerability & becoming
November 9, 2019, at Cedar & Spokes Coffee and Bar, Seattle, WA
Confronting Reality: Toward a De-Colonial Spirituality
November 18, 2019 at Coastland Commons, Northminster Presbyterian Church
7706 25th Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98117
WIDEN, 2019 (Private Retreat) with Fr. Richard Rohr, Kaitlin Curtice, and Mirabai Starr : “Decolonization as a spiritual practice”
August 23-26, 2019, Santa Fe, NM
Formidable & Loved ii: Identity & Belonging
August 17, 2019, at Cedar & Spokes Coffee and Bar, Seattle, WA
Formidable & Loved: The Story of a Migrant
June 21, 2019, at The Ravenna Collaboratory (5751 33rd Ave NE), Seattle, WA
Endings + New Beginnings, A Gathering for Thinkers & Creators
Presentation Title: “Decolonization through Spirituality & Creativity”
May 26, 2019, Seattle, WA
For Women Who Roar, Launch Party
April 18, 2019, at Cathedral (5449 Ballard Ave NW), Seattle, WA
Jubilee Conference, Presentation Title: “Decolonization & Hospitality: God’s gift of welcome as an antidote to colonialism”
February 22-24, 2019, The Westin and David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburgh, PA.
Undoing: Decolonizing our Bodies & Sexuality with Annie Mesaros, MDiv & Dr. Tina Schermer Sellers
March 2, 2019, Cedar & Spokes Coffee and Bar, Seattle, WA
Womxnhood in Pre-Colonial Philippines
Filipina on the Rise
Healing the Impact of Colonialism
Speaking of Racism
The Arise Podcast
Race & the Enneagram (Panel discussion)
The Art of Growth Podcast
International Enneagram Association Global Conference, Oakland CA
July 26-29, 2019
Decolonizing Our Relationships
God Help Us Podcast with Annie Mesaros, MDiv
Photography by Laurel Yae of Nour Images