July 25, 2024

Organizers of events featuring the Cordillera’s cultural expressions should be sensitive enough not to end up demeaning the culture they want to showcase.
Lucia Ruiz, an advocate of indigenous peoples education, said when showcasing the diverse cultural expressions of the IP groups in the region, this should be done in proper context to avoid misrepresentation.
In schools, for instance, Ruiz said the learners should not be made to perform cultural dances or wear indigenous attires in the form of competitions.
Ruiz, awardee of Baguio’s 2021 Outstanding Women Leaders for IP Education, said schools should do away with staging “cultural competitions” in which monetary prizes are used as the motivation for learners to perform cultural expressions.
She added that staging “cultural competitions” is not appropriate because it leaves the impression that one culture is better than the other.
“There is no basis for comparing cultural dances, not even attires. When we say competitions, there is the tendency for one to say (my culture) is better than the other. We should not make the different dances of the different groups a competition. Instead, let’s use “cultural presentations” or “cultural performances,” Ruiz said.
She added there should also be no ranking of winners during cultural presentations because awarding a first prize winner in dances, makes other groups feel that what they performed is inferior.
The proper way to recognize cultural presenters, Ruiz added, is to simply award the “best in attire” or “best performance”.
Ruiz added the wrong combination of attires and accessories of the different IP groups in the region should also be corrected as this is a form of bastardization of culture.
She said wearing the attire of the Kalingas for instance, and mixing it with the beads of Mountain Province and the kayabang or traditional basket of Benguet is cultural bastardization.
Department of Education-Cordillera Director Estella Cariño said as far as regional agency is concerned, they are continuously educating the teachers of the standards they must observe when it comes to showcasing the culture of the IPs.
She said not all teachers are IPs and added there are teachers belonging to the IP groups of the Cordillera, but are still not adept on the region’s culture.
Cariño, however, said DepEd-Cordillera does not hold cultural “competitions”, an error, which she said she corrected when she was the director of DepEd-Region 2.
“We really can’t have culture as a competition, since we can’t have any criteria to compare the dances of the region’s different ethnolinguistic groups,” she said. – Jane B. Cadalig