February 1, 2023

Innovations in the design of indigenous attiresand dances are welcome, but these must still conform to the sensibilities of the indigenous peoples (IP) from whom artists get their inspirations, an official of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples said.

NCIP-Cordillera Director Roland Calde said designers and choreographers are not barred from modernizing IP attires and dances as thishas become inevitable in a generation that is becoming younger.

“Designers are not prohibited from coming up with a new set of design for an attire. That does not mean that they are amending or changing the original design, they are merely creating their own version of the attire,” Calde said.

The “original designs” referred to are the patterns that are intricately woven into theindigenous fabrics, which are basically the distinguishing marks of an IP textile, particularly that of the Cordillera and Mindanao.

For dances, choreographers are allowed to innovate only on those that are performed during festivals or celebration.

“They could innovate on dances,but only thosethat are performed during festivals. We allowinnovations on dances to suit the (taste) of the younger generation,” Calde said.

He, however, said that the NCIP is strict when it comes to attempts at modernizingdances performed in rituals.

“We want to regulate the artists’ (attempts) at changing dances that are only performed for specific rituals because you cannot change a ritual. You cannot perform a new dance for a ritual. They (choreographers/artists) have to respect that,” he said.

NCIP Information Officer Rocky Ngalob added that while choreographers can exercise their artistic license when it comes to modernizing dancesteps, they must first introduce or explain the original dance concept.

“They should explain the original dance before they showcase the versions they have choreographed. We recognize their artistic license, but they should also acknowledge that they have the responsibility to educate by explaining (to the dancers and the audience) the dance from where their choreography was based from,” Ngalob said.

When it comes to publications, Calde said the NCIP maintains that authors must abide by the guidelines on Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSPs).

Among other things, the IKSP guidelines ensure that the IPs exercise their right to allow or reject researches and documentation of their knowledge systems and practices and customary laws through the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process.

“We need to regulate publications of IKSPs to prevent the (dissemination of) erroneous information about the IPs,” Calde said.

Last year, the NCIP has called the attention of publishing companies that brought out books laden with erroneous information about the IPs in the Cordillera.

Ngalob said that even with their creative privilege, artists could still be subject of complaints if theirs works offend the sensibilities of the IPs.

“They could always invoke their artistic license, but how confident are they that the IPs will not complain about their work?” he said.

The NCIP is spearheading the IP Month celebration in October. The theme this year is, “IPs as partners in attaining peace and sustainable development.” – Jane B. Cadalig