February 6, 2023

With the uproar from Cordillerans on the theatrical dance performance of the Metropolitan Theater and its misuse of the g-string, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples-Cordillera has called the attention of the organizers.
NCIP-Cordillera Director Atanacio Addog said his office wrote to the event producers and the National Commission on Culture and the Arts on the issue.
“I would like to get their explanation, although seeing the performance alone, there is definitely something wrong. The women in the performance used bahag, which in our culture is not being practiced,” Addog said.
The NCIP is studying if it could impose more drastic actions on the organizers so as not to repeat the offense made.
“We might need to impose a fine on them based on our customary practice. We’ll call a dialogue with the elders who have the final say on the penalty needed so this will not be repeated. Let’s give a lesson to them,” Addog said. 
The NCIP official said other artists have learned and recognized the need to partner with NCIP prior to conducting their works. He said several filmmakers are already asking their help and the community elders before engaging directly with the community to properly present the culture they want to represent in their shows or films.
As part of the National Indigenous Peoples Month, the performance held at the Metropolitan Theater dubbed “Alay nina Alice at Agnes” debuted on Oct. 16. The show, which was live streamed on Facebook, has various parts featuring choreographed ethnic dances in the country with the first part titled “Igorot”.
While it was a ballet performance, the outrage from Igorot netizens came when women dancers appeared using the generic looking bahag or g-string. 
The comment section of the livestream from the Metropolitan Theater account was flocked with criticisms from the Igorot community calling for cultural misappropriation and lack of proper research on the organizer’s part. 
According to the theater, the dance was made up by stellar Filipino artists: choreographed by National Artist for Dance Agnes Locsin with music by College of Ethnic Music and performed by the award-winning Bayanihan Dance Company and arranged by Lucrecia Kasilag.
Onjon Ni Ivadoy Association, Inc. President Maximo Edwin Bugnay, Jr. said the indigenous peoples of Cordillera need to come up with a collective resolution as regards to the proper use of ethnic attires.
He cited the earlier issue with the Man of the World pageant where the international contestants made improper use of the bahag.
“We cannot make them accountable for their actions because we do not have a written resolution that could punish those who would bastardize our culture, just like those that misrepresents our culture by the improper way of using our ethnic attires,” Bugnay said.
In response to the barrage of comments from Igorot netizens, the Metropolitan Theater said the artistic consultants of the show and the administration of the theater would issue a joint statement on the matter.
As of press time, the concerned parties have not issued a joint statement yet.– Ofelia C. Empian