May 19, 2024

Stop appropriation of Cordillera attire and culture

The Progressive Igorots for social Action (Pigsa) stands in indignation with Igorots and other indigenous peoples on the controversial use of the bahag or the traditional Igorot loincloth during the Man of the World pageant.
The recent bahag swimwear competition has gained traction online and Pigsa stands firm with many other indigenous people in saying that the competition was an appropriation of the Cordillera attire and culture.
While the organizers’ had the noble intent of appreciating our culture instead of appropriating, the execution itself angered many of us and left the impression that the bahag was just used for entertainment and exhibition.
This type of treatment towards our culture leaves a bad taste, especially considering the history of the Cordillera people in regard to being treated as spectacles.
We remember the Philippines Exposition by the Spaniards in 1887 that displayed Igorots and their culture as bizarre, how we were permanently branded as infidels and savages to them.
We remember the grand cañao that bastardized, mocked, and commercialized the Cordillera culture as a tourist attraction.
We remember all those who opposed all kinds of discrimination towards us, our culture, and our land, and most especially those who died defending it.
Pigsa demands for a genuine apology from the organizers and other responsible figures and for them to denounce the misappropriation that took place, especially that the event had reached a wide scale and may have spread more misinformation about Igorots to those who have witnessed it.
We also call, not just the Man of World pageant organizers but also other organizers who wish to appreciate our culture for big events, to take their appreciation to deeper levels.
The essence of our culture and history is more than that of the aesthetic value of our attires, dances, and music. You must educate yourselves that Cordillera’s traditions are rooted in the struggles and rich history of resistance of the Kaigorotan from the past struggle against the Spaniards up to today’s struggle against development aggression and national minoritization, and for genuine autonomy and liberation.
We, Igorots, are more than just our attires and dances, we also have a more meaningful history of how we fought dictators and greedy corporations from destroying our homes.
The appreciation of our culture is well accepted, and it would be much more if contextualized from our current circumstances. — PROGRESSIVE IGOROTS FOR SOCIAL ACTION