April 14, 2024

Theater directors, organizers must know cultural value of G-string

This is a rejoinder to public reactions on the live performance “Alay nina Alice at Agnes” presented by young artists of the Cosmopolitan Theater. The stage performance was part of a “showcasing” of indigenous culture in observance of the Indigenous People’s Month.
Reactions to the performance were published in the Oct. 22, 2022 issue of the Baguio Midland Courier, titled “NCIP gets attention of theater organizer.”
I did not watch the stage performance that was livestreamed on social media, but the article stated that “the episode Igorots” has shown lady performers of having worn a generic-looking bahag or G-string.”
Wearing G-string is without fanfare. It is like wearing a barong Tagalog in offices, official functions or formal gatherings. The Tagalog garment expresses a Filipino national identity which is true in wearing a G-string. The Igorot G-string expresses Igorot identity.
The humble G-string is a personal protective instrument. It covers and protects the male genetalia and waistline. It helps ease pain when lifting heavy objects while working.
Igorot men wear G-string without wearing underwear’s beneath it. That is the essence of the culture.
The art in the culture is the dressing or icing the essence. The dressing attracts attention, creates impression, induces urge of using and seals satisfaction of using. But there are the negative effects of improper dressing. It could sour expectation and poison the essence.
The book titled “Silent spring” authored by Rachel Carson is a good reading for related implication. The gist of the content is about the intricate connection of the negative effects of spraying pesticides on plants which damage the natural environment and eventually and silently kill human beings.
Igorot culture discourages Igorot women, much more Igorot maidens, from wearing G-strings. This means that the Igorots are observant of proper decorum. Even in this advent of “unisex” syndrome, the Igorots could differentiate there are garments distinctively for men, women, and maidens. The modern-day garment, bra, is understood as garment for feminine usage.
The make-up of modern-day Igorot G-strings is combined products of inter-generational imagination and imaging. The horizontal, vertical, diagonal, and circular positions of colored threads are intended to create designs. Colors and designs are repositories of Igorot way-of-life or sense of ancestry, social hierarchy, family, community, justice, harmony, and identity.
Perhaps, the creative directors of the said show should have had asked themselves, “why Igorot men do not consider themselves nude even if only about one-fifth of their naked bodies is clothed with G-strings.
The sensitive question begs a parallel assumption to ask the show directors if they had assumed that the breasts of the young lady performers are not exposed even if their whole bodies are costumed with G-strings.
Using G-string for theatrical presentation should have been carefully researched so that the documentation could properly guide film directors in using G-strings as costumes.
The directors and organizers of the said show have definitely ignored their mission of properly educating Filipino viewers about the significance of Filipino arts and culture. The word “proper” implies good taste and decent symbolism in showcasing indigenous cultures. — CLARO Q. ESOEN, Ph. D., Tuba, Benguet