City officials joined the Cordillera Office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP-CAR) and other indigenous peoples (IPs) in the region in condemning the Metropolitan Theater (MET) for presenting women dancers in G-string, the traditional ‘bahag’ worn only by Igorot men.
Under Resolution No. 506, series of 2022, local legislators stated that the discriminatory profiling of the traditional attire and highland culture of the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera has become repetitious by imprudent and inconsiderate people who never bother to conduct a thorough research on the history of the ‘bahag’ and consult indigenous communities on how the traditional attire is fittingly used.
During an online presentation that was part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Order ng mga Pambansang Alagad ng Sining or the ‘Order of National Artists,’ the theater group of Alice Reyes Dance Philippines allegedly featured choreographies of national artists for dance Alice Reyes and Agnes Locsin.
In a presentation that was supposed to portray indigenous cultural dance and attire of Igorots, the women dancers were shown wearing G-string instead of the traditional wrap around skirts or ‘tapis.’
The council pointed out that in the face of the audience and even among non-indigenous peoples, the provocative artistic dance, aside from failing to truly express its correct theme and promote appreciation of and information on the unique ethnic culture of its subject, just made fun and ridiculed the traditional attire and culture of the Igorots.
Earlier, NCIP-CAR officials strongly condemned the wrong portrayal by the theater group of Igorot women wearing G-strings when this attire is exclusively worn by the men during special occasions as part of the culture and traditions of the indigenous peoples.
Copies of the approved resolution will be furnished the organizers and officers of the Metropolitan theater, the NCIP-CAR, the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA), the Department of Tourism (DOT), the National Artist Award Secretariat Office, and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) for widest dissemination in order to avoid repetition of such act and never to adulterate Cordilleran culture.
NCIP-CAR regional director Atanacio Addog underscored that the culture and traditions of the Igorots should be presented in the view of the indigenous peoples and not on the perception of the artists to avoid the adulteration and misrepresentation of the same.
He claimed that despite the aggressive campaign of the agency and the indigenous peoples on the appropriate portrayal of the Igorot culture and traditions, there are still individuals and groups who continue to repeat similar mistakes which in the past had been the subject of condemnation by the indigenous peoples and it is as if people refuse to learn from these lessons.
For his part, NCIP Ethnographic Commissioner Gaspar Cayat emphasized the need for non-indigenous peoples to first conduct a thorough research and consultation with the Igorots prior to their making public presentations so that they will be provided with the proper advice in properly performing dances and other performances.