Manobo Accuses ABS CBN of Cultural Misappropriation

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DAVAO CITY, Philippines–  Despite the appeal from the Manobo tribe, television giant,  ABS CBN airs the first episode of its drama fantasy series  “Bagani” tonight.

The Manobo artists earlier  claimed the “Bagani”, a television drama fantasy series,   does not reflect the real culture of the indigenous peoples and a “blatant disrespect of taking advantage of our culture and tradition for their selfish interest.”

Manobo artists Melissa Claire and Melchor Umpan Bayawan called the attention of the network for the depiction of Bagani.

“I take offense in the use of the term ‘Bagani’ as the title for your upcoming teleserye that does not even pay proper homage to our real Baganis. It is an outright disrespect to our history and culture when the use of this term contradicts the very essence of what it means to be a Bagani,” Melissa Claire said.

“Being a Bagani does not only mean ‘to have exemplary fighting skills’, but to be able to defend the people from colonizers and entities who are robbing us off from our identity. An identity that is attached to our lands, culture, and heritage. So when you use the term Bagani for a teleserye that is devoid of historical and cultural context, you are actually lambasting the memoirs and integrity of our warriors,” she emphasized.

Bayawan said that the Baganis are tribal defenders of ancestral lands and are not selected by anyone but are anointed by a spirit called “Mondaangan.”

He pointed out that a group of Bagani is composed of seven (7) men who are always ready to fight to defend their community. “While they devote themselves to Mondaangan who watches over them, they also submit to the authority of their chief Datu as the head of the community and in most times, fought against “Mongayow” or individuals who create trouble to the community.”

Melissa Claire said that artistic license cannot be claimed as ABS CBN is using the indigenous culture for a different agenda.

“This is a classic example of cherry picking for the sake of profiteering at the expense of revising our narrative,” she added.

She stressed  that extensive research for production should have been done by the television network to avoid cultural misappropriation. “Shows like this, especially those that are broadcast nationwide perpetuate the continuous trivialization of our history and narratives. It also prevents Filipinos from knowing and relating to the different ethnolinguistic groups in the country.”

“I stand that if ABS-CBN continues to air the said teleserye on March 4, THEY MUST REFRAIN FROM USING THE TERM BAGANI AS ITS TITLE. However, it would do more justice to all Filipinos that THEY HALT THE AIRING OF THE SAID TELESERYE AND OVERHAUL ALL ITS ELEMENTS INCLUDING THE CASTING , THE PLOT, THE PHILOSOPHY AND LENS USED FOR THE STORY,” he reiterated.

Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Commissioner Dr. Ronald L. Adamat, in his letter to ABS-CBN President Karlo Joaquin Tadeo Katigbak, said that it is not enough for writers and producers of movies and teleseryes to come up with titles, concepts and characters that would sell and create blockbusters and yet carry with them half-truths and lies that destroy and negate the real essence of indigenous peoples.”

Adamat added “What is the historical and cultural bases of such if not of the IPs meaning of it? Being an indigenous person, I reiterate the demand for urgent clarification and explanation as to how and why the IP word, Bagani, endemic only to the indigenous peoples ended up on the storyboard of ABS CBN.”

Adamat urged ABS CBN to revise the format and concept of “Bagani” “to become as educational as it can be” and make the same as historically and culturally accurate presentation of what the real Bagani is from the IP perspective.

On Monday, March 5, sent words to the group and manifested its willingness to sit down to discuss issues and concerns.-Newsline.ph

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