By KIMBERLIE OLMAYA NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY – In its effort to correct prevailing misconceptions and misrepresentations of indigenous peoples (IPs), the Program for Indigenous Cultures (PIC-USC) of the University of the Philippines (UP) Baguio hosted a forum with the theme Re-presenting the Indigenous in Media.
PIC Chairperson Wilfredo V. Alangui said that the mass media has long been disseminating inaccurate images and ideas about IPs . At the same time, he acknowledges that mass media can also be a powerful vehicle to correct these misrepresentations.
Alangui further said the forum hopes to contribute to correct IP misrepresentations in mass media. “We have invited speakers to talk about how IPs are re-presented in various forms of media and promote a better understanding of and respect for IPs,” he added.
In her presentation, Airah T. Cadiogan, said that the misrepresentations of IPs in advertisements perpetuates racial discrimination contrary to the claims of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in their report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UN CERD) that racial discrimination does not exist in the Philippines.
Cadiogan further said stereotypical representations of IPs in advertisement or the mass media at large continues because the social structure that enables these misrepresentations still exist.
Also, Cadiogan iterates that mass media can play a key role to promote a greater understanding of IPs as 62% of Filipinos rely on media for information. She called on media practitioners to pay more attention to the accuracy in their presentations of IPs with respect to their culture, beliefs and traditions. She also encouraged IP groups and organizations to take an active role in educating the mass media about their way of life.
Sacha Weygan, on the other hand talked about cyberspace becoming a venue for ethnic identity reconstruction. She studied several Igorot (indigenous peoples of the Cordillera) websites and concluded that these sites enabled Igorots to assert their ethnic identity despite being “geographically displaced from their homes.”
She added that more than identity assertion, these websites provide venues for Igorots to perform their identity primarily by using their own language.
“The existence of these websites show that there is a struggle for the survival and revival of ethnic identity in cyberspace for identity recognition and expression, most specifically as more and more people are being geographically displaced from their homes,” Weygan said.
The last speaker, Prof. Ruth Tindaan discussed the misrepresentation of Igorots in the movies and how the cinema can be used in correcting these misrepresentations and in promoting the issues that the Igorots face.
Tindaan said the attempts of Igorot film makers to penetrate the mainstream film industry is a way of asserting their identity as a people. She added that film making is a venue for empowerment and resistance for the Igorot community. She, however recognizes that it is not easy for a marginalized group to participate in this profit driven industry.
“The practice of Igorot cinema may then be described as an act of resistance that refuses dominant social categories and undertakes a reformulation of cinematic language, so that the films’ expressive traditions and meanings are filtered through the Igorot experience,” Tindaan said.
The said forum was held last August 26 at the UP Bulwagang Juan Luna as part of UP Baguio’s celebration of August as IP month. It was co-sponsored by Pagawisan Tako Am-in (Pagta) and the University Student Council. # nordis.net