Balweg: The tribals and tourism-A A +A
By Benny Balweg
Friday, March 30, 2012
TODAY (Saturday) and tomorrow (Sunday) usher in the Holy Week (semana santa) in earnest. Tomorrow, in particular, commemorates the entry of Christ the Redeemer into the City of Jerusalem. But just as when He came into the world by his birth in Bethlehem, so he came to Jerusalem in a way much contrary to the expectation of many. In Bethlehem, He, the Rex Regum, King of Kings, came to be born in an outskirt stable and not in a grand palace or mansion. In Jerusalem, He, the deliverer of His people, came, riding on a lowly ass and not on a powerful stallion.
In both cases, it was that part of society, looked upon as the lowest in the social ladder, that instantaneously welcomed Him. They acknowledged Him and adored Him without hesitant misgivings. He manifested Himself to them and, before them, to their kinds in direct visual and auditory manner. Extra-terrestrial messengers, angels intervened to relay messages to the “masa,” which accepted the messages without debates. To those who are considered as higher-ups in the social ladder, however, especially those who considered themselves to be so, the magistrates, teachers, priests, elders, scientists and so on, which we may lump up in what we presently term as the intelligentsia or elite, the manifestation needed analysis in various degrees of depth or difficulty depending upon the honesty of the intention. Those who received the message of His arrival with questionable or even evil motive are outright denied the assurance of His redeeming presence. To recall, bright angels to the simple shepherds; signaling star to the magi; “they passed another way,” and “take the Child and His Mother to Egypt” to avoid and escape the evil scheming King Herod; “Thou hast said it” as indirect elucidation to Pilate, the wavering politician.
And before the Holy Week events, other manifestations of Christ were witnessed as when He felt sad over the young man who could not follow Him because the young man could not part from his riches; He wept upon seeing in advance the destruction of Jerusalem; He condemned the self-righteous; He got angry with those who turned the Holy Temple into a marketplace and den of thieves. And, finally on the road to Calvary and on Calvary itself, we saw Him comforting the weeping women of Jerusalem, we heard Him forgiving those who made mockery of Him and those who crucified Him. He promised entrance into paradise to a repentant sinner. Forgiving then must be a hallmark and assignment of a Christian. One who cannot forgive cannot be a true Christian.
With the influx of local and foreign tourists to Baguio City during the Holy Week, our mind cannot but turn to the subject on tribal peoples and tourism. For Baguio is exactly that: tourist destination because of its climate and tribal populace, melioristically called ethnic people. When you say tribal people, there is something attractively exotic because tribals have been portrayed as a remnant of the primitive that preceded modern man, a border stage between the hominoid and the modern man in the evolutionary ladder. This demeaning portrayal had its height at the era when the science of archeology started in vogue and the superiority of the Aryan race was being proclaimed in Europe greatly promoted by the Darwinian theory of evolution.
But nowadays that mentality is fortunately diminishing. This is shown very prominently in the area of tourism. Tourists go to Hollywood, yes, but that is not as newsy as treading among the Mung tribes of Thailand. In our very own Philippines, people go to Enchanted Kingdom but that is not as victoriously exciting as standing on camera with the aetas of Mt. Pinatubo or found as exhilarating to see as the yellowing rice terraces of the Ifugaos swaying in the winds. In Baguio, it is joyful to boatride at modern Burnham Park but tourists still seek to picture or be pictured with tribal samples at Imelda Park. Despite the impact of modern western-type schooling, the piano cannot supplant the tribal gong or ganza; the modern dances, the tribal dance; western songs, the salidummay or dangdang-ay. Not even the religious Gregorian chant could take the place of the Cordillera chants, like the uggayam and the ullalim. I could go on and on citing performance of the tribal peoples or “katutubo” but time does not permit. So to conclude, though time is changing, the tribal peoples do not belong to the past, they are the hope of world for its preservation; they are enriching national coffers. They are a force to reckon with in various ways we think.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 31, 2012.