Editorial: On cultural appropriation and sensitivity | SunStar

Editorial: On cultural appropriation and sensitivity

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Editorial: On cultural appropriation and sensitivity

Thursday, November 09, 2017

There are countless instances in the past wherein a person or a group representing a tribe commits cultural inappropriation in the guise of arts and freedom of expression. It has long become a sensitive issue around the country and it remains to be.

It was indeed good news when the 18th Davao City Council passed on third and final reading the “IP (Indigenous People) Attire Ordinance” on Tuesday, November 7.

To clearly state, it is an ordinance requiring parties organizing public events to mandatorily conduct cultural consultation or orientation on the proper use and appropriate representation of IP traditional attires.

The welcomed ordinance, which now awaits the approval of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, was pushed by Davao City Councilor Bai Halila Sudagar, who chairs the committee on cultural communities and the Muslim affairs committee.

The measure, she said, is “to recognize, respect, preserve, and protect the cultural, religious or social significance of every color, fabric design, cut and style embedded in all tribal attires of the IP/Indigenous Cultural Communities in Davao City.”

Davao City recognized 11 tribes: the Ata, Iranon, Kagan, Klata, Matigsalug, Maranao, Maguindanaon, Obu-Manuvu, Sama, Tagabawa and Tausug.

Once the consultation is done, a certificate of attendance signed by the Office of Cultural Community Affairs (Occa) under the Office of the City Mayor will be issued to the party.

The ordinance also stated altering of the IP attire, even with secured permit, is prohibited. But it clarifies that it does not cover public and private events that showcase any form of creativity using only cultural/native/ethnic-inspired themes that promote innovation in the field of art and ingenuity.

However, the organizers and persons behind any cultural/native/ethnic inspired gathering and events “are urged to exert earnest effort to be consistent with the traditional IP attire and give due respect to the significance of every pieces.”

Failure of all these may result to a mandatory seminar with Occa for first offenders, a fine of not more than P1,000 for second violation and a fine of more than P2,000 for third-time offenders.

These established, it is laudable that Davao City is showing concern and due recognition to its true treasure: the IPs.

While it is but recognizable that freedom of expression, creativity and innovation is necessary, the fact of the matter remains that there is no better way to represent the tribes’ rich culture and tradition than showcasing it with authenticity and due respect.

Therefore, it is but only proper for individuals or groups to exercise sensitivity and cultural appropriation when representing the 11 tribes of Davao, and even all the tribes in the country.

Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on November 10, 2017.

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