Slipper brand slammed for cultural sensitivity

A FOOTWARE company is under fire for lack of coordination with ethnic communities.

The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) said legal action is being prepared against Tribu, which may be in violation of the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) provisions under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act.

Tribu released its newest line of slippers named after tribes in the country, with one branded as "Kankana-ey," an indigenous people's group in the Cordilleras.

The NCIP said the company did not get the consent of the indigenous cultural communities (ICC) concerned for the branding.

Backlash from groups also followed.

Ryan Mang-usan, Committee on Indigenous Peoples Concerns (CIPC) co-chair of the Regional Development Council (RDC), condemned Tribu's branding of its slipper line as insensitive.

"We do not tolerate the use of indigenous terms, tribes, properties, and practices for branding to earn popularity and make money. Commodification of culture is unacceptable," Mang-usan said.

Mang-usan contacted the company through their social media account and called out the mistake.

The company replied and said: "We receive these same kind of message within the day. On behalf of Tribu, we sincerely apologize regarding this matter. Our company does not promote derogatory or any form of discrimination at all. As we solely promote the harmony of locally made products. Our brand is 27 years old and we are using the tribes product names ever since as a tribute to those tribes."

The company added their goal is to make people aware of the different tribe in the Philippines with some of their products are also named after different islands/tourist spots in the Philippines as the company owners are proud Mindanaoans.

An apology was given to Mangusan but no mention of take downs or rebranding.

"Again, we are apologetic and thankful for taking the time to bring this to our attention. We will use the feedback you have given to make us better," added Tribu.

Beverly Longid, Cordillera People Advisory Council, said the identity of Kankana-ey's as a people is not a brand for slippers regardless of quality.

"It is simply not a brand. It is not a subject of commerce. Our Indigenous identity is not for sale," added Longid.

Longid, who was the first nominee of the Kabataan para sa Tribung Pilipino (Katribu), continued to explain the identity as a people is a source of unity, honor and pride.

"Often, our name is also the name of our village or community -- our home. Thus, its use exacts a collective and individual duty to make it worthy of recognition and respect. Its use demands responsibility from each member of the clan, tribe or community to protect. We are known for our bravery, strong physique and exquisiteness, ability to adapt and survive harsh conditions, resilience, and the like. And, we are proud of these traits. But we are peoples, not slippers," Longid added.

Longid called out the branding of tribes as slippers is a misappropriation of Indigenous Peoples identities.

"It was done without the knowledge and consent of the concerned Indigenous Peoples. The featured tribes or communities did not benefit from the use of their identity for commercial purposes," said Longid.


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