Performance ‘culturally insensitive’

Performance ‘culturally insensitive’
SunStar Local News GPX

MORO people and other Muslim groups expressed disappointment over a Cebu-based university’s Sinulog performance representing them and the Filipino Muslim culture.

This comes after the dance troupe of Cebu Technological University’s (CTU)-Main Campus performed during the opening salvo of Sinulog sa Sugbo Philippines 2024, a predominantly Catholic event, representing the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

On Friday, Jan. 12, 2024, 17 schools and universities in Metro Cebu performed during the opening salvo. Each of them represented a region, with CTU dancing to the Sinulog beat while wearing Muslim cultural attire.

This sparked a backlash from the public, criticizing the organizers and schools for allowing what they deemed a “culturally insensitive” performance.

Cultural insensitivity involves disregarding or disrespecting the customs, values and norms of a culture, potentially causing offense or harm.

Muslim book author Mubarak Tahir expressed his frustration on social media, emphasizing the performance’s lack of prior research.

In his Friday post containing photos of the CTU group taken by SunStar Cebu, he argued that it distorts the experiences and culture of the Muslim community, reflecting conflicting ideologies.

“When did a princess holding the Sto. Niño become part of the culture and history of the Moro people? When did this type of cultural dance become a representation of the BARMM?” he said in Filipino.

Tahir called for a responsible portrayal, understanding and preservation of

cultural heritage.

Dr. Ijodin Saripada Mamacol, head of the City Hall’s Muslim affairs, said in an interview with SunStar Cebu on Saturday, Jan. 13, that the performance disrespects their culture and religion.

He said both the university and the Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) organizers should have consulted their group before green-lighting the performance.

Mamacol serves as the executive director of the Office of Muslim Affairs and Indigenous Cultural Communities in Cebu City.

He added that Muslims have been supportive of the Sinulog festival event, wherein more or less 100 Islam followers volunteered to join security forces and become peace volunteers for this year’s festivity.

In another Facebook post, Director Onasis Abdulrahim Balt of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Visayas, said that while it is important to practice diversity and inclusivity, it is better if sensitivity is considered.

“[Performing] in a festival with a specific cultural and religious significance while wearing attire from a different faith may inadvertently cause offense,” he said.

Balt added that NCMF Visayas will investigate the matter.

Meanwhile, CTU-Main Campus broke its silence on Saturday through a statement.

“We... express our deepest and most sincere apologies for any offense or disrespect caused by our Sinulog dance presentation during the Sinulog festival launching organized by the SFI,” a portion of the statement reads.

The university acknowledged the insensitivity in its performance toward the Muslim culture and religion and expressed regret for any “unintended harm.”

The academe is also committed to upholding cultural respect, thus, its administration will conduct an internal review to improve understanding of diverse backgrounds, it said.

Meanwhile, Cebu City Councilor Jocelyn Pesquera, who is part of the executive committee of the SFI, said it was the production team that discussed the concept with school choreographers.

SunStar Cebu clarified if the production team is part of SFI, and Pesquera said they are part of the organizational structure.


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