By Vin Sahidra
If you have seen one Philippine festival organized by Christians, you have seen them all.
You see the same street-dancing “highlight” utilizing, if not stolen, tribal “inspired” performances meant to entertain and boost the imagine economy of the city or towns.
Why can’t Christian educated organizers come up with their authentic colonial culture and not taking advantage or riding on a minor one? Is it because Christian authorities (in government and the religious) do not have their own or are less creative to come up with own true islander culture and heritage? Do we ever need to ask?
The exercise has become boring, predictable and truthfully unproductive. Sure it makes money to the business sector but it does not liberate and elevate the collective spirit of the people. I only justifies the habits of “dog-eat-dog” Christian culture.
In non-Christian cultures, they do not set-up and stage cultural events to bring the tourists and enliven the tourism industry because everyday being alive is enough to celebrate life for them. They don’t even need tourists who do not care to understand or respect them.
For the locals, it’s only between them, their god and mystic spirits. The Lumads are like them too, until…
It is unfortunate that our government, through the tourism and culture sectors shrewdly and carelessly promote this as a means to make everyone happy-more fun in the (mediocre) Philippines. But it’s no longer fun, it is exploitative from all fronts, and it is obvious the organizers are blind to see and read the signs.
People have been complaining, from one city, one region, one island to the other. Why can’t the so-called tourism consultants and cultural experts see the deep picture so they can pass it on to the lowly employees who depend on them.
The Philippines as festival islands? Amidst the hardships and indiscipline and poverty. How very Christian to escape reality and then become miserable. And poor Lumads, they are lured and trap to the “invitation” of colonial-minded people more powerful from them.
If authorities are serious and respectful to show off Lumad culture on their own tribal term, then let them be in their respective abodes and territories, not parade them like prostitutes for tourists to ogle at or “photo-ops.”
For centuries, why can’t we have enough of exploiting them?
Editor’s note: The author is an Asian studies scholar from Visayas.
Photo courtesy of Skeptica