In an earlier post, we pointed out the good things about Asian Treasures, the GMA-7 television show which is currently topping the TV ratings for primetime programs. To recap, we said that the show is good because 1) it does seem to be quite entertaining and 2) it co-stars our kailian Marky Cielo thus giving him more exposure and more opportunity to grow as an actor.
Had Asian Treasures not attempted to include a Cordillera story arc, we would only be singing praises to the people behind this production. Unfortunately, they — probably because Marky is part of the show — decided to include a sub-plot that utilizes the Cordilleras and its peoples. Nothing wrong with that actually. What is wrong is that the producers took all the negative stereotypes they can find about Igorots and decided to use them in this show.
Thus in this episode alone, we have the following stereotypical portrayal of Igorots as:
a) A dirty, unkempt people.
b) A scary and violent savages with blank and expressionless eyes.
c) Innocent and child-like as exemplified by the man who goes about smelling Angel Locsin’s hair.
d) And the women? They are “ang gaganda” according to Robin but they are apparently there to just stand around and merely serve as props.
As in the case of the controversial Barrio Fiesta statue, I’m sure the people behind this production didn’t seek out to offend our Igorot sensibilities. I don’t think they sat together in a smoky room and said, “Sige nga, gawin natin ito para ma-offend o magalit ang mga Igorot.” (Okay, lets do this to offend those Igorots.) I am nonetheless disappointed with this program. I’m offended in fact and join Splasher in railing against it.
So what do we expect in upcoming episodes? An Igorot princess perhaps? Maybe she will fall in love with Robin? A wise native priest who will have visions? A big but brainless warrrior? Maybe some Igorots kneeling before a bulol?
The creative team behind this show must be the laziest people in GMA-7. How else can we explain all these stereotyping? Only lazy and unimaginative people are contented with reproducing stereotypes. Now, although I am ready to concede that the people behind this show are probably not mean-spirited for coming up with this crappy portrayal of Igorots, they nonetheless need some cultural sensitivity training.
Lastly, what’s the strange language that the natives are speaking? It is the GMA-7 version of the Sagada (and maybe in other towns as well) kid’s “balbaliktad”. What a way to trivialize a good thing that I enjoyed doing as a child, i.e., saying things backwards. If the GMA people actually tried “balbaliktad”, they would have exercised their brains and won’t be contented with reinforcing stereotypes.
We will be talking more about Asian Treasures and media’s portrayal of indigenous peoples in the coming posts.