As I stated earlier, one of the purposes of this blog is to help correct the wrong information about Igorots flying around in the internet. I’m sure you know that there’s a lot of nonsense about us out there. In fact, in one website alone (www.igma.tv) I found two articles worth thrashing: one is simply wrong, the other is condescending.
First, the article that gets it wrong. In promoting the “Biyaheng Cordillera” episode of the program Kay Susan Tayo, a GMA writer writes: “Arriving in Sagada is like entering another world. It even carries the name ‘home of the spirits’ because of its beauty wrapped in mystery.”
Really? Sagada carries the name “home of the spirits”? Huh, I never knew that. And I am part-Isagada myself. There’s really nothing wrong if Sagada is called/dubbed/“carries the name”/declared home of the spirits. The “title” in fact has a nice ring to it. But it is simply not true. Either the writer made it up or was badly misinformed.
Towards the end, the writer says: “And Sagada is also where one can experience the traditions of the Ifugao people.”
Okay, this GMA writer really didn’t do his/her research. The people in Sagada are Kankanaeys not Ifugaos. The Ifugaos live in the province of Ifugao; Sagada is in Mt. Province where the Kankanaeys/Bontocs/Balangaos live.
Now let’s move on to a GMA write-up that is simply patronizing. This second article promoted the New Zealand episode of the show Pinoy Abroad and it goes: “Believe it or not, there is actually a tribal people from the Philippines that now lives in New Zealand! Yes, the Igorots have also made their home in this foreign land.” (Emphasis mine.)
Wow, talk about being condescending. What is so unbelievable about Igorots being in New Zealand. If other Filipinos are in New Zealand, why would the Igorots’ presence in that country be placed in the “believe it or not” category? It is tantamount to saying, “I can’t believe that these backward/uneducated/uncivilized/no-read-no-write people can actually go abroad.”
In fairness to GMA, it is good that their programs gave some media focus on Igorots. I think their intention was good and they should be commended for that. Good intentions however are sometimes negated by sloppy research and cultural insensitivity.
Admittedly, these two write-ups aren’t as bad as the other articles about Igorots out there but I focused on them because GMA is a media giant which has much influence in shaping peoples’ minds. If it is going to be condescending to Igorots, then it should be taken to task.
We should also focus on GMA because it plans to do a soap version of the Charito Solis movie Igorota. If its news and public affairs programs (like Kay Susan Tayo and Pinoy Abroad) do not care so much about their facts or about cultural sensitivity, what inanities will GMA’s entertainment division come up with in a soap opera where artistic license is the rule? This soap has the potential of correcting the negative stereotypes that other Filipinos have about Igorots. But it also has the potential of reinforcing such stereotypes. My hope is that GMA will hire an Igorot consultant to tell them whether what they are doing is appropriate.
Guess who is available, factual, and culturally rooted? Ha ha!