Thanks to Sandati for informing me about this Google video which provides a greater context from which one can view the peeing Igorot man. After viewing the video I would agree that there seems to be no intent on the part of Barrio Fiesta restaurant to demean the Igorot image. But does it then mean that the statue of the peeing man is totally harmless? Was I totally off-base in pointing out that the picture depicts us in a bad light and that it reinforces negative stereotypes of Igorots? Definitely not.
So can a harmful image come out of something that its creators originally thought is harmless. Yes, this case illustrates that it does. Viewed with the other statues, one can see the humor of that peeing man. Taken separately, that peeing Igorot man really is bad. The problem here is that not a lot of people can go to that restaurant and have a proper appreciation of what the owners intended to depict.
The other problem is that the owners have no control over what people can photograph or videotape to ensure that their intent in presenting Baguio City’s “rich cultural heritage” is what comes out of these pictures/videos. Nope. People see a peeing Igorot man, they find it interesting, they then photograph or videotape it then upload them in the web. And these are the things that people who visit the web see — an unflattering depiction of an Igorot who is peeing in public being pursued by a security guard. Context be damned.
Do I blame the photographers and the videographers for doing it? Of course not. Do I blame Barrio Fiesta? Not anymore, after I watched the video that Sandati pointed out. But do we have a problem? Yes that statue of the Igorot peeing man, viewed separately, presents us in a bad light. It adds to the collective negative image that other people have of Igorots. (See: greedy Igorots, Igorots and their freaky culture, Igorots as objects of fun, an Igorot who only eats sardines — the blogger then changed Igorot to tagabundok when someone called him out on his ethnic slur, a drunken Igorot video, and many more to list.)
So if that statue reinforces a negative Igorot image even without the owner’s intent, what then do we do? For me the only logical thing to do is to ask them to remove it. Between the thousands of people who may go to Barrio Fiesta and who may come out of the restaurant having a positive image of Igorots (“Wow. That Igorot man, he has big muscles and well defined abs, no?”) and the millions of people who go to the internet and who may see an Igorot man peeing in public (“Yuck! These people are uncivilized talaga.”) there wouldn’t be a hard choice.
But why can’t we simply request the people who uploaded the video and the picture to remove them? Because its their right. And more importantly, because other people can go to Barrio Fiesta and take similar photos and videos and upload them in the web. The cycle goes on unless the source, no matter how innocuous its intent, is not plugged.