Friday, March 12, 2010

A Call to Stop the Distortion and Commercialization of the Bukidnon Kaamulan Festival

Press Statement
12 March 2010

Katribu Partylist – Northern Mindanao, an indigenous peoples sectoral party, expresses disappointment over the distortion of Lumad culture during the recently concluded Kaamulan Festival held last February 18 – March 10, 2010 in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon.

The inappropriate and insensitive use of rituals, dances, and costumes and the prevalent commercialization in the Kaamulan has been a blatant mockery of Lumad culture and the festival’s history.

Rituals that are considered sacred and private are shown publicly at the city streets and the provincial plaza. To cite some, the Igbabasok and Pagologdok are rituals done before harvest and hunting respectively. These are supposedly observed at appropriate venues such as ricefields and forests and not on the streets. Pamalas or the lumad wedding ceremony was depicted with actors playing as husband and wife which bastardizes the rite and is strictly prohibited under the Lumad law.

Some non-lumad locals and tourists were seen wearing traditional indigenous garbs. These costumes and accessories were supposedly exclusive garments for traditional leaders such as the Datu and the Bai. Regrettably, these were commercially sold at booths around the festival grounds.

Street dancing, being one of the major crowd drawers of the festival, has showcased dances with inappropriate choreography. The Saot or war dance was depicted out of context. This wrong presentation has highlighted lumads as violent and barbaric people.

Traditionally, the Sibog and Bayle are the only accepted traditional dances for festivals.
“Kaamulan” is from the Lumad word “amul” which means “to gather”. It is an ethnic festival that annually celebrates the customs and traditions of the seven tribal groups that originally inhabited the Bukidnon region, namely, the Bukidnon, Higaonon, Talaandig, Manobo, Matigsalug, Tigwahanon and Umayamnon.

Yet through the years, the festival has increasingly become more commercialized and less ethnic. Bazaars, concerts with celebrities, motocross, basketball and airsoft tournaments are just a few examples of events that have nothing to do with the celebration of the culture of the lumads.

Any inappropriate use of indigenous culture not only offends the sensitivities but also demeans the integrity of indigenous customs and traditions which lumads passionately defend together with their rights to ancestral land and self-determination.

Katribu Partylist – Northen Mindanao strongly calls for the rectification of the errors and the restoration of the real essence in the Kaamulan Festival that would not only celebrate indigenous culture but would contribute to address the real concerns of the IPs for recognition, self governance, and economic sustainability. ###

Datu Jomorito Goaynon
Regional Coordinator, Katribu Partylist – NMR