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  • Writer's pictureChristian Malnawa

Kalinga cultural bearer comments on Man of the World pageant over 'Bahag controversy'

Updated: Jun 18, 2022


Tabuk City, Kalinga – A cultural bearer in Kalinga commented Thursday, June 16, that nothing was wrong on how the contestants of the Man of the World pageant wore the “bahag” as showcased in the recent swimwear competition of the pageant.


Natividad Sugguiyao, former chief of the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) – Kalinga, made a statement after a controversy lit up when participants of the pageant allegedly wore the “bahag” improperly.


“I did not see in the photos anything that’s not in accordance with its use,” Sugguiyao said.


Sugguiyao even lauded the participants for their creative and artistic way of having used the bahag, saying the basic function of ‘bahag’ is to cover and protect the private parts of Cordilleran men. The manner how it is worn, she added, is but a suggestion to make sure it won’t fall when used.


Is there a hard and fast rule on bahag usage?


Sugguiyao said there is no strict prescribed way to use the Bahag. One only has to make sure this piece of clothing will cover and protect the private parts of the wearer.


A wearer, she added, can have his own style.


“I have seen my elders with bahag, some of them skimpy and some have their bahag as an anchor for the bolo or where they can put at the waistline their betel nut. To date nobody uses the bahag as an everyday clothing. It is used only as the traditional attire for festivities.


Of course, we do not discount that it is part of our material culture,” she further explained.

Instead of criticizing the pageant organizers, Sugguiyao suggested that the public must be ‘forward looking and not be purist for who would know that those are the traditional wear of the IPs if it is not shown’.


She emphasized that Cordilleran culture is a living and evolving culture and that, at present, a growing appreciation of traditional wear and weaves is shown as showcased on fashion shows and other activities featuring Cordilleran weaves.


“We should not be quick to criticize in the name of protecting our culture. Let us all be proactive and put more focus on the advocacy of our responsibility as culture bearers to ensure that our culture is passed on to the next generation,” she concluded.


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