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  • Writer's pictureChristian Malnawa

Man of the world organizers asked to explain controversy over improper use of ‘BAHAG’

Updated: Jun 14, 2022

Baguio City, Philippines – The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples- Cordillera calls on the organizers of the Man of the World pageant to provide concrete and anthropological proof to support their claim that “bahag” was worn by ancestors when going underwater and that how they worn it was the same as showcased in the recent swimwear competition of the said pageant.

This is after a controversy arose when participants of the pageant wore the “bahag” improperly.

Enraged Cordilleran netizens took their frustrations to Facebook commenting and showing some photos of the swimwear part of the pageant.

Some organizers, through Facebook comments, answered the surrounding issues saying that ‘all the production staff of said pageant edition are Igorots and what they see in the pictures are exactly how Cordilleran ancestors tied their bahag in swimwear or when they need to go underwater during the olden times.’

They added that the show is properly communicated with the NCIP and highlighted that they have their own cultural consultant.

NCIP-CAR’s take on the controversy

In a press release, NCIP-CAR said they neither allowed nor tolerated the way the “Bahag" was worn during the said competition.

They said the way they were worn during the said competition rest solely with the organizers and their supposed cultural consultant.

“We call upon these proofs, as many of us have grown in a society where we did not witness our ancestors tie their G-string the way it was during the competition. We have grown in a society where our traditional attires are worn by us on special occasions, festivals, and the like. We have grown with our elders teaching us the proper way to wear these attires, and thus what we know today,” NCIP-CAR told in a press release.

If able to provide accurate proof, the agency said this would help understand the evolution of Cordilleran culture.

The agency clarified that while they are supportive of the noble intention of the organizers in doing such act – to showcase the rich culture of the Cordilleras through the wearing of these "bahag", they said they cannot just watch and do nothing if indigenous peoples raise concerns about issues that impact their culture.

NCIP-CAR to wait for explanation from organizers

“While we join many of our IP brothers in the Cordilleras in expressing our dismay on the way our G-strings were worn during the competition, before any punitive actions, let us accord the organizers and their cultural consultant/expert an opportunity to fully explain their piece,” NCIP-CAR wrote.

The “Bahag", they said, just like any other traditional garments, should be accorded the highest respect by wearing them properly and for the purpose they were made.

As for the decision on how they should be worn and if their use can be modified to adapt into modern times, NCIP-CAR said this depends on the indigenous peoples through their culture bearers.

“We, therefore, stand with the Indigenous Peoples to whom these “Bahags” are attributed should they call for punitive actions,” they concluded.


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