What does it mean to exoticize culture?
All the latest happenings on our side of the world.
Marawi City is liberated
Last Oct. 17, President Duterte declared that Marawi City was officially “liberated from the terrorist influence” after siege leaders Isnilon Hapilon (Abu Sayaff leader and supposed “emir” of ISIS in Southeast Asia) and Omar Maute (Maute group leader) were killed in a military operation on Monday. However, the terrorists’ deaths don’t guarantee that everything is going back to normal for the city’s displaced residents.
The President’s declaration only marks the beginning of the long road towards Marawi’s rehabilitation — in fact, military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla stated that there are still pockets of fighting going on in several areas, and there are fears that displaced residents, angry at the destruction of their homes and conditions of evacuation centers, may turn to radicalization if reconstruction aid is mismanaged. Despite this, Marawi City Mayor Usman Gandamra is confident that the war will be over within the next week.
Martial Law in the city will continue to take effect until December 2017. The military is also expecting retaliatory attacks from local terror groups, so it’s important to be vigilant.
VP Leni Robredo quips back at PNP chief Bato Dela Rosa
During a forum held in Quezon City this week, Bato advised VP Leni to set aside her supposed presidential ambitions to help Duterte. This is an odd thing to say, considering the numerous maneuvers the administration has made in taking power away from the VP who had hoped to work together with Duterte in the first few months of his presidency. In response, the Vice President and queen of nonchalantly acerbic clawbacks said this: “Actually, natatawa ako doon sa statement. Ang biro ko lang: malalaman siguro ni general na may ambisyon ako kapag mayroon din akong mascot at mayroon na akong standee sa mall.” Hey, if the president can be a potty mouth, then the second-in-command is certainly entitled to be sharp-tongued.
On last week’s transport strikes
In a previous explainer, we’ve touched on the details of the transport strikes held by PISTON in protest of the LTFRB’s Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program. Last week saw more strikes and new developments.
In what seems to have been their biggest demonstration yet, PISTON, with support from labor union Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) held a two-day, nationwide strike. Classes were suspended Monday and Tuesday as a result.
There has been debate between the LTFRB and PISTON regarding the goals and effectiveness of the Modernization Program. Those in the LTFRB and in the Palace say that a modernization program is “long overdue,” blaming the transport strikes for maintaining the status quo of an outdated transport system and destabilizing the Duterte presidency. As for concerns that the phase out will take away workers’ livelihoods or push them deeper into debt, the program aims to use the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) to provide loans to help workers acquire new, more modern PUV’s.
It is certainly an issue of debate whether or not the program is anti-poor, but judging from the strong statements made by President Duterte, one would be hard-pressed to call ambivalence. “January 1, ‘pag hindi niyo na-modernize ‘yan, umalis kayo. Mahirap kayo? P***** i**, sige. Magtiiis kayo sa hirap at gutom, wala akong pakialam. It’s the majority of the Filipino people. Huwag ninyong ipasubo ang tao.” Welp. There it is.
Apo Whang-od at Manila FAME
Many were outraged last weekend after learning about the possible exploitation of Kalinga tattoo artist Apo Whang-od at the Manila FAME trade show. The legendary Kalinga mambabatok was flown to Manila along with her relatives and tribe members to attend the fair and further promote her nomination for this year’s GAMABAs (Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan Awards)
When blogger Winky Scott posted a photo of the celebrated mambabatok sleeping during the press conference meant to promote her culture and traditions, people were quick to call out the event organizers for working the 100-year-old to the point of exhaustion.
There are plenty of threads and thinkpieces on the topic, so we decided to break down the facts:
The story: The event organizers brought Apo Whang-od, a centenarian and member of the Butbut tribe in Kalinga, out of her village and reportedly making her tattoo over 200 fair attendees in the span of two days.
The organizer claims: Apo Whang-od was happy to be in Manila, and it was a way to promote the ancient tradition of indigenous tattoos. She took home all the proceeds from the tattoo sessions, along with the honorarium fee provided by the organizers.
The questions we’re left with: 1) What does it mean to exoticize culture, especially the culture of Philippine indigenous peoples? and 2) Should Apo Whang-od’s feelings about the whole situation be the main focus of the conversation? Shouldn’t it be the systems and structures that allow exploitation of IP’s to happen?