I have been thinking about this for months now. I have tried to reason out why I shouldn’t voice out my opinion and keep it to myself but this had been bothering me and criticisms to come, be damned.
There is a huge difference between culture appreciation and culture appropriation, an active occurrence of the latter can be found in multiple tourist attractions in Baguio City.
To be more specific, I am addressing the mini stalls of tapis’ and bahag’s for hire with a quick picture-taking of the individual, improperly bearing the attire. While I fully support the promotion of Cordilleran culture and traditions, especially with our traditional attire that proves to be a huge attraction to tourists, I strongly argue that the improper wearing of it diminishes the value and importance behind these traditional garments.
I refuse to believe that our traditional clothes’ worth and purpose is to be exploited for commercialization and promoted in poor taste. These are special linens, intricately and uniquely weaved varying from the different ethnicity in Cordillera and I’m certain that it is not meant to be shabbily worn by tourists, especially without knowing its significance and for merely putting it on for a couple of selfies — a proof that you’ve been to Baguio City.

It wouldn’t hurt to take a little time to learn about our traditional clothing and show sensitivity, respect, and genuine appreciation of our culture. The fact that Igorots are still being pictured negatively and labeled as outdated when we, ourselves wear our tapis/bahag on public occasions screams foul, hypocrisy. Our culture has been used as a punchline, a hook to a comedy skit and now apparently, is being marketed cheaply by compromising the value it holds.

Our culture is not a fad.
Cordilleran culture is more than for your aesthetic pleasures, rather it’s a representation of our thriving heritage and identity. I refuse to have my identity cater to your personal agenda of wanting to spew out a pretentious social image that you are culturally inclined and aware. Wearing the delicately weaved fabrics over your shirt and jeans then have your photo taken does not make you “culturally woke” or whatever pretentious label you’re chasing after.

I am not trying to discourage those who are genuinely interested in our culture and traditional attire. I admire those who, supposedly out of curiosity or interest, would like to immerse themselves or learn about a new culture. There are a hundred possible ways to take part in our culture. We openly share them out with the world, always willing to share but never at the expense of its value and meaning. Our traditions and attires, just like any culture out there, deserve to be promoted and used with the utmost respect and nothing less.



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