TO REFRAIN FROM USING BAGANI, HALT THE AIRING OF THIS TELESERYE/ OVERHAUL ALL ITS ELEMENTS
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Extra Note: The picture above that is used in this petition is the promotional material which ABS CBN TV 2 owns!
FOR GIANT TELEVISION NETWORK ABS CBN, TO REFRAIN FROM USING THE NAME OR TERM "BAGANI" AS TITLE, HALT THE AIRING OF THIS TELESERYE AT TELEVISION CHANNEL 2 AND OVERHAUL ALL OF ITS ELEMENTS: THE CASTING, THE PLOT, THE PHILOSOPHY/ IES AND THE LENSE/S USED FOR THE STORY.
PAGING PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER FOR CULTURE AND THE ARTS FERDINAND "KA FREDDIE" PASCUAL AGUILAR, NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR CULTURE AND THE ARTS CHAIRMAN VIRGILIO S. ALMARIO; NATIONAL HISTORICAL COMMISSION OF THE PHILIPPINES CHAIRMAN RENE R. ESCALANTE AND NATIONAL COMMISSION ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLES (NCIP) CHAIRMAN BANTAYAN.
WE ARE ALSO ARDENTLY CALLING THE ATTENTION OF HOUSE SPEAKER PANTALEON "BEBOT" ALVAREZ, PHILIPPINE CONGRESSWOMAN NANCY ALAAN CATAMCO, INDIGENOUS PEOPLE (IP) WELFARE ADVOCATE BAE JENNIFER PIA "LIMPAYEN" SIBUG - LAS, PHILIPPINE SENATE PRESIDENT AQUILINO "KOKO" DE LA LLANA PIMENTEL III AND ALL RESPONSIBLE FILIPINOS WHO ARE CONCERNED WITH THE IP, THE HERITAGE AND HISTORY OF OUR PEOPLE AND OF OUR COUNTRY!
"A Filipino society with citizens informed of their history, who love their country and are proud of their cultural heritage."
This is the vision of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).
Meanwhile, the mission of NHCP is "the promotion of Philippine history and cultural heritage through research, dissemination, conservation, sites management and heraldry works. It aims to inculcate awareness and appreciation of the noble deeds and ideals of our heroes and other illustrious Filipinos, to instill pride in the Filipino race and to rekindle the Filipino spirit through the lessons of history."
Corollary, NCIP is mandated to protect and promote the interest and well being of indigenous peoples with due regard to their beliefs, customs, traditions and institutions.
HERE COMES MELISSA CLAIRE ICDANG BARRERA'S OPEN LETTER TO ABS-CBN AND THE PRODUCTION TEAM OF BAGANI:
As a Lumad, I take offense in the use of the term ‘Bagani’ as the title for your upcoming teleserye that doesn’t even pay proper homage to our real Baganis. It is an outright disrespect to our history and culture when the use of this term contradicts the very essence of what it means to be a Bagani.
Being a Bagani does not only mean ‘to have exemplary fighting skills’, but to be able to defend the people from colonizers and entities who are robbing us off from/ of our identity. An identity that is attached to our lands, culture and heritage. So when you use the term Bagani for a teleserye that is devoid of historical and cultural context, you are actually lambasting the memoirs and integrity of our warriors.
The writers of the said teleserye (headed by Mr. Mark Angos) cannot hide under artistic license or the claim of fictionality because they are using a part of our culture for different agenda. This is a classic example of cherry-picking cultures for the sake of profiteering at the expense of revising our narratives.
This does not mean that one cannot take inspiration from diversity. But I deem that there is a proper way to do it. Big corporations such as ABS-CBN are capable enough to do extensive research for productions that are inspired from indigenous stories or as how Mr. Angos puts it, ‘Philippine mythologies’.
For others, this may seem to be a minor error. But it’s already 2018 and Lumads are still victims of cultural misappropriations. Shows like this—especially those that are broadcast nationwide—perpetuate the continuous trivialization of our history and narratives. It furthers the haze that prevents Filipinos from knowing and relating to the different ethnolinguitic groups of this country.
I stand that if ABS-CBN continues to air the said teleserye on March 4, THEY MUST REFRAIN FROM USING THE TERM BAGANI AS ITS TITLE. However, it would do more justice to all Filipinos that THEY HALT THE AIRING OF THE SAID TELESERYE AND OVERHAUL ALL OF ITS ELEMENTS INCLUDING THE CASTING, THE PLOT, THE PHILOSOPHY/IES AND LENS/ES USED FOR THE STORY.
You may also refer to this article written by Melchor Umpan Bayawan, also a Manobo, for more insights on the Baganis:
AS HE IS AGAINST THE WRONG PORTRAYAL OF OUR MANOBO TRIBE, MELCHOR UMPAN BAYAWAN WHO IS HIMSELF A BONA FIDE MANOBO HAS TAKEN THE INITIATIVE OF INFORMING MARK ANGOS, THE WRITER OF THE ABS-CBN "BAGANI" TELESERYE WHICH IS SET TO BE LAUNCHED ON MARCH 4, 2018.
LET ME SHARE A SHORT BACKGROUND ABOUT THE BAGANI FROM A MANOBO PERSPECTIVE IN MINDANAO.
Bagani are tribal defenders of their territory or ancestral land. They are not selected by anybody to become a Bagani but they are anointed by a spirit called “Mondaangan.”
A group of Bagani is composed of seven (7) men; always ready for a fight to defend their community. They devote themselves to Mondaangan who watches over them but they submit to the authority of their chief Datu as the head of the community.
Most of the time they fought against individuals with bad intentions and group of people that creates or instigates trouble to the community - the "Mongayow."
Each Bagani brings with him a weapon, either a sword (polihuma), bow and arrow (pana), spear (pongassu) coupled with a wooden shield (kalasag).
Before they go to face an enemy, it is their practice to perform first a ritual to pay respect to Mondaangan and request to bless their weapons. It is said that Baganis when already given or granted with the blessing from the Mondaangan, they are characterized or described to be with fierce looking face with blood-red eyes.
It is thus a blatant disrespect committed by this writer; taking advantage of our culture and traditions for their own selfish interest.
May a divine retribution befalls on you!
Also take time to read:
Just a reminder:
SECTION 32. Community Intellectual Rights. — ICCs/IPs have the right to practice and revitalize their own cultural traditions and customs. The State shall preserve, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures as well as the right to the restitution of cultural, intellectual, religious, and spiritual property taken without their free and prior informed consent or in violation of their laws, traditions and customs.- IPRA
An official statement is to be issued tomorrow, 05 March 2018 at the EUROTEL HOTEL in front of SM North in Quezon City during the press conference which is called for the purpose of taking a common firm stand and map out activities to "protect" the desecration of the heritage of the Manobo tribe.
IN A RELATED DEVELOPMENT, ‘Bagani’ teleserye under fire from CHED commissioner for misuse of term
March 04, 2018 05:30 pm
By Nina V. Guno
Commissioner Ronald Adamat of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) is requesting ABS-CBN for "immediate clarification and explanation" on its use of the term "Bagani" in a TV show of the same name.
Dr. Adamat, a former representative of the Indigenous People Sector during the 10th Congress, addressed a formal letter to Carlo Katigbak, president of ABS-CBN.
"The undersigned... would like to seek immediate clarification and explanation from ABS-CBN as to how and why the term 'Bagani', which is an Indigenous Peoples terminology and endemic only to IPs [Indigenous Peoples], ended up used in a teleserye that I suspect is devoid of real meaning and substance."
Adamat said he spoke both as an IP himself and as a CHED commissioner regarding the issue. He cited that he was "deeply bothered about the portrayal of 'Bagani' in a teleserye as being a 'bayani with magical powers.'"
"The writers and producers of this teleserye may have overlooked and neglected the cultural sensitivities of our Indigenous Peoples hence they owe us an explanation or clarification," he stated.
"It is not enough for writers and producers of movies and teleseryes to come up with concepts, titles, and characters that would sell and create blockbusters yet carry with them half-truths and lies that destroy and negate the real essence of an IP terminology, as in the case of 'Bagani', and instead bring injustice to the 14 million Filipino IPs."
Misuse of 'bagani'
While Adamat did not mention the exact meaning of "bagani" in the letter, the term is used by the Manobos to refer to "tribal warriors" who defend the community from outside threats.
Based on the show's trailers, "bagani" are depicted as heroes with supernatural powers.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has also been criticized for appropriating the term when it formed a paramilitary group called Magahat-Bagani. The group was pit against fellow lumad (indigenous peoples) who were thought to be linked to communist group New People's Army (NPA).
Datu Taday Campos, a Manobo chieftain in his 90s from Sitio Han-ayan in Diatagon village, Lianga, told Inquirer in 2015 that the concept of bagani was used to divide the lumad for outsiders to access resources.
READ: The 'bagani' of past and present
Even before its premiere, the TV show was hit with controversy when its trailer revealed mixed-race actors like Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil "brown-faced" to appear darker.
ABS-CBN Star Creatives head writer Mark Angos claimed that the script called for "desert people" with sand and dirt stuck to their skin, hence their deliberately brown appearance.
He also claimed that the show was not about precolonial Philippines, thus ancestral Filipinos were not being portrayed. "'Bagani' is set in a fictional world called Sansinukob," which is an alternate world, he said in a Twitter post.
As of this writing, ABS-CBN has yet to issue a public response to Adamat's letter. JB
The foundation and premise why there is this opposition!
Bagani: Why We Should Resist its Misrepresentation
by Ruston Banal
(An Art Historian, Visual Ethnographer and Local Cultural Advocate. Kapampangan.
The Bagani is a one way to look at on what is all awry with our educational system. In a time where revisionism of history is so potent and relevant that merely serves as propaganda on the pitfalls of social media, netizens are often misled to believe the wrong information and misrepresentations seen in popular culture. The fantaserye, without obvious intentions makes a confusing use of the term bagani, stripping it off from its original content and context. If you are expecting that the Bagani TV series has any connection to the ethnic groups such as the Mandaya and Manobo, it’s too far and unrelated from these.
A couple of weeks ago, the moment I saw the trailer of the fantaserye, I was impressed with the set up that boasts big funding represented by the costumes, props and CGIs. I thought that it’s so nice to see that a major network is now putting its money to a project that will make people aware about the stories of the plight of the Manobos, especially that the Lumads were making headlines these days on the issues of land-grabbing in the south where they thrive. But as the scenes unfold, it was this great expectation that failed me to believe that it is anything but bagani.
The visuals can’t deny it- (1)the warriors depicted in the teleserye look more of the Greek hoplites in their costumes than the supposed hemp-finished woven cloth of a real bagani, (2) a fighting scene between the lead actor against a giant opponent in the middle of a desert looks more of a rip off from the movie Troy where Brad Pitt shuts down Boagrius as he jumps towards the giant, (3) an adopted child growing in a community and conditioned to fight against a rival community where in the end he realizes he actually belongs to this rival community is a revelation too predictable just like the movie the Prince of Egypt (4) while the abduction of a princess who is a girl of his (protagonist ) love will cause an uproar and rebellion where the narrative of the fantaserye will take its flight off. We all fell in love with Helen of Troy I guess. I feel that this is purely an orthodox formula that is so Western in concept.
The question is, as a history and journalism teacher where I need to show facts to my students, where will I put this material where the source of the title comes from real people that existed in Philippine history while the revolving narrative is culled from the Western narrative of fantasy? Well, at least the Trojan War was in fact historical aside from being a legend as it traces a real battle in the Aegean region during the Mycenaean Civilization, actually occurred as the inspiration to Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. But the Bagani is not.
The trailer made my good friend, internationally-acclaimed Manobo artist Carlito Camahalan Amalia felt aghast. “ Mali at exaggerated ang pag-gawa nila ng Bagani.Yung kasuotan,props,etc ay walang research,” he said. Camahalan is a well-known figure who travelled the world advocating the preservation of the Manobo culture. “ Bagani is a warrior in our tribe and a sacred name. Ginawang fantasy and commodity. Di ito makatwiran dahil walang respeto at ginawang pang shock value ang termino,” he added.
If we take a look at history, bagani played a major in the Manobo, Mandaya and Bagobo history. Taking a look at some scholarly-written sources, here are what I found out.
On the page 4 of “The American Chamber of Commerce Journal” published on September 1930, here is the information about a bagani:
“A chief under a small political group who can only be qualified as a leader if he kills 10 people. A bagani is under an ethnic group called Mandaya. Practices paganism, slavery and polygamy.”
From the Annals New York Academy, Title: A study of Bagobo ceremonial, magic and myth /Author: The United States and its Territories, 1870–1925: The Age of ImperialismList of all pages | Benedict, Laura Estelle Watson, 1861, here is what is written on page 245:
“Valiant men who have slain other men and have therefore received the title bagani are everywhere entitled to the same privileges: the wearing of a closed shirt dyed in solid red, the ceremonial kerchief, and a costume graded (at least among the Bagobo, Mandaya and the Manobo) by the number of persons the wearer has killed-from kerchief to the full costume of encarnado.”
On the other hand, the Population of the Philippine islands in 1916 (población de las islas Filipinas en 1916) prepared under the direction of, preparado bajo la dirección de H. Otley Beyer. Author: Beyer, H. Otley (Henry Otley), 1883–1966. Collection: The United States and its Territories, 1870–1925: The Age of Imperialism, on Page 53 writes:
“The mythology and religion are interesting and elaborate: the priests are known as ballyan. The people are divided into many small groups, each of which is governed by a chief called bagani. To become a bagani, a man must have killed in general, at least 10 person with his own hand.”
Last week, I even had a minor squabble against some of the people behind the series on Twitter when I reacted to the tweet below by the TV series writer Mark Duane Angos. I mentioned that the Game of Thrones was never a Greek-inspired series but the concept is culled from Medieval Period as there was a thousand year difference between the two periods and quite different in terms of region and culture. Angos mentioned that Helen of Troy was an inspiration to the Episode 7 of GOT which is about Robert’s Rebellion.
My point was that from the very beginning, Game of Thrones established itself as a quasi-medieval realism where elements of knights and kingdoms populates the production while the Bagani’s reference to Philippine mythology is a mere suggestion where its source is indefinite. I was even expecting to see the kris as the weapons of the warriors and the naga motiff as prevailing elements but to no avail. What we see is a sabre equipped with laser powers to eliminate an opponent. Nowhere in Philippine mythology you can find these.
In 2015, Bulatlat Newspaper published the Bastardization of Bagani by By DEE AYROSO of Bulatlat News, 2015. “ The words magahat and bagani, however, recently entered the nation’s consciousness, not with their original virtuous meaning, but as butchers, as the ruthless paramilitary group which killed three well-loved leaders in Surigao del Sur on Sept. 1: school director Emerito Samarca, and Manobo leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo.
For us, there is no tribal war, because we have no discord. They are our brothers. We do not differ, we have good relations. But when the AFP armed them, they no longer recognize us as kin. And it hurts, because Lumads are being killed by other Lumads,” said Eufemia Cullamat, Mapasu council member.”
The fantaserye itself with all its effort to produce a better entertainment for the mass audience has no problem at all. I did not even agree on the issue of whitewashing as represented by Liza Soberano, the lead actress of the series as I find it no issue at all since Liza is a Filipina actress paid to play a role as a job. She is just doing her job. In fact, the whole production team did a perfect job to achieve a beautiful set, thanks to the creative people who put up all their effort to achieve the intended atmosphere of the series.
The real problem comes from the use of a term as a title with no clear and definite relationship with the narrative and the concept of a real bagani and its historical context, assigning a new meaning that may seem harmless on the facade but actually detrimental on the way the young generation understands ethnic traditions and culture. For a powerful medium that dominates and influences, a cultural appropriation executed on a wrong plane is a slight form of deception at the expense of a marginalized group not even aware their sacred rituals are commodified for mass consumption.
I wish the writer just used another title for its story.
In a generation of fake news and destruction of truth through misinformation, shows like this could have been a better way to understand things deeper- like subtly representing how the Manobo or Lumad culture evolved through time and how we can be aware of their total banishment using the power of modern media. But the Bagani failed in doing this. And it failed miserably.
The writer, Ruston Banal is a visual ethnographer with a continuing documentary project about the ethnic groups living in Pampanga who are the Aetas and the Sama De Laut.
Below are some of his articles on these.
The Sama Di Laut.
The Aeta Community.
What is the call?
Clarify and resolve the issue through engaging ABS – CBN and the productions staff of Bagani (the teleserye) in a dialogue with IPs concerned, to ensure that the FPIC (Free, Prior, and Informed Consent) Guidelines are followed and Intellectual Property Rights are being honored.
Suggestions for resolution
Not use the term Bagani
Because it misleads or misinforms people about what Bagani means
The term is used lightly and it doesn’t highlight the significance of Bagani, historically and culturally (Given that they said that the story is PURE FICTION and is not based on any cultural group, or not about pre-colonial Philippines)
For the Manobo, the term is sanctified through the anointing of a spirit called Mondaangan
Re-write—or include in the script—the reverence to the real Bagani
Not only to have exemplary fighting skills but to show how they are being hailed as Bagani, in consideration of:
A Bagani is a class of warrior who has attained minimum standards of bravery (i.e. actual battle exploits, etc.) where he then be given the right to wear the red scarf on his head
Put a disclaimer before airing the episodes of the teleserye (besides the one required by the MTRCB) which states that:
The way the term Bagani was used in the show is not in anyway associated to the real Bagani in Mindanao
Briefly describe what is a Bagani
And acknowledge the Lumad groups who have real Baganis
Clarification on the side of the Lumad groups:
The call is not to incite controversy against ABS-CBN network or to its writers (including the fan bases of the artists who played the roles of being a Bagani)
It is not to disallow the use of the term Bagani—or any part of our culture—but to underscore the importance of cultural sensitivity and respect to all ethno-linguistic groups in the country.
We are upholding our right to stand against anything that poses a threat to revise or rewrite our identity, narratives, and cultural and historical backgrounds, on the following basis:
ARTICLE 31 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (2007):
Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions, as well as the manifestations of their sciences, technologies and cultures, including human and genetic resources, seeds, medicines, knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora, oral traditions, literatures, designs, sports and traditional games and visual and performing arts. They also have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions.
Republic Act No. 8371 of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA)
SECTION 32. Community Intellectual Rights. – ICCs/IPs have the right to practice and revitalize their own cultural traditions and customs. The State shall preserve, protect, and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures as well as the right to the restitution of cultural, intellectual, religious, and spiritual property taken without their free and prior informed consent or in violation of their laws, traditions and customs.
SECTION 34. Rights to Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices and to Develop own Sciences and Technologies. – ICCs/IPs are entitled to the recognition of the full ownership and control and protection of their cultural and intellectual rights. They shall have their right to special measures to control, develop and protect their sciences, technologies and cultural manifestations, including human and other genetic resources, traditional medicines and health practices, vital medicinal plants, animals and minerals, indigenous knowledge systems and practices, knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora, oral traditions, literature, designs, and visual and performing arts.
Tirso Nieva Paglicawan, Jr.
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