Man of the World's swimwear competition called out for 'cultural appropriation'

·Contributor
·2 min read
Man of the World contestants from the USA (left), Philippines (center) and Spain (right) wear bahag during the pageant’s swimwear competition segment. (Photos: Pawee Ventura via Missosology/Facebook)
Man of the World contestants from the USA (left), Philippines (center) and Spain (right) wear bahag (G-string) during the pageant’s swimwear competition segment. (Photos: Pawee Ventura via Missosology/Facebook)

Cordillera youth group Tignayan ti Agtutubo ti Kordilyera para iti Demokrasya ken Rang-ay (TAKDER) expresses concern in the use of bahag (G-string) in the Man of the World pageant’s Swimwear competition.

In a statement released on Monday, June 13, the youth group, while not outrightly condemning the act, said that the organizers of the pageant ought to learn first of the indigenous communities it wants to borrow a cultural symbol from.

“Our mountains have safeguarded our culture for hundreds of years. The Cordilleran people will be more than willing to share these as long as it is done properly and respectfully,” said TAKDER.

“We should then integrate and learn their ways first hand. This way, we can understand that cultures older than us should not be used to sexualize or objectify people,” TAKDER further pointed out.

They are demanding an apology from the organizers to correct this “cultural appropriation.”

Meanwhile, Former Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat also shared his frustration in a tweet, saying that the use of bahag was wrong, likening the use of the said Ifugao clothing as a sex toy.

“Seriously, due diligence lang. Especially in portraying [Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices] and IP culture by non-IPs,” Baguilat said in a tweet.

Like Baguilat, TAKDER also cautioned the pageant in using not just bahag but other IKSPs. “When we wear our cultural attires, we wear our identity, our history, and our people—we hope that we can use events such as pageantry to make them understand that the practice of our tradition and culture is not a spectacle that should be reduced for others’ entertainment,” they said.

“Our indigenous cultural attires represent our rich history and identity. It is worn with pride during wars, weddings, harvests, and other important milestones in our communities,” TAKDER added. “The designs are symbols of our struggles and have weaved our way of life.”

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments in politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. The views expressed are his own.

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