Editor’s note: This is a position paper of a UST Senior High School group Pagtanaw Association on amending Republic Act 10066 or The National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009 towards cultural appropriation.
Cultural Appropriation isn’t often talked about, yet it seems to affect the majority of indigenous people living in this country.
Time and again, we see our katutubo get ransacked and exploited before our eyes over the actions of both the government and the capitalistic businesses that have no concern for the welfare of our people.
Politicians have been seen to be sporting fashion wears that have been thought to be Death Blankets. Famous Brands have been called out for not giving proper recognition to the minority groups to whom they took the designs.
The Pagtanaw Association of UST, composed of students from the UST-SHS Music, Arts, and Design Strand, stands against this, as we are against the unjust use and exploitation of indigenous groups and the proliferation of Cultural Appropriation.
We would also like to express our grave concern towards these inhumane practices as these are clear offenses of the Republic Act No. 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.
To know true cultural appropriation, we must also be aware of Cultural Appreciation. Appreciation of culture is when one seeks out to understand other cultures. It becomes appropriation when one takes specific aspects of that culture and uses It for their personal interest.
An argument made by Ash Sarkar on the British media outlet, Guardian, claimed that the understanding of cultural appropriation is highly individualized.
This statement is likely invalid as a response to that most people are very likely to call out someone for making use of cultural property in the wrong manner.
An example that is in contrast to cultural appropriation is the case of Bicolano entrepreneur Sofia Loren Abduarajak. Abdyarajak released HALIYA, a New-York based fashion brand which collaborated with Indigenous women artisans on the mission of reviving and respecting century-old Filipino traditions. Instead of getting controversy and hate, this brand has garnered positive interest due to the fact that it was with collaboration with indigenous women artisans.
This stands as a testament that Cultural Appreciation can be achieved without Cultural Appropriation, as there is a congruent and consenting agreement between the indigenous party and the party that will use their cultural property.
The closest law the nation has that upholds cultural dignity is The National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009. It would be best if we were to amend this law to include the incrimination of those who violate the chastity of indigenous cultures by using the design of other cultures and monetizing them for personal gain without consent beforehand.
While this can be daunting, it is important to know where we stand as a community towards this topic.
The Pagtanaw Association would like to reiterate their stance against Cultural Appropriation, as we would like to call upon the lawmakers to again, look into the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009 to amend this bill so that it may include the offenses against persons and companies that purposefully purloin the cultural property of Minority Groups and of Indigenous People here in the Philippines.
About the Authors
Pagtanaw is an organization that values arts, literature and the voice of students. We are the group that is able to create arts in regards to our principles, arts, culture and history.
Ylona Shen Olo is an Arts student who is fascinated by literature and writing. She is also fond of reading and is an avid reader of different genres.
Nathanael Chadwick C. Guiao is an avid reader of both fiction and non-fiction books. He is an aspiring writer and plans to take BA Creative Writing in UP Diliman.
Kimberly Anne Cruz is an Art student who is inspired to be a great artist and a reader who loves literature.
Kyle Justin Paulo G. Correa is an Arts student and lover of digital arts. His works are inspired by his own creative writing.
Stephen Ashley Tobiano is an Arts student that specializes in digital arts and is fond of reading books of various genres.
Airene Joyce Dimla is an Arts student whose work is heavily influenced by both fiction and non-fiction.
Elizabeth Diana G. Salmingo is an Arts student in both performing and traditional arts. She is also a fan of classic literature and has published several written works in fiction and non-fiction.