Tuesday, October 28, 2008

the anthropologist in me

one of my anthropology professor, dr. june prill-brett (who i also consider as my personal anthropology icon), once said in our class that the cordilleran societies are not patriarchal societies.

based from her previous cultural studies regarding gender relations and issues among the cordillerans, she have noticed that men and women actually share an equitable position from one another. this conclusion draws from the political roles that gender plays in their communities (which basically determines who-dominates-who across all human groups).

politically, male elders dominate the dap-ay* meetings, where they discuss issues in their village, while the rest of the members are watching. on the other hand, women dominate the economic side through rice field works. but since most societies, including us, defines the gender hierarchy based from whose gender holds the power to decide (politically), cordillerans societies are popularly deemed as patriarchal.

but through her extensive research, she learned that these male elders who attend dap-ay meetings happen to have their opinions and decisions already in scripts. she knew about this, when she integrated her study among male leaders' homes and found out that the elders' wives are actually the ones who teach their husbands of what to say and what to decide. afterwards, the wives sit near the dap-ays to listen and make sure that the scripts are properly followed. if not, non-verbal communications are sent out by the wives to their husband through eye contatcs, gestures etc.

from here, we can argue that cordilleran societies observe what can be called as a pseudo-patriarchy. nonetheless, it should also be noted that this doesn't put women members in a position higher than the men either. for each gender has its own significant role in order for the society to survive. cordilleran men and women are not equal rather they are equitable to each other.

following the theory above, the same applies to the wood carvings in my previous post. the phallicism of a society or the adoration to the phallus or male organ doesn't necessarily equate to patriarchy. infact, the emergence of wooden phallus doesn't even have any association to the cordilleran culture. it actually reflects the culture outside it.

when i came in baguio in 2002, i noticed that the most awaited event here is the panagbenga or the flower festival. this is the time when bus and hotel reservations are always full: you can barely walk along session road because of the people's volume: it is so freaking hard to find a cab and wallets temporarily loss their essence. but it was the first time i watched the street parade that caught my attention. i have noticed that regardless how spectular the passing flower floats are, the loudest cheer arises by the time the local delegation, wearing their cultural attire, passes the crowd. it saddens me to hear that these people, mostly tourist, would shout, "oh look at how dark his **** is," or "i managed to peek at his **** and s/he didn't even mind shaving."

it saddens me, not because i feel the embarassment of the cordillerans having to wear those "g-strings", rather i find it more humilliating to my fellow non-cordillerans who acts like people who crave for phallus: talking about who is more civilized.

obviously, it seemed like i am not the first or the only person who noticed this. from the looks of it, a smart-ass entrepreneur have used this behaviour from these tourist and made it as a business. thus, we have these wooden penis key chains, man-in-the-barrel souveneirs, bulols with penis on it etc. i believe that these objects don't really tell us anything about patriarchy in the cordillera. rather it is more a commercial move to attract potential buyers and show how lustful these people are.

to conclude, the presence of phallic symbols in a particular society doesn't necessarily mean that it is a patriarchal one. most of the time, we really need to dwell thoroughly on what is hiding at the back of what we are seeing to find out the "truth." who knows, we may find out that we, lowlanders are also non-patriarchal and don't actually have any concept of gender--- yeah right! *dap-ay is a circular stone seats where the heart of all religious, political and cultural life of a village is being discussed.

17 comments:

Mugen said...

This is your strength Ewwwik, and I'm so proud and happy to meet someone as profound and interesting as you. Ang galing!

Trip said...

amen to that.

in addition, the fondness or preoccupation of people with regards to the male and female genitalia can be more psychological than sociological, i think. sex is a basic human need that is why it can easily communicate to humans. this is also the reason why using subliminal sexual messages has universal appeal.

also there is this subconscious compulsion of other people to compare their wares with others. :)

~Kinesics said...

If I was your professor...I'm gona be so proud of you :)

This is A+! :)

~kinesics

amicus said...

i can't agree more. the barrel man, the penised bulo-ol, and the phallus key ring are as foreign to the indigenous people of cordillera as african tulips are to the mountainous region.

with your post i remember what my anthro prof dr. nestor castro have said when he instructed us to watch the oblation run: observe how primates behave.

dabo said...

makiki-amen din ako..hehehe

pero sino ba ang muna ang gumagawa ng mga sculpture at phallic symbols na ito...? yung mga locals rin ba?

kung ganun sana may study sa sexual behavior ng mga Cordillereans? Para mas lalong ma-identify at maintindihan ang concept nila about sex, na i think "subsconsciously" lumalabas sa kanilang culture..


hehehe

odin hood said...

even if it was not because of the commmercialism i would still find it remarkable/ admirable if the indigenous tribes of cordillera are really into those horny bulol dolls....

i think they are really cool...

kyogre said...

very cultururally learned, i like reading your accounts of the cordi people.

i think male and female assertion are just about equal in the modern baguio. just an observation.

KRIS JASPER said...

So tourists go to that festival not to watch the festivities but to be a simon cowell on who has and hasnt shaved?

hmmm....

Jinjiruks said...

glad to know na anthropologist ka pala hehe. kahit papano may ibang paguusapan. can i ask kung may course din bang archaeology and how much per semester. it's my dream job kasi. ^^; inspired from Indiana Jones.

dak said...

so it's not them, it's us. hahaha... how odd.

jericho said...

cordi society is always an interesting study. I once had an hour of discussion with a cordilleran about the tribes - structures, working relationships, etc - and at the end of it, I was more confused than before. this is a good read. thanks for the info.

Lance said...

i just learned now that anthropology is actually about human beings...stupid, dumb me..hehehe!

I wonder if this has something in relevance about Bacolod's Maskara Festival..?

Mr. Scheez said...

Ewik, anong tribe sa Mindanao yung young men are allowed to have sex with older men? Yung pagnakapag-harvest ng finest pearls ang isang binatilyo ay papayagan makipagsex sa adult men? Di ko matandaan kung badjao. Di ko rin mahanap sa internet =(

Niel Camhalla said...

These Cordillerans, are they Christian? I'm guessing not. They say when Christianity came in our country the privileges enjoyed by women diminished. I vaguely joke about it in my "Adam" entry.

Aracir said...

i think most native societies are matriarchal..

there's an interesting post on matriarchy vs patriarchy here:

http://russellmeans.blogspot.com/2006/11/comments-on-patriarchy-vis-vis.html

RONeiluke, RN said...

now i get it. the phallicism has nothing to do with patriarchal culture within but with the culture outside instead. the society is not even patriarchal! i was so wrong! haha! but what a way to start a business eh? hehe

i am fascinated with anthropology esp when dealing with artifacts :)

very informative post :)

Chyng said...

ah ganun pala kaya nagkalat ang mga ashtrays and keychains with that design. may something offensive pala behind that.