PRIVILEGE SPEECH: Giving Value to Traditional Art

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(Privilege speech delivered by Anak Mindanao party list Representative Sitti Djalia A. Turabin-Hataman at the House of Representatives on January 23, 2017)

Assalamu alaikum warahmatullahi taala wabarakatuh.

Madame Speaker, fellow members of the People’s House, I beg your indulgence as this representation, a daughter of the province of Basilan, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, bring forward an observation brought about by the Miss Universe pre-pageant event featuring our very own Mindanao Tapestry.

As a Filipino playing host to this prestigious event, I set aside my own personal convictions on beauty pageants and join the entire nation take pride in this privilege. We salute and give due recognition to the men and women working hard to make this a success for and in behalf of the country and the Filipino people.

As representative of Anak Mindano, we further take pride in the showcase of the tapestry and fabrics representing the richness of each of our ethnic communities, a tribute to our colorfully diverse heritage.

We are however very much disheartened to take notice of the fact that our very own Yakan Tennun or popularly known as Yakan weave or cloth was presented as a fabric from Region IX instead of from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. We recognize the presence of a Yakan Village in Zamboanga City promoted as a popular tourist destination producing Yakan Tennun and we are sincerely grateful for this support to our traditional art. Indeed we need all the help we can get in the preservation and promotion of our local products.

However, this is also why we see the need to bring this matter forward. Our Yakan Tennun, is not just a product, it is a traditional art, one of the priceless traditional arts of weaving among the Muslim ethnic groups in the region along with the Landap of the Maranaos, the Inaul of the Maguindanawons, the Pis siyabit of the Tausugs, a traditional art that survived and was passed on for centuries. While those who fail to appreciate culture may perhaps see just a piece of cloth in our weaves… to us, the wisdom, the values, the very spirit of our forebears live in every single strand of every piece of cloth. It represents our identity, our very being. These colors, and patterns, and techniques, that we see and touch today, are the very same colors and patterns and techniques, created by our forebears, hundreds of years ago.

More than a product, our weaves are a tradition, rooted to our homelands. The Landap, even when woven by a Maranao in Cagayan de Oro, will always be a Landap of Lanao. Just like the Abel Iloco, even when produced in Metro Manila will still be Abel Iloco. Because we are not speaking only of the cloth, but of a tradition, attached to a community.

We do not complaint about the use of our traditional arts particularly our weaves by anyone. In fact we strongly support its use and promotion by all Filipinos, as it makes us feel that we are a part of this nation, that Filipinos are not limited to those who wear Barong Tagalog.

Our only appeal, is for our traditional arts to be recognized as having originated from us. That it is our own distinct contribution. We find it unfair, when anything bad and negative and ugly can be easily said of our making, but something beautiful and precious cannot be appropriately attributed to us. Parang hindi naman po siguro makatarungan, na kung kaguluhan o problema o pangit ay napakadaling sabihing kagagawan namin, ngunit kung makabuluhan, maipagmamalaki o isang magandang habi, ay hindi maaaring sabihing kami ang may likha at nanggaling sa amin.

As a people, so much has already been taken away from us. We thus call upon everyone, to take on a conscious effort in ensuring that nothing more is taken away, because no people and community must be denied of their rightful heritage.

Maraming salamat po.

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