In a tweet thread, Lumad school group Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development or Alcadev reacted to the statement of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) on the use of ‘bagani’ in ABS-CBN’s new fantasy series.

“NCIP has remained silent on the numerous [human rights violations] against the Lumad. But now that Bagani is trending, they are quick to release a statement – a clear attempt to paint themselves pro-IP while at the very core, they are mere puppets of [Armed Forces of the Philippines], mining companies and US-Duterte regime,” the thread started.

“While we appreciate NCIP’s statement on ABS-CBN’s use of Bagani in its fantaserye, we are also dismayed on their silence and inaction on the Lianga Massacre. In 2015, AFP-backed Magahat-Bagani paramilitary arrived at our community two days after AFP troops encamped at our areas,” it continued.

“The Magahat-Bagani group then stormed into our schools and homes, gathered us in one place and killed two of our leaders in front of us. They also killed our Executive Director inside our school.”

“Our story under AFP and Magahat-Bagani group isn’t fictional. This is what needs justice the most and it is NCIP’s duty “to protect and fulfill the IPs” as what they said in their statement,” the thread ended.

Emerito Samarca, ALCADEV’s executive director was killed on September 1, 2015 by elements of the Magahat-Bagani, a paramilitary group known to be attached to the 36th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.

 

ABS-CBN draws reactions to show’s use of ‘bagani’

On March 5, the NCIP released their statement on the use of ‘bagani’ in the new teleserye [television series].

“The Bagani is real, not a fictional and not a mythological group of warriors which the ABS-CBN TV series would like to portray. Bagani is an exclusively indigenous term that refers to the peacekeeping force o the Manobo Indigenous Cultural Communities / Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs) and othe ICCs/IPs in Mindanao. The Bagani defends and protects lives, properties and territory. Its prime duty is to guard the ancestral domain against any intrusion from outside forces that pose a threat to the lives of the ICCs/IPs. It is a sensitive position and class not lightly ascribed to just Amy person and never to those outside ICCs/IPs,” said NCIP Chairperson Leonor T. Orayde-Quintayo in the statement.

“By portraying Bagani as merely fictional or mythological, and without reference to the historical and cultural significance, the TV fantasy show distorts, misleads, and confuses rather than educates the Filipino TV viewers on the indigenous concept and term ‘Bagani.’ It is not surprising that members of the Manobo and other ICC’s/IPs took deep offense on the appropriation of the term Bagani on the show,” the statement also said.

Also on March 5, Alcadev tweeted on the network’s use of bagani.

“AFP has already bastardized our culture when it created paramilitary group named Magahat-Bagani who killed our Exec Director & community leaders. ABS-CBN could’ve brought back the real essence of a Lumad warrior. But they chose to trivialize this and turned it a fantaserye.”

 

They posted this quoting ABS-CBN’s March 5 press statement on the use of bagani.

When the trailer of the show came out in early February, the show also drew flak on the brown makeup applied to the skin or the ‘bronzing’ of its mixed race lead actors. The head writer of the show explained that the makeup was not intended for brown skin, but explained that in the script, the desert people were brown because the dirt and sand stick to their skin.

 

Another ‘bagani’

Joining the surge of reactions, the official Twitter account of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) shared a photo of the Pulang Bagani Batallion, a command of the New People’s Army (NPA) comprised of several company formations operating in the mountain ranges that surround the city center of Davao.

 

Another ‘bagani’ whose name surfaced in social media during this time was Parts Bagani, a prolific artist from the New People’s Army who portrays the armed struggle in his distinct style.

 

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