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SM City Clark Denounced for Cultural Injustice vs IPs from the Cordilleras


The organizers of the 3rd North Philippines Travel and Tourism Expo which was staged at the SM City Clark in Pampanga on November 14-16, 2008 decried the discriminatory acts - tantamount to committing cultural injustice - of the sales department of SM Supermalls represented by Ms. Lana Erroba for arrogantly trying to stop the staging of the indigenous cultural performance of the Pines City National High School Teatro Pino from the Cordilleras saying that the performers are wearing skimpy attire and therefore are bound to “scandalize” the children watching the show.

She further said that SM has a reputation of being a family-oriented shopping mall and thus cannot allow such “obscene” acts from being displayed like the ones shown by the cordillerans .

As a matter of fact, arrogant Erroba expressed anger over the insistence of the organizers led by the chairman of the Central Luzon Tourism Council chairman, Ms. Lydia Co, and Philippine Exhibits and Themeparks Corp. (PETCO) led by its vice-president, Ms. Edith Collado, to go ahead with the show even as Erroba remarked that the show can only be shown in the uplands but never in the central plains of Luzon

The organizers further adhered to their position that it has always been the culture and tradition of the cordillerans to wear what they call loin-clothes or “bahag” in our dialect when expressing their cultural heritage and this tradition may not be treated any differently whether staged in the mountains or in the flatlands.

When things were going rough, Regional Director Ronaldo Tiotuico of the Department of Tourism – Region III barged in by saying that SM management cannot discriminate without committing moral injustice against these indigenous people.

When SM management insisted on their position thru another sales assistant, Ms. Maricel Asis, Director Tiotuico threatened them with a criminal or civil lawsuit for their irrevocable stance as this act violates certain provisions of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act or IPRA Law. He also threatened them to report the matter to top management of SM Supermalls headed by Ms. Teresita Sy-Coson.

It was only at this point when SM staff and arrogant Erroba relented and allowed the show to go on – but not with a heavy heart. Her assistant, Ms. Asis, even tiptoed around the dancers, gazed at their butts and appeared incredulous upon seeing them in loin cloth.

The incident was nothing short of humiliating for the people of the mountain province, to say the least.

Upon learning of the incident, Regional Director Pura Molintas of the Department of Tourism – Region CAR who is one of the four key presentors of the annual expo - without batting an eyelash - condemned the discriminatory behavior of SM management saying that they should apologize for committing a moral infraction against the indigenous people of cordilleras. She said that she will elevate the issue to higher authorities of SM if its sales department will not apologize.

The annual tourism expo is staged by the four regions of the North Philippines, namely Region I (Ilocos), Region II (Cagayan Valley), Region III (Central Luzon) and Region CAR (Cordilleras) as a showcase of the tourism products, services and cultural heritage of the north – all under one roof. Thousands of people came to witness the cultural events, exhibits, trade fairs, craft demonstrations and spectacular street dance exhibitions.

In protest against the unlawful and despicable acts of SM City Clark, the four regions together with the regional tourism councils of the north decided to boycott SM on its future tourism expositions.


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