Thursday, January 17, 2008

Return to the native

I saw a basket weaver and a wood carver silently demonstrating their work inside SM department store. My guess is that this was intended for the Chinese and Korean tourists whose presence has become a mall fixture. I was so tempted to ask the crafts[man and woman] but was afraid of shattering their concentration and/or of me getting embarrassed for assuming that they could speak in Tagalog, in case they could not answer me. (They were both wearing sashes made of traditional weaving, so they could have been from an indigenous group.) It felt awkward watching them even though the crowd was made up of locals. Sure, it was not a spectacle and for sure, they were just earning a living, but the setting appeared so odd that I felt uneasy, as if I was an accomplice in some kind of essentialising-the-native kind of crime.

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