DAVAO CITY- "They were really the strongest contingent for the open category. It was a unanimous decision by the judges," said Harold Quibete, event organizer of Indak-Indak sa Kadayawan (Street Dancing Competitions) over the controversy regarding the attire of the open category winner Sindac Anib Performing Ensemble from Bislig, Surigao del Sur.
The male dancers of Sindac Anib wore g-string during their performances which draw mixed reactions from netizens.
"Cultural merits were cascaded to the judges and we met the night before the competition and we discussed whom we can allow to perform during the Indak-Indak. We saw their performance as unique," Quibete said.
He said the contingents underwent many inspections and visits by the organizers and judges notably to look into the blocking of the performances. "We have the utmost right to suspend any contingent from performing," Quibete said.
"Wala kaming nakitang mali (We didn't see anything wrong) we saw the samples of the costume and so on and so forth," Quibete said.
The scantily clad male dancers of Sindac Anib were said to be a disrespect to the Manobo indigenous people according to several netizens.
However Quibete said the Sindac Anib didn't represent a specific indigenous people.
"If you are going to read the mechanics, the open category is free interpretation, it maybe a fable, a legend or a folklore, an adaptation and the contingent (Sindac Anib) did not carry any tribe," Quibete said.
After a discussion with the judges, Quibete said they have found no violations, nothing offensive.
"The performance was done with taste, wala sila nagpataka ug tuwad because gusto lang nila magtuwad, wala sila nagpakita ug lubot kay gusto lang sila magpakita ( they did not just carelessly bend over because they just want it, or to show their buttocks because they feel like showing it) Quibete said.
The event organizer added that the ensemble won several street dancing competitions in other places like Caraga.
"Why do we have to limit the creativity of our choreographers if they followed the requirements," Quibete said.
"If there was something wrong with the way they pose before and after the competitions that's' beyond our scope," he added.
Quibete said they are very diligent in ensuring that aside from providing good entertainment, we see to it the performances are done in good taste and not offensive.
"I have a four-man team we call it the violations committee, they find mistakes in contingents," each violation correspond to an across the board demerits.
In the previous years there were several strong contingents who could have won championships if not for the violations found by the committee, according to Quibete.
About six jurors out of the 15 judges, are members of the NCCA (National Commission for the Culture and the Arts), Quibete said jurors are not just picked out of nowhere. "He or she must have a very strong background in the performing arts, he or she maybe a dancer or a critique,"
"We didn't see violations about the contingent from Bislig, they won because of their performance. Particularly they were able to effectively show their emotions," Quibete said.
As for the scanty attire, Quibete said it could have been to emphasize the movement of lower extremities particularly footwork as Indak-Indak street dancing's focus is about movement of the body's lower half particularly the legs and feet.
"Indak-Indak is challenging for contingents with long costumes such as like long skirts, as the judges cannot see the movement of their feet," Quibete said.
Quibete reiterated that they condemn any disrespect to the indigenous peoples and Muslim communities. "We do not tolerate any disrespect however we do not limit the choreographers from their adaptation and their creativity."
"Lewd acts is a lot, lot different from a dancer that expresses artistry wearing skimpy costume, they are two different things," Quibete said.
Indak-Indak sa Kadayawan or the street dancing competitions was held Aug 17, it is one of the highlights of the annual Kadayawan Festival held every August in Davao City. (PIA/RG Alama)