The Igorot triangulates, tarries beside a TV: An analysis of Walang Rape Sa Bontok and Tokwifi


Visual forms of communication are historically allied with the colonial project. Photography and film have been used both to create narratives about, or impart stories to, the colonized native, as part of framing their way of life, or lack of ‘civilization,’ and feeding them with the colonizer’s culture. Yet as with all things, these technologies and processes are pregnant with their opposites, as Marx put it. This short essay looks at two films, Walang Rape sa Bontok and Tokwifi, to examine how alternatives concerning the medium have been pursued. It focuses not just on the filmic content but also on the processes of the movies’ creation. Doing this betokens not just alternative representations of the Bontoc people but more importantly, alternative relationships materialized to make a historically marginalized group—the indigenous people–more present and active in procedures of storytelling, representation, and visualization. A preliminary wager is that both films approximate and bring to life the notion of communality or collectivity, counterpointing the arguably more dominant logic of tokenistic inclusion when it comes to the visibility of the indigenous in mainstream mass media.