What’s New About the Tasaday? Implications for Practice in Anthropology
In the 1970's the "Tasaday" were "discovered" by Marcos crony Manuel "Manda" Elizalde in the jungles of Mt. Tasaday in Cotabato. Reported to still be living in the "stone age", the images of the Tasaday stunned and fascinated the world. However it was easier for some international celebrities to visit the Tasaday than for select researchers from the National Museum and abroad who were given limited access by the PANAMIN (Presidential Assistant on National Minorities) to the Tasaday and their cavesite. In fact the research period was cut short and the area closed off to all outsiders in 1973.
In 1986, the Marcos regime fell. Elizalde fled the country, and visiting journalists discovered the Tasaday wearing modern day clothes. Was the story of a "stone age people" still living in this modern world an elaborate hoax? The 1986 International Conference on the Tasaday was organized by the UP Department of Anthropology and the Ugnayang Pang-Aghamtao, Inc (UGAT) to discuss the Tasaday case and the many implications for practice in Anthropology.
Meanwhile, the "Tasaday people" went on with their lives, now under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), they are claiming as ancestral domain some 19,000 hectares of the "Tasaday-Manubo Blit Preserve" that President Marcos had set aside for them in Proclamation No. 955. The Tasaday have come a long way from being projected as "stone age people" to being ancestral domain claimants today.
This photos, are the same snapshots presented to the world in 1972 through the National Geographic magazine and PANAMIN publications, and in 2003 field visit of Professor Ponciano Bennagen to orient the community regarding their ancestral domain claim, and Israel Cabanilla to conduct archeological exploration of the original site, a basic report on which had never been done.
The UGAT and the UP Department of Anthropology held the Tasaday Forum on August 17, 2006 at the Bulwagang Claro M. Recto in UP Diliman, to discuss continuing issues of representation of the Tasaday and their implications for the practice of "Public Interest Anthropology". The event was also a commemmoration of the Internationa Tasaday Conference held in August 1986, which was sponsored by the UP Anthropology department and UGAT.
from the Tasaday Exhibit of the UP Anthropology Department