The Weapon of Cultures: Necropolitics and Death in the Cinema on the Indigenous Peoples of Mindanaw

Jay Jomar Quintos, University of the Philippines


Archipelagic Imagination and Decolonial Aesthetics: Enduring Imperial Duress, Colonial Detritus, and Fantasies of National (Be)Longing


This paper probes the contours of Lumad (a collective term for Indigenous Peoples in Mindanaw) and death in “Ang mga Tigmo sa Akong Pagpauli” (Riddles of my Homecoming) (dir., Arnel Mardoquio, 2013), a film based on Mindanaw settler’s belief that the souls of dead Lumad return to their homeland to resolve unfinished businesses. Through a set of tableaux and other surreal images in the sphere of dreams, the film may seem to homogenize various Lumad circumstances and life-worlds. On the one hand, it may be deduced as essentialist construction, but on the other, may be opined as productive articulation of Lumad collective experiences, forgotten and sidelined in the detritus of the Philippine national imagination.

Using Achille Mbembe’s concept of necropolitics, this paper explores how the rendering of death in the film is entwined in the unequal economic distribution, anti-poor policies that favour foreigners, and draconian power interplay propagated by the Philippine state. The systemic disenfranchisement towards the Indigenous Peoples is significantly evident in natural disasters, human rights abuses, and political violence in Mindanaw, specifically during the Rodrigo Duterte regime. Finally, this paper investigates how Lumad death in the film can be conspicuously tragic but at the same time, a weapon of cultures.

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CCSEAS Conference 2021 |