Bahag Kings

  • Philippines
Audio Tracks

The loincloth is the oldest form of clothing. Since time immemorial and in various civilisations throughout the world it has been used as attire to cover male genitalia. In the region of Oceania this piece of clothing is called bahag, and its appearance represents a kind of cultural symbol. The bahag worn by the indigenous Philippine population was described at the start of the 19th century by missionaries. Not surprisingly, the spread of Christian morality discouraged its use, viewing it as an unacceptable form of attire. A group of men, the Bahag Kings, leave the countryside behind in their old truck and head for the urban jungle. Seven men in multi-coloured cloths wrapped between the legs and worn as a symbol of ethnicity pretend to be the descendents of majestic native rulers and village idiots and attired as such experience a series of bizarre incidents in the big city. But this traditional garment, which should not be offensive to any Philippine, is deemed to be indecent, and the director and half his group of "kings" end up spending a night in jail. The loincloth comes to represent a point where different socio-cultural streams collide. This wild punk musical thus takes on a somewhat political tone.

Khavn's digital film, shot in a documentary style and with Dadaistically temperamental performances, undermines the established order, and in its gleeful impertinence it shows how an authoritarian mentality is instrumental in the way symbols acquire their meaning.




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