The twenty years during which the Tasaday of the southern Philippines have drawn the attention of anthropologists and social scientists can be divided into two major periods. The first is the “discovery” of the Tasaday in the early 1970s, followed by nearly fifteen years of relative neglect. The second is the eruption in the late 1980s of charges that the Tasaday were an instance of fraud, deception, and political corruption by the Marcos regime.
Initially, the Tasaday were portrayed as exotic in their isolation, their hunting and gathering lifestyle, their nakedness, their existence in caves, and their gentleness. Exotic “others” have been similarly characterized by descriptive (usually one-word) labels that emblemize what the people and the society are thought to be about. Thus, Kalinga are litigious, Samoans are sexually liberated, Tikopians are hierarchical, Javanese are patient, Balinese are theatrical, and Yanomamo are fierce.