When Imelda Marcos envisioned the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) more than 40 years ago, she had in her mind a structure/organization that would serve as the grand stage and venerable repository of Philippine culture. In it, the fine arts would be displayed and honed, performed and shared. It would serve, according to her and everybody else who supported the project, as the home of the “Filipino Spirit”.
Indeed, going to the CCP whether for a musical production or a play has always been a joy to me. I have been to many affairs there: from operas where doñas would don their finest Filipiniana to simple shows which were filled with different kinds of people. The excitement and the memories that accompany me every time I visit the CCP are worth recounting.
However, these past few weeks, I can say, with much conviction and sorrow that the CCP’s absurd arrogance, disturbing stubbornness and cold rejection of concerned and hurt Filipinos’ sentiments over Mideo Cruz’ “art” work is appalling. The people who are running and managing (you call that management?) the CULTURAL CENTER OF THE PHILIPPINES (it is supposedly the HOME OF THE FILIPINO SPIRIT!) seem to be too caught up in their haughtiness and “art theories” that they have forgotten their role of celebrating and sharing the glories and beautifies of Filipino talent and skill.
Why am I asserting this? Because Mideo Cruz’ work, to begin with, sans my strong Catholic convictions, isn’t art. It is garbage. I can be an Atheist or a so-called “Free Thinker” (Yeah, right.) and I’d find his work a waste of my time and CCP’s space. It has no place in an exhibit that seems to be celebrating the Royal and Pontifical University of Santo Tomas’ 400th year and the national hero, Dr. Rizal’s 150th. It is actually a narrow-minded and lousy, below-the-belt caricature of the Catholic religion. It resorts to poking fun and slinging crap at the faces of believers and even non-believers.
The work of Mideo Cruz is the work of a man whose understanding (or lack of) of history, society and religion, faith and morals is unfortunately distorted or imbalanced. If he thinks that he is making a point with regard to how Catholicism has been steeped in its veneration of icons, then it is he who is a fool for Catholics are not simply insulted by his treatment of the paper images; we are offended and hurt by his intention and his malice. He knows that the greater majority of the populace belive and hope, love and adore Jesus Christ, His Virgin Mother and the Saints. He knows, surely since his youth, how important the Christian Faith is in this side of the world.
It is not for us to judge Mr. Cruz for his beliefs or disbelief. He is entitled to that. We are also not against his craft, if ever he does have artistic talents to share. We are, however, angry with his garbage being hoisted up seemingly as a banner “against” Catholicism in the national stage, the CCP. What was the motivation behind his installation?
Emily Abrera, whom I actually met for a contest I won, which she judged, gave a callous and snobbish answer in a TV show when she said that, in relation to Mideo’s work and the brouhaha it has predictably created, that it is “part of Filipino culture to question, to think.”
What was she trying to suggest?
That we who were offended and angered by Mr. Cruz’ work are stupid for reacting so negatively?
That we who are demanding for its removal from the CCP are being parochial and being too imposing?
That we who act out of religious fervor and who speak out to express our pious sentiments being “illogical”?
That we lack the critical mind to comprehend or even APPRECIATE (BARF) that awful thing by Mr. Cruz?
Ms. Emily Abrera and the rest of you “culturati” (honestly, some of you there don’t have fine taste or any deep appreciation for culture; you’re just there as employees) in the CCP should listen and consider the pains and woes of the people who feel betrayed by this continuous support for Cruz’ crap.
Alas, the “Free Thinkers” have again spent many precious hours of their lives supporting Mr. Cruz forgetting many essential humanist philosophies regarding compassion and understanding, humility and mutual respect. They are accusing the Church (they are again painting unnecessary images of kingly Popes, Pajero-driving bishops and salivating priests) of meddling with the private affairs of individuals who should freely do as they want. Is that the meaning of free thought? To immediately come into the defense of mindless acts, acts that are completely insensitive to the feelings and faith of others, is that the task of “Free Thinkers”?
Why are we so offended with a penis protruding from the face of Our Lord? Why are we fuming angry at the sight of seemingly used condom “adorning” the image of our Lady? Because we are Catholics! Because we are human beings who should be free to practice our religion and live our Faith, and thus feel strongly about these things! Do you want us to simply back off and keep quiet? What does Mr. Cruz want to achieve? A celebrity status at the expense of Catholic sentiments?
These recent months have been sad for Catholics, often painted as stupid and illogical. Political issues and irresponsible statements like that of Margie Juico casually speculating bishops got Pajeros, thus the furor, are really eroding the image of the Church here in the Philippines. Sadly, it is this same Church which has constantly worked with the poor since 1565.
The CCP should remove Mideo Cruz’ garbage and apologize to the people soon.
As for the Catholics out there, let us heed the late Pope John Paul II’s admonition, “DO NOT BE AFRAID!” Do not be afraid to be called stupid by the foolish because we are on the side of the right and decent, of that which is charitable and moral, that which is sensitive to the feelings of others. It is Mr. Cruz right to make his art or whatever he does for that matter but it is/was not prudent on the part of the CCP to host it or give it a place there in what we call the home of the Filipino soul.
To begin with, we might not be too sure if Mr. Cruz’ supporters (or the man himself) believe in the idea of soul. Let us stand up against that installation! We cannot allow any institution to so callously treat our sensibilities and still have the gall to call itself our country’s cultural center!
*An article by Mr. Lito Zulueta on the same topic is worth the read. Follow the link: http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/8837/shock-for-shock%E2%80%99s-sake