Sacrilegious CCP and Government; Let’s Totally Privatize Arts

Where is blasphemous here? Find out in this article.

Personally, I don’t think Medio Cruz’s “anti-Catholic” works can be considered as a work of art. However, what we all know is that no less than the government’s ‘arts authority’ gave its blessings to Cruz’s and other artists’ “blasphemous” and controversial works. I say, let the people or the markets decide whether or not an impressionistic painting or a piece of wood is indeed a work of art. By supporting the controversial art exhibit, the CCP is morally “sacrilegious”  for violating the aforementioned unwritten public policy.

I condemn not the alleged “blasphemous” and “sacrilegious” Cultural Center of the Philippines’ exhibit, but the fact that since the CCP is a public agency it should NOT be sponsoring or funding any exhibit or event that could potentially spark social discord. It should not misuse public funds.

Since we are still a secular society in spite of embracing a number of pro-religious constitutional provisions and laws, the government should not engage in, support or fund any event, program, celebration, gathering or exhibit that could trigger social division, chaos and controversy. Public funds that come from the country’s taxpayers should solely be used to finance the legitimate functions of the government. But since we are a semi-socialist society due to the many socialistic provisions in the 1987 Constitution, the government is somehow justified to use and waste public money to promote our collectivist culture, traditions, and our so-called national identity. This is the reason why former first lady Imelda Marcos spearheaded (I believe this is the most appropriate word instead of “funded” or “financed” because she did not use her own money) the building of the CCP during the reign of his dictator husband Ferdinand Marcos.

Now we all know that it is the mission of this government agency, which also has proprietary functions, to “nurture and promote artistic, Filipino aesthetics and identity, and positive cultural values towards a humanistic global society.” It’s no surprise that CCP was created during the dictatorial reign of late strongman Marcos.

Politicized or political promotion of national culture and identity is one of the symptoms of a collectivist regime or government. You know that your government is becoming more and more collectivistic or dictatorial when it begins to promote what it calls national culture, national identity, national economy through protectionism or Filipino first policy, national traditions and norms, among others. All of these programs/policies were put in place during the more than two decades dictatorial rule of Marcos.

Today that Marcosian mission is still embraced by the present administration of the CCP, and this is the reason why it is now drawing flak from the religious sector for sponsoring and financing a “sacrilegious and blasphemous” art exhibit.

So what is this controversial art exhibit all about?

The CPP is scheduled to conduct an exhibit dubbed as “Kulo” that will run from July 17 to August 21.

Outspoken representatives of the Catholic Church claimed that the exhibit mock the Catholic religion because the “controversial” collage “Poleteismo” done by UST-trained artist Medio Cruz illustrates:

  • A religious image of Jesus Christ. Attached to the religious image is a wooden replica of the male genital protruding toward His face. The male genital replica is draped with the Rosary, hanging by the base and top of the replica. To a crucifix is attached a red male organ.
  • A similar religious image of Christ, where His eyes are darkened by black ink which appears to flow out from the eyes.
  • A crucifix and cross draped with a pink, stretched-out condom.
  • Various religious images and pictures of Christ, Mary the Mother of Christ, Holy Family, saints, and the rosary — all closely surrounded and placed beside pictures of women who appear to be modeling for underwear or a skin product.
  • A picture of Christ’s disciples surrounding a dark silhouette of Christ in the middle. Right above the facial portion of the dark silhouette of Jesus Christ is a drawing resembling the icon of Disney’s Mickey Mouse.
  • A religious statue of Christ seated. Attached to the tip of His nose is a red ball. Above His head is an imposed pair of red ears the same as Mickey Mouse icon.

They claimed that the organizers are liable for violating Revised Penal Code’s (RPC) Article 201 on immoral doctrines, obscene publications, and indecent shows.

Article 201 of the RPC states:

Immoral doctrines, obscene publications and exhibitions and indecent shows. — The penalty of prision mayor or a fine ranging from six thousand to twelve thousand pesos, or both such imprisonment and fine, shall be imposed upon:

(1) Those who shall publicly expound or proclaim doctrines openly contrary to public morals;

(2) (a) the authors of obscene literature, published with their knowledge in any form; the editors publishing such literature; and the owners/operators of the establishment selling the same;

(b) Those who, in theaters, fairs, cinematographs or any other place, exhibit, indecent or immoral plays, scenes, acts or shows, whether live or in film, which are prescribed by virtue hereof, shall include those which (1) glorify criminals or condone crimes; (2) serve no other purpose but to satisfy the market for violence, lust or pornography; (3) offend any race or religion; (4) tend to abet traffic in and use of prohibited drugs; and (5) are contrary to law, public order, morals, and good customs, established policies, lawful orders, decrees and edicts;

(3) Those who shall sell, give away or exhibit films, prints, engravings, sculpture or literature which are offensive to morals. (As amended by PD Nos. 960 and 969).

This proves my point that we are ‘somehow’ a secular country in spite of some pro-religious policies and provisions in our legal system. For instance, apart from the aforementioned provision in the RPC, the same code also penalizes “crimes against religious worship.

These pro-religion crimes are as follows:

Art. 132. Interruption of religious worship. — The penalty of prision correccional in its minimum period shall be imposed upon any public officer or employee who shall prevent or disturb the ceremonies or manifestations of any religion.

If the crime shall have been committed with violence or threats, the penalty shall be prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods.

Art. 133. Offending the religious feelings. — The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period shall be imposed upon anyone who, in a place devoted to religious worship or during the celebration of any religious ceremony shall perform acts notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful.

Also, some religious critics have a point in criticizing the state-funded exhibit. Atty. Jo Imbong, executive director of the St. Thomas More Society (STMS), an association of Catholic lawyers, said that since CCP is a public agency,  “the exhibition and hosting of an exhibit hostile to the very mandate of that agency — on public property and by a public agency — is an abuse of public authority and a breach of public trust.”

“It does no public service except to subvert the common good, appealing as it does to the baser instinct rather than to higher and more edifying dispositions of the human person,” she added.

Indeed, this proves my point that the government should not use the public funds in supporting, sponsoring or financing any event or exhibit that could cause public uproar. It should not also support any religious group because that would be in violation of the separation clause in the Constitution. It is the job and duty of the government to remain neutral.

Now in response to a Facebooker who said that “mutual respect is the best policy” and the the CCP artists should have exercised their freedom of expression “without having to unduly harm the sensitivities of others”, I said:

Blasphemy is now a thing of the past, and it’s very unfortunate that we still criminalize an act called “offending religious feelings”. Celdran’s case is a good example. That pro-RH bill fanatic should have been charged with an offense related to violation of property rights.

“Harm the sensitivities of others???” Well, those others could just ignore that blasphemous exhibit. In the first place, since CCP is a government entity it should not have sponsored that exhibit. I would support that exhibit if it were sponsored and supported by a private entity. But since I’m for free speech, I support the artists’ freedom of expression because blasphemy is a victimless crime. If you people support the criminalization of blasphemy, then for god’s sake allow us atheists to sponsor and pass a law that would protect us against religiots and fanatics.

Thus, what is sacrilegious and blasphemous in this particular issue is not the context and nature of the exhibit, but the very fact that the CCP- and the government, which the former represents- are in breach of some unwritten rational and sacred public policy: the policy that the government should not engage in, support or finance any activity, event or exhibit that could ignite social uproar and conflict.

I believe this issue is a good reason to abolish or privatize the CCP, which is passing itself off as the country’s authority of arts and culture. Apart from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the CCP is acting as the government’s arts authority. In effect and by virtue of their functions, these institutions determine what should be valued and considered as a work of art. Both the NCCA and CCP should be abolished for wasting taxpayers’ money. As for the CCP, it should be privatized. As for the NCCA it should be abolished, as it cannot be privatized for having no social and economic value at all.

Personally, I don’t think Medio Cruz’s “anti-Catholic” works can be considered as a work of art. However, what we all know is that no less than the government’s ‘arts authority’ gave its blessings to Cruz’s and other artists’ “blasphemous” and controversial works. I say, let the people or the markets decide whether or not an impressionistic painting or a piece of wood is indeed a work of art. By supporting the controversial art exhibit, the CCP is morally “sacrilegious”  for violating the aforementioned unwritten public policy.

However, if the cancelled art exhibit were sponsored or supported by a private entity or organization, it would have been a very different story. But since it was supported and financed by a government entity, the people involved should rightfully take the blame and face the ongoing public outcry. The difference between a government “arts authority” and a private entity is that the latter knows how to determine whether a piece of statue or painting has an artistic and commercial value, while the first is usually motivated by politics and influenced by its stakeholders’ ideological beliefs and inclination. This is the reason why the government should not be involved in the promotion of arts.

Thomasian visual artist Midea Cruz and the blasphemous work “Poleteismo”Thomasian visual artist Midea Cruz and the blasphemous work “Poleteismo”

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