by: Ugatlahi Artist Collective
In 2011, the Filipino people unite in celebrating Rizal’s 150th birth anniversary. We, as a nation experiencing profound political repression under semifeudal-neocolonial rule, commemorate the significance of Rizal’s battle side by side with the basic masses led by Bonifacio, against the colonial ruling elite. He used his talent to promote the interests of the deprived and expose the fascist characteristic of the clerics, the embodiment of political hegemony at that time. In many of his writings, Rizal described the repressive feudal relations that existed between the ruling class and the masses. In his novels, he depicted how the clerics exploited their feudal relationship with the underprivileged in order to maintain status quo.
The year 2011 also marks the end of the first year as well as the continuation of local feudal landlord Noynoy Aquino’s term as the puppet-president of our nation. Under Noynoy’s regime, feudal relationships continue to exist. Until he finally gives up his class bias, feudal exploitation will continue to flourish. Noynoy even seems to succumb to the whims of the Church, even if the laws clearly stipulate the separation of the State and the Church. Noynoy does this by keeping himself/his office mute and deaf of the masses’ appeal. He would also keep himself ignorant of the various issues involving the State and the Church. Nothing significant was heard from the president when the news came out about prominent Church people—bishops and archbishops—benefitting from the State, receiving expensive vehicles as gifts/donation/solicitation from the Philippine Charitable Sweepstakes Office. When the vehicles were surrendered, it seemed that Noynoy’s office was not at all interested in pursuing a case against the involved Church leaders.
Reports say that in Catholic schools, students who tackle religion in their poetry not in a way “pleasing” to the ears of the Catholic leaders, are not only censored but also reprimanded. For instance, a student in Cavite who wrote a poem about the RH Bill was demanded by the priests who run the school to quit his post in the student paper. A teacher’s poem about the hypocrisy of the Church was censored in a literary folio funded by one of the most prominent Catholic universities in Cavite.
More recently, an artist was verbally attacked by the Church saying, in a TV interview, that his works were “demonic” and “immoral.” The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) even threatens to take legal action against the artist and the curator of the said exhibit.
The role of the artist is to expose the current condition of society. Art becomes a powerful tool when it discusses the prevailing social conditions. Art becomes a threat to the ruling class because it does not only have the power to enlighten the people of the current national situation, it also has the power to influence people to organize themselves and mobilize against hegemony.
In this light, UGATLahi Artist Collective strongly denounces any form of harassment against artists and artists’ freedom expression. Under Noynoy’s term, clerico-fascism becomes more and more apparent. This is because clerico-fascism is an existing remnant of the abuses exemplified by the class-serving bias of the puppet-president. This clearly proves that “walang pagbabago sa ilalim ni Aquino.”