PRESIDENT Benigno C. Aquino 3rd should be lauded for the way he dealt with the ugly, blasphemous and morally offensive “Kulo (Boil)” exhibition at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The CCP officials decided to close down the obscene exhibit after Christian groups, community leaders and government officials—including the President—were outraged by the hideous works displayed. Even non-Christian believers who advocate respect for other people’s religions were offended by the show held in the government’s foremost palace of the performing and visual arts.
Several of the works displayed at the Cultural Center’s “Kulo” exhibition were exceptionally bad in terms of creativity, originality, mastery of the medium and other norms used to judge whether a work merits being honored with a major exhibition. But the CPP officials in charge of visual arts consider themselves authorities in making sure that their agency functions “to act as catalyst for free expression of Filipino artists.”
The CPP officials averred that they decided to mount the “Kulo” exhibition after they had evaluated—on the basis of established parameters—the merits of the works proposed for inclusion in the show. The CCP Visual Arts Division director, Ms. Karen Ocampo-Flores, said she and her peers also evaluated the “background qualifications” of the participating artists.
Turmoil caused mainly by “Poleteismo”
The work in CPP’s “Kulo” exibition that caused the turmoil was Medeo Cruz’s installation titled “Poleteismo (Polytheism).” Polytheism is the worship of many gods. In a talk at the Cultural Center on July 29, Cruz explained that his installation is about the worship of relics and idolatry. His talk made it clear that “Poleteismo” was an attack against the visual content of the core Roman Catholic beliefs.
Cruz and his fellow exhibitors are alumni of the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas. One can not be blamed for concluding that Cruz’s and his friends’ disgust with the Catholic Christians’ Lord Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Family of Jesus-Mary-Joseph, the saints, must have either come from their unhappiness with their Dominican teachers or must have been nurtured by professors teaching in the most grand of Philippine Catholic universities who are anti-Roman Catholic moles.
The CPP put up the UST group’s “Kulo” exhibition as an activity to commemorate the 150th year of the national hero and UST alumnus Jose Rizal. The CPP officials, as well as the UST alumni exhibiting their works, must have been guided by the previously unexamined and now-questioned teaching that Jose Rizal continued to be anti-Roman Catholic and anti-friar until his execution. More thorough historians have been pointing out for at least three decades that our greatest hero—and the father of our vision as “the Filipino nation”—had begun to modify his views at the time he was writing El Filibusterismo. But for some dark reason those who are committed to portray Rizal as anti-Catholic forever have refused to amend their writings despite the strength of the evidence, research and the clarity of the expositions of such authors as de la Costa, Schumacher, Arcilla, Lisa, de Pedro, among many others.
The normal observation is that “Kulo”—most particularly Cruz’s “Poleteismo”—mocked Christianity with the following presentations:
• Attached to an image of Jesus Christ is a wooden replica of a penis protruding toward His face. The penis is laced with the Rosary.
•There is also a crucifix attached to which is a red penis.
• Another image of Christ has His eyes darkened with black ink, which appears to flow out from the eyes.
• A crucifix and a cross are draped with a pink, stretched-out condom.
• Other images and pictures of Christ, Mary the Mother of Christ, the Holy Family, saints, and the Rosary are surrounded and touched by pictures of women in intimate poses.
• There is a picture of Christ’s disciples surrounding a dark silhouette of Christ in their midst. Above the head of Jesus, who to Catholics is the Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, is Mickey Mouse.
• A statue of Jesus Christ has a red ball at the tip of His nose and above the head a pair of red ears. He is portrayed as a clown and a Mickey Mouse figure.
President’s lecture on principles
The President was absolutely correct to lecture the CCP officials. He reminded those whom he contacted on Tuesday that he himself was an adherent of the Christian religion and that 85 percent of the Philippine population are “Kristiyano.” He told them that the Cultural Center of the Philippines is funded with taxpayer’s money and they (the CPP officials) should make sure that the CPP serves the people. “But I don’t see how you can be serving the people when you insult the religious beliefs of most of the people.”
He then reminded them (the CPP officials) that while the artists have a right to express themselves through their works, it is wrong for them to trample on the rights of others, which our laws forbid. He added, “There is no freedom that is absolute. There are limits.” He made it clear that he is not for censorship. But he questioned artists and CPP officials whose works “are supposed to be ennobling but when you stoke conflict, that is not an ennobling activity.”
The Pro-Life Philippines movement was the first to complain against the “Kulo” exhibition. It said on Tuesday that even if the show has been closed, it will still carry out its plan to sue the CCP officials and the organizers of the exhibit.
Yes, Lawyer Jo Aurea Imbong, lead counsel of Pro-Life Philippines and of the St.Thomas More Society, must charge the CCP officials, the exhibit organizers and the artists. A crime has been committed. The perpetrators must learn that crime does not pay.