by Jek Lopez
My name is Carl Jerickson Lopez and I will not hide behind the anonymity in the internet that breeds false bravado among some people here. But even if I am not catholic, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I am on a vendetta against Catholicism or the people who believe in it. This being said, I have approached this topic the way a sane man should, I listened to both my faith and my reason to come up with a balanced idea. I began this as someone neutral to the issue, but upon seeing how most fanatics disrespect differing opinions and how they resort to crude words to battle sound argument, I am standing by Mideo Cruz’s work. I am against the curtailing of artistic freedom by the self-serving purpose of a supposedly “majority” religious group in our country. They all scream about religious intolerance on the part of Mideo Cruz, but I’ll ask them, “how tolerant are you about other people’s faith?” If I speak out, would you tolerate my beliefs? Because believe me, I have tolerated your hypocrisy and excuses for most of my life.
I may or may not agree with Mideo Cruz’s theory, approach, or execution of the artwork in question, but NOTHING will ever justify the violation of his artwork. He may or may not have violated a very small section of an article on our Constitution, but that is for the courts to decide and not the dirty hands of self-righteous vigilantes. If that is going to be allowed then we may as well start hunting down and killing all corrupt politicos and crime lords that are known to us.
I, for one, believe that he did not violate anything because he never forced anyone to see his artwork. Mideo did not hi-jack a bus and held the Catholics at gun-point and make them go to the exhibit. His artwork did not make anyone become inspired to go out, buy a gun and shoot down Catholics. It may have been insensitive true, but it was also being brutally honest. The outrage of the catholic masses right now proves his point that the Filipino people do indeed have a tendency to be fanatical with regards to their devotions to icons and mere images. And they unwittingly participated in the exposure of the said idea to those who are indifferent to the schemes hatched between our government and the Catholic Church, as proven by the pressure inflicted upon CCP to shut down the exhibit.
I believe in the separation of State and Church. The State should protect its constituents from ideologies being forced upon them by a religious “majority”. The State’s morality should not be based on one religion but instead it should be an amalgamation of all faith and culture within the country. The State should not ask ONLY the Catholic Church about morals and indecency or what is right and what is wrong because if this happens, then woe to the Muslims. Or to the Baptists. Or to the Rizalistas.
I also firmly believe that nobody here can call themselves both Filipino and Catholic at the same time. The fact is that the Catholic Church almost single-handedly wiped-out our culture with their censorship and the imposition of their dogmas from the moment they landed on our shores. They branded the Filipino natives as Pagans and then proceeded to supplant the carved images of our Anitos with, guess what, carved images of their God and saints. How many traditions and tribal practices have we lost to this faith? How many were corrupted or re-fashioned to suit the priests’ purposes? Then they proceeded to give out promises of a reward AFTER death so that they can grab hold of every mortal possession the native’s had. And still we wonder why up to the present most Filipinos don’t own a single piece of land. They persecuted and excommunicated the man that became our NATIONAL HERO simply because he wrote literature that went against the Catholic Church. So tell me, aren’t they offended every time they see a statue of Jose Rizal? He was the embodiment of everything that the Church preached against, so why not burn that?
The Catholic Church should no longer be given any credibility to mandate or impose any of its will upon the Filipino people. We have suffered long enough as it is. They say some artworks are a perversion, what about their own perversions? As hard as it may be to comprehend for some, Mideo was not insulting Jesus as a man, or desecrating a person. He was emphasizing on how the “image” of Jesus is being sold commercially to people, much like the other figures featured in his work for example Elvis or Mickey Mouse. The cross is not exclusive to the Catholic Church or Christians; you may want to ask the Celts or the Egyptians about that. The Penis is not exclusively perverse; you may want to ask your biology teacher about that too. Whatever he meant to imply with the artwork, be it a benevolent or malevolent effect on our culture, it was up to the viewer to decide. So to all high and mighty zealots out there, you may have enough faith but please grow a brain.
To those still fixated with the idea of the “what if it were your mother’s photo?” thing, I will call your bluff. Give me your e-mail and I will send you a photo of my mother and then you can proceed to do anything you want with it and I will guarantee you that I will not personally harm you or file a lawsuit against you. The only catch is that you have to exhibit your work in a public place and attach your REAL name to it. You see, my mother IS a catholic and she is one of the few reasons I still have some form of respect for the said church. I know for a fact that she will forgive you for your act, and she will even see some semblance of beauty in whatever you come up with. That is how strong her faith is. We are all temporary, and a few months from now (maybe even days) no one will remember who we are and all we have done will crumble to dust. But when we stand together in judgment before our maker, would you have the guts to say in front of Him and I that you lived your life better than Mideo did? Kudos to the real Catholics and Christians in this thread, I salute you all. I saw your posts and the most saddening is the fact that you are so few.
They say Mideo attacked the Catholic Church intentionally, well I say the Catholic Church intentionally focused on the Jesus thing and disregarded all the rest in order to make a scapegoat out of Mideo. They say that Mideo was picky in choosing which faith to attack and that if he had done so with the Muslims, they would have had his head immediately. Well for one Muslims won’t be affected by the exhibit at all given that they do not practice the idolatry of graven images, and to say outright that they would kill Mideo in an instant is akin to stereotyping them as a violent faith.
If I find any fault at all is Mideo’s lack of subtlety. He could have gone the way of the Eraserheads releasing the song “Para sa masa”. For those not in the know, that song was a hit and almost everyone can sing it at the time of its release but there lies a hidden stab at the public as being one that has less than cultivated taste. You see my take on that song was that Ely Buendia was saddened by the fact that the people only wanted them to churn out “masa” songs and discarded the rest of their more progressive ones. It is embodied by the words “Pinilit kong i-ahon ka, ngunit ayaw mo namang sumama.” The irony was everyone sang along to it. You see, progressive art and music is SUPPOSED to make you think! These artworks make the public think grow and find enrichment as a culture, but we all know that the priests would not want that. They profit too much from the backwards thinking behavior they have ingrained to their flock to ever want to part with such power or financial gain.
Respect begets respect. Mideo Cruz did not disrespect the Church and he did not dishonor the idols and images they hold so dear. He merely mimicked how most of the public, even the Catholics, have made a perversion of the idolizing or worshipping of mere images and how it has affected our society. The simple truth is that nowadays religion IS a commodity. Take a look outside most churches, for example Quiapo and Baclaran, and you will see countless images being sold on the streets. Isn’t that by itself a sacrilege? Did not Jesus himself condone these acts or practices of selling salvation or promises of such? But the fanatics definitely disrespected Mideo’s work with the sadistic vandalism of his work.
I may or may not agree with Mideo Cruz’s idea, but I defend his right not to be censored. And if he ends up in jail while the clergy walk away scot-free from the sexual harassments and deals with corrupt politico’s scandal, we might as well all together walk into the jails and lock ourselves up because that is where we are all headed.
In parting, I suggest to you all that your “Jesus” himself is a symbolism of free expression and unbridled idea. He expressed his idea, his view of the world as it was during his time, and what did he gain for it? He suffered through the justice system of the State that he lived in. He was persecuted, mocked, and killed. Yet in the end he lived again and rose up to the heavens in a higher form of ideal. This is what will happen here. You may kill the man, but you will never kill the idea.