It’s not about art, it’s about freedom

We may not agree with his art, but we have to respect his right to express his art, just as we have the right to express our objection against it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan nor a supporter of Mideo Cruz and of his art. I’ve only come to know about him when the news broke out about the angry criticism against his recent work at the CCP.

From what I’ve read so far, faithful Catholics and the clergy has every right to boycott, condemn and criticize all they want about Cruz’ work. The Catholic church has been doing this for centuries. Remember how they went against Rennaisance artists and free thinkers back then? It’s the exact same thing today.

More than a century ago, they did the same thing to one of our very own, Jose Rizal when the Church condemned him for writing the Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. So it’s not really ironic that Rizal’s fellow alumni from UST is suffering through the same ordeal today.

And just like what happened to Rizal back then, the same thing happened to Cruz today, the goverment through the CCP, gave in to demands and pressure from critics and shut down the art exhibit. If that is not censorship, both by Church and State, then I don’t know what is.

Critics cannot even raise the case of Carlos Celdran here, as Mideo Cruz’s art was never exhibited in a place of worship. It was in the CCP, the secular government’s supposed bastion for art, culture and its unbridled expression. Catholics can not also raise the argument that even if it’s on government grounds, it used public funds to which they contributed to, so it cannot be used to offend the Catholic faith. A wake up call to all my fellow Catholics, we are not the only ones who pay taxes in this country. So the moment our taxes join the taxes from non-Catholic/Christian citizens, it becomes public funds and loses its religious color. Kaya nga ‘public funds’ hindi Catholic or Christian funds.

That’s what is disturbing here. Censorship. Both by the Church and the State. All of this brouhaha about art. A visual expression of one’s beliefs and view of the country and society he lives in. Then again visuals have always been the obsession of the Church and government in the Philippines.

They are obsesed in projecting images that everything is normal and fine so asking about what’s underneath, the truth and the reality is a big taboo.

Remember how the government built up walls to hide the shanties and urban decay of Manila when a US President came to visit? Remember how the Church is always renovating and redecorating its buildings while all around, its parishoners, the so-called faithful flock are languishing in carton boxes, scrap metal and other refuse crudely put together and called a house?

Then it plays high and mighty dictating to us all, what is art and what is not? Some folks are right, it’s not only censorship, it’s fascism and despotism at its finest. It may be blasphemy in the eyes of the Catholic Church, but last time I looked, blasphemy is not a crime, but expression that is protected under the Constitution of our democratic country and supposedly secular government.

My advice to all those who are against Cruz’s art or other art forms that you do not like nor agree to, look away, step away and move on. The art was never even intended for you to begin with. And nobody is forcing you to see it.

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