IF CATHOLIC clergymen had kept quiet, if Archbishop Oscar Cruz hadn’t called the exhibit “sickening,” if he hadn’t called the artist “sick,” if he hadn’t advised the artist to see a psychiatrist, if he hadn’t implied that the artist’s sexuality was abnormal, if Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez hadn’t called for a boycott, then Mideo Cruz’s Poleteismo could have gone unnoticed by the larger public.

Instead, ad hominem attacks against the artist — “supposed artist,” according to a member of the Catholic laity — have roused the curiosity of individuals, who are now buzzing about the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) looking for the piece that was branded “controversial” and “sacrilegious.”

talaga naman, what are the bishops up to?  stirring things up on the side to distract us from what?  the suvs?  but the senators have absolved them and the media have moved on to more current and sensational developments, i.e., whistleblowers on the cheating in the 2004 elections, the tandem illnesses of gma and her fg, the resignation of zubiri, the dbp suicide, the prez and the milf, at kung anoano pa.  can the bishops be trying to distract us from all THAT? but why on earth?

because really, why call attention to an “offensive” installation that the larger public was completely unaware of until their attention was called to it?  it’s not as if the installation’s out in the streets, like, you know, billboards?  and it’s not as if it’s the first time that religiously offensive art has been exhibited in the cultural center: Jose Legaspi’s installation in the Small Gallery, for example, which included a modified Pieta showing the Virgin Mother vomiting on the dead Christ.

but, okay, benefit of the doubt.  say the intention was not to distract, rather na-offend lang sila talaga nang grabe sa poleteismo ni mideo cruz, they were just so super scandalized by erect penises next to christ and crucifix.  kabastusan at kalaswaan, blasphemy and sacrilege daw.

on one free-standing wall hangs a life-size crucifix festooned with scapulars and rosaries, as well as a red phallus. Cruz shrugs off the outrage over the phalluses.

“It’s symbolic for patriarchy, a symbol of power. There are those who worship power, who put their faith in men who wield power even if the power is used against women, or against the whole of society. The fight for sexual and gender equality continues, doesn’t it? But the balance continues to be tipped in favor of the phallus. Is this good or bad? You decide,” he said.

(For some, the phalluses could very well represent the leadership of the Catholic Church in the Philippines – a group of grown men deciding on how women in the country do not have the right to control their own reproduction process, much less their sexuality. Currently the Catholic Church is hard at work campaigning against proposals for a reproductive health law. It has also come to a head against calls of the Lesbian, Gay ,Bisexual and Transsexual or LGBT community to allow same-sex marriages in the country.)

i would like to think that the bishops are aware of what the phallus symbolizes, especially as it applies to the church as a dominant power.  but certainly it is not to their advantage to allow the discourse to level up.  basta, they don’t want any talk of sex, much less any sight of the penis.  off with the penis!  yes to vandalism!  in effect demonstrating the truth of the message.

meanwhile the CCP is sounding somewhat conciliatory, correct me if i’m wrong. says ccp president raul sunico:

We have received many letters and texts coming from both sides. We just came from an emergency meeting of the CCP Board. It’s also divided about this. After this forum, we will continue to meet. In the end the decision must be beneficial to the majority.

the board is divided too?  that’s scary.  people who agree with the bishops on this matter have no business being on the CCP board.



  1. manuelbuencamino

    I am reminded of the outrage that anti-muslim generated a few years back (in Netherlands yata). Then as now, mahirap pumanig sa either side kasi parehong legitimate ang arguments. Imagine China’s state museum exhibiting works na binababoy ang mga Pilipino or the other way around, the CCP exhibiting totally anti-chinese art. Or what if CCP exhibited an ultra-racist or sexist show?
    Mahirap talaga. We don’t want to fall into the trap of political correctness but at the same time ayaw din naman natin payagan ang babuyan.

    • “Then as now, mahirap pumanig sa either side kasi parehong legitimate ang arguments”

      i’m shocked that you find them both legitimate. if a chinese artist makes artwork about how stupid filipinos are, we ought to complain. fight fire with fire. but to use force to shut them down? is that ever OK?

      • manuelbuencamino


        Both sides are legitimate in that the artist had every right to artistic expression and the offended parties had every right to express their resentment.

        As to using force to shut them down, I don’t know what you mean by that. But if you mean they use force in the traditional way that we understand it to shut them down then the artist and his friends can also use force in the traditional sense to protect the artwork. fight fire with fire like you say.

        • huh? now u are advocating fighting force with force? if i destroy ur artwork, you can… what… vandalize your house? i’m a little disappointed that you can advocate force.

          if u find artwork diminishing, then fight with words and art, not with destruction of property or strong arming.

    • Here, it is a crime to exhibit materials that “offend any race, or religion” (Art. 201, 2b, Revised Penal Code). Perhaps now is a good time to test whether this law violates separation of Church and State.

      I also noticed that the art community seem to base their defense on freedom of expression. This is perhaps a weak argument, since freedom of expression is not absolute (which is why we have a censors board for movies and TV).

  2. JOJI umali

    as they say, the Medium is the message, m.cruz’s avan garde satanic version of power, whether politically correct or conform to a liberating religious decency is a far cry for aristic license to demean the very core of faith, even the most Islamic fundamentalist who considers JC as an emnent prophet will find it abominable and surrealistic crime against a divine revealed figure worshipped by billions of people.

    For me, there should be no justification wheher for art’s sake or not. Its simply a bastardation of art.