Kulo, what was was supposed to be just another exhibit at CCP as part of its commitment to continually stir artistic expression and appreciation in our critical country did not only provide flack for the arts but rather stirred insurmountable emotions from different sectors in the country specifically the religious sector. A part of Kulo’s exhibit was an art installation by Medeo Cruz entitled “Poleteismo” which eventually caused an uproar from the religious sector more so the Catholics. Cruz’ art installation depicts images related to religion with a little twist wherein one of the most notable recurring being flashed in news is the picture of man supposed to be Jesus Christ with his nose being a phallus. It seems this way the way of Mr. Cruz to express himself with regards to the current major debate between the government and the church on the topic of Reproductive Health Bill.

I believe that this country in itself is a country wherein freedom of expression is exercised and sometimes overly abused. Look at those protestors who for no reason just come to the streets to shout what they want, look at the television nowadays and see what you see and the comments that you hear on live TV, and more clearly look at Carlos Celdran and how he settled to humiliate the Catholic Church and provoke the church as they stood against Reproductive Health Bill. Yes, as a country nobody can stop somebody from airing themselves in whatever form of media. Freedom of expression is expected to be a basic right of everyone. Freedom of expression is something we have all the tendency to abuse. I for one believe that expresssing one’s self has no boundaries else once you stop from expressing yourself and when someone stops you from expressing yourself, the sovereignty that our forefathers have fought and died for would be in question.

I often remind myself to RESPECT. Respect people. Respect their belief. Respect the culture. I was in Bali a few months ago and for most of us who have already visited temples they have at least two major reminders for those who wanted to see the temples. For both men and women, wear sarong when inside the temple premises and for women, there is that strict reminders that when they have their menstruation entering the temple is a no-no since they desecrate the place. On our first day of tour me and my cousins were all okay touring around the temples wearing sarongs but on the second day when my lady cousin told me she was having her monthly period, I told her to stay outside for even if nobody knows that she has one, I believe we need to respect what they have. For this controversy, RESPECT is one being questioned by our religious fanatics. Asking what happened with CCP allowing this?

When it comes with this issue, it has always been a toss between two certain things — freedom of expression and respect. Like a toss up between justice and mercy in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, knowing that you are just expressing one’s self does not warrant you just to do anything vulgar in nature or knowing that you know somebody in high position is already abusing his/her power will not always warrant respect but you have to express those corrupt actions. It has always been the greatest challenge for us Filipinos in doing this but I hope that we can find way to settle differences in a manner that we express ourselves and at the same time show the respect that each being deserve as a creation without calling them names.

As of writing, CCP has cancelled the exhibit. Senate is warning CCP that they will cut their budget. The Catholic Church is thinking of suing Cruz. CCP’s head for visual arts resigned. A lot of harsh words have been spoken. In the end, it will always be and will always be a toss up between two certain things.