A friend who came with me to UP Diliman this afternoon took a copy of the September 2011 issue of U.P. Newsletter.
An article caught my attention: "UP groups denounce closure of Kulo exhibit."
1. Resignation from the Cultural Center of the Philippines
Karen Flores, a UP alumna, and the CCP Visual Arts Director at the time of Kulo exhibit resigned from her post "to uphold artists' rights...stand as a symbol of artistic expression." She also said that religion should "promote a higher self. It should not promote hatred. Instead it should promote tolerance."
Wow! So resigning from one's job is now an artistic expression? I wonder in what artistic manner she did it. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines "tolerance" as "sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from one's own." But like tolerance to pain and other types of it, there is always a threshold on how far one can tolerate a deviation. Christianity promotes forgiveness up to seventy-seven times. There is no law that says what we cannot tolerate we forgive. We can forgive a cheating husband but should never ever tolerate him. Tolerance is pushing someone to sin more. Do I tolerate smokers around me?
Me: I'm sorry, but I'm allergic to smoke. May you, please, stop smoking?
Smoker: Oh, I'm sorry. (Extinguishes cigarette and throws it to the metal bin)
Me: Thank you. (With a smile)
Me: Your art exhibit offends me and my faith. May you, please, change it?
Artist: NO! It is my artistic expression and it is none of your business! You don't know anything about the art and the artist! I have artistic rights!
Me: And I have human rights. The most fundamental of all rights.
2. Marcos and Aquino as allies
National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera said, "In the surrender of the CCP (to the pressure of Marcos and Aquino), the rights of individual artists were also surrendered." Incredible! Imelda and P-noy in one sentence! Lumbera even added, "Sino ba si Imelda?" Don't they get it? Even the godless was offended!
UPD Department of Arts Studies Chair Cecilia de la Paz said that "the government reaction was knee-jerk and out of hysteria." Madam, with toll going skyward, not just Skyway, and a liter of gas getting more expensive than a burger meal, that is the least this government can do for me. To be hysterical in my behalf.
4. In your dreams!
Former MTRCB Chair and UP College of Mass Communication Professor Nicanor Tiongson said that "art is not just pretty Amorsolo artworks to decorate our walls," and "an artist always dreams of a better world." What does a mother tell a hungry child crying out for food, and there isn't a morsel to spare? She carries the child to her breasts, sings a lullaby, promises that the child's father is on his way, and with plenty of food for him. She doesn't yell at the child, and paint grim pictures of Somalia and Ethiopia where birds of prey wait on the wings until famished children die, and feed on the dead bodies of children.
The mother believes in "easing one life the aching and cooling one pain and helping one fainting robin unto his nest again." Art is beautiful, so beautiful it makes one cry, so beautiful it takes one's breath away, so beautiful one can risk cliches.