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The perfect words to describe Mideo Cruz’s garbage

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For his somewhat immature and juvenile views regarding Philippine History, I don’t have a liking for F. Sionil José even if he’s one of the late, great Nick Joaquín‘s dearest friends. I may have a preference for José’s prose. I bought his famous Rosales novels as well as his other books, and I think they’re OK. But like I always say to other like-minded people, he’d better stick to fiction where he’s good at. Just like Ms. Bárbara González should stick to writing about the comforts of life.

But another thing that Mr. José may be good at aside from moulding fictitious characters and circumstances from his mind is art criticism. And this is what he has to say to describe Mideo Cruz’s controversial works

Sionil José calls Mideo Cruz immature, juvenile
By: Maila Ager
INQUIRER.net
2:01 pm | Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—National Artist for Literature Francisco Sionil José lambasted on Tuesday the controversial artwork of Mideo Cruz, who put a wooden penis on the image of Jesus Christ, saying it was not an art but an illustration that the artist was “immature” and “juvenile”

“I saw the pictures, which too many people object and I said this is not art. These pictures illustrate that the artist is immature and juvenile in his attempt to express his views,” José said in mixed English and Tagalog when he faced the Senate investigation on the controversial artwork.

“This artist is not all that good because we do it when we were kids, where you put a mustache in people… anó ba yan,” he added.

But José defended art in general, saying there was nothing “obscene” in it compared to the obscenities of corrupt officials in government.

“The obscenities in this country are the powerful Filipinos who do not do their duties, the corrupt officials, who are not responsible. These are the obscenities in our nation. There are only bad artists and bad writers,” he said, which elicited cheers and applause from the people in the hearing room.

José then called on the Cultural Center of the Philippines to be more sensitive to the definition of the art itself.

Good point. For future exhibits, how should art be defined? What are the parameters and benchmarks? Who should criticize art? These and other related questions should be answered so that in the future no more garbage will infiltrate our Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Mideo Cruz, probably mighty proud by now that he's up against Everybody's Favorite Whipping Boy (formally known as the Roman Catholic Church). But now he has earned the ire of a secular heavyweight... and a National Artist at that.

Immature. Juvenile. Probably the best, the most precise choice of words —without honestly resorting to insults— to describe Mideo Cruz’s Poleteísmo garbage.

For his age, Mr. José still has a good eye for aesthetics. So again: he’d better stick to fiction and the arts. So please, stay away from Philippine History. That would also be honoring a dearly departed friend in Nick.

Various comments from Mideo Cruz’s sick art

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“If you just look at artwork and see what offends you, ambabaw mo (you’re shallow-minded).”
Carlos Celdrán

“What sick mind would think that this sacrilegious work promotes Filipino aesthetics, identity and positive cultural values?”
Manila Rep. Amado Bagatsing

“The point is simple: You want to denigrate imams, feel free to do so. You want to make fun of bishops, feel free to do so. But you want to denigrate Islam, or Mohammed, or the Koran, think again. You want to make fun of Christianity, Christ, or the Bible, think again.”
Conrado de Quiros

“It was created by law and funded by our taxes for the purpose of awakening the consciousness of our people to our cultural heritage. Is it our cultural heritage to mock and insult religious personages and icons? Is it aesthetic to vandalize a venerated representation of objects of worship and reverence? Are vulgarity and blasphemy a Filipino value? What Filipino pride can emerge for such works? Is this our national identity? And CCP promotes it?”
Jo Imbong (Executive Director, St. Thomas More Society Inc.)—

Emedeo Cruz (I.N.C.) Sumpain ka, Bakla” and “Bakla Parusahan Ka” (Curse you, fag. You fag, you should be punished).
Hate messages from vandals scrawled across various parts of Cruz’s “artwork”—

My take on this issue? Arnaldo’s recent blogpost pretty much sums up my opinion about Mideo Cruz’s arrogant ignorance and phony artistry. Also, I have this funny feeling that Inquirer columnist Conrado de Quiros, although appearing to be neutral, wouldn’t have written an article regarding this controversy if not for those who vandalized Cruz’s offensive works (“You wreak that, or condone it, what does that say about your beliefs? You wreak that, or condone it, what does that say about your religion?”). In view of his past anti-Church articles, he would have let this Cruz issue go away if not for the vandals.

Imeldific was among the first to react against Cruz's blasphemous and offensive art. CCP, where Cruz's works were exhibited, was a product of hers.

I wish I were a painter. Then I’d paint a picture of Carlos Celdrán, but his nose will be that of a monkey’s prick. Now let’s see how these “intellectuals” and “artists” wannabes will feel about their Dámaso idol being “criticized” through art. If they react negatively, i.e., if they just look at my artwork and see what offends them, ambabaw nilá.

Lucky he, I’m no painter.

The new “Propagandists”

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I’d been having dreams lately, drunken dreams with their peculiar lucidity in which the Experience Trail, the High Seas seemed to call louder and louder, more and more insistently with a voice that was at the same time music—a siren’s song that almost threatened me if I refused to obey its quixotic urgings … –Sol Luckman–

The nuevas “Propagandistas” —el Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera, Arnaldo Arnáiz, José Miguel García, and yours truly— convened for the first time this morning to discuss the formal founding of a website which would be the nucleus of our group (I playfully call it a “cyberclique”, LOL!!!).

We talked about our passion for Philippine History, how we got interested with the subject, and shared each other’s viewpoints on how to rectify the errors of this taken-for-granted field. Blithely, Señor Gómez likened us to Don Quijote, hopelessly fighting the windmills. We were like “madmen”, so to speak, because the topic of Philippine history is perceived to be reserved only in school. And we have to face it: we are like ants against rampaging elephants. But this knowledge that we have is our “curse”; we have to live with it. And we had to live through the somewhat belittled field of Philippine history for it encompasses everything that is truly Filipino, the very subject which in a way keeps us sane. For us, the study of Philippine history is a treasure trove of knowledge and discoveries about our past that has been taken away from us by a neocolonialist extragovernment.

After our meeting, I told the group that I’m so happy that our number has “grown”. This is because I thought that Señor Gómez and I are fighting a lonely war. The great Filipino scholar and I have known each other since 1997 (he’s been like a father to me). We’ve also been searching for like-minded people, but in vain. Historian priests Fr. José Arcilla, S.J., and Fr. Fidel Villaroel, O.P. would have been perfect allies. But as published men, they are on a league of their own. Besides, having them on board will only attract baseless and absurd accusations of “ecclesiastical bias” and “papism”. There’s also prolific researcher Pío Andrade, author of the highly controversial book The Fooling of America and a friend of Señor Gómez. But we couldn’t find him. And so it was a blessing that Arnaldo Arnáiz and I have met back in 2007; Having discovered who the real Filipino is through his own researches, he too started to look for like-minded individuals to whom he can share his thoughts. I happily introduced him to Señor Gómez (they later found out that they’re distant relatives). Then just last year, the mysterious José Miguel García found the three of us in cyberspace.

The rest, as they are wont to say, is history.

Some of those who know us should already have an idea of what we’re up to. This group, particularly the website that we’re planning to set up, will encompass everything that we’ve been fighting for all these years: the recovery of our national identity (which is based on our undeniable hispanic/latin physiognomy and culture), to counterattack the ludicrousness of the so-called leyenda negra (that the Americans “saved” us from the “evil clutches” of the Spanish Empire), the rectification of an ill-written and bigoted Philippine history, and the defense of the much maligned Catholic Church, the faith which brought the Western civilization to these once heathen shores. In one way or another, all this shall be realized by bringing back the Spanish language as an official language of the Philippines (or –perhaps– at the very least, to have it taught in all levels of education).

Here is a brief profile of my comrades:

We shall continue what our heroes fought for. The struggle for the conservation of our national identity espoused by one of the greatest Filipino Nationalists who has ever set foot on this planet, Senator Claro M. Recto, will never falter.

1.) ARNALDO ARNÁIZ has been a history buff for as long as he can remember. An astute researcher and a master when it comes to the life and psychology of national hero José Rizal, it is surprising to note that Arnáiz has had no formal training in historiography and historical research. He is, in fact, a business process outsourcing (BPO) professional and a jiu jitsu expert. Instead of taking up History, he pursued Computer Management and earned his degree from the University of Perpetual Help Rizal (now the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA).

Later on, Arnáiz took advantage of the BPO boom in 2002, earning six years of exceptional experience in call centers. His work ethic paid off in 2004 when he was promoted as a team leader (supervisor). In that designation, he helped lead a pioneer customer service account in APAC Customer Services, Inc., eventually winning the Best Team Leader award a year later. In between working as a call center supervisor and a traveler-photographer, he delves into the mangled world of Philippine history. Through his own, he was able to discover our true roots. But it wasn’t always that way in his younger years:

I’ve realized lately that I have become what I, as a younger man, hated to become: negligent of one’s history. When I was child, I can recall getting upset whenever my classmates would make fun of Bonifacio (the Andrés hatapang ‘di a tacbó joke). I don’t know why and where this started, but my history education as a child was better than the other kids in town. I have the luxury of learning from one of our well-off neighbours who had in their collection a vast array of titles, some are centuries-old books.

The rest of my History lessons was concluded in schools. Although the lessons were barely acceptable to my standards, I’ve always felt that it was insubstantial. In my adult years after college, I bought my own books to supplement my studies but not as avid as I once was. ‘Past is past’ they say, but unless you study them you will continue to make the same mistakes. As my favorite history quote goes, ‘One faces the future with one’s past’. I now try to regain some lost ground in my study of history. It’s never too late for all of us to study and preserve what is left.

A curious note: although Spanish is not his native language, Arnáiz is a staunch defender and advocate of the said tongue. Like the late non-Spanish-speaking senator, Blas P. Ople, this distant relative of Señor Gómez seriously deserves to be commended a Premio Zóbel medal once the said oldest literary award-giving body in the country is reactivated.

2.) To introduce Señor GUILLERMO GÓMEZ RIVERA would already be superfluous in the light of his myriad of accomplishments in the field of arts, literature, language, and history. He is described in Wikipedia as “a Filipino writer, journalist, poet, playwright, historian, linguist, and scholar of Spanish and British descent from the province of Iloilo”…

Gómez Rivera is an academic director of the prestigious Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española (Philippine Academy of the Spanish Language), the local branch of the renowned Real Academia Española based in Madrid, Spain, and part of the Asociación de Academias de la Lengua Española (Association of Spanish Language Academies). He is also a teacher of various Spanish dances, and is considered the undisputed maestro of Flamenco in the Philippines.

In addition to his contributions to Philippine literature and history, Gómez is also an accomplished linguist and polyglot. He speaks and writes fluently in his native Hiligaynon as well as in English and Tagalog. Aside from being an acclaimed master of the Spanish language in the country, he is also conversant in French, Italian, Portuguese, Kinaray-a, and Cebuano, and has made an extensive study of the Visayan and Chabacano languages.

Critics regard him as the Spanish equivalent to his friend Nick Joaquín’s English. Joaquín’s body of written works were discreetly about the “Hispanic soul” of the Philippines brought about by three centuries of Spanish rule. Joaquín’s stories in particular were sentimental, reminiscing the Philippine’s Spanish past as well as its decline. Gómez wrote on the same theme, more thoroughly about the decadence of the country’s “Hispanic soul,” but his style was much frank and straight to the point—the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs) were the cause of Spanish decline in the Philippines. Also, unlike Joaquín, Gómez focused more on fiery essays than short stories.

He won a Premio Zóbel in 1975 for his play El Caserón (The Big House) which was published in 1976. He has since been a longtime master of ceremonies for the said award-giving body. Prior to this, Gómez won second place in the Premio Manuel Bernabé for an essay on the historical and nationalistic value and import of the Spanish language.

Much of the theme for Gómez’s poetry, as well as his essays and short stories, lie mainly on the destruction of which he calls the “Filipino Cosmos,” i.e., the destruction of Philippine languages and culture due to American neocolonization.

Gómez is a somewhat belligerent writer, as can be gleaned by his scathing attacks in his Spanish weekly newspaper Nueva Era against what he observed as local pro-compulsory “ONLY-English-language government officials” who he accuses as vile puppets of US WASP neocolonialism. Many of his writings boast of proofs against these people he accuses. Through his monumental body of literary works, he has advocated his Filipino readers to “rediscover” their Spanish past in order for them to gain knowledge of their true national identity.

Another way of doing this is through cultural dissemination, particularly through dance. Aside from sharing his knowledge of flamenco, he has made several researches on Philippine songs and dances, especially those of Hispanic influence, which he was able to contribute to the internationally acclaimed Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company. In fact, most of the Spanish-influenced native songs and dances choreographed by the said group can trace their origins from Gómez’s researches, which earned him the role of an adviser for Bayanihan.

He was also a recording artist, having recorded Filipino songs that were originally in Spanish, as well as Chabacano songs that were popular in areas were Chabacano used to be prevalent.

Gómez is also credited for reintroducing into the modern local film industry the now forgotten film Secreto de Confesión. It was the first film that was produced in the Philippines that was spoken and sung in Spanish (la primera película hablada y cantada en español producida en Filipinas).

He was also the National Language Committee Secretary of the Philippine Constitutional Convention (1971–1973) during the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos. As part of the committee, he fought for Tagalog to become the country’s national language. In the same convention, Gómez teamed up with other nationalists to preserve Spanish as one of the country’s official languages. Spanish, however, later was made an optional language (together with Arabic) from the Freedom Constitution of 1987 when Corazón Aquino took over from where former strongman Marcos had left.

Due to his tireless efforts in attempting to bring back the Filipino national identity based on Spanish, he is considered by some of his hispanist/nationalist friends, such as Edmundo Farolán, as El Don Quixote Filipino.

These astounding accomplishments (including those not written above!) should earn Señor Gómez no less than a National Artist Award for Literature and/or Dance and/or Historical Literature and/or Music (for his two-volume LP Nostalgia Filipina). Surprisingly, the credibility of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the National Commission on Culture and the Arts spiralled down to the sewers when it chose to give awards to undeserving people such as those who glorify blood and gore on film.

3.) Unfortunately, I cannot discuss much about our compañero JOSÉ MIGUEL GARCÍA (not his real name) due to security purposes, no thanks to this corrupt, neocolonized, and LAME puppet government. For now, his real identity cannot be revealed (thus the reason the four of us don’t have a photo together). But this is all I can say about my tocayo: I am mighty glad to have someone like him on our side.

Call me pretentious; I don’t really care (been called worst names in the past). But now that there are four of us, I can proudly say that our heroes did not die in vain after all.

Those @-h0les who have been spreading blatant lies and stupidities about our country’s history will VERY SOON have their “beautiful day” in cyberspace.

The Shameless Massacre of the National Artist Award

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Many years ago, during the Marcos regime, Filipino diplomat Carlos P. Rómulo received the National Artist Award for Literature. Rómulo, allegedly a plagiarist (he was said to have plagiarized a famous 1952 speech of US politician Adlai Stevenson), was also said to have ghost writers who have written some of his most famous speeches during his prime. That is why when news came out that he was to be awarded the highest literary prize in the land, National Artists for Literature José García Villa and Nick Joaquín were so disturbed that they reportedly tried to return their National Artist medals to the government.

But the awards were non-returnable. Thus, the two legendary poets were forced to remain in the league of Rómulo.

This controversy, however, was not made known to the public. Unlike what’s happening right now to the current crop of National Artists. For this year’s batch, there seems to be a new Rómulo…

The master of true-to-life Pinoy “slasher films” (aka massacre films) finally made it to the cut (no pun intended).

New National Artist Caparás: currently receiving heat from true artists. (photo from www.pep.ph)

New National Artist Caparás: currently receiving heat from true artists. (photo from http://www.pep.ph)

Last month, Magno José Carlo Caparás, better known as Carlo J. Caparás in the entertainment circuit, was named National Artist for Visual Arts and Film. This elicited vehement disappointment and disbelief from many artists from various genres. How could a film director be conferred the National Artist award when his works could be defined as sleazy when compared to the obras of local film giants such as Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal?

Could his violent B movie “The Marita Gonzaga Rape-Slay: In God We Trust!” hold a candle to Brocka’s critically-acclaimed “Maynila: Sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag”? How about Caparás’ forgettable “The Vizconde Massacre Story (God Help Us!)”? Could it be placed in the league of legendary Filipino films such as Bernal’s “Himala”?

The above mentioned Caparás films –and more– were commonly called as “massacre films” during the 90s. The comic strip writer-cum-movie director capitalized on such films at a time when Metro Manila’s bloodthirsty psychopaths and sex-starved perverts were having a grand time eluding anti-crime busters. In fairness, his massacre movies were well-received in the box office. However, these films were not artistic, nor did they elicit any form of beauty at all (beauty should be inherent in any art form).

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) in its website listed a set of criteria in selecting a candidate for the award:

The Order of National Artists shall be given to:
1. Living artists who are Filipino citizens at the time of nomination, as well as those who died after the establishment of the award in 1972 but were Filipino citizens at the time of their death;
2. Artists who through the content and form of their works have contributed in building a Filipino sense of nationhood;
3. Artists who have pioneered in a mode of creative expression or style, thus, earning distinction and making an impact on succeeding generations of artists;
4. Artists who have created a substantial and significant body of works and/or consistently displayed excellence in the practice of their art form thus enriching artistic expression or style; and
5. Artists who enjoy broad acceptance through:
– prestigious national and/or international recognition, such as the Gawad CCP Para sa Sining, CCP Thirteen Artists Award and NCCA Alab ng Haraya;
– critical acclaim and/or reviews of their works;
– respect and esteem from peers

From the above criteria, I’m confident that Caparás –a vocal supporter of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo– should have failed the second, third, and last items. His works, particularly his films, never contributed in building a Filipino sense of nationhood; nobody will ever see any patriotism in “The Lilian Velez Story: Till Death Do Us Part” nor in his “The Maggie dela Riva Story (God… Why Me?)”. Not even his Panday films will generate any sense of nationalism at all, even if it starred cultural icon and National Artist for Film Fernando Poe, Jr.

He never made an impact on succeeding generations of artists; I have yet to hear a filmmaker who claims to have followed his footsteps nor to have mentioned that Caparás was a stylistic influence. And as far as I know –and I’m pretty sure of it– he never won any major award proclaiming the artistry of his films nor his comic strips. And are there any intelligent reviews written regarding his films?

In addition, Caparás started out as a comic strip writer/creator. But he never drew his comic strips. He had artists for them; he merely wrote the stories. So what’s the logic in conferring him the National Artist for Visual Arts Award?

On the religious side of things, Caparás has the knack (or the nerve) of inserting Eloi,-Eloi,-lama-sabachthani-like tag lines in the title of his crime movies (“God…Why Me?”, “God Help Us”, “In God We Trust!”, etc.). But were they really necessary? If you’d ask me, I say they’re next to blasphemy. In one way or another, Caparás is taunting God whether he denies this or not. Is this the kind of National Artist that the government wants to be proud of?

Aside from Caparás, another National Artist awardee is receiving flak from having been included in the prestigious list.

Cecille Guidote Álvarez is currently the Executive Director of the NCCA. Together with Caparás and five others, she was named as National Artist for Theater. She may or may not deserve the award, but for the sake of delicadeza, she should not accept it because of the fact that the NCCA (together with the Cultural Center of the Philippines) oversees the selection process of the National Artist Awards.

Many respectable figures from Philippine Arts and Culture, from writer Bienvenido Lumbera (National Artist for Literature) to film actor Leo Martínez (Director General of the Film Academy of the Philippines) expressed disbelief over the selection of both Caparás and Álvarez. Truly, this is the bleakest period yet for the National Artist Awards, if not Philippine Arts and Culture as a whole.

It appears that the Arroyo regime’s misgovernance of things have even trickled down to (gasp!) the country’s art sector. Does this mean every Philippine bureaucracy is no longer safe? Because not even Philippine arts and culture is spared from this sickening corruption that has been ravishing the archipelago since 2001. Tsk.

For more information about the controversy behind Carlo J. Caparás conferment as a National Artist for Visual Arts and Film, you may visit the online petition which seeks to block him from receiving the prestigious award (Carlo J. Caparás is Not Qualified to be National Artist). For the sake of Philippine Arts and Culture –and not for anything else– I signed up myself.

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