Imelda Marcos denounces Philippine 'phallic' art exhibit

Former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos joins a growing protest over an art exhibition pairing religious icons with phallic symbols.

Imelda Marcos may seem an odd candidate for anyone to listen to outside the Philippines but its more confusing than the fact she was the wife of a former dictator that was ousted from power she now sits back in a political seat and seen as a bit of an art buff in the Philippines. You couldn’t make it up if you tried, but the reason her dismay is relative to the cultural centre holding the exhibit is that she founded it (I get confused on who pays for what as politicians do seem to like saying I did this when they mean I used public funds, so can’t say if she paid with her own money or tax payers which would just mean it was a government project not a personal one).

Anyway Imelda has joined a growing protest over the art exhibition pairing religious icons with phallic symbols. When asked about the exhibition she said “Mideo Cruz’s exhibition at Manila’s cultural centre had desecrated something sacred”.

Cruz said “the exhibition is about worship”. But still complaints grow in this heavily Catholic obsessed nation. The exhibition entitled Poleteismo or Polytheism, includes a statue of Jesus with the ears of Mickey Mouse, and a wall collage featuring images from Christ and the Virgin Mary to the Statue of Liberty and US President Barack Obama."This speaks about objects that we worship, how we create these gods and idols, and how we in turn are created by our gods and idols," said the Filipino artist, referring to the 300 years of Spanish rule that brought Catholicism to the Philippines and the current influences from the US.

For me the fact people are starting to examine and question the influences is a positive thing as often Spanish rule is used as an excuse of why something is done a certain way or why things are the way they are. Examining and understanding what makes the country tick and its people may help improve the state of the nation. Mr Cruz also admitted that the exhibition is supposed to provoke interest and reaction but was surprised by the strength and outrage of the response. Death threats,hate mail and even one of the exhibits was vandalised show the strength of the church still in the Philippines in an almost dictatorship fashion.

Marcos is one of the main patrons of the art and founded the cultural centre in the 1970s when her husband was the Philippines dictator and president she openly admitted she was shocked at the exhibit saying "There were so many symbols of the male organ there – something sacred to be desecrated. It is sad, and it should not happen here in the cultural centre," said the 82-year-old.

The Roman Catholic leaders are threatening to sue Mr Cruz and the exhibition organisers and requests have been made to get the exhibition removed from the centre, the cultural centre insists it is fulfilling its mandate to cultivate local artistic expression."It is part of our culture to question, to seek answers, to look behind the surface and try to dig out what our real values are," the centre’s president, Emily Abrera, was quoted as saying.

Personally I find it a grey area as we live in a modern society, the ability to question and think as well as be expressive are important. Prostitution is common place in the Philippines as is it well known a lot of the tourism for it yet I see little action from the church to shut down such places that damage the country as a whole. Does make you wonder who they are concerned about the people or themselves? (Although with the recent Pajero scandal from the sweepstakes it does seem more likely themselves).