three months ago, the neo-angono artists collective, a group of angono-based writers, musicians and visual artists, was commissioned to do a mural on the history of press freedom in the philippines. the result: a brilliant 8 x 32 foot mural depicting the history of and present threats to press freedom in the philippines. the mural was unveiled by pres. gloria arroyo during the npc’s 55th anniversary last october 26.
a few days after, much to the artists’ and our collective shock and consternation, it was found out that the mural was defiled and bastardized to erase, downplay and/or alter elements that were deemed ‘too leftist’ and ‘unfit for public viewing.’
warning: do not scroll down if you are easily offended.
The erasure of a big portion of the newspaper held by the central figure, containing the statement of the International Federation of Journalists regarding the perceived effects of the anti-terror law on press freedom, and replaced by a hideous bird-monster in a cage;
The alteration of the headline of the newspaper Jose Rizal is holding from “Press Freedom Fighter’s Son Abducted” to “Press Freedom Fight Is On” and the defacement of Jonas and Edith Burgos’s pictures as well as the erasure of Jonas’s name;
The change of the tattoo on Andres Bonifacio’s left arm from the alibata “K” to a sappy red heart pierced by an arrow;
The erasure of the name of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines from the banners of the rallyists;The lengthening of the hair and beard of the figure identified as academician-columnist Prof. Randy David beside columnist Conrad de Quiros;
The addition of beard and mustache and the change of hair color from white to black of the pugo and balut vendor identified as columnist and Martial Law detainee Juan Mercado.
sick, sick, sick. the neo-angono artists collective, in a statement, said that they have reason to believe that arroyo with the acquiescence of the npc was responsible for the bastardization. the npc admitted as much and said that the mural was altered with their knowledge.
my personal take (which i emailed and suggested to my good friend richard gappi, president of the group): return the money and reclaim the mural. this is not just a simple case of copyright disrespect, it is by far the most blatant and visual example of curtailment of press freedom and freedom of speech. surely there are more worthy venues and more appreciative audiences for an exceptional mural with an equally most relevant message as this. i’m also sure that there are more than enough artists, press freedom fighters and civil libertarians willing to get sponsorships and donations to help them compensate for all the time, effort and finances they put into the masterpiece.
as for the npc, nakakahiya kayo. tapos na ang undas pero multuhin sana kayo ng lahat ng mga martir na lumaban para sa press freedom and freedom of speech.
this reminded me too much of the great diego rivera.
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