return the money and reclaim the mural

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 fro
m the alibata “K” to a sappy red heart pierced by an arrow;
The erasure of the name of the National Uni
on 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.

you may send your statements and letters of support to

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3 Responses to return the money and reclaim the mural

  1. Tonyo says:

    they can’t return the money because i presume that part of it was already spent for the materials and other expenses in making the mural.well, they shouldn’t because the problem is not with gappi’s group, but with the NPC. i think the “defilers” and “censors” who were behind the mutilation of the mural have already learned a lesson or two with the Inquirer frontpage treatment they got, and the burgeoning protests and criticisms for the money, its just and agreed payment for making the mural.

  2. adarna says:

    hi tonyo!well, that is my personal take on the issue. kahit out of ‘delikadeza,’ a symbol of protest against ‘commodification’ ng kanilang art, or to prevent arguments of technicalities ng kung ‘sino ba talaga ang nagmamay-ari sa mural.’ especially since i understand na nagsampa na sila ng kaso pertaining to copyright laws and such (though i am not privy to what is actually stated sa contract between them pero i’m quite sure na may clause in favor sa npc with regards to copyright and property. ito na rin naman ang argument na ng npc). pero syempre, sila pa rin naman ang magpapasya nito. if they plan to do so kung ito lang ang paraan to reclaim the mural, partial man or whatever amount is just, tiyak akong maraming willing na tumulong at sumuporta sa is also not enough na the ‘defilers’ and ‘censors’ learn a lesson or two lang. this act of impunity is so sickening and an eye-opener para sa mga artists and press freedom fighters. i repeat, pulitikal at hindi lang ito usapin ng copyright.

  3. Renegade Eye says:

    See this.Both Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo became Stalinist in their later life. You might know Frida had an affair with Trotsky.A Kahlo exhibit is in town now.

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