|A woman posed in front of a cross while wearing skimpy shorts in this photo, which became viral on social networking sites. Photo courtesy of Maike Domingo
MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) A year after an artist drew flak for adding phallic symbols to religious images, a young woman has become a subject of controversy for posing in front of a cross while wearing skimpy clothes.
Internet users from the Philippines, a largely Catholic country, called the woman “a disgrace” for “disrespecting their religion” after seeing the photo, which became viral on social networking sites over the weekend.
The Holy Week celebrations, called by bishops as “the climax of the faith celebration of the church,” concluded yesterday, Easter Sunday.
“Now this girl is pretty stupid. I really hope she isn’t Filipino,” said radio host Mo Twister on Twitter, referring to the woman on the photo.
Fr. Anton Pascual, president of Catholic church-run Radyo Veritas, lamented that today’s youth tend to forget about Gospel values and focus more on modernism.
“Ito na ‘yung lumalagananp na tinatawag na sekularismo na wala nang Diyos sa buhay ng tao at wala nang paggalang sa Diyos. Ang kanilang sinasamba ay modernism, kung saan wala nang puwang ang Gospel values na tinatawag natin: kalinisan, prudence and respect for anything that is spiritual,” Pascual told radio dzMM on Monday.
But he admitted that he has yet to see the photo, which was only described to him by his friends and radio dzMM anchors Julius Babao and Kaye Dacer.
Despite not seeing the photo for himself, Pascual scored the woman posing in front of the cross for lacking “good manners and right conduct.”
“Ang mga ganitong larawan sa Internet… kung buhay pa ang mga magulang nila ay paluin ang mga ‘yan sapagkat walang galang sa relihiyon at mabuting asal,” he said.
He also took a swipe at the woman’s so-called attempt to be seen as someone who is “modern” and “liberated.”
“Huwag nating haluan ng mga bagay na makamundo at ipinapakita pa natin sa madla para lang masabi na tayo ay moderno o liberated,” Pascual said. “Let us look into ourselves at tignan natin, ano ba talaga ang mahalaga sa buhay natin? Hindi kailangan na maging malaswa para maging maganda at para sabihin na moderno ka. Ang tunay na babaeng iginagalang ay may respeto sa kanyang kapwa, lalong-lalo na sa ating relihiyon.
“Ang problema kasi natin… ang sinasabi ni Pope Benedict XVI, ito ang problema ng relativism sa mundo ngayon. Wala nang standard, wala nang moral standard. Parang lahat na lang ay depende sa subjective interpretation ng tao.”
Meanwhile, Pascual urged the Catholic faithful to pray for the woman in the photo so she would “understand what she is doing.”
Last year, artist Mideo Cruz received flak from various groups, including the Catholic church, for his unconventional use of religious figures in his masterpieces.
His exhibit, displayed at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), featured photographs of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary adorned with objects not related to Christianity.
A crucifix was also decorated with a piece of wood in the shape of a phallic symbol.
The exhibit was closed following the controversy, with the head of the CCP visual arts department leaving her post.
Photo taken in Pampanga
The photo is said to be taken in Angeles City, Pampanga, a hotbed for Holy Week rituals such as self-flagellation and senakulo, a Lenten play that depicts events related to the life, suffering and death of Jesus Christ.
Organizers of the senakulo in Angeles City admitted that they had a hard time controlling the crowd and were unable to monitor what some visitors were doing to the religious symbols.
They also condemned the incident captured in the now controversial Facebook photo.
“Humihingi po kami ng paumanhin… nakita naman po ninyo kung gaano karami ang mga taong dumalo,” said barangay captain Paul Ryan Puri, head of the senakulo organizing team in Angeles.
“Ikinalulungkot po namin ang mga litratong kumalat sa Facebook… ito po ay kinukundena namin.”
Puri also asked the owner of the pictures to take them down as these “do not give a good message to the public.”
In an official statement, the Angeles City local government unit reminded tourists to “respect the solemnity of the Holy Week.”
“The intention of the Good Friday program was to make the people remember the deeds, sacrifices, and death of Jesus Christ,” it said. – With a report from Jayvie Dizon, ABS-CBN Pampanga