MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - Former First Lady and now Ilocos Norte Congresswoman Imelda Marcos on Monday said she is dismayed that the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) has become home to allegedly blasphemous artwork.
Marcos said the CCP was built during the term of her late husband, President Ferdinand Marcos, as a monument to the Filipino spirit and to show off the beauty of the Filipino culture.
Viewing the controversial artwork of artist Medeo Cruz, it was obvious that the former first lady felt uneasy going near them particularly the sculptures with controversial wood carvings.
"Ayaw ko lumapit diya. Kung ang mga Igorot nga may bahag," she told reporters.
She also commented on a sculpture that has a condom hanging over a crucifix. "A condom prevents life. And you put it next to God who is the savior of humanity," she said.
The former first lady said although there are calls to fire CCP president Raul Sunico, the move is not necessary. "Wag naman. Pag sabihan na lang," she said.
Marcos earlier told Inquirer Radio that she personally called CCP officials last week to complain about the "Kulo" exhibit, which showed allegedly blasphemous artwork such as the picture of Christ with a penis-shaped ashtray glued to his face and a crucifix with a wooden penis.
"Ginagawa nila hindi kagandahan o kabutihan. Ang sagot nila (CCP officials) sa akin - human rights daw, freedom, the arts and all of that. We have freedom pero kung nakakasakit na at nakakasama at nakaka-desecrate ng belief ng tao, hindi na yan tama at lalong lalo na hindi dapat ilagay sa Cultural Center," she said.
The works fanning controversy are images of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary which were adorned with objects not related to Christianity -- from a crucifix with a wooden penis to a Christ the King figurine with rabbit ears.
The artwork are part of an exhibit titled "Kulo," which features works of some 30 artists from the University of Santo Tomas (UST). They proposed the exhibit, which was launched on June 17, in line with the institution's 400th anniversary.
CCP chairperson Emily Abrera earlier said she stands by the legitimacy of the exhibit, saying that it promotes intelligent debate.
"We see nothing wrong with the works, exhibit," she said.
"I don't know if they've viewed the entire exhibit. Mr. Medeo Cruz's installation is one of the 32 artists and I think we should take it as part of the exhibit. This is part of the dialogue of the discourse, part of social community. Not all art is for aesthetic purposes...and that is the context from which the exhibit must be taken.
"It is part of our culture to question, it is part of our culture to seek answers, to look behind the surface and dig out what our real values are. This is a time for questioning for many."
Dr. Primitivo Chua, the founding faithful navigator of the Jaime Cardinal Sin Assembly, said he will file a criminal case against CCP officials for allowing the exhibit to be shown. He also called on the entire CCP Board to resign.
Chua said Cruz should have himself examined for producing very offensive images.
"It was very offensive not just to the sensibilities of Christians but to the ordinary layperson... Itong artist dapat yata magpatingin sa manggagamot. Mukha yatang taliwas ang takbo ng isip niya. Bakit siya gagawa ng ganyang klaseng artistic display? At nagtataka rin kami sa CCP, bakit nila pinayagan ito?" he said in an interview on ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda.
For his part, CCP President Raul Sunico said he welcomes the filing of a criminal case over the controversial exhibit.
He said that while he himself was offended by the exhibit, he will not resign unless ordered so by the Office of the President.
He also said there is no basis to apologize for the exhibit, saying there was no malice intended. With a report from Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News