A Batangas bishop has warned that watching the Lady Gaga concert is like “joining devil worship.”
A senator, however, expressed hopes that Chief Justice Renato Corona’s testimony at the impeachment trial would finish early so he could catch her show.
An international human rights advocate, for her part, lauded the Philippine government for not caving in to the demand of religious groups to shut down the concert, while the running priest told fellow clerics and conservative Christians to shut up instead of “delighting the devil” who wants public attention drawn away from the “more evil problems plaguing the country.”
A Manila lawmaker used his privilege speech to support the call for Lady Gaga’s banning and to ask the House of Representatives to broaden the powers of the board of censors to enable it “to cover live concerts with lewd acts.”
Amid all the hubbub, a review of Lady Gaga’s recent concert in Korea described it as “highly entertaining … but surprisingly demure … and playful rather than offensive or harmful.”
‘Clutches of Satan’
Batangas Archbishop Ramon Arguelles said that fans of the controversial pop performer “are in danger of falling into the clutches of Satan unless they are already there.”
Attending her concert is like “joining devil worship,” Arguelles said. “Avoid all enticements of the devil. (The fans) do not need to get a refund. Just keep out of the devil’s reach for their own sake and for the love of God.”
“This Gaga has been banned in Indonesia and in Korea. Why not here? She also does not deserve the title of ‘lady,’ a title given to inimitable and decent women, like the Mother of God,” the archbishop said.
Despite the warning, Senator Ralph Recto is watching the Lady Gaga concert Tuesday night “to provide some parental guidance, uncle guidance and ninong guidance” to his young sons, nieces and nephews “on why there are objections to the lyrics of her songs.”
“This is about context,” said the senator from Batangas. “I understand and respect the sentiments of those who are against Lady Gaga. But my son (16-year-old Ryan Phillipe) and nephews and nieces will be there. Somebody must explain why there are objections to the lyrics of her songs.”
In fact, Recto said that if he had his way, he’d like Chief Justice Renato Corona to finish his testimony early so they could catch Lady Gaga’s performance as he himself wanted to know if her songs were indeed “satanic.”
“Hopefully, the trial will finish early and I can watch with the kids so I can provide some parental guidance, uncle guidance and ninong guidance,” Recto said.
The senator volunteered that he also likes the Christian music of Gary Valenciano and observed that the uproar over Lady Gaga is more about personal taste.
“This is a case of ‘eye of the beholder.’ If you don’t want to watch, then don’t,” Recto suggested.
Human Rights Watch
Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director of the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), yesterday lauded the Philippine government for not caving in to the demand of religious groups to ban the American singer for allegedly promoting godlessness.
Groups opposed to Lady Gaga claim that her song “Born This Way” encouraged homosexuality, while another song, “Judas,” mocked Christians’ religious beliefs and moral fiber.
“I don’t think censorship is really the way to decide whether or not you want to listen to Lady Gaga and her music. People of the Philippines have a right to decide whether to attend the concert or not. I mean this is a basic freedom of expression,” Pearson told reporters yesterday, even as she admitted that she was not a big fan of Lady Gaga’s music.
Pearson was recently in Indonesia where authorities had given in to the clamor of Islamic radical organizations to shut down Lady Gaga’s concert.
Unlike the police there which did not issue a permit for the event, the Philippine authorities have taken a different tack, she said.
“So I actually applaud the Philippine government for standing up to the religious groups who have been calling for the ban,” said Pearson, who is in the country for a press briefing on the country’s human rights record.
Manila Representative Amado Bagatsing on Monday gave a privilege speech condemning Lady Gaga’s “corruption of the country’s youth” and urged House leaders to broaden the powers of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to allow it to cover live concerts with lewd acts.
Bagatsing said Lady Gaga styled herself as a bisexual and gay icon and “flaunts her lifestyle as though this was normal behavior.”
“We need to shield our people from being exposed to artists who destroy our culture, our beliefs and our values. She poses a dangerous source of corruption to our youth,” he added.
Bagatsing said that aside from the freedom of speech, the government should enforce the constitutional provision (Article 14, Section 3), which mandates institutions to strengthen ethical and spiritual values and develop moral character and discipline.
Catholic clerics continued to protest the singer’s concert.
Msgr. Sabino Vengco, Jr., on Monday said that in coming here, Lady Gaga would be making a mockery of the Christian religion and the Blessed Virgin, while Fr. Gabriel Delfino, a graduate of church history in Rome, described Lady Gaga as the wrong role model who should be prevented from staging her concert in the country.
To Lady Gaga’s detractors, running priest Fr. Robert Reyes has one firm suggestion: Stop frothing in the mouth and just watch Jessica Sanchez.
“The devil is more sophisticated than Lady Gaga. I’m not at all thrilled about having her in Manila but we should just watch Jessica Sanchez instead,” Reyes said, referring to the popular Filipino-Mexican from California who made it to the finals of the “American Idol.”
Avoid whipping up a controversy against the singer as this would only drive up ticket sales to her concert, he added. Worse, (the furor) would “delight the devil” since public attention is drawn away from more pressing and pervasive “evils” plaguing the Philippines.
“Lady Gaga might even be happy with all of this. Perhaps she might even be deliberately baiting us,” said the activist priest.
While agreeing that the controversial artist’s songs and performances were “obscene,” Reyes said that the country’s guardians of morality should be more scandalized by the “more evil” problems facing the country.
“The devil is actually happy that all of this controversy is shifting our attention from more pervasive problems like poverty … a justice system that does not hand out justice … and corruption, which (are all) more evil,” he said
As for the show itself, a review of Lady Gaga’s performance in Seoul published in the Korea Times on April 29 indicated that the country’s moral guardians have nothing to fear.
“The 45,000-strong audience on the opening night of her world tour at the Seoul Olympic Stadium was treated to a highly entertaining show, with impressive singing and dancing as well as ample imagination applied to her costumes and set designs. The presentation was surprisingly demure, however, for a singer most famous for her ability to shock,” the newspaper said.
“Never mind the scenes of scantily clad male dancers caressing each other and the singer grinding against a female dancer on a motorcycle. They did not feel sensual; the former, especially, seemed rather mechanical. The show was mostly tongue-in-cheek and playful rather than offensive or harmful.” With reports from Leila B. Salaverria, Gil Cabacungan and Pocholo Concepcion in Manila, and Romulo O. Ponte and Marrah Erika Lesaba, Inquirer Southern Luzon