WATCH: Manila City Council declares Pura Luka Vega persona non grata
Updated 6 P.M.
The Manila City Council has issued a resolution unanimously declaring Filipino drag performer Pura Luka Vega as persona non grata for offending religious feelings.
Pura Luka, whose real name is Amadeus Fernando Pagente, and who uses the pronoun they or them, became viral on social media for a series of performances depicting himself as Jesus Christ or the Black Nazarene, and whose acts appeared to mock the Catholic faith as can be seen in several spiels that allegedly border on blasphemy.
“Nilalabas lang namin ang sentimyento sa pagbibigay respeto, at paggalang sa lahat ng pananampalataya. Anumang klase ng pananampalataya ay dapat nirerespeto. Bilang Kristyano, talagang majority sa atin ay Kristiyano, mabigat ito, lalo gagayahin si Hesus. Yearly ginugunita ng milyong Filipino ang Nasareno, maski pandemya, tuloy-tuloy,” Manila Councilor Ricardo “Boy” Isip, principal author of the resolution, told INQUIRER.net in an interview.
(We are merely expressing our sentiments about giving due respect and showing reverence to all exercise of beliefs. Every kind of faith deserves to be respected. As Christians, and since the majority of us are Christians, this holds significant weight, especially in emulating Jesus. Yearly, millions of Filipinos commemorate the Nazareno, even during a pandemic, without interruption.)
“Kung saan pa matatagpuan ang tahanan ng Hesus Nazareno, tayo pa ba ang di kikibo at di maglalabas ng saloobin?” he added.
(Shall we remain silent and not express our sentiments, even in the very place where the home of Black Nazarene is found?)
Manila is the site of the annual Feast of the Black Nazarene, also known as the Traslación, which commemorates the transfer of the Black Nazarene from its original location to the Quiapo Church on 9 January 1787.
It is also the site of the headquarters of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, the organization of bishops and leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, which has earlier objected to Pura Luka’s performances.
During the council session last August 8, Tuesday,, which was streamed on the council’s official Facebook page, Isip said he is concerned by the seemingly profane use of the image of the Black Nazarene, as he cited one by one what Pura Luka did in his performances.
“(Ito’y) isang kamangha-manghang pagtuya at pambabastos na malinaw… Milyun-milyon ang deboto ng Poong Nasareno, at sa milyong tao na ito ay mga mamamayan ng Maynila na malinaw niyang inaatake, at binabastos at walang habas na di nirerespeto ang mga sagradong bagay. Kung malinaw na inaatake ng taong ito ang ating paniniwala, malinaw na inaatake ng taong ito ang ating lungsod,” he told his fellow councilors of the drag performer’s act.
(This is an astonishing mockery and clear disrespect… The Black Nazarene attracts millions of devotees, and millions are citizens of Manila who are direct targets of this attack, who are being disrespected, and there’s a shamelessly disregard for sacred matters. If it’s clear that this person is attacking our faith, it is clear that this person is attacking our city.)
Isip also wondered if Pura Luka would be just as brazen to also make a mockery of other religion, such as Islam whose members are more fiercely protective and intolerant of any disrespect towards their faith.
He further told his fellow councilors that what Pura Luka did should not be tolerated. “Kasi pag pinalampas po natin ito baka pamarisan po ito. Kailangan po natin gumawa ng aksyon,” he said. (If we less this slide, this might set a bad precedent. We need to take action.)
All councilors from the 16 districts of Manila are supportive of the measure, including Vice Mayor Yul Servo. A copy of the city council resolution is below:
Manila is the first local government in the National Capital Region to declare Pura Luka as persona non grata (unwelcome person), but the fifth locality so far within the country to do so, after the province of Bukidnon, General Santos City in South Cotabato, and the Municipalities of Floridablanca in Pampanga, and Toboso in Negros Occidental.
Apart from being ruled unwelcome in these local government units, Pagente also faces criminal charges initiated by the Philippines for Jesus Movement, a coalition of Christian groups.
Pura Luka came under fire for several videos that went viral online for her portrayal of a jovial Christ in shining garb. One of the videos showed them with a crown of golden sunrays on their head, dancing and waving to a crowd of spectators who were also taking their video and dancing to an upbeat version of “Ama Namin” (The Lord’s Prayer), considered a sacred prayer by Catholics.
In one part of the video, they appeared to be making the sign of the cross as they bobbed their heads to a lively music. They captioned their video: “Thank you for coming to church,” then a praying emoji. It has since garnered over 17.3 million views.
Another video showed them making inappropriate meaning to the letter inscription on the communion host, while another showed him wiping his face with a towel, mimicking a ritual among devotees of the Nazareno of using a cloth to wipe His imagein the belief that it would provide protection to them.
Despite the backlash, the drag queen earlier said they would not apologize for their performance, saying this is just a form of art and expression, and that their use of theS: image of Jesus Christ is just for entertainment for a particular audience, and not for public consumption. EDV