POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 12 April 2012, Thursday
Last Good Friday, two photos spread all over Facebook and other Internet sites. Both elicited comments of outrage. Only one made it to the traditional news.
One photo was taken by Karlos Manlupig, who uploaded it to Facebook and tagged it “Public”. Inside a church, a uniformed security guard points a rattan baton at a shirtless man whose back is to the camera, his profile blurred to preserve his identity.
(see photo in my previous blog post here)
Here’s the caption Manlupig posted: “FILTHY HYPOCRITES. As I was shooting in Davao City’s San Pedro Cathedral during the observance of Good Friday, I noticed a Tagalog-speaking man instructing this security guard to throw out a half-naked man who is (sic) silently kneeling and praying inside the church, saying that the churches in Manila prohibit persons with mental disabilities and vagrants to enter its premises.
“The security guard then assaulted the poor man without any warning, poking him in the ribs several times using a ‘ratan’ truncheon…I immediately took several burst shots of the detestable incident.
“Suddenly, an old man with a Bible in his hand tapped me on my shoulder and told me that it is improper to take photos of the incident and that it is also improper to take photos inside their heavenly church.”
“What the hell is wrong with you people?” the aghast photographer asked.
In less than three hours of the upload, the image had been shared on Facebook 1,967 times.
The second photo shows a pretty young girl in sexy shorts and sleeveless floral top, her eyes covered with sunglasses, clinging to a cross, in a manner and position construed by viewers as “sexy.”
It was taken in Barangay Lourdes Northwest, Angeles City, where a traditional senakulo was held. The young girl wasn’t the only one who posed that way that day; two other images on the Internet are of a woman in a body-hugging black maxi dress, pink shawl, and sunglasses, and of a young man in a blue shirt and khaki shorts.
Another photo taken there shows two women in a “jump shot.”
The majority of the comments on the photos scored the security guard for being cruel and unkind, and the cross-posers and jumpers for behaving inappropriately, showing “disrespect and impropriety.”
Only the incident of the girl on the cross was picked up by traditional media. That of the security guard in Davao was not.
This question, accompanied by the photos, made the rounds on Facebook: “Which of the two was worse?”
A Mindoro-based physician answered, “Both are disgusting! Both are a mockery!”
These two incidents reinforce the perception of our society as a “hypocriciety”, as I wrote about in an earlier column. Religion in this country has been trivialized. Churches and other places of worship are treated as tourist destinations, in the sense that people who visit there behave as tourists would in secular places such as museums or parks.
Worse, the incident of the security guard and the shirtless man shows that poverty and mental illness are stigmas that negatively influence a person’s standing in society; that our culture allows the marginalized to be treated without compassion and respect.
And for this incident to happen inside a cathedral on a Good Friday underscores the idea that Christianity is only lip service to a great many believers.
Poor shirtless man, scorned and repulsed by those who should have helped him. Jesus Christ himself said, “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
“Blessed are the poor,” Jesus also said, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” It’s too bad that they can’t get a decent break here on earth.
Believing is not doing. There are gaps in our sensibilities, great big holes through which common sense has evaporated, leaving a mindset which sees nothing wrong with this sort of behavior.
Can our society change for the better? Or is this decline into desensitization an overwhelming, unstoppable juggernaut? Is there a force strong enough to turn the tide?
Public opinion might do it. Reality, after all, is socially constructed, created by people. If enough people want to bring about change, with awareness and determination they can.
I hope so. Otherwise, we’ll be seeing more images like this next year, if not worse. ***