Itâs the love month so why not get our groove early on for Valentineâs Day?Â Filipinos are suckers for love, really. Just look at what sort of Filipino movies become blockbusters:Â nearly every single one is a fluffy, feather, romantic heart-tickler (for those vulnerable to said metaphoric cardiac stimulation) featuring gorgeous actors playing characters who get into all sorts of trouble, simply because their common sense has been irredeemably and hopelessly impaired, if not rendered comatose, by love.
(Hereâs a great title for a pseudo-intellectual rom-com flick for avant-garde-ists on rehab from high-concept art: âCommon Sense in a Coma: A Modern Pop Romanceâ)
Even some of the most outrageous acts of recent trend on the Internet and other mass media may be blamed, ultimately, on loveâat some level, okay, at some level.
Cultural activist Carlos Celdran costumed himself as our National Hero Jose Rizalâcomplete with bowler hat (like Lena Olin in Unbearable Lightness of Being but minus the gorgeous, dangerous nakedness that will forever ruin the marriage of the characters of Daniel Day-Lewis and Juliet Binoche)âwent inside the Manila Cathedral andâŠyou know the rest of the Damaso Caper.
Celdran did what he did out of love. Love for the welfare of the Filipina women who would benefit from the RH Bill. But wait! The bishops were angry at Celdran out of their love for the Mother Church. That love for the Mother Church, and the rest of us Catholics, is also driving the bishops to keep on fighting the RH Law. So what we have here is a clash of loves. What happens when loves clash?
That happens all the time, you know, for example, when a husband falls in love with another womanâcoincidentally, a new trend in Filipino blockbuster romantic dramas, complete with tiring and forced witticisms that could only come not from the character mouthing it, but from the scriptwriter referencing âThe Gay Manual of Hopefully Witty Lines for Movies Meant to Make MoneyâA Book that Gays Themselves Rejected but Scriptwriters Still Use Anywayâ.
When a clash of loves occurs, the law offers a solution. Maybe. The wife can sue her husband and his mistress for adultery. The mistress, if physically violated by the wife, may sue the wife for battery.
The husband, in turn, should sue the wife and the mistress for emotional and psychological damage from the stress of having to make excuses-appease-avoid-fend off both women, just so he could resume his formerly happy life, when he enjoyed the love of both while deceiving one and treating the other like a sex object.
So, Celdran got sued for violating Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code, the law against âOffending the religious feelingsâ. Sued by whom? We donât know. The bishops deny suing Celdran, who may now go to jail after being accused by no one and for committing no crime.
Yes, Inkcanto believes that Celdran did disrespectâand he did it hardcoreâthe bishops and the Church. The question is: does he deserve to be punished with imprisonment?
My view on it is very similar to my perspective on libel. Both laws may be allowed to exist but ought to be decriminalized. Make them carry civil liabilities.
Do you think you should be jailed for a year for offending religious feelings? Wow. You can be jailed for hurting peopleâs feelings. Seriously? Are other peopleâs feelings so precious thatâeven though you did not rob, kidnap, assault, or kill anybodyâyour freedom should be taken from you if those feelings are not made to feel a good feeling?
âOffending the faithfulâ is also too broad a requirement. Practically anything can offend the faithful. What about the offenses committed by religious leaders against their faithful? Bishops who say stupid, uncharitable, un-Christian, illogical things offend the faithful. Muslim religious leaders who support terrorism offend the faithful. Priests and pastors that engage in pedophilia and abuse women offend the faithful. So do we sue them based on Article 133?
If Celdran deserves to go to jail then so does every single teacher who taught Rizalâs novels to students. Why? Thatâs because the Rizal novels are where the supposedly offending âDamasoâ reference comes from. Okay, so we passed the Rizal Law back in 1956, which mandates that we teach the Life of Rizal and his novels to high school and college studentsâwith the full versions to be taught at the collegiate level onlyâbut this did not repeal Article 133.
So now we have the curious situation where Rizal Course teachers in high schools and colleges are legally compelled to teach Rizalâs Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, novels that say offensive things about the Catholic clergy and rudely criticize Catholic teachings as wellâŠ but if enough âfaithfulâ find this offensive, they can send these teachers to jail!
This may not be a totally bad thing, considering that students hardly pay attention to Rizal classes. Prisoners, at least, may find that Rizalâs novels–about a people abused and shackled by an unjust society that sends poor criminals to jail while the rich criminals go free–strike a poignant chord in their hardened hearts. Rizal teachers convicted under Article 133 will finally have students that care about what they teach.
Interestingly, the whole conflict at the center of Rizalâs Noli is borne out of love. Crisostomo Ibarra is totally in love with Maria Clara. Maria Clara loves him absolutely. But wait, their love is being sabotaged by the friar Padre Damaso.
Padre Damaso, of course, secretly loves Maria Clara, tooâbecause, oh my God, sheâs his daughter through an adulterous relationship with her mom, DoĂ±a Pia Alba. Damaso disapproves of Ibarra because the young man is a heretic and the son of a hereticâso much worse than an adulterous religious leader under a vow of celibacy.
In short, Noli Me Tangere was, in fact, material for a potential blockbuster Pinoy romantic drama. Weâve never moved on from that! Never! If Mother Lily or Star Cinema were around during Rizalâs time, they would have had Rizal sign over the novelâs rights to them, maybe even right before he was executed. Instead of hiding his poem, âMi Ultimo Adiosâ (My Last Farewell) inside the gas lamp he gave to his sisterâthereby allowing its publication after his deathâhe would have hidden a movie contract. âSis, itago mo. Datung yan,â he would have whispered to her.
This brings me to Padre Salvi, another Spanish friar in the novel. Padre Salvi is thin, elongated, and very, very creepy. Heâs in love with Maria Clara but not in a paternal way. He hides behind a tree, watching her splashing in the river, during a bathing session with her friends.
(Why donât female office workers have bathing sessions anymoreâor maybe they do, I dunno. Maybe that only happens during Team Building to improve productivity.)
In his hiding place, Salvi sees Maria Clara, body wrapped in cloth but with legs (from the knees down), arms, and neck exposed. He sees her bare feet. At the sight, Salvi sweats profusely while âarousing in his poor person strange feelings and evoking new fantasies in his feverish conscienceâ (Translated into English from the Spanish-to-Tagalog translation of Pascual Poblete).
If Rizal were a slasher film writer, he would have included a scene where Salvi finally gets to see Maria Clara stark nakedâand he explodes from a multitude of desire-versus-conscience-induced bursts of aneurysms all over his body. Then Maria Clara gets sued for homicide and for violating Article 133.
An excellent discussion of Celdranâs case is given by Interaksyonâs resident legal expert Atty. Mel Sta. Maria. I suggest you read it because he does a far better job than me. Check it out here: http://www.interaksyon.com/article/54070/mel-sta–maria–though-deserving-of-censure-carlos-celdran-is-no-criminal
Senator Pia Cayetano has gone public about her next âambitionâ after she successfully passed the Reproductive Health bill into law. After doing what no other Senator had done beforeâit took more than a decade for the bill to passâher next ambition, she says, is âto fall in love.â Thatâs because, one may suppose, after you pass an RH Bill, the next thing you want to do is exercise your reproductive health rights.
Until further notice we should love Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. We should love her outrageously and shout this to the rooftops, scaring pigeons and causing them to poop in mid-air. This is because she ruled in favor of the release of artist-activist Ericson Acosta, who was jailed for two years in a military prison despite the lack of sufficient evidence for his arrest and detention (according to de Limaâs ruling).
Ericson was a classmate of mine back in high school and even then he displayed an immense talent for theater (practically all aspects of it, from acting, scriptwriting, directing, to production design), impromptu performance, and song-writing. It was no surprise for me to learn, later on, that he had taken up poetry as well.
From the accounts that Iâve read, Ericsonâs love for the massesâfrom farmers to even his fellow inmatesâis highly-regarded by those who know this first-hand. Iâm glad that heâs free. I feel very happy for his family. Iâm happy for him because he can now bask in their love.
I canât help but wonder if his former classmates, myself included, did enough to help him get out of jail. But thatâs just my Catholic conscience on guilt mode again, maybe. What Iâm pretty sure of, though, is that Ericson understood his Rizal classes more fully than I did.