Other than the UAAP Final (a game I actually watched and enjoyed, temporarily overcoming my aversion to anything athletic), a few other significant happenings have occurred in the past few hours. First is President Aquino actually sticking up for the government and willing to face excommunication over the issue of reproductive health; and second is the arrest of Carlos Celdran, walking tour guide extraordinaire who was arrested this afternoon for heckling Cardinal Rosales while the latter was conducting a mass at the Manila Cathedral.
Some have commented that Celdran deserves his punishment because what he did was offensive---that certain places are special and thus should be immune to an individual's demonstration of his politics. A church, some argue, is not the place where politics should happen. Never mind that it too is very much a public space. (Which, seeing that it's not taxed, is indirectly subsidized by the government.)
The thing is, what makes a church special? Because we believe it is? Because it was consecrated? Sanctified?
The truth is it's just a pile of cement which has become special because people just say it's so. Dangerously, the idea that this space is special has given its occupants more armor against criticism. The Church has shown it is willing to engage in public demonstrations against government---in fact, that's part of its threat to oppose reproductive health bills---but apparently, for a citizen to show displeasure in a creative manner at a church is forbidden because it just isn't done.
This is foolish. No edifice should be allowed to isolate and protect people, notably leaders, religious or not, from the very criticism that we deserve and have the right to deliver. Various pulpits across the country have been used as platforms against government, individuals and philosophies present in society. The difference is we are vulnerable to the Church wherever we might state our issues against them, as they are allowed to entreat their followers to harass officials at the gates and shout down public meetings from the rafters. Yet they are the privileged who can retreat to their sacred spaces and continue to deliver the worst of the their messages with relative impunity.
So Carlos Celdran took the fight to where they least expected it. Good for him. They should learn that they cannot retreat and escape from any criticism. The reason why the Church likes a public demonstration is it generates greater emotional impact. Perhaps it is time they learn how it feels themselves; they have been able to ignore everything else so far.
Friday, October 01, 2010
"On Carlos Celdran's Arrest" by Mahar Abrera Mangahas
Lifted from Mahar Abrera Mangahas' Facebook Note, this is an excellent defense of Carlos Celdran: