Lady Gaga’s arrival in Manila was met with protests by religious groups claiming that the American pop superstar is corrupting the moral values of the public.
She arrived last Friday, May 18, and will be the first to perform at the newly-constructed Mall of Asia Arena tonight, May 21, and tomorrow, May 22, as part of her Born This Way Ball tour.
OPPOSITION. Just last week, Lady Gaga’s sold-out concert in Indonesia set for June 3 was cancelled as authorities gave in to pressure by Islamic hardliners— who, according Fox News, are criticizing the artist for the "suggestive nature of her shows."
Meanwhile, her concert in South Korea last April 27 at the Seoul’s Olympic Stadium was restricted for 18 years old and above.
In Manila, Filipino Christian groups rallied in front of Pasay City Hall last Friday, May 18, bearing anti-Lady Gaga shirts and chanting, “Stop Lady Gaga Concert.”
According to Representative Benny Abante, who leads one of the Christian groups involved in the protest, they sent a letter to Pasay City Mayor Antonio Calixto seeking for the cancellation of the concert’s permit.
They believe that Lady Gaga’s songs are blasphemous to the Christian faith, citing the song “Judas” as a mockery to Jesus Christ.
He stated, “We will pray against it and do everything we can to oppose it on all fronts.”
This was also backed up by former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza and election lawyer Atty. Romulo Macalintal who both signed the letter of concern addressed to the Pasay city mayor.
They warned the organizers that a penalty of six months to six years may be served if the show is proven to be offensive to any race or religion, according to Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code.
In response, Mayor Calixto ordered the organizers to ensure that no nudity or lewd acts will be exhibited during the concert.
He also formed an eight-man inspection team to observe the show and report any offense .
Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes, a member of the Permanent Council of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines, urged the members of the Catholic Church to boycott the concert.
“Christians must exercise self-censorship to avoid shows that are harmful to their faith,” he said.
LITTLE MONSTERS. Despite protests, Lady Gaga’s fans called “little monsters” welcomed their “mother monster” last Friday with much adulation.
The hashtag #51MillionFacebookMonsters even trended on Twitter locally the same day she arrived.
The five-time Grammy awardee has over 24 million followers on Twitter and has sold an estimated 23 million albums and 64 million singles worldwide.
Lady Gaga is known for her bold and outrageous style in her music videos, performances, and outfits that make the conservatives cringe.
Fans, on the other hand, appreciate her unique taste as an artist as well as her many advocacies, such as her support for the LGBT (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgenders) community.
“Lady Gaga really helps me because Lady Gaga talks about love, about equality, and about acceptance,” said Gelo Arukan, a stylist and one of the singer’s fans, in an interview with 24 Oras.
She is also an advocate in the fight against HIV and AIDS in partnership with a cosmetic brand and has her own non-profit organization called Born This Way Foundation, which focuses on youth empowerment, anti-bullying, and related issues.
Lady Gaga first performed in Manila in August, 2009 for her Fame Ball Tour which was held at the Araneta Coliseum.
STARS’ REACTIONS. Some public personalities have jumped on the bandwagon by airing their sentiments on the matter through TV and social networking sites.
International singer, Lea Salonga, (@MsLeaSalonga) posted today, May 21: “Lady Gaga wins. All this protesting and brouhaha only got her free publicity, numerous Google searches, and more tickets sold.”
Senator Bongbong Marcos (@bongbongmarcos) tweeted yesterday, May 20: “Lady Gaga- multiawarded Grammy Awards. Show is not televised and no one is forced to watch. If [it is] disturbing to you, don’t watch. Let’s keep it simple.”
Meanwhile, singers Martin Nievera and Arnel Pineda had suggested—in an interview with ABS-CBNnews.com—that Lady Gaga should probably consider changing the lyrics of her songs which people find offensive.
Martin was quoted as saying, “Kung ako ‘yan, papalitan ko lyrics ko, kung talagang offensive lyrics ko, parang directed sa ibang bagay.
“Sana gawin din ni Lady Gaga ‘yun, sana mag-adjust siya sa Christianity natin."
Arnel, who will be watching the concert, remarked, ““Kailangan baguhin ‘yung lyrics, para di maka-offend.
“As much as rine-respect ko rin ‘yung opinion ng mga prominenteng Catholic groups, siguro I will see for myself kung ganun nga ang gagawin niya sa show.
“I’m watching the show. I’m very curious to see what she’s going to do. I have to see for myself if she’s trying to offend our beliefs.”
Yesterday, The Buzz hosts Boy Abunda, Toni Gonzaga, and Charlene Gonzales were caught in a tense discussion over the issue.
Toni began, “I think what happened is kasi, dahil binanned din sa Indonesia yung concert niya ‘no, so nagkaroon ng mainit na awareness tungkol sa concept, yung kabuuan ng concert niya.
“Well as an artist and as a performer, siyempre lahat naman ng mga napapanood natin na performers ay may kanya-kanyang ways of expressing themselves…
“And if that’s her way and if that’s how she wants to project herself, siyempre nirerespeto natin yun.”
“Kaya lang, it’s up to us na mga tao, mga audience kung ano yung paniniwalaan natin at kung ano yung i-e-embrace natin.
“Personally, I liked Lady Gaga before, especially yung first song pa lang niya.
“Pero eventually nung napansin ko na medyo nga nagkakaroon ng double meaning yung mga succeeding songs niya, I stopped listening to her music.”
Charlene had a different take, “Ako, I happen to like Lady Gaga. For me, personally, you can choose the good and leave out the bad.
“It’s a form of freedom of expression, di ba. And it’s your choice, if you want to patronize your music. Ako, gustong-gusto ko si Lady Gaga.”
Toni interjected, “No, kasi di ba, you are what you listen to. Kung ano yung pinapakinggan mo, eventually, subconsciously, nagiging ganun na rin… It affects your mind, especially music…”
This prompted Charlene to say, “I don’t agree. I don’t agree that if you listen to a certain type of music, it will change the way you think or what you believe in life.
“It’s all about having the proper discernment. If you are strong to the core in your belief of who you are as a person, I don’t think if somebody does something bad, magiging ganyan yan if you see or listen to it every day."
Boy’s stand was, “Ang aking tayo, mga kaibigan, ganito lamang. Hindi ako komportable sa lahat ng klase ng censorship.
“As an artist, as a manager. I’m not comfortable. I don’t know but that’s my personal stand.
“Because Lady Gaga is an artist. She is a performance artist.
“I’m not saying that you will allow all artists to do what they have to do even if they violate, halimbawa, yung aking pagkatao, yung aking sensibilidad.
“Naniniwala po ako sa free expression."
Before saying something on the issue, Boy did a research on the American singer’s controversial songs.
He related, “Alam niyo po, hindi po ako tagahanga ni Lady Gaga, ang ginagawa ko po kagabi, dahil pag-uusapan po natin ‘to ngayon, I had to go to the video of ’Judas,’ I had to listen, I went through all the other songs…
“But I paid attention to ’Judas’ kasi ito yung nire-raise na MTV po ngayon sa ibang bansa.
“’Tsaka yung Mama Mary song [“Marry the Night”]… Ako, devotee po ako… I’m a devoted Marian.
“So, ang ginawa ko po dahil kulang ang aking kaalaman, I listened to the songs.”
“Una yung ’Judas,’ hindi po ako komportable dun sa video, to be very honest. I was a bit queasy when I was watching yung video ng ’Judas.’”
Toni threw in, “Pero sabihin natin sa kanila. May lyrics kasi dun sa ’Judas’ na ‘Jesus is my virtue and Judas is the demon I cling to.’”
Boy continued, “Lady Gaga explains it, na ito po ay isang metaphor, as an arist, metaphor yung mga characters na ito.
“So, kagabi po, noong aking pinanood ito, oo, hindi ako masyadong komportable, pero hindi po nawala ang paggalang ko dahil, napakahusay niya…
“Napaka…pinagtrabahuhan talaga yung MTV. It’s a wonderful, it’s an arresting material.
“‘Born This Way,’ mga kaibigan, para sa akin, is a tribute to us respecting each other.
“You know, there’s a line there Toni, that says, ‘I’m beautiful / God makes no mistakes / I’m on the right track / Baby I was born this way.”
“So, in other words, kung pupuntahan niyo po ang mensahe, sinasabi lamang po nito, ako’y ganito, igalang mo ako, maganda ako dahil ako ay ginawa ng Diyos na ganito."
He went on encouraging the parents to mind the materials that their children get exposed to.
“So ano po ang aking conclusion dito? Sasakyan ko yung sinabi mo, Toni.
“Mga magulang, ito yung panahon para tayo ay mag-usap, magpakialaman ng ating mga anak.
“Kung sa palagay po ninyo, kayo’y nava-violate ni Lady Gaga, aba’y h’wag ho kayong bumili ng ticket, h’wag ho kayong makinig ng kanyang mga musika.
“But let this be a free country. Kung kayo naman ay gustong manood, go ahead, enjoy her music.”
“Yan ang aking personal na opinion. We don’t veen have to quarrel about this.
“Sabi kanina ni Mayor Lito Atienza that if she violates a law, ibang usapan na po yun. Kung halimbawa may nilalabag siyang batas, let the law take care of that.
“As of now, Toni, parang ikaw ’yan, e. You sing a song. I don’t like the chorus [Boy made an illustration]... ’Toni, can you just sing the first and second paragraph because I am violated by the chorus?’”
But things, he says, don’t work that way. “Parang, you either have the whole, or you don’t have at all.”
Charlene asked, “But do you believe that each person has a different interpretation per song?”
Boy replied, “Sa akin, kung ano ang perspektibo na pinanggalingan ng sumulat.
“That’s why, when Lady Gaga was explaining, na yung ’Judas,’ halimbawa…”
Toni explained, “Kasi ang metaphor daw ng ’Judas,’ parang gusto niya ipalabas daw na yung mga babae daw, lagi nilang pinipili yung bad boy.
“Kahit ’eto na yung good man for her, ang pipiliin niya yung bad boy kasi nacha-challenge siya, gusto niya yung ganun, sinasaktan siya."
Boy added, “Ang mali na sinasabi ng iba ay ginagamit niya yung personalities—yung ating Panginoon, yung Judas, yung St. Peter noon na nag-betray kay Jesus thrice.
“At ang sinabi pa ni Lady Gaga, mga kaibigan, she wrote this song for her ex-boyfriend, na hindi siya makaget-over."
Toni threw in, “It just so happens na ginamit niya talaga ay yung mga powerful characters in the Bible."
Wrapped up the discussion, Boy said, “Can I say something? I respect everyone. I respect everyone. Dun po sa naniniwala that she’s violative sa inyong sensibilities, I totally respect that. Please don’t watch.
“Pero, that doesn’t mean pipigilan nyo po ang mga may gustong manood kay Lady Gaga.
“Ako, yun lamang po yun. Simula pa lamang ito mga kaibigan. Diverse opinions, hindi nangangahulugan na tayo ay dapat kinamumuhian natin ang isa’t-isa dahil lamang sa iba-iba ang ating mga opinion.
“We live in a free world. There is strength and beauty in diversity, ika nga."
In the end, they concluded, “We agree to disagree.”