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Philippines: Artists Cry Censorship Over Altered Mural

Members of the Neo-Angono Artists Collective are protesting alterations to a mural they made as commissioned artists of the National Press Club.

The group has posted the original mural in their website:

Titled “press freedom”, the 8 by 32 feet mural is now displayed at the NPC with the alterations.

A news report features the two conflicting sides, with an NPC official admitting that:

He said some of the changes suggested by Mabasa concerned “leftist leanings” in some of the images. This included the removal of the name of missing activist Jonas Burgos in the final artwork and the alteration of the headline identifying him as the son of a press freedom fighter.

He said the group also decided to remove the IFJ statement in the central image but said that it was the artist who decided to put the picture of a “bird-monster in a cage.”

The controversy however has spurred Filipino bloggers’ interest, with some expressing surprise that the NPC, a journalists’ organization, resorted to censorship or changes in the original work without informing the artists first.

According to Blue Pencil Chronicles, the original mural was:

a very compelling representation of the past and current state of Press Freedom here in the Philippines, what with freedom fighters Chino Roces, Marcelo del Pilar, Ninoy Aquino, Eugenia Duran-Apostol, Letty Jimenez Magsanoc and several others depicted in the painting.

The artists’ petition — which spoke about the artists’ “outrage, revulsion and protest” over the alterations — has been reposted in a growing number of blogs like: Pitong Pulgadang Produksyon, Glenn in progress, StudenStrike, The Phoenix, Listen to the beat, and the Tinig.com online magazine.

mackybaka also reposts the petition but adds that:

Ka Antonio Zumel (who was NPC President when Martial Law was declared and escaped arrest by swimming the Pasig River) must be rolling around his grave if he ever hear of this downright desecration of the freedom of expression and of the press.

Zumel was an activist journalist who became president of the NPC and is considered an icon of press freedom and progressive journalism.

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