March 28, 2001 09:40am
Sex Stars Lead Protest Against Philippines President
by: Malou Mangahas
(MANILA) -- Buxom stars of Philippine sex movies led 2,000 entertainment industry workers Monday in the first major protest against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo policies, to demand the removal of a ban on a film showing sexual acts.
The protesters, denouncing what they called suppression of artistic freedom, marched to the presidential palace hours after Arroyo's new chief censor took office with a vow to stamp out pornography in local movies.
``We're just trying to show what is happening in our society,'' actress Klaudia Koronel told reporters, referring to her banned film ``Live Show,'' which portrays women who perform various sex acts before customers in order to escape from poverty.
Koronel, a carpenter's daughter in real life, has become nationally popular after appearing in films showing nudity.
Wearing a body-hugging shirt, Koronel was joined in the protest by directors and actresses who have appeared in steamy movies.
``My plan is... to make movies an instrument for nation building,'' art critic and fiction writer Alejandro Roces said after Arroyo appointed him chairman of the Movie and Television Review Classification Board.
``If you see 'Live Show'... you will be ashamed of being a Filipino,'' Roces said.
``Live Show'' had packed cinemas until Arroyo axed it last week.
The banning of ``Live Show'' has provoked fierce protests from the film industry, which accused Arroyo of buckling to pressure from Manila archbishop Cardinal Jaime Sin, the top prelate in the largely Roman Catholic nation.
Previous Chairman Resigned
The previous classification board chairman, Nicanor Tiongson, resigned after Arroyo overruled the board's earlier decision to let the film to be shown.
Arroyo drew fire for banning a movie her critics said she had not even seen.
An appeals committee, which includes representatives of Arroyo and the movie industry, was set to screen the film later Monday. Palace press aides said they had no information Arroyo herself would see the film.
Political analysts have said that unless Arroyo defuses the storm quickly, ruling-party candidates may suffer defeat in the May legislative elections where her party is running against candidates of ousted president Joseph Estrada (news - web sites).
``It pains me to know that (other countries) have seen 'Live Show' but in my country, my own people cannot see it,'' the film's director Jose Javier Reyes told Reuters.
The movie has been shown at international film festivals.
``We are returning to the Dark Ages,'' director Joel Lamangan said.
Roces, 76, served as secretary of education during the presidency of Arroyo's father, Diosdado Macapagal, who ruled the country from 1961 to 1965.
He said he did not object to depicting sex in movies but rather on ``how it is shown.''
``Do I want my daughter or my grandchildren to see this? What good will it do them?'' he said of ``Live Show.''
Roces backed his policy against supposedly pornographic films by citing local newspaper reports about a boy who raped a girl after purportedly seeing ``Live Show.''