The Philippines has many monuments and statues depicting nude human beings in an artistic context. However, when a Pasay city official recently proposed a new sculpture of a nude stripper with AIDS hugging a giant penis, well, that was just too much for the weakened hearts of Pasay’s City Council.
The stripper, Sarah Jane Salazar, 25, worked in the girlie bars of Pasay while at the same time raising a young child. After contracting AIDS, she became known as a crusader for treatment and prevention of the disease. She died from complications last month.
A City Council member named Justo Justo apparently “discovered” Salazar, persuaded her to go public with the disease and even negotiated a movie about her life. And then it occurred to him that a sculpture of a giant penis to commemorate her life might be a good idea. Justo submitted a sketch to the city council as a proposal for the monument and asked for 500,000 pesos (about U.S.$11,000) to build it. In Justo’s ideal world, the public art would portray Salazar naked, hugging the massive phallus, while 10 naked men circled the scene. He claims the penile tower would be a “fitting tribute” to Salazar.
The City Council thinks otherwise.
“Lewd and obscene is the only way I can describe it,” sputtered Greg Alcera, vice mayor. “I firmly believe that should the monument be erected, it would create an uproar not only here in Pasay but elsewhere in the country.”
The controversy rages on. Justo remains steadfast in his vision, in part because he was the last non-relative allowed to visit Salazar before she died.