Philippine shame in Paris exhibit
“Philippine Pride in Paris,” reported one dispatch about the opening of the grand exhibit “Philippines: Archipel des Échanges (Philippines: Archipelago of Exchange)” last April 8 at the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris.
The exhibition is reportedly the most substantial and exhaustive exhibition of Philippine pre-Hispanic artifacts in recent memory. The fact that it is being held at the prestigious Musée du Quai Branly should buttress its significance.
But the wife of one high Philippine government functionary apparently didn’t know the importance of the event so that she came late and made a dramatic entrance while all of the dignitaries, such as French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, were already seated.
Worse, she insisted on being seated next to her husband so that a chair had to be vacated for her.
During the viewing, the woman made crass remarks about the Philippine artifacts on exhibit. Pointing to the bulul and other Cordillera articles, she exclaimed: “Bakit dinala pa ito rito eh ang dami nito sa atin!” (Why should these be exhibited? These are common back home!).
As they say, you can take the person out of Culi-culi, but you cannot take Culi-culi out of the person.
Not that Filipinos got the best of French hospitality. An officer of one of the Philippine cultural institutions that helped mount the exhibit said they didn’t even get to see it at the opening. “We were corralled by French security in the lobby and not allowed to enter. Can you believe that?”
“The opening of the exhibit was the worst zoo I have ever been to,” the officer added. “It had no redeeming factor.”