University theater group apologizes for inviting Irene Marcos-Araneta to performance

Student activists protesting against Irene Marcos Araneta. <i>Photo: STAND UP’s Facebook page</i>
Student activists protesting against Irene Marcos Araneta. Photo: STAND UP’s Facebook page

Former presidential daughter and would-be patron of the arts Irene Marcos-Araneta has found yet another college campus where she’s not welcome. This time, it’s the University of the Philippines, Diliman (UP), where a theater group has been forced to publicly apologize after students protested their decision to invite the ex-dictator’s daughter to a performance.

The Quezon City-based Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas (DUP) posted the public apology on its official Facebook account yesterday. Aside from saying sorry to UP students, it also apologized “to the members of the audience, the cast and staff for the disruptions during and after the performance.”

Marcos-Araneta’s father, strongman Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled the country under martial law from 1972 to 1981, is credited with numerous human rights abuses, including the forced disappearances of numerous political opponents and activists.

Read: More than 100 suffer from suspected food poisoning at Imelda Marcos birthday bash

On Friday night, upon learning that Marcos-Araneta was inside watching the play The House of/ Ang Bahay ni Bernarda Alba, several student activists stormed the lobby of the Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero Theater. Holding placards and shouting anti-Marcos slogans, their voices could be heard inside the theater while the performance was going on, reported culture website ANCX. 

The play’s director, Alexander Cortez, tried to placate the protesters, but the group refused to leave the venue and even followed Irene to her car when she left after the play ended.

“Individuals in DUP may have differences in political leanings, but we wish to assure the UP community and the public that DUP will be more discerning in its actions in the future,” the theater group’s statement said. “We have not forgotten the atrocities of Martial Law and we are one with the community in its protest against human rights abuses.”

Read: Imee Marcos tells critics not to be afraid of her, says she’s not out to seek revenge

Marcos-Araneta was the center of controversy back in April when she attended an art exhibit at Ateneo de Manila University’s Arete Amphitheater, which is often used as a venue for plays depicting the horrors of President Marcos’ reign. After the Arete was widely criticized, its executive director “voluntarily” resigned from the organization.

Despite Marcos-Araneta’s less-than-friendly reception on college campuses, the Marcos family remains popular in the country decades after the dictatorial reign of the family scion. Their father’s massive corruption and numerous human rights abuses did not stop Marcos-Araneta’s older sister Imee Marcos from being elected as senator in this year’s midterm elections.

In a statement, UP’s student council condemned Irene’s presence on campus. “The University of the Philippines is known as an institution that protests against inhuman policies, corruption, and other government wrongdoings. Irene Marcos-Araneta’s easy access [into the university], as well as the presence of other abusers, violates UP’s history and identity,” the council said in Filipino.

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