The Rebellion and the Icon: Holy Revolutions in the Philippines

in Asian Journal of Social Science
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Abstract

The subject of this paper is the politics of 'use' and 'misuse' of religious iconography during popular uprisings in the Philippines. It will discuss the ways in which religious icons, specifically the Santo Niño and Our Lady of EDSA, are co-opted for specific political and social agendas. "Rebellion" is broadly defined here as the combined action of a large group of people against what they see as the oppressive and hegemonic force that prevents the full enactment of their common interest. The concern here is to describe how mass action incorporates the imagery of divine personages so that revolutions are, simultaneously, acts of worship and rebellion. This paper asks the following question: What are the processes by which religious iconographies contextualise rebellion in the Philippines? What are the circumstances that led to a repetition of such events throughout the history of the country? And finally, under whose authority are rebellions and protests in the Philippines labelled and packaged as 'holy' and 'divine'? This paper will argue that the 'holiness' of religiously inspired mass uprisings is contingent upon specific acts of legitimisation, 'packaging' and semantic contestation.

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