MANILA, Philippines – The two-day Manila gig of international pop diva Lady Gaga will go ahead as planned, organizers and government officials said Sunday, May 20, despite a series of protests from Christian groups and calls for the controversial singer-songwriter to be banned.
On Sunday, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a radio interview that police authorities are ready to secure the concerts of Lady Gaga amid criticisms that her songs are blasphemous and promote immorality.
“The Pasay police is ready to maintain peace and order. They are trained in this especially when there are concerts in their territory,” Lacierda said when asked about the concert and religious groups that have threatened to block it.
Lacierda said that Pasay City police are trained handling the peace and order aspect of concert areas, since Pasay City is known for concert venues.
Allan Florendo, assistant vice president of the sprawling SM Mall of Asia, whose arena will be the venue for the concerts Monday and Tuesday (May 21-22), said they were ready for the thousands of Gaga-fans and even any stray protesters.
“We’re very ready, security-wise. We have over 300 security personnel which is in addition and coordination with the (local) police. We have at least 100 bouncers in addition to the several ushers and porters,” he said.
The Asian leg of Lady Gaga’s 110-date “Born This Way Ball” tour has seen various protests, including in Indonesia where her June show has been denied a permit by police amid threats from Islamic hardliners.
Almost 500 Christian protesters gathered near the 20,000-seat Manila concert venue Sunday, holding lit candles under umbrellas to shield them from the rain.
“We are a peace-loving people, our objective is not to make any violence or destruction to get attention,” said Orlando Cutaran, head of the Christian Professionals Evangelism Fellowship.
“We don’t want to interfere in their business. We are just praying on the sides that the organizers will change their minds.
“We are just taking a stand against the blasphemous songs and videos of this Lady Gaga. We don’t want young people to be influenced by this.”
Lady Gaga, who arrived late Saturday, is billeted at the Makati Shangri-La hotel and had remained in her hotel for the day.
The concert was originally scheduled for just one night but was extended to two because of overwhelming demand, said Edgar Tejerero, senior vice president of company running the arena.
The city government has already warned Lady Gaga to refrain from nudity, lewd conduct and blasphemy in the Philippines, and said inspectors will be at the venue to ensure she does not overstep the mark.
Several local artists have likewise asked her to change some of her songs’ lyrics, which may have double-meaning and may not likely sit well with conservative groups.
For example, in her song Judas, the line “Jesus is my virtue/But Judas is the demon I cling to” has been much-talked about in Sunday entertainment shows on local TV.
In the music video of the song, Lady Gaga was portrayed as a modern-day Mary Magdalene caught between her devotion to Jesus Christ and an attraction to Judas Iscariot.
Lady Gaga had previously said that she wrote the song after a failed relationship, and that Judas was a metaphor about forgiveness and betrayal. – Rappler.com and Agence France-Presse
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