‘Tell Me EXACTLY What I Did Wrong’ Says Drag Artist Pura Luka Vega After Receiving Persona Non Grata Status
Aug 11, 2023   •   E. Torres
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Aug 11, 2023   •   E. Torres
Religion and faith have hugely shaped the Philippines’ cultural identity. That’s why when the now-deleted “Ama Namin” performance of Pinoy drag queen Pura Luka Vega (pronouns they/them) went viral, it quickly ignited debates regarding the inception and boundaries of freedom of expression. Now, Pura (whose pronouns are they/them) has been declared a persona non grata in two cities, much to the disappointment of the drag queen, who defends their performance as “art”.
The Manila City Council and the Bukidnon Sangguniang Panlalawigan have proclaimed Filipino drag queen and former Drag Den contestant Pura Luka Vega persona non grata or an unwelcome person in their localities. It comes after Pura’s controversial lip-sync performance of the remixed version of “Ama Namin” while dressed as Jesus Christ.
Elsewhere, the drag artist was declared unwelcome in Pampanga, General Santos, and Negros Occidental. Last July 31, Christian group leaders also filed a complaint against Pura, accusing them of allegedly violating Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code, which addresses “immoral doctrines, obscene publications and exhibitions, and indecent shows”.
Following the multiple persona non grata proclamations and immense scrutiny they’ve received, Pura launched a podcast on Spotify entitled LukaLuka! The 25-minute-long episode touched on several subjects, including the “Ama Namin” fiasco.
They said their “Ama Namin” performance doesn’t intend to make fun of the song and only lives within the context of entertainment. “People or viewers may also exercise their right of expression towards the video. I’m not taking that away from you. That’s your right. But where do you draw the line? ‘Cause it’s okay to hate it, but it’s also different to give me like ‘salot ng lipunan!'” Pura explained.
Tell me EXACTLY what I did wrong. I’m open for a dialogue and yet cities have been declaring persona non grata without even knowing me or understanding the intent of the performance. Drag is art. You judge me yet you don’t even know me. 🤷♀️ https://t.co/dprxdySjkD
— Pura Luka Vega 🙃 (@ama_survivah) August 10, 2023
Moreover, in a post on X (formerly Twitter) with now over a million views, Pura expressed: “Tell me exactly what I did wrong. I’m open for dialogue, and yet cities have been declaring persona non grata without even knowing me or understanding the intent of the performance.”
Given what’s happening, it’s safe to say the internet is quite divided on this issue. Some netizens argue that Pura was disrespectful and everything has its limits, including art.
There’s a borderline in everything. Art is not supreme
— Memeu19 (@mem34890) August 10, 2023
“Religion is deeply meaningful to many people and holds significant beliefs and traditions,” another netizen wrote. “Using it for entertainment or drag art can be seen as disrespectful and offensive to those who hold it dear.”
Religion is deeply meaningful to many people and holds significant beliefs and traditions. Using it for entertainment or drag art can be seen as disrespectful and offensive to those who hold it dear. It’s important to be mindful of others’ beliefs and show respect. 💯
— Wiljune Peroz (@0506pewiqu) August 10, 2023
Others also claim that the Filipino drag artist knows what they did wrong, urging them to apologize.
However, some people stand by Pura and said they did nothing wrong.
Pura did nothing wrong. I am gonna say it now, OA kayong lahat na naoffend sa video na iyon, di ako magsasawang sabihin na hipokrito kayong lahat mga pick and choose na religious people https://t.co/BU0go95aqY
— Gelo (@gelo_boi) August 10, 2023
“You’re only being made as a scapegoat so that people will have justification to neglect and outlaw LGBT+ rights,” said one netizen.
You did nothing wrong.
You’re only being made as a scapegoat, so that people will have justification to neglect and outlaw LGBT+ rights.
It’s a hard fight, but please do stay strong. https://t.co/WC0IxQrxbz
— 🏳️⚧️ JACOOO!! (@jjjacobine) August 10, 2023
Meanwhile, some people argue these persona non grata declarations against Pura seem rather uncalled for, especially considering there are more pressing issues that need attention.
Pari Koy, a millennial priest who’s known for his political views, had this to say about the controversy: “Walang ‘persona non grata’ sa Diyos. Sure, we can call out actions of individuals but should we really cast them out of our community?”
Walang “persona non grata” sa Diyos.
Sure, we can call out actions of individuals but should we really cast them out of our community?
— Pari Koy (@pads_nosi) August 10, 2023
What are your thoughts on this issue?
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