Liberal Party members posing at a Holocaust memorial: Sense and sensibilities

April 16, 2018 - 6:35 PM
Members of the Liberal Party, the top opposition group, pose at a Holocaust memorial in Berlin, Germany. The photo, first posted by Rep. Teddy Baguilat (Ifugao), has already been taken down.

The Liberal Party drew flak for a photo showing its most senior members posing with wide smiles during a visit to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berin, Germany.

Among those pictured are prominent Liberal Party figures Vice President Leni Robredo, party chair Senator Kiko Pangilinan, and former budget secretary Butch Abad.

As expected, other LP stalwarts and supporters came to the defense of the party in Berlin.

Some also contrast their colleagues’ conduct with that of the administration.

Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr. (Ifugao) through Twitter gave an explanation for the group’s supposedly inappropriate display of cheer.

Holocaust memorials are not a happy place

In 2017, the BBC published an article by Joel Gunter which detailed different, “inappropriate” gestures and poses people have made while visiting the memorial.

Among the criticized pictures were that of a juggler in the middle of the structure, a woman stretching her legs out with the monument in the backdrop, and a happy selfie of two friends.

‘Yolocaust’: How should you behave at a Holocaust memorial?

German-Israeli writer Shahak Shapira responded by designing a website called Yolocaust. Shapira presented photos on the site in a such a way that hovering the cursor over the images changes the background from the memorial to photographs of the scenes at concentration camps.

While the pictures may no longer be found on Shapira’s website, it contains many testimonials and comments on his project. Some of the photographs can still be viewed here.

An escape for LP: The memorial designer’s take

In the same article by BBC, Peter Eisenman, who designed the memorial, decried the tourists’ actions but did not think their actions to be so terrible as to warrant a response such as Shapira’s website.

“My idea was to allow as many people of different generations, in their own ways, to deal or not to deal with being in that place. And if they want to lark around I think that’s fine.

He also compared it to a similar setting in Christian tradition. Filipinos can identify with this more:

“People have been jumping around on those pillars forever. They’ve been sunbathing, they’ve been having lunch there and I think that’s fine.

“It’s like a Catholic church, it’s a meeting place, children run around, they sell trinkets. A memorial is an everyday occurrence, it is not sacred ground.”