The National Commission for Culture and the Arts over the weekend deleted its photos that were heavily criticized for perceived fostering of Neo-Nazism ideals.
The photos uploaded on NCCA’s Facebook page showed its officers making a forward motion with their right hands as a form of greeting.
Such gesture, however, was akin to the Nazi salute, the common address among supporters or followers of German dictator and Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
The photos then received backlash, prompting the NCCA to delete them and issue a clarification on its employees’ gesture.
“We would like to clear that the photos earlier released on the Padayon: The NCCA Hour gesture is a forward hand motion followed by a wave and accompanied by Padayon’s tag line ‘Sulong na!’ as seen in most of our video teasers,” the NCCA said.
“We are in no way encouraging or harboring Neo-Nazi beliefs/practices in the Commission,” it added.
The commission also assured the public that it will think of another gesture.
“Following the comments on our earlier post, which we have already taken down, we will rethink of another hand gesture that better show our intent of moving forward,” the commission also said.
We would like to clear that the photos earlier released on the Padayon: The NCCA Hour gesture is a forward hand motion followed by a wave and accompanied by Padayon's tag line "Sulong na!" as seen in most of our video teasers.
— NCCA PH (@NCCAOfficial) January 24, 2021
The Padayon: The NCCA Hour is a joint cultural initiative of the NCCA and the Cultural Center of the Philippines streamed via Facebook. This online cultural program aims to promote the appreciation for Filipino culture and the arts during quarantine.
Despite the deletion of the photos, some Filipinos managed to make screenshots of them and shared them on Twitter.
Activist-filmmaker Rhadem Musawah was among those who shared one of the photos in question and tagged NCCA’s official Twitter handle.
“What is happening with you?” Musawah asked.
He also claimed that the main post had been uploaded since last week prior to deletion.
— Rhadem Musawah (@themuslimgayguy) January 24, 2021
Robert Anthony Siy, head of the Pasig Transport Office, likewise questioned the hand gesture.
“In this picture, we can see NCCA officials demonstrate the newly-instituted ‘Bating Pilipino’ gesture… SANDALE,” Siy said.
In this picture, we can see NCCA officials demonstrate the newly-instituted "Bating Pilipino" gesture… SANDALE https://t.co/HMzYQAeFhU
— anton playing 2020: Nightmare Difficulty (@anthony_siy) January 24, 2021
Last week, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading the House Bill 8149 or the “Bating Filipino Para Sa Kalusugan Act” that seeks to change the traditional handshake as a supposed preventive health measure during the coronavirus pandemic.
The new formal act proposes people to place their right hand over the center of their chest while simultaneously lowering their head.
The ‘Hail Hitler’ salute
Britannica Academic explained in an article that the salutation with the greeting “Heil Hitler!” (“Hail Hitler”) was a required, common address among Germans under the Nazi regime.
It described as “the right arm fully thrust forward with the palm facing downward.”
“A personality cult was built around the Führer. Hitler’s portraits and photographs were displayed everywhere in Germany. ‘Heil Hitler!’ (‘Hail Hitler’) became legally obligatory as a common greeting, as did the Hitler salute of the right arm fully thrust forward with the palm facing downward,” the article read.
In its glossary, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum also explained that such salute means “allegiance” to Hitler.
“Under the Nazi regime, Germans were expected to pay public allegiance to the ‘Führer’ (leader) in quasi-religious forms. For example, they even saluted statues of Hitler,” the glossary read.
Individuals who continue to practice the beliefs and policies of Hitler’s Nazis, including the notorious Nazi or Hitler Salute, decades after the World War II are considered Neo-Nazis.
“The eruption of neo-Nazism and White Supremacy across the country has exposed the public to symbols, terms, and ideology drawn directly from Nazi Germany and Holocaust-era fascist movements,” read the glossary of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.