QUEZON CITY/LOS ANGELES – Don’t look now but the Quezon City government has declared actress comedienne Ai Ai Delas Alas and cinematographer Daryl Yap “persona non grata” for reportedly insulting the city’s official triangular seal.
In a statement, the city government said the City Council adopted a resolution filed by District 4 Councilor Ivy Lagman, saying Delas Alas and Yap disrespected the city’s official seal in a video that has gone viral on social media just before the May 2022 election.
The two-minute video was posted on Yap’s Facebook page Vincentiments with Delas Alas, 57, who is Martina Eileen Hernandez delas Alas-Sibayan in real life and a United States green card holder since 2015, portraying the character named “Ligaya Delmonte.” The character’s background showed the triangular sea of Quezon city but with the names “BBM” and “Sara.”
The caption for the video read “Mayora for Mike Defensor” (The mayor is for Mike Defensor). Defensor ran for Quezon City mayor under Uniteam but lost to incumbent Mayor Joy Belmonte.
In the background of the video, the city’s official triangular seal, edited and defaced, was prominently displayed, which Lagman said, was an insult as it represents the city.
“The malicious and unscrupulous defacing of the official seal of Quezon City ridiculed and casted dishonor to it, causing insult to the noble representation of the seal,” she said.
Lagman said the seal has been the city’s official coat of arms since it was approved by the Office of the President and adopted by the City Council on Feb. 3, 1997, through Resolution No. 10320, S-1975.
“The people of Quezon City will not let anyone disgrace the official seal of Quezon City for personal and selfish interests,” Lagman said.
Lagman elaborated further on the issue on her own Facebook page, hoping that it will make all content creators think twice before posting anything on social media.
“Freedom of Expression is not absolute. Hindi naman basta-basta na lang na pwede tayo mag-post ng mga gusto natin na hindi man lang pinag-isipan mabuti kung ano ang mga laman ng mga pinalalabas natin sa mga tao,” Lagman wrote.
The councilor also clarified that the resolution she penned was not directed towards Marcos Jr. and Duterte-Carpio, but in defense of the official seal of Quezon City.
“Yes you are free to be expressive with your work, but not at the expense of something which QCitizens hold in high regard,” Lagman said. “Mahal namin ang Quezon City at ang lokal na pamahalaan nito ay aming nirerespeto. Sana kayo rin.”
Ai Ai, who is in the United States when the resolution was adopted, reportedly condemned the resolution of the Quezon City council declaring her persona non grata in the city, where she has been a resident for a long time, along with director Darryl Yap.
De las Alas and her lawyer, Charo Rejuso-Munsayac, according to published reports, decried the resolution as a form of “cancellation” that will discourage artists to take on similar works in the future for fear that public officials will retaliate in a similar manner.
“We strongly condemn this act of the Quezon City council which endangers the protection granted by the freedom of expression for artists, entertainers, content creators, and comedians who use satire or parody to express sentiments or criticize public acts or figures,” De las Alas said in a statement to ABS-CBN News.
De las Alas and her lawyer countered that the city council is “nitpicking to find basis to curb freedom of expression in the guise of defending a perceived dishonor.”
Their full statement follows:
“Today, my client, Ms. Ai Ai Delas Alas-Sibayan has received information, through social media, that a Resolution declaring her persona non grata was approved by the Quezon City council. While we are yet to receive a copy of the resolution, it was made clear that the focus was made on the alleged ‘malicious and unscrupulous defacing of the official seal of Quezon City’ claimed to have appeared on a video posted on the Facebook page of Vincentiments, where my client portrayed a character named ‘Ligaya Delmonte’.
“The video which circulated during the campaign period is clearly a satire, a parody. It is not intended to be a statement of fact and is clearly not meant to taken seriously by the audience. The video was obviously intended to be watched and taken as a whole, all elements being fictitious, including the seal behind the character portrayed by my client.
“It is unfortunate that the city council is nitpicking to find basis to curb freedom of expression in the guise of defending a perceived dishonor.
“We strongly condemn this act of the Quezon City council which endangers the protection granted by the freedom of expression for artists, entertainers, content creators, and comedians who use satire or parody to express sentiments or criticize public acts or figures. This also endangers their livelihood since it appears to be a form of cancellation making them wary to take on similar works in fear that public officials will retaliate in similar fashion.
“As public officers, the members of the Quezon City council should be more prudent and circumspect in the exercise of their discretion and should not take hasty actions which could adversely affect my client and cause undue anxiety to her family and friends.
“While we believe that the resolution does not physically affect my client, we will be monitoring every statement made against her to ensure that my client’s rights are protected.”
In an interview over SMNI, Yap said being a “persona non grata” means that he is no longer welcome in Quezon City.
He, however, said he does not think that his social media presence in the city may also be banned.
“When you do a spoof, when you do a satire, you don’t completely erase the one that you are spoofing, hindi mo talaga 100 percent inilalayo para makuha ng tao, para ma-gets ng tao (you do not really make it 100 percent far for the people to get the message),” he said.
“I completely accept the repercussions of what I did but then again they have the power to do that, and I also have the power to do things my way, so no hard feelings,” he added.
On his personal FB page, Yap said he will soon release an official statement on the “persona non grata” declaration.