Off to Singapore

Madonna's promotional poster for Rebel Heart ©
Madonna’s promotional poster for Rebel Heart

POP star Madonna flew to Singapore last Friday following a successful two-day promotional concert at a local mall in Manila despite the fierce opposition of the Roman Catholic clergy.

Madonna, who is in a tour of Australia and Southeast Asia for her upcoming album “Rebel Heart,” boarded her Singapore bound chartered Boeing B757-200 late Friday afternoon. Her aircraft was followed by three Boeing B747-400 cargo planes of the Singapore Airlines. Each airplane was chartered and reportedly loaded with 100 tons of cargo, which includes Madonna’s costumes, a wooden stage, pyrotechnic materials, musical instruments, sound systems, laser lights and other lighting systems.

According to knowledgeable sources, the heaviest and most intricate of this cargo is what Madonna’s entourage call, “The Machine,” a device meant to be the “engine” of the show. It’s an 8.5 x 4.8 screen which in its flat position sits flush with the stage. It can be walked, jumped and danced on and can rise up 2.5-meter, pivoting from flat to 90 degrees vertically in 30 seconds.

The screen is also used for video, graphic montages and backdrops. In one of the promotional pamphlets distributed by Madonna’s staff, it is claimed that The Machine “…dovetails with the physical props and together they play on almost every piece of iconography you can think of, religious or otherwise, as the show takes on various cultural themes from around the world and throughout time, plus lots of sultry, coquettish Madonna imagery.”

The 57-year old “Material Girl” earned the ire of the Roman Catholic bishops because her concerts were allegedly “sexually charged” and “works of the devil.”

Lipa City Archbishop Ramon Arguelles ©
Lipa City Archbishop Ramon Arguelles

In a statement posted at the website of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, Lipa City Archishop Ramon Arguelles said “Pinoys [Filipinos] and all God-loving people should avoid sin and occasions of sin.”  He added Madonna’s  concerts in the Philippines were among “subtle attacks of the evil one.”

“Why is the Catholic Philippines the favorite venue for blasphemy against God and the Holy Mother?” Arguelles asked.

Nevertheless, despite the cleric’s opposition, Madonna’s concert was a huge success.

Benjie Vergara
A veteran reporter covering the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. He is currently writing for Manila Times, the Philippines' oldest newspaper.

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