Sunday, August 9, 2009

National Artist Award Controversy

Pardon me for posting this unrelated graphic art from one of my commissioned annual report projects in 2006. I still have to comment on the latest controversy using my editorial cartoon. Anyways...

MalacaƱang is a source of disappointment when it dipped its fingers on the nomination and selection of 2009 National Artists. This latest controversy is dividing another sector - the artistic sector - as it did recently.

This came about after Carlo J. Caparas and Cecilla Guidote Alvarez were declared as 2009 national artists but are opposed by the artists in the country which have in turn launched protests for this perceived scam.

Through a separate nomination process composed of Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alberto Romulo, and the head of the Presidential Management Staff Hermogenes Esperon, they made it to the fame. The palace's powers-that-be included them in the list submitted by National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCAA) and Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). Other names that were included were Jose "Pitoy" Moreno and Francisco "Bobby" Manosa.

Mr. Caparas is considered as the comics king in the country. He had countless comics stories he wrote and explored film-making where he received various awards as film director. I am not so familiar of his films as they failed to stick into my mind. But I grew up with his stories as published in comics magazines as one source of our entertainment long long time ago. Ask any barrio lass, they are familiar with Mr. Caparas for his "nobelas." On the otherhand, Ms. Cecile Guidote-Alvarez is notable for founding the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) that honed creative artists and audiences through children’s, college, and community theater, according to an online reference. Perhaps, the only chance I was “involved” myself with PETA, if memory serves me right, was when I participated in critiquing PETA-produced films during the 80s. So when talking about their contribution to the development of the arts in the country, I believe that these two personalities did it significantly on their own rights.

But I respect the artist community who knows well of their kind and their members. Their opinion on the matter should hold water especially over who should be rightfully conferred with that a prestigious award as national artist. It happened that Mr. Caparas and Ms. Alvarez failed to pass to their litmus test to be awarded that way. And not this time perhaps. Also, the separate nomination process had grossly erred in dipping their fingers into matters that purely belong to the world of practicing artists.