Thursday, August 20, 2009

National Artist

National Artists ask Supreme Court to stop 2009 awards rites
By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) Updated August 20, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Groups of artists and concerned citizens yesterday trooped to the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the government from conferring the National Artist award on film director Carlo J. Caparas and three others over alleged violations of rules and the Constitution.

The petitioners, led by former recipients of the prestigious award, asked the High Court to issue a temporary restraining order enjoining the Palace from awarding Caparas, Cecille Guidote-Alvarez, Jose “Pitoy” Moreno and Francisco MaƱosa, whose names were reportedly added by President Arroyo in the shortlist submitted by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), the two bodies tasked by law to select National Artists.

(Please read the whole story from Philstar by clicking on the title above)

My take:

I will take exception on this and dip my fingers in non-police or law enforcement issue.

I really cannot comprehend the ruckus being raised by these past awardees of THAT "National Artist" title. Looking at their names, as a Filipino National, I believe that they should be familiar to me, just like I am familiar with Jose Rizal as my national hero, the carabao as my national animal, the maya or eagle (whatever) as my national bird, etc. But national artists Virgilio Almario for literature, Bienvenido Lumbera for literature, Benedicto Cabrera for visual arts - painting, Napoleon Abueva for visual arts - sculpture, and Arturo Luz for visual arts - painting and sculpture? Well, I may be extremely art illiterate that I haven't heard of them yet but looking at their wikipedia entries, the common denominator of these people is that all their works are unheard by me and most probably only appreciated by their peers. I saw some pictures of Ben Cabrera posing in front of some of his paintings and I for the life of me cannot see why I should have paid him--a cash award of P100,000, a monthly pension, medical and hospitalization benefits, life insurance, arrangements and expenses for a state funeral, a place of honor at state functions, and recognition at cultural events,emoluments of a National Artist under the law, from funds that come from my taxes paid in blood, toils, tears, and sweat--for all those paintings that I cannot understand nor see the beauty considering that they simply look like splatters of paint thrown in a piece of canvass.

Now, why not Carlo Caparas? Since my elementary days, he made me familiar with Tagalog (not Filipino duh, don't kid yourself, TAGALOG!) language which is not my spoken language at home. He made me familiar with the happenings in other parts of country with his colorful stories (Though illusrated by other artists, I think he has the right to claim ownership of those characters for himself. The illustrator can be replaced anytime and the story remains the same but that cannot be said about the writer. Walt Disney characters and cartoons are the work of many illustrators, but they all remain faceless and nameless except for a short moment in the end credits. All credits virtually go to Walt Disney himself!)

My point is that, maybe it is time that a National Artist come from the ranks of the masa. Somebody who does not kowtow to the whims and caprices of the high and the mighty in the so-called "art world." Somebody whose work many people understand.

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