'Necrological' on the National Artists Awards

Manila Bulletin, August 7, 2009 | Go to article overview

'Necrological' on the National Artists Awards


Several National Artists led a rally from the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) to the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Thursday where they offered a symbolic wreath during what they called “necrological services for the death of the National Artist Awards.” National Artists Bienvenido Lumbera (literature) Frankie Sionil Jose (literature) and Salvador Bernal (Theater and Design) were appalled at the “brazenness” of Malacañang – adding four individuals and dropping composer Ramon Santos from the original list of the four endorsed through a rigorous selection process. The four endorsed by the joint committees were Santos, painter Federico Aguilar Alcuaz, the late Tagalog novelist Lazaro Francisco, and the late filmmaker Manuel Conde. Malacañang added Cecile Guidote-Alvarez, presidential adviser on culture and the arts, komiks writer and movie director Carlo J. Caparas, fashion designer Jose Moreno, and architect Francisco Manosa. The National Artists and the CCP board described this as a “death knell” of the process as the nomination procedure clearly states that NCCA and CCP board members, consultants, officers, and staff are automatically disqualified. This means that Cecile Alvarez (who, in my assessment, is deserving of the award), cannot be nominated as she is executive director of NCCA.Earlier, CCP officials led by Abrera and outgoing President Nestor Jardin paid tribute to the late President Cory Aquino for “maintaining the integrity of the process” and shielding it from politics and lobbying. Aquino never added or subtracted from the list endorsed to her, Jardin noted. The process involves pre-screening by the secretariat, verification and evaluation by a research group, short-listing by the first deliberation panel (Council of Experts), and review and ranking by a second deliberation panel before the final list is submitted to the President for confirmation, proclamation, and conferral.According to Abrera, CCP was never consulted before the proclamation of the four additional artists. It was the first time in history that the president did not confirm somebody elected by the selection committees, the first time a President had proclaimed four artists who did not pass through the process. Past presidents had named only one by presidential fiat to add to the list. …

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