The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) has deplored Malacañang's appointment of four National Artists which bypassed the "established process" in the selection of the awardees.
In a press conference today, August 4, at the CCP Complex in Pasay City, CCP Chair Emily Abrera said they were saddened when Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo chose to add four other artists to their list of nominees without consultation. One of their original choices had also been removed.
On July 29, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita announced that the President named seven new National Artists: Carlo J. Caparas, Pitoy Moreno, Cecille Guidote-Alvarez, Francisco Mañosa, Lazaro Francisco, Manuel Conde, and Federico Aguilar Alcuaz.
Of these seven, only Francisco, Conde and Alcuaz were original choices. Ramon Santos, a world-renowned Filipino composer, had been dropped from the list.
"We wish to clarify that we were never consulted about these final choices, nor have we been officially informed about them, to this day," Abrera said.
The CCP has not decided yet on the date and the venue of the awards ceremony.
HISTORY. The National Artist Awards was established on April 27, 1972 through Proclamation No. 1001 signed by former President Ferdinand Marcos. It aims to recognize Filipino artists who have made "distinct contributions" to Philippine arts and letters.
CCP was given the responsibility of administering the Awards in 1973. It was later commissioned to share duties with the newly-established National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) in 1992.
Although the two government agencies do research and deliberate on nominated artists before coming up with their final picks, the President has the prerogative to add his/her own awardees.
Among the criteria to be considered in the nomination of national artists are: Filipino citizenship, artistic influence, prestige, an outstanding body of work and a contribution to the country's "sense of nationhood."
Executive Order no. 236, which Pres. Arroyo signed in 2003, provides National Artists with a cash award of up to 100,000 pesos at the time of conferment, a monthly life pension, medical and hospitalization benefits, a life insurance coverage, and arrangements for a state funeral.
STRONG BACKLASH. The gravity of the National Artist distinction, therefore, have allowed critics to strongly disparage two of the Malacañang's picks, namely Cecile Guidote-Alvarez and Carlo J. Caparas.
At the CCP presscon, Abrera questioned Guidote-Alvarez's citation, pointing out that the rules specifically state that any member of the Board of Selections in both the NCCA and the CCP are automatically disqualified. Guidote-Alvarez currently sits as the head of the NCCA and as presidential adviser on culture and the arts.
Meanwhile, comic book artist Gerry Alanguilan commented in the online lifestyle magazine Spot.ph that Carlo J. Caparas could not be cited as National Artist for visual arts and film because the writer-producer did not draw his most popular works.
"The puzzling thing is, CJC is NOT an illustrator. He has never drawn any of this comic book stories, least of all his most popular creations. Panday and Pieta were drawn by Steve Gan. Bakekang was drawn by Mar Santana. How can someone who is NOT a visual artist get the National Artist title for visual arts?" Alanguilan argued.