Naging kontrobersiyal ang mundo ng sining last week alinsunod sa utos ng Korte Suprema na bawian ng parangal bilang National Artists sina Cecile Guidote-Alvarez, Carlo J. Caparas, Francisco Manosa, at Pitoy Moreno.
Nagbigay na ng pahayag si Caparas noong July 16 (READ Carlo J. Caparas on Supreme Court’s decision).
Samantala, naging madamdamin naman ang reaksiyon ng Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) founder na si Alvarez tungkol sa usaping ito.
Sa statement na ipinadala niya sa website ng TV5 last Saturday, July 20, sinabi nitong, “Certainly, it hurts because there is an attempt to paint the awardees as ’guilty by association’ under a politically charged climate.”
Matatandaang ayon sa desisyon ng Supreme Court, may "grave abuse of discretion" ang pagkakapili nilang apat bilang recipients ng award dahil hindi raw sila kabilang sa shortlist na isinumite ng National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) at Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP.)
Narito ang buong statement ni Alvarez (published as is):
"At the height of a melodramatic protest scenario of some National Artists, I even suggested it was best to let the Supreme Court decide to mitigate the vicious assaults on our character and to tone down the decibel of vulgar and crude language.
"When the Supreme Court called my attention that I have not provided a reply as requested to give a defense response in 2009, I respectfully replied and asked for their understanding that I did not submit a personal legal brief. I thought it was improper and I had no intention nor felt the need to defend myself because I never sought, applied nor lobbied for the award.
"We escaped from the persecution of the martial law regime and fought to regain freedom while living in exile for 13 years. Thus, under a restored democracy, I accept and defer to the decision of the Supreme Court.
"Since I was 15 years old, plucked from the St. Paul’s College stage in Manila by Father James B. Reuter; I have dedicated my life to the dynamic application of the arts for education crystallized in my founding the Philippine Educational Theatre Association (PETA) with a CNN hailed broadcast theatre program Balintataw as a ’Soap for Social Change’ introduced by Jane Fonda.
"Plays were focused on cultural diversity for nation building by generating pride of habitat, heritage, history, and creative industry with relevance to our social conditions.
"This effort to encourage theatre arts drawing meaning from the lives and language of our people linked to the International Theatre Institute merited for me at the age of 28 the Ramon Magsaysay Outstanding Asian Award for Public Service in the Arts.
"In exile, we forged the International Alliance of Concerned Artists for Human Rights and Peace (IACAHRP) based in La Mama in New York City and organized events to integrate culture in the UN development framework. This was acknowledged with a UN Human Rights Day Award for Theatrical Innovation and an outstanding Political Theatre Award for our PETAL Ensemble offBroadway.
"Democratizing the right to culture was our focus when we returned to the Philippines after the EDSA People Power with a poverty alleviation cultural caregiving effort for capacity and confidence building of vulnerable groups especially the youth with disabilities, indigenous groups, street kids and those in difficult circumstances.
"Local awards like The Outstanding Women in the Nations Service (TOWNS), the Carlos P. Romulo Award for international Understanding and Benigno Aquino Jr. Memorial Award for Nationalism were given to me.
"UNESCO twice honoured us with an Artist for Peace Award and a designation of the Earthsavers as UNESCO DREAM Center, the 6th in the world to be so recognized for utilizing arts as a vehicle for healing, inclusivity, social cohesion and transformation.
“The decision of the Supreme Court does not marginalize, negate or denigrate my lifelong service to the nation. Certainly, it hurts because there is an attempt to paint the awardees as ’guilty by association’ under a politically charged climate.
"The decision does not also hinder or stop me in continuing our efforts particularly in the international scene that has reaped honours for our country.
"Even if half blind, with a broken kneecap under rehabilitation, as a Septuagenarian, I have just returned from a UN High-Level Debate on Culture and Development and a UNESCO gathering in Paris to animate artistic programs to conscienticize the world for collective action to help stop violence against mankind and mother earth.
"The pain is assuaged by the hugs and kisses from my loving family and it has been most rewarding at this time, to receive the stream of texts and calls that support and affirm the value of our achievements from all parts of the country that I did not labor in vain."