The National Artist Award is one of the prestigious awards given to people who are considered as national artists for their contribution in the different field of arts. It is the highest state of recognition given to Filipino artists. Just recently, this year’s awarding was full of controversies and issues that left the people questioning if the awardees deserved the recognition given.
Among the seven awardees of this year’s National Artist are; Manuel Urbano a. . a Manuel Conde for Film and Broadcast, Lazaro Francisco for Literature, Federico Aguilar Alcuz for Visual Arts, Painting, Sculpture and Mixed Media, Cecilla Guidote-Alvarez for Theater, Magno Jose “Carlo” Caparas for Visual Arts and Film, Francisco Manosa for Architecture , and Jose “Pitoy” Moreno for Fashion Design. Two of the seven awardees were questioned by the critics and the public namely Cecilla Guidote-Alvarez and Magno Jose “Carlo” Caparas.
The selection of the two awardees was tainted by politics that the critics protested and demanded for further investigation on President Arroyo’s choice. To consider that Cecillia Guidote- Alvares is the executive director of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and administers the award together with the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). She also heads the NCCA secretariat that receives nominations for the national artists. The recognition given to her was debated and questioned by the critics and her eligibility as well.
The guidelines for the nomination process states that NCCA and CCP board members, consultants, officers, and staffs are automatically disqualified from the nomination. On the other hand, the recognition of Magno Jose “Carlo” Caparas as national artist was also questioned. His nomination was rejected twice by the NCCA panels. He was first proposed as a nominee for literature and was rejected. And again as a nominee for visual arts and was again rejected. His two rejections from the nomination gave doubt to the critics and the public if there has been any foul play.
Another reason of the critic’s fury over the choice of the two awardees is they are known to be vocal supporters of the President. The palace remained firm on their decision to the recognition given to the awardees. “We respect the views of others but we stand by the list and we say it was a product of a thorough process and we stand by the qualifications qualities track record and reputation of those named as National Artists,” quoted by Acting Executive Secretary and Presidential political adviser Gabriel Claudio.
It is very depressing to hear such controversies and issues regarding the National Artist awards. What counts most is not the recognition but the credibility of the artist that is chosen. Some would say that it was biased and for political agenda. Some would say that there was a foul play. We all have different views on this issue. We are entitled to express our criticisms and opinions and stand by what we strongly believe. I do not take any sides on this issue. All I can do is express what I think and believe.
It is very tiring to hear that all the things that are happening around us are tainted by politics. What we see and what we hear always gives us doubt and we find it hard to believe, for we cannot tell who is telling the truth. Giving recognition to the Filipino artists is a tribute for their contribution to the Filipino arts and culture. What makes it more rewarding is to know that you are not recognized for your achievements; rather you are recognized for what you did and for what you contributed. And that makes it worth the award.