The Film Desk of the Young Critics Circle (YCC) would like to express its condemnation of President Noynoy Aquino’s exclusion of Nora Aunor from the ranks of National Artists proclaimed this year.
Aunor was nominated as National Artist for Film and duly passed all levels of selection in the legally constituted process presided by the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. The nomination was made in recognition to her outstanding contributions to the Philippine film industry and to Philippine culture and arts in general. The actress herself won five best performance awards from our circle for her powerful portrayal of various roles in different films of the past two decades.
We are very disappointed that after the due process of selection by our state cultural institutions, the President of the Republic did not include Aunor from the roster of awardees. No word was heard from the President until more than a week after releasing his proclamation. The President reasoned that Nora had a drug abuse problem which makes her unfit as a role model for Filipinos. We argue otherwise. We believe that issues pertaining to morality are contentious at best and must not be applied to the recognition of a national artist. What matters most is the artist’s superior development of her craft that is recognized by her peers primarily and by the Filipino people ultimately. This consideration has been met by the disqualified awardee.
As a critics’ group that advocates a dynamic interaction between the audience and the artistic text, including its maker the artist, we think that the state plays a crucial role in the development of artistry in the country. With its wide institutional reach and public funding, it significantly influences not only the creation and dissemination of works of art, but also their examination and celebration by the audience. It performs its role in the name of the Filipino people.
We are very much concerned that the selection of such a precious person such as the National Artist has been subjected to presidential prerogative that does not answer to the public in the end. The same thing happened in 2009, when the country’s chief who was despised by the current president, declared as National Artists a few people who did not pass the selection process by duly constituted authorities. This bodes ill for the Filipino people “at the end of the day,” as President Aquino always concludes his interviews.
7 July 2014