Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Inggit lang kayo

What lack of delicadeza are they talking about?
—Mrs. Cecile Guidote-Alvarez, on being named National Artist for Theater

A smooth face and a high education are not necessary to be a National Artist.
—Magno Carlo J. Caparas, on being named National Artist for Film and Visual Arts

Caligula made his horse a consul. Gloria Arroyo did the mad Roman emperor better. She turned National Artists into horse’s asses.

The point of the exercise is for peers to pick National Artists. The fact that Gloria Arroyo has the prerogative to confer the title National Artist does not mean she’s qualified to choose who should get it.

It’s not within her competence. It’s as if the French President were to step in and dictate who gets the Palm d’ Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

It’s patently absurd for Gloria Arroyo to meddle in the selection process. But not only did she interfere, she even created a mestizo category called National Artist for Visual Arts and Film, specifically for Magno Carlo J. Caparas.

Caparas is the creator of cartoon characters Panday, Gagambino, Totoy Bato, Kroko, Bakekang and many 
others. But he never illustrated those cartoons. So how did he become a visual artist?

National Patron of Cartoonists is a more honest title for Caparas.

Now I’ve never seen a Caparas film, so I defer to Gloria Arroyo who, I presume, can expound on the artistic merits of Caparas classics like The Marita Gonzaga Rape-Slay: In God We Trust (1995), The Untold Story: Vizconde Massacre 2-God Have Mercy on Us (1994), Lipa Massacre (1994), Antipolo Massacre (1993), Vizconde Massacre (1993) and other slice-and-dice obras maestras.

Mrs. Cecile Guidote-Alvarez, guiding light of the Philippine Educational Theater Association, is Gloria’s National Artist for Theater.

Mrs. Alvarez certainly deserves some kind of recognition for her contribution to Philippine theater. But, instead of National Artist for Theater, why not give her the Presidential Medal of Merit, the same decoration she advised Gloria Arroyo to award posthumously to Ms. Zenaida Amador of Repertory Philippines?

If the medal was good enough for Ms. Amador, whose repertory company produced internationally acclaimed actors, then it should be good enough for Mrs. Alvarez, whose theater group produced locally acclaimed actors. But I digress.

Mrs. Alvarez should not be conferred, nor should she accept, any National Artist title while she’s concurrently presidential adviser on culture and arts and executive director of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the agency that, along with the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), picks National Artists. There is a conflict of interest there whether Mrs. Arroyo and Mrs. Alvarez acknowledge it.

Mrs. Alvarez insists that delicadeza is not the issue. She’s right. In this dispensation famous for its utter lack of self-restraint and its uber-thick skin, propriety is never an issue. Beating the system is all that matters these days.

Education Undersecretary Vilma Labrador, NCCA chairman and staunch defender of Mrs. Alvarez, explained to the Philippine Star how Mrs. Alvarez got in through the backdoor: “Look at her qualifications, her caliber, she will put the other National Artists to shame. Cecile, through the journey of her life, she gave her flesh and blood to theater.

“Alvarez was nominated by groups outside the NCCA and the CCP, the two bodies mandated to recommend the choice of National Artist to the Office of the President. It was Fr. James Reuter, Alejandro Roces and Sen. Edgardo Angara who pushed for Alvarez’s inclusion in this year’s National Artists. The President has the prerogative to name awardees recommended from outside of the NCCA and CCP.”

Well, whoop-dee-doo! All one needs are influential sponsors!

But what about those who complain about the skewed system, what can they do?

Well, nothing, except grit their teeth while Magno Carlo J. Caparas, safely tucked under Gloria’s skirt, gloats and taunts, “Inggit lang kayo!”

SOURCE: Life in Gloria's Enchanted Kingdom


Dean Jorge Bocobo said...

Suppose a National Artist starts making Bad Art or Dumb Lit. Who would even DARE to say so? There's a lot of "national art" for sale and on auction at outrageous prices because it's done by a National Artist. No one knows or cares if any of it is Art or Crap. They just PAY!

There is a danger in state-sponsored Art killing all other forms of similar expression. To put some movie maker, or poet, or painter or dramatist above all others is an indirect form of censorship. I think that's why Imelda raised the practice to an, uhmm art. So right you are, Ferdie! Marcos was imitating Stalin.

A national artist is to art what a living saint would be to Catholicism. If a national artist wears his Medal, isn't that like a living saint walking around with a halo on this head? It's indecent, officially sanctioned hubris loved by Stalin and Mao. Art should live in hearts and minds, not politics!

Via MLQ3: GMA did NOT violate legal PROCESS re how National Artists are chosen. In EO236, these awards are given "upon the recommendation" of the CCP and NCCA. But this was amended by EO435 in which they merely "advise" the President on the award. The protestors have not a leg to stand on but their own prejudices about what constitutes "national art". It should be posthumous to minimize crassness by living artists.

If we don't ABOLISH the national artist awards, can we at least make it a posthumous award--to eliminate the obvious crass commercialization now ongoing. Even "respectable" awardees are making indecent moolah simply because they are national artists, and not having anything to do with their NEW art.

manuelbuencamino said...

the law prohibits cecile alvarez.

national artist was created by marcos as part of nation-building exercise

maybe the awards should be posthumous so that there is less lobbying.