Thursday, August 20, 2009


<Illustrious names pray for probibition before the Supreme Court--
“Petitioners National Artists Virgilio Almario, Ben Cabrera, Bien Lumbera, Napoleon Abueva, and Arturo Luz have the right under the due process clause of the 1987 Constitution to not have the honor they have been conferred with diminished because of an irregular and questionable award made by the President to the four private respondents,”
To me, this hardly seems to be a dignified thing for the National Artists themselves to be doing. It is as if the 1999 Miss Universe Winner were to protest that her glory and honor previously conferred, was being diminished because she and her supporters think that the 2009 Winner is ugly and undeserving.
They asked the high court to declare as grave abuse of discretion on the part of President Arroyo the inclusion of the names of Cecille Guidote-Alvarez, Francisco Manosa, Jose Moreno, and Carlos Caparas in the recipient list of National Artist awards, as well as the deletion of the name of Dr. Ricardo Santos.
I think this very statement reveals a particularly disdainful type of hubris, fostered by state-sponsored art from Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia, in susceptible awardees such as the "Petitioners" in the instant case. They have come to believe that they themselves were universally accepted as deserving of the award, or that they ARE now. Thus the very premise of the prayer is wet, shifting sand--that Miss Universe 1999 can hold all future judges of such contests to her own arbitrary standards is clearly self-serving and specious. Moreover, the Congress and the President could easily diminish the cash awards, or make the award posthumous, or modify it in some other way deemed beneficial to its aims. So that there is literally no truth to the assertion by National Artists to some kind of right not to have their honor diminished for all eternity!

But I have much bigger trouble with this fol-de-rol than the self-aggrandizing behavior of our national artists. I have come to the conclusion that the National Awards themselves ought to be ABOLISHED because they are a violation of the Bill of Rights guarantees on Freedom of Speech and Expression. My basic position is that ART is like Religion, a most fundamental and basic human mental and emotional activity, possession and faculty, which, like Religion, ought not to be the realm of the Government to be anything but absolutely neutral in. Those things, feelings, ideas, and activities which we consider to be religious, are hardly distinguishable from things we would consider to be artistic. Whether worshipped as a powerful Deity external to ourselves, or perceived by a human being as something divine or sublime within himself and others, both Religion and Art refer to something fundamentally and inherently human--and therefore the possession of every human being. Both to believe and not to believe compose the freedom of religions. Likewise, the beauty and truth that we see in things artistic are fundamentally matters of our subjective and individual opinion.

The 1987 Constitution's Bill of Rights upholds in quick succession Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Religion as part of the basic Right to Life, Liberty and Property. In a way, our thoughts ARE our Life, our Liberty and our most precious Property!
1987 Article III
Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall a ny person be denied the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

Section 3. (1) The privacy of communication and correspondence shall be inviolable except upon lawful order of the court, or when public safety or order requires otherwise, as prescribed by law.

(2) Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.

Section 4. No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.

Section 5. No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.
So that if we the People, have erected a strict Wall of Separation between the doings of the State and the freedom of religion, so too must we prevent the State from either promoting or impeding the freedom of speech, thought and expression by raising up from the vast diversity of arts some particular choice to be named "national artist". If we allow the State to dictate what is Good Art, good enough to be called "national art", then how long will it be before that State begins to dictate what is Good Journalism, Good Speech, Good Thought and Expression?

I think it is time to abolish the National Artists awards. Or at the very least they ought to be made only posthumously and only rarely, and certainly not by the Government. The world's major prizes--the Nobel, the Oscars, the Grammys and Pulitzers--are all privately made. Even Miss Universe!

Anecdotally too, there is some perception that after receiving a National Artist award, many awardees set off on commercial ventures and hardly ever produce any NEW ART as significant as before they received it. (And who would dare criticize them?)


Jm Benavidez Estoque said...

I'm sorry but... I really don't find your propostion as agreable as it seems, sir.

Kailangan lamang na magkaroon ng ganiyang klase ng award. Kung sinasabi mo lang yan dahil sa iniisip mong dinidiktahan ng gobyerno sa kung anong uri ng art ang tama, pasensya na po pero mas pabor ako doon.

Habang sa paglipas ng panahon, dala ng globalisasyon ay unti unti nang naiimpluwensyahan ng ibang bansa ang ating kultura.

Kaakibat no'n ay ang pagkalito sa kung ano ang mas maganda, sa kung anong uri ng sining ang mas dapat paboran.

Unti unti na tayong nawawalan ng sariling pagkakakilanlan dahil sa labis na paghanga natin sa banyagang kultura habang unti unti naman nating nakakalimutan at ang masaklap pa'y kahit ang sariling atin ay nagagawa na nating sabihan ng baduy, pangit at corney.

Sa aking sariling opinyon, nararapat po lamang na isagawa yan ng ating gobyerno nang sa gayon ay ma-redirect ang isipan ng madla sa kung anong kultura at sining ang dapat nating unahing papurihan.

Nararapat lamang iyon upang magkaroon ng basic standards at norms para sa kung ano nga ba ang tunay na national artist.

Ang artist ba na kumukopya lamang sa kultura ng iba? o ang uri ng artist na hayu't buong puso niyang ipinagmamalaki at pinupuri ang kaniyang sariling kultura?

Kaya ng national artist, hindi po ba? Isang alagad ng sining (artist) na s'yang 'umaawit' at pumupuri sa kariktan ng kaniyang sariling 'himig', ng kaniyang sariling 'damdamin' na siyang nagbubukal ng damdaming pagkamakabayan (national).

Nauunawaan ko naman po ang iyong kinatatakutan na baka mamaya ay bati ang iba pang mga salik ay diktahan na rin ng gobyerno... pero kung tutuusin... naniniwala po ako na ang gobyerno kahit ganyan, ay hindi naman ganyan talagang kasama kagaya ng iniisip nyo.

Marahil... ang mga nabanggit nyo ay bunga lamang ng isang uri/ bagay na iyong kinatatakutan na ayaw nyong mangyari dahil sa isang kadahilanan na tanging kayo lamang ang makasasagot.

Magkagayon pa man, Iginagalang ko pa rin po ang inyong opinyon hingil dito pagkat alam ko namang lahat tayo'y may karapatang mangatwiran.

Magandang araw po sa inyo. :)

manuelbuencamino said...

Not to be imposed by the government. the government is only supposed to provide financial support, a pension and a funeral for national artists.

Artists were supposed to be recognized by their peers parang TONY, Oscar, Famas, etc. Nothing wrong with that.

Problema nakialam ang politco. Buti sana kung yun politico ay artist din.

As long as the artits decide who among them deserves the award its okay. If they fight among themselves, that's okay too, but keep the fight among artists only.

Jhay said...

The problem lies in treating art like it was religion. Sure both are highly subjective and relative, but art is something more close to our national identity, culture and soul as a people.

That's why the NA awards were conceived for in the first place, to boost the morale of our own artists so that they would promote and develop our own material culture, which is art, and be of help in our struggle for development and forging the Filipino identity.

Rizal said it himself Chapter 7 of El Fili: “You ask for equal rights, the Hispanization of your customs, and you don’t see that what you are begging for is suicide, the destruction of your nationality, the annihilation of your fatherland, the consecration of tyranny! What will you be in the future? A people without character, a nation without liberty—everything you have will be borrowed, even your very defects! You beg for Hispanization, and do not pale with shame when they deny it you!...”

Jm Benavidez Estoque said...

Yan ang ibig kong sabihin! Salamat po, sir Jhay!