<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?)