My National Artist
Unless you’re living under a rock, you’re probably aware that apart from the accused in the pork barrel scam, another news item that’s been jostling for a portion of your attention is Malacanang’s exclusion of Nora Aunor from the current roster of recipients of the National Artist award, in spite of garnering the highest number of votes in the deliberations of NCCA and the CCP. To add fuel to the fire, the best that Malacanang has come up by way of explanation is that they (whoever was responsible) had the “national interest” in mind when it came to the now infamous decision of denying the honor to Ms Aunor.
As of last night, there is I think a building critical mass of protests and dissenting voices on her exclusion. Opinion-makers, artists–including past recipients of the award, and other persons of interest have given far more eloquent arguments against Malacanang’s decision than I could ever give.
As a fan of Nora Aunor, let me just say this:
I think it is foolish to use morality in judging the merits of an artist. True art (and culture) has no morality and ascribing them to each other is a disservice and an insult to both. Besides, who can claim to have the moral ascendancy to judge other people’s morality? The clergy, who adjusts its teachings and pronouncements to accommodate those who contribute to their coffers? The president, who regularly turns a blind eye to the shenanigans of his close friends and associates?
When Manny Pacquiao was winning all those athlete-of-the-year awards here and abroad, did his excessive drinking and womanizing affect his chances of getting that award? No. Because it was an award for athletic performance. It’s the same case in the National Artist award. Assessment of artistic merit should be based solely on an artist’s body of work and its impact to culture and society, not on the way that particular artist lived her/ his life.
Malacanang needs to remember that this is the National Artist award, and not the Catholic Mass Media award.
Anyway, should we be surprised at President Aquino’s decision not to confer the National Artist award to Nora Aunor? The Aquinos post-EDSA were never known to be supportive of the arts. This is most probably because of the Marcoses’ very close association to and strong support of the arts during their regime. Although Cory took up painting when she retired from public office, her family is known and liked for many things but not for artistic talent. Just look at Kris Aquino.
And President Aquino? He of the single-minded hatred towards his political rivals and their known associates? The NCCA is right when it said they need to review their processes in order to ensure that the National Artist award is not influenced by politics. The “national interest” Malacanang is referring to in its lame press statement is nothing more than P-Noy stomping his feet like a belligerent toddler who wants to keep all toys to himself.
I wonder, though. Does P-Noy know that by doing this to Nora Aunor, he became exactly like GMA in tampering with the arts and culture by using hypocrisy?