Furor over Arroyo’s debasement of National Artists Award
Update: F. Sionil Jose, Arturo Luz, Bienvenido Lumbera, Virgilio Almario, Bancab will lead artists and community in a Necrological Service and Funeral march for the National Artists Awards on Friday, Aug. 7, 2 pm at CCP.
Last Wednesday, Malacañang released the names of the latest batch of National Artists, the most prestigious award for Filipino artists. They are:
Cecile Guidote-Alvarez (Theater)
Manuel Urbano aka Manuel Conde (Film and Broadcast Arts)
Magno Jose “Carlo” Caparas (Visual Arts and Film)
Federico Aguilar Alcuaz (Visual Arts, Painting)
Lazaro Francisco (Literature)
Francisco Mañosa (Architecture)
Jose “Pitoy” Moreno (Fashion)
The Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) issued the following statement:
Moribund, decadent politics behind this year’s selection of National Artists
The Concerned Artists of the Philippines joins much of the Filipino arts and cultural community in expressing indignation over the unprecedented brazen use by the Arroyo regime of the National Artists awards for its moribund, decadent politics.
We are outraged that Arroyo has transformed the National Artists awards as her own largesse for doling out political favors. More than half of the seven new National Artists awardees were Arroyo’s direct recommendees that were not on the list given by the both the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), the sole agencies tasked by law to recommend National Artists awardees.
We particularly detest the designation of Presidential Adviser on Culture Cecille Guidote-Alvarez as National Artist as reeking of the worst kind of patronage politics the Filipino people would have long been far better off without. Alvarez’s designation speaks of the worst conflict of interest possible in this situation, given that she is currently NCCA executive director and heads the secretariat for the National Artists awards! How is it possible that such an award can be seen in any good light, and that the awardee would accept it in all good faith and honesty?
We cannot but see Alvarez’s being named National Artist as Arroyo’s way of returning political favors after Alvarez’s consistent whitewashing of her regime’s corruption and repression. As well, we see this as a spectacular condonation of various reported anomalies at the NCCA committed by Alvarez all these past years.
It gets worse. Malacañang is vainly covering up for its wanton presidential abuse by contending that it just dispatched its “purely ministerial” duties in naming this year’s National Artist awardees. This is a brazen lie that is easily shown by a simple inquiry into the entire process, and by those from both the NCCA and CCP who were affronted by the grave presidential indiscretion after they went through a rigorous selection process!
We find this action by Arroyo as being consistent with her longstanding deceit of the Filipino people, capped recently by her last State of the Nation Address, the worst farewell SONA in our country’s history. It is consistent with her overall disdain for all public accountability throughout her rule, as she engaged in massive cheating, corruption, brutal and bloody suppression of consistent critics to her criminal reign, puppetry to corrupt foreign interests, wholesale subversion of the constitution she vowed to uphold and protect, and sabotage of fully urgent and legitimate impeachment moves against her all these years.
Arroyo’s virtual subversion of the National Artists awards process highlights as well her regime’s deliberate exacerbation of the longstanding severe crisis in Philippine cultiure and the arts. Her regime will long be infamous for worsening colonial, feudal, fascist and commercial culture, shown by (1) its unabashed promotion of English as official language of instruction, commerce and government; (2) unprecedented opening up of the economy to foreign cultural goods and services, leading to the virtual decimation of the local cultural economy; (3) annihilation of native and minority cultures brought by unrivalled disruption of the agriculture- based livelihoods of Filipino cultural minorities and native communities; (4) the brazen bastardization and commercialization of Filipino native cultures and customs through promotion of tourism attuned to neoliberal globalization; and (5) its brazen suppression of the constitutionally- guaranteed freedom of expression by censoring numerous films with social commentary that have in fact been recipients of many international and local awards, and its world-class annihilation of journalism and journalists.
CAP will be alongside Filipino cultural workers, professionals and advocates in taking immediate direct actions to justly detest this latest outrageous act of the Arroyo regime. We enjoin all other freedom-loving Filipinos to do likewise. Philippine arts and culture deserve no less.
Sobra Na! Tama Na! Patalsikin si Gloria!