I will not comment anymore on Nora Aunor’s qualifications for the national artist award. The fact that she passed, with flying colors we are told, the rigorous processes and standards of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA), Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and Malacañang’s Honors Committee is proof enough that she deserves the honor.
The real issue here is why President Aquino decided to drop here from the list of recomendees for the award – the only recommendee to have suffered the ignominy. I assume, as most people do, that the list given to the President had the benefit of learning from the mistakes of the past administration that trifled with the award to its’ and the artistic community’s utter embarassment.
So why was Nora not chosen by Pres. Aquino?
The official Palace apologists – secretaries Coloma and Lacierda – skirt the issue by saying the President has the power to make that choice and not explain his reasons. Technically that might be right. But again, what makes this presidential prerogative so different from the rest that it deserves no explanation, only an invocation of such powers?
Anyone can hazard a guess. Was it Aunor’s connection to the Marcos regime? Was it her perceived drug and alcohol problem?The color of her skin, perhaps? Or maybe PNoy is a closet Vilmanian? Did Kris Aquino have Bimby in mind? Who knows?
Well, precisely. Who knows what the President thinks about who deserves the national artist award, the highgest award conferred on any Filipino artist, living or dead? Apparently, nobody. Or nobody who’s talking. We don’t deserve an explanation.
I wouldn’t give a damn if this were all jut a matter of personal taste or preference. But you see, the national artist award is not about the President’s own artistic or political biases. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have raised a howl about GMA’s choice of Carlo Caparas or Cecille Alvarez back then. The thing is, Aunor was recommended by three bodies tasked precisely to select the artist most deserving of the award. Surely the President unilaterally and arbitrarily ignoring the work of all these people, including millions of Aunor’s fans, is something that deserves at least an explanation.
For Coloma to say that the President was just protecting “the national interest” is ridiculous, if not hilarious. But if true, then much more we deserve an explanation of how giving Nora Aunor the national artist award endangers the national interest.
That explanation notwithstanding, what this sorry incident shows is the low regard President Aquino has for the arts and our artists. This is a President whose idea of entertainment for US Pres. barrack Obama’s state dinner was to let Butch Abad and Jose Almendras sing “What’s Going On”. For this President, art is not something he has to take pains to explain to his bosses, meaning its not deserving of his valuable time and attention.#