President Benigno Simeon (BS) Aquino The Last, I mean The Third, is absolutely correct—a National Artist should be a paragon of morality. Never mind that a nominee had taken his or her craft to a new height of excellence. What really matters most is moral character, consistent with the president’s pursuance of a “tuwid na daan.”
Now, somebody very close to BS Aquino could really fill the bill—his youngest sister Kris. She’s hailed as the Philippines’ version of Oprah, the undisputed queen of American television and host extraordinaire. Kris mentioned this comparison when she interviewed American actor-singer Jamie Foxx in her ABS-CBN program. (There was a report that Oprah Winfrey thought of suing her for defamation. Fortunately or unfortunately, this turned out to be a hoax.)
Oprah built her reputation over years of hard work, dedication and selflessness. No, she didn’t gain instant fame and stardom as her mother wasn’t a former president who gave back a broadcast franchise at no cost to a former owner. Thus, to be considered the Philippine version of Oprah bestows on Kris Aquino a great honor, much higher than being called the local version of Paris Hilton or of Kim Kardashian as some of her detractors are wont to do.
Kris Aquino hasn’t been a movie actress and talk show host for a long time but she already has a lot of followers. This bespeaks of her quality as an artist. Those who say that this was mainly the result of promotional efforts of ABS-CBN must be blind to her innate talents. As a TV host, she’s very honest, especially when it concerns herself and her son. Didn’t she tell Foxx that her son’s movie (with young superstar Raissa Mae) had earned more than Foxx’s movie?
She has accomplished so much in such a short time that ABS-CBN now calls her “The Queen of Philippine Media.” (Other broadcast outfits and print media organizations might stress that ABS-CBN doesn’t speak for them so at best, Kris Aquino should be considered “Queen of ABS-CBN.”) The titles “Oprah of the Philippines” and “Queen of Philippine Media” should suffice to qualify her for nomination to a National Artist Award.
Oh wait, many might bring up the question of morality. So, she has accomplished so much, but is she morally upright? Well, that shouldn’t even be an issue. She’s a sister of the President, right? The President has always said that his late parents had reared him to be upright and I can presume that they also brought her up to be morally upright.
She should be of the same moral mold as her brother. (If she has made a lot of men happy, can we conclude that her bachelor brother had also made a lot of girls happy?) What’s more, BS Aquino and his drumbeaters can always find a way to deodorize anything, even the questionable use of pork barrel by his Cabinet members and the charging of his friends and allies with graft and corruption.
So somebody, anybody, please nominate Kris Aquino for a National Artist Award. She should be a cinch to get the endorsement of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts and the Cultural Center of the Philippines. From there, the President’s immediate nod should just be a small step, a ministerial one, in fact.
This doesn’t smack of nepotism. This award to a supremely talented artist like Kris will bring back BS Aquino into the graces of the movie industry. He had alienated many of its members after belittling actors in his Araw ng Kalayaan address in Naga City and by refusing to give Nora Aunor a National Artist Award. By approving an award to an actress, he’ll be telling everybody that he actually recognizes the importance of movies in Philippine culture. Why, he might even convince the public that Kris is more deserving of the NAA than La Aunor!