• The Nora Aunor affair


    Noranians will never forgive President Benigno Aquino 3rd for denying their beloved idol the honor of being named a National Artist. That’s understandable. Nora Aunor has left a deep imprint on Philippine cinema, having achieved both critical acclaim and mass popularity.

    Resentment towards the presidential veto has now spread beyond Ms. Aunor’s fans. It has touched off a spirited debate on whether the final say in proclaiming National Artists should be left to the President.

    Choosing a National Artist is a long and painstaking process. It begins with nominations being submitted to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. The commission reviews the nominations and picks out the most deserving ones.

    The commission’s board of trustees then sits with its counterpart in the Cultural Center of the Philippines and winnows the choices down to a short list. It is this list that is submitted to the President.

    Here is where the process enters a controversial phase. The President can revise the list by adding or deleting names. He can even disregard the list and proclaim an altogether different set of National Artists.

    In 2009, President Gloria Arroyo amended the list, taking out one name and putting in four. She omitted Ramon Santos, and wrote in Carlo Caparas, Cecile Guidote-Alvarez, Francisco Mañosa and Pitoy Moreno.

    The revision triggered a firestorm in the local art community. It subsided in 2013, when the Supreme Court invalidated the presidential proclamation naming the four National Artists and rebuking the President for “grave abuse of discretion.”

    Two years later, the presidential power to proclaim National Artists is once again being challenged. Presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma has defended the President’s decision to veto Ms. Aunor, saying it “was based on what will best serve the national interest because the Order of the National Artist gives recognition to those who excelled in the arts and letters and embodied the goodness and nobility of the Filipino people.”

    The spokesman was implying that Ms. Aunor does not deserve the award because she does not have the high moral standing required of a National Artist.

    There were insinuations that President Aquino thumbed down the artist because of her alleged addiction to drugs. In 2005, the artist was arrested at the Los Angeles Airport for possession of shabu. But she was cleared of the charges two years later.

    Another speculation is that the President resented Ms. Aunor’s past association with the Marcos family. During the Martial Law years, Imee Marcos’ Experimental Cinema of the Philippines bankrolled Himala, the iconic film that starred Ms. Aunor.

    Whatever the reason, the President has decided he cannot bestow the National Artist Award for Film on Nora Aunor. By doing so, Mr. Aquino closes his eyes to the dozens of local and international awards the actress has won. He refuses to accept that Ms. Aunor owns five FAMAS best actress awards, elevating her to the FAMAS Hall of Fame. He ignores the four international awards the actress received for her film, Thy Womb.

    These are achievements that define a great actress. Yet, she does not qualify as a National Artist.

    There is something terribly wrong here, and it’s time to do something about it.

    National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera strongly believes that while the President had made his decision, he owes the CCP and NCCA “an explanation for the insulting disregard of the choice of Nora Aunor for national artist.”

    Trixie Cruz-Angeles, the legal counsel of NCCA, says a proposal to transfer the authority to declare, proclaim and confer National Artists from the President to the Cultural Center and NCCA is now worth looking at.

    We wholeheartedly agree. These two agencies, after all, have the experience and expertise for such a task.

    The President should stick to governance and leave the selection of such a prestigious prize to a panel of experts


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    1. Iba iba ng pagtingin ang tao sa kung sino ang dapat na maging National Artist. Maybe it’s time na wag lang pumili ng isang tao to cover the whole Artistry of the Filipino. Because there are people who loves movie, their orientation of who should be National Artist will be from actress/actor. There are people who loves painting/drawing, sculpture so they are eying for anyone from these artist to be recognized as “National”. There are people whose orientation is in music and dance so just the same they would want someone from that industry. And the same indignation will happen to fans if ever in the future the President, upon his prerogative, select against their choice.

      Reply to Mr or Ms ako:
      Talaga po namang bawat linya or disiplina ng pagka artist ay may pipiling isa na tatanghaling National Artist. Si Nora Aunor ay siyang napili ng CPP-NCCA na maging National Artist paea sa sining ng pelikula.
      Ang inirereklamo po laban kay PANGULONG AQUINO ay ang pagtanggal niya kay Nora Aunor.

    2. The article says that: “The President should stick to governance and leave the selection of such a prestigious prize to a panel of experts.” Heavens! this machine elected president is not even good at governance. Nor is he good at any human endeavor at all. What does he know about art? If he were to be listened to, then Van Gogh or Picazzo or Dali or even Gauguin cannot be considered artists because they are not exactly moral people. But this Pnoy is not one either. Perhaps, in his convoluted and demented mind, he is the “only artist” there is in the country so he should have been nominated. And I bet, we would have heard his guffaw!

    3. n the United States, Barbra Streisand is known as a democrat supporter. She is a known critic of George Bush (a republican president). In 2008, she received Kennedy Center Honor bestowed to her by Pres. G. Bush. There was a clear separation of arts and politics. In our beloved country, our president (btw did not watch any activities in CCP, but able to appreciate mediocrity of Philippine cinema…he endorsed Sisterakas and my little bossing) has rejected Ms. Aunor as a National Artist. I am not against Alice Reyes (National Artist for dance), I know National Artist is not a popularity award but shall make a mark or an influence to the Philippine Society…you can ask 100 voting Philippine Citizens…do you know Nora Aunor? Reply—Yes 99%…. do you know Alice Reyes– Yes 1%.

    4. E. G. Festin on

      Maritain, the greatest philosopher on art and creativity, said of artisdts and their “strange” behavior, by which he meant their immorality, are “special creatures” and God alone knows how to deal with them.

      Which means to me that we mortals should give the National Artist Award to our most gifted artists, even they are not saint.

    5. Time and history will vindicate NORA AUNOR from that art ignoramus who ROBBED her of the honor of becoming a national artist.An honor she truly deserved.Her artistry is timeless and will stand the test of time,while you art ignoramus will soon fade into oblivion after two years when you step down from that mighty tower.(remember that tower is not yours forever)Nora’s Thespic talent is natural and God given honed by years of hard work and genuine love for the art (even risking her money and popularity to do film to lift up the standard of philippine movies)what about u can u risk your money for the people who voted for you ?like one of her famous line in her classic movie HIMALA “Kung wala na ang lahat, kung kalansay na lang tayo, ang matitira na lang ay ang sinasabi mong sining.” (When everything is over and we’re reduced to bones, what remains is what you call “art.”)Ikaw pinoy pagdating NG panahon na yun sana man Lang may maiwan Kang maganda sa Tao..BTW since you said its of national interest kaya Mo nilaglag si nora what about asking your sister kris to stop appearing from television and film ,she also lived an immoral life remember?FOR NATIONAL INTEREST DIN…din.she might also corrupt the mind of people that it’s okey to live in immorality.

    6. It is simply this point, King PNoy does not understand what is a national artist is, or does not know who Nora Aunor is, or simply does not know that there is such a national artist or maybe he wants to put Kris’ name as a candidate.