Tried and found wanting

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There is a classic Filipino film directed by the late, great Lino Brocka entitled ‘Tinimbang Ka, Ngunit Kulang,’ or literally “you have been tried and found wanting.”

The title also applies to one Carlo Caparas, a director who is nowhere near the same league as Brocka. A master of slasher and revenge films, Caparas was inexplicably named National Artist by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

It is no exaggeration to say that the Philippine art community was stunned, shocked and aghast at the designation of Caparas as National Artist. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in his body of work that qualifies as a work of art.

Yes, he has had a string of commercially successful films and, as Filipino komiks king, was creator of the Filipino super hero of sorts, Ang Panday which was popularized by the late Fernando Poe, Jr.

More importantly, he was not even nominated for the award. President Arroyo mistakenly believed that she was authorized to pick the men and women who would carry the title for life.

Luckily for the Philippines, in general, and the art community, in particular, the award was rescinded by the Supreme Court. The high court found the presidential proclamation declaring Caparas a National Artist null and void.

Unfortunately, three other outstanding Filipinos who received the award at the same time as Caparas were also stripped of their titles.

Architect Francisco Mañosa, fashion designer Jose ‘Pitoy’ Moreno, and Philippine Educational Theater Association founder Cecilia Guidote Alvarez are no longer NAs.

This is a shame because to varying degrees, all three are deserving of the title.

Mañosa remains an outstanding architect and urban planner who helped define a distinctive style of Philippine architecture.

Moreno is now and will always be considered the Dean of Filipino fashion designers, a master of classic elegance.

Even Guidote-Alvarez’s contributions to local theater cannot be denied.

Hopefully, these three will one day be declared NAs. And hopefully, there will be no hackles raised because they are truly deserving of the honor.

As for Caparas, he can go back to writing, directing and producing the kind of films that the public enjoys watching, even if they are bereft of artistic value.

Or maybe he can go back to writing komiks and create another memorable character like FPJ’s Panday.

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