In his maiden task of proclaiming a set of National Artists, President Benigno Aquino (PNoy) has created an unnecessary brouhaha among the different sectors of our society.
I say unnecessary because in deciding whom to confer the Order of the National Artist among the nominees recommended by the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), the main criteria are simply that one must be a Filipino citizen who has made significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts and that he/she must enjoy broad acceptance through prestigious national and/or international recognition, critical acclaim of their works, and respect and esteem from their peers.
In the case of Nora Aunor, who was the only nominee for Film and Broadcast Arts, these criteria seem to have eluded her as PNoy was more interested instead in the flaws of her personal life.
I think that PNoy is taking his advocacy of following the “Tuwid na Daan” (Straight Path) too far. I am and have always been with him in his noble cause of fighting corruption in government, which is already making breakthroughs.
But, Aunor’s case is not about public service nor is it about her personal life, but rather it is about her persona as an artist and how she has brought it to greater heights because of her prowess and excellence.
The same goes with the other national artist nominees who got PNoy’s nod, namely, Alice Reyes, dance; Cirilo Bautista, literature; Francisco Feliciano, music; Ramon Santos, music; Francisco Coching, visual arts and Jose Ma. Zaragoza, architecture and allied arts.
It would be sad, indeed, if PNoy injected politics in his disregard of Aunor as an artist worthy of the rank and title of National Artist. We all know how, in the past, Aunor has rooted and campaigned for the Estradas.
Aunor may have had drug related problems in the past, but being accorded the honor of being named National Artist is not about morals. It is about being the best in your field despite your imperfections.
I don’t think the eminent F. Sionel Jose, a National Artist for Literature himself, would have nominated Nora Aunor if he thought she was not deserving of the accolade.