Friday, 7 November 2014

All after (the deserving) artists, The (awaiting) prize, And the (rotten) system who tries to act righteous

All after (the deserving) artists, 
The (awaiting) prize, 
And the (rotten) system who tries to act righteous

(Or months after Nora Aunor still not having the Order of National Artist)

By Lualhati Madlangawa Guerrero

It was months ago when People had mixed reactions as the Executive department turned down calls to include Actress Nora Aunor as National Artist of the year. Especially after how President Aquino and his clique had justified their action such as the artist as a drug user.

And if so, then what's the connection between her art and her mistake? People from all walks of life had commented about the issue happened months ago; some favored the President's decision, others oppose citing Nora Aunor's contribution to Philippine art through Cinema. But regardless of her contributions, of citations brought from her country and abroad, the system, trying act to be righteous, rather disregard and instead emphasise her alleged mistake as a drug user as a clause for not receiving the prize.

But in spite of not been given by the system, Concerned groups consider her still as a people's artist with the same reason those who press her for the citation. Some, if not most National Artists acknowledge her works positively to consider her for the order, from breaking the typical Filipina as a hispanic bourgeois in favor of the brown skinned of the Masa crowd, to the introduction of movies made independent from major producers. Of course, the system did recognize her works, but, trying to be morally uprighteous, rather turned down the clamor of making her a National Artist; or worse, thinking that she doesn't deserve the prize in spite of the citations she had as an artist simply because she's from the lowly Masa crowd, and not of the educated bourgeois.

Taking her as an example, this writer would say that the issue about choosing a National Artist isn't based on being morally upright as insisted by the system and blindly agreed by most commentators in social media sites. Artists are at first, human prior to their popularity on the first place, and people even don't knew that Nick Joaquin was a drunkard, that F. Sionil Jose was a dropout from a prominent university, and Juan Luna was a murderer gone acquitted by the courts.
Do we need to add international celebrities as well despite not being a Filipino and a national artist? Ernest Hemingway had drank Absinthe which is illegal in most countries, yet people read his works and admired him for his literary contributions; so was Bob Marley, well known for his Reggae yet people known seeing him smoking Marijuana yet still admiring by his fans for his feel good music.
The system may continue to insist their clause citing morality or any other claptrap to justify upon if not acting as a blanket for their obvious personal reason, but being morally upright doesn't guarantee a person from the art scene as a National Artist. Does the Artist should be godly that somehow meant that an Atheist, a nonbeliever who had good contributions to today's culture doesn't deserve the prize?

Personally, in seeing that hell of a kind issue, comes a question: why on earth should have the President of the so-called Republic choose and omit those worthy to be called as National Artist? And why not as well remove that presidential privilege in choosing national artists, and even supreme court justices (SCJs)? National Artists should, on the first place been chose by a panel led by an academy of national artists; so are the SCJs, especially those of the Chief Justice whom should been picked and be voted by the Judicial and Bar Council; making itself really independent from the executive.
It may sound ideal, that few people would had also suggested that idea, citing the fact that Presidential privilege comes abuse of power, circumventing laws just to keep the status quo firm including adding and omitting those who deserve and those whom are not. That the hated Carlo J. Caparas had controversially became National Artist with people thinking that he, an avid Arroyo supporter made that happen, while the past administration had cite his directing skill and writing in comics as its justification for attaining the order as a "National Artist" amidst criticism from National Artists and the people in general.

His murder-and-massacre related movies whom he called "justice" was all but crappy no matter how it based from reality compared to the remarkable works of Manuel Conde and the realism of Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal. And although he did left a legacy actually especially to those living in the last decades of the 20th century, does it mean that legacy can make Caparas himself liable for having the order and its benefits?

In fact, right was Caparas in his statement citing that the order is for those who, are old, dying, if not already dead artists whom had left a good legacy and contributions to Filipino culture. But prior to that statement of his, the late Levi Celerio did said that idea why he, an old dying man be given the prize too late? Well, both of them are right to say those words how the system has to await good artists to reach old age and face death to have the citation and the right to be buried at the Heroes Graveyard; yet the late Ka Levi, who was a drunkard yet brought good music that is known for generations deserves the prize better than those of Caparas who is a puppet of the system with his "justice films" as crappy and exaggerated. Panelists knew their shortcomings, but still they knew what is gold and what is crap. Ka Levi, Nick Joaquin, and even Juan Luna shared the mistakes of their lives, yet they are still appraised, So were the womanizers Dolphy, Fernando Poe Jr. and the alleged drug user Nora Aunor who's not been given despite her life's work as an artist deserves the prize.
They deserved it for they knew that they had pleased the people through their craft and hence brought citations regardless of the controversies they themselves involved. Having the prize does not require to be a part of the high society to show how remarkable Philippine art, even the graffiti artist may someday be given the prize for its craft that appeases the youth no matter how the system thinks of as vandalism, still, it is an art that invokes beauty as shown by colours and expression through glyphs being shown.

And by the way, since the President and his clique had used morality as its clause, why not take the actions of choosing national artist via a series of miracles, evidences similar to a process that led to canonization, if not setting wet and dry straw into the furnace like how cardinals appoints the chief vicar of the Church? Dios mio! The system is all but presenting a "saint" that is full of "morals" rather than a national artist whose craft brought numerous contributions to Filipino society and culture, not knowing that some, if not most national artists are also accustomed by the desires of the flesh and of the decadent.

Sorry if this writeup had been posted late, but to some it remains relevant especially on how the system treats art and how they assess artists who deserve the prize. Morally upright as its basis? Whose morality anyway?