When the nail sticks out

rants, raves and randomness

Learning to accept that no, Nora Aunor is not national artist material as per BS Aquino

First, I must say this : I am not a Vilmanian. Neither am I a Noranian. I’m just..umm.. too young to have witnessed them in their peak.  And before accusing me of  undervaluing their contributions, I am not. Both Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos are talented artists, deserving awards. It’s a given. It’s not worth debating about. So this article is NOT about that.

This article is about how we Filipinos are when we don’t get what we want. When faced with a NO.

First, what is the issue here? For those who are living under a rock, the issue is that Nora Aunor got struck off BS Aquino’s list. The president later admitted that it was the drug history that lead him to disqualify her.

Learning to accept that no, Nora Aunor is not national artist material as per BS Aquino

Learning to accept that no, Nora Aunor is not national artist material as per BS Aquino

What’s the big deal nga ba with the national artist award? Ano ba ito? According to the website of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts :

The Order of the  National Artists Award  (Orden ng Gawad Pambansang Alagad ng Sining) is the highest national recognition given to Filipino individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts; namely, Music, Dance, Theater, Visual Arts, Literature, Film and Broadcast Arts,  and Architecture and Allied Arts.  The order is jointly administered by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and conferred by the President of the Philippines upon recommendation by both institutions.

The Order of National Artists Award  is one of the Honors conferred by the Republic  of the Philippines that embodies the nation’s highest ideals in the humanities and aesthetic expression through the distinct achievements of individual citizens.  While the Republic bestows due recognition to these singular achievements, it in turn honors its own cultural heritage, whose enrichment these achievements have significantly effected, enhanced, and given direction.

< http://www.ncca.gov.ph/about-ncca/org-awards/org-awards-national-artist-guidelines.php >

Now here’s the fun part : watching Filipinos’ violent reactions. After all, Filipinos are always prone to have a violent reaction, one way or another. And where better to start than from his sister, Kris Aquino. Kris Aquino made the statement before her brother explained his side.

Kris Aquino, in favor of removing power to confer presidential award, from the president

Kris Aquino, in favor of removing power to confer presidential award from the president

Even Kris Aquino, the president’s sister who had helped launch his brother’s campaign for president during the funeral of their mother the late Pres. Cory Aquino, now wants to take away the final decision as to who would be proclaimed as National Artist from the president. At her TV program “The Buzz” last Sunday, she said she hopes the decision on who should be proclaimed as National Artist would no longer be the discretion of the president. Instead, she prays that “a committee will be formed to review the lists (of recommended National Artists).” –

< http://bulatlat.com/main/2014/06/24/why-was-nora-aunor-left-out-in-the-proclamation-of-national-artists/#sthash.yEdeEjbC.dpuf >

WTF? I don’t get Kris Aquino and the way she thinks. Kaya nga Presidential award kasi “conferred by the President of the Philippines”. How does one take out the president from a presidential award?

Next, the media men and showbiz personality. While I understand that everyone in the industry is banding together in defense of Nora Aunor (and rightly so),  I don’t understand the logic they throw around. One media personality on the radio lamented (mangled quote) : “Bakit kasi mukhang ayaw ng Presidente sa mga artista? Nakakalimutan ba ninya na kapatid nya, artista?

This isn’t a good way of defending Nora Aunor. Let’s defend Nora in her own right, not wonder why the president prefers not to hobnob with showbiz personalities. Can you imagine if BS Aquino liked artistas instead? I mean artistas  like his sister, who opens her mouth without thinking (see above)? I would lose all my respect for him. And people would go, ‘e palibhasa artista ang kapatid, kaya maka-artista!’

To everybody else, easy to judge the president, put yourself in BS Aquino’s shoes : damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t.

For a couple of days, the people were left wondering to themselves why the president has not explained himself. There must be a very good reason why! But BS Aquino flew to Japan and chose to consort with PM Abe to talk about China instead, leaving everyone hanging in the air. Why in the world does the president leave without explaining himself?! And to talk about China! Who wants to talk about China ? China is the enemy here. The president must set his priorities straight!

Many folks focused their energy on imagining the possible reasons on why Nora Aunor, an extraordinarily talented woman, was scratched off the list. The internet debates began. Even a politician couldn’t help voice his frustration at the president’s decision. It can’t be because she’s Bicolana! That’s racist!

Bicolano lawmakers in the House of Representatives demanded an explanation from President Benigno Aquino III for purportedly snubbing their fellow Bikolano Nora Aunor in the roster of National Artists.

In a statement, Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe said the President should explain the alleged snubbing of Aunor to “erase doubts upon the fairness of the President’s decision.

Her not being on the list despite of her obvious qualification is what makes the whole exclusion unacceptable and merits an explanation, considering that the award is greatly imbued with national interest,” Batocabe said.

< http://entertainment.inquirer.net/145550/aquino-draws-intense-backlash-over-nora-aunor-snob-as-bicolano-solons-demand-explanation#ixzz36Hoty7rn >

I don’t understand his statement : erase doubts upon the fairness of the President’s decision. Fairness? Talaga?

Even the national artist, Bienvenido Lumbero, felt that the president must explain himself.

In an interview with the news site Rappler.com, Bienvenido Lumbera, one of the few living national artists, said Malacañang owes the public an explanation why award-winning actress Nora Aunor was dropped from the list of recipients of the National Artist Awards this year. According to the Rappler report, Aunor got a big number of votes from her peers in various artistic fields who participated in the rigid, 3-phase selection process, according to Lumbera who was among them. So when her name was removed from the shortlist that was submitted to the honors committee at the Palace, it begged for a justification. “I felt Malacañang would have to explain why Nora Aunor was dropped from the list. Why explain? Because Nora Aunor was not an artist known only to a few people, Nora Aunor had a national following. And for her to be dropped from the list of national artists, this is for Malacañang to go against the sentiment of artists who chose Nora, the fans that Nora had developed over the course of her career as an actress,” Lumbera told Rappler.

< http://asianjournal.com/editorial/do-you-agree-with-malacanang-that-nora-aunor-should-not-be-honored-as-national-artist/#sthash.m6WHe6kr.dpuf >

Other people wonder if it was the resemblance to GMA that lead to Nora Aunor’s being rejected by the president himself, because we all know the president can’t stand GMA. Let’s admit, they kind of look alike : short and with a trademark mole on their faces. Plus they’re probably around the same age too.  Is it coincidence that the award issue broke out merely days before the  Sandiganbayan ordered 90-day suspension of Rep. Gloria Arroyo for the graft case filed against her? Ayos ang timing. I mean, why now? It has been long overdue!

Has BS Aquino redirected his anger at GMA to her look alike, Nora Aunor?

Has BS Aquino redirected his anger at GMA to her look alike, Nora Aunor?

Finally, after debates on online and offline, on-air and off, the president  admitted it was indeed the drug issue that lead him to scrap her off the list.

Sa aking pananaw yung national artist binibigyan natin ng honor na ito, puri na ito ay malaki ang ambag sa lahing Pilipino at dapat tularan,” Aquino said at the sidelines of the Philippine Air Force’s 67th anniversary at the Clark Air Base in Pampanga. (In my opinion, those being given the honor of national artist are those who had a huge contribution to the Philippines and should serve as role models.)

“Ang naging problema ko lang dun ay alam naman natin lahat…naconvict po sya sa drugs,” he added, referring to Aunor.(My only problem with Nora Aunor’s nomination is that she was convicted for the use of illegal drugs.)

He emphasized the country’s long struggle against illegal drugs, adding that there are now reports of foreign drug syndicates entering the country.

< http://entertainment.inquirer.net/146145/aquino-drugs-reason-why-nora-aunor-not-a-national-artist#ixzz36I1Obo8d >

So yes, it was the drug charges. Fine. I find that is a valid argument. Then, an NCCA official issued a statement about wanting to scrap a morality clause :

As for the morality clause, which was allegedly used as a basis for President Aquino to turn down Aunor’s nomination, the NCCA said this was not an issue.

Even Malacañang’s Honor Committee reportedly said that they found her in “good standing.”

It just happened that it was “an exercise of discretion on the part of the President,” Trixie Cruz-Angeles, legal counsel for the NCCA said.

The NCCA official said she is in favor of scrapping the morality clause as a basis in the selection process.

But the regulations should be amended first,” she said.

Based on the criteria released by the NCCA, nominees for the Order of National Artist should be Filipino “artists who through the content and form of their works have contributed in building a Filipino sense of nationhood” and “artists who have pioneered in a mode of creative expression or style, thus, earning distinction and making an impact on succeeding generations of artists.

< http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/lifestyle/06/23/14/palace-urged-explain-decision-national-artists >

Like Kris Aquino….

Trixie Cruz-Angeles, the legal counsel for the NCCA, said they are mulling over the recommendation that the Chief Executive’s approval should no longer be needed in proclaiming National Artists.

There were also suggestions that the role of the President in proclaiming a National Artist should just be a formality,” she said.

< http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/lifestyle/06/23/14/palace-urged-explain-decision-national-artists >

They really crack me up. Eh bakit pa tinawag na presidential award kung walang say ang president? Changing the “regulations” to get the results you want is bad strategy. Besides, it sets a bad precedent. Haven’t we set enough bad precedents to last us three lifetimes over?  At saka, what morality clause was she talking about? I didn’t find any morality clause on the NCCA website, which states the following criteria :

  1. Living artists who are natural-born Filipino citizens at the time of nomination, as well as those who died after the establishment of the award in 1972 but were Filipino citizens at the time of their death. Filipinos who have lost and re-acquired Filipino citizenship, through dual citizenship status for at least the minimum period of five years shall be eligible for nomination.
  2. Artists who through the content and form of their works have contributed in building a Filipino sense of nationhood.
  3. Artists who have pioneered in a mode of creative expression or style, thus, earning distinction and making an impact on succeeding generations of artists.
  4. Artists who have created a substantial and significant body of works and/or consistently displayed excellence in the practice of their art form thus enriching artistic expression or style.
  5. Artists who enjoy broad acceptance through:

5.1 prestigious national and/or international recognition, such as the Gawad CCP Para sa
Sining, CCP Thirteen Artists Award and NCCA Alab ng Haraya
5.2 critical acclaim and/or reviews of their works
5.3 respect and esteem from peers.

< http://www.ncca.gov.ph/about-ncca/org-awards/org-awards-national-artist-guidelines.php >

Other artists continue to support Nora Aunor. Lea Salonga, for one, is very vocal about her support for Nora Aunor :

Meanwhile, outspoken singer-actress Lea Salonga has raised a valid issue on social media regarding the President’s position that La Aunor’s acknowledged past as a drug user disqualified her from the honor.

I have a question: how do we know or not know that the other National Artist awardees, past and present, didn’t have sordid personal lives?” she posted on Facebook and Twitter on Tuesday.

< http://www.interaksyon.com/entertainment/vilma-santos-mum-on-nora-snub-as-lea-salonga-raises-valid-issue/ >

As the legal counsel for NCCA, Trixie Cruz-Angeles, had already said, this is “an exercise of discretion on the part of the President“.

What does discretion mean and why does it matter ?

the freedom to decide what should be done in a particular situation.

Which means that Lea Salonga’s question is also irrelevant because the past national artists were not chosen by BS Aquino himself, but chosen by the past presidents, based on their own discretion. Now, if one of the current awardee also has drug charges, but received the award anyway, that is a case of eye brow raising and riots. Now we can demand : why is BS Aquino refusing to confer an award to Nora Aunor who’s had drug charges (or not, depending on who you ask), when he’s conferring an award to another person with drug history? But that is not the case, is it? And lastly, even if it were : remember this is a presidential award made by a president to be awarded by the president. It’s doesn’t follow the usual routes of “democracy” and fairness. Neither is this the National Artist Award of the Masses, where popularity and pleasing the masses is the name of the game- what are elections for, then?  If the NCCA is not happy about this award being under the power of the president, then it should just create a more “democratic award” where citizens can vote for their artist. But if we want this to be a “presidential” award then I guess the president has to have the last say. We can’t have our cake and eat it too!

And what if we don’t like the decision of our president? Do we bitch and whine and complain and attack his person and become sore losers? Because he is unfair?

Life is not fair. Get over it bitch!

Life is not fair. Get over it bitch!

Very mature, Philippines. Very mature.


Let’s concede graciously and move on.

Survey : Should Nora Aunor be a national artist? From Inquirer.

Survey : Should Nora Aunor be a national artist? From the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Image from  http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/615999/most-respondents-say-nora-aunor-doesnt-deserve-national-artist-award.

Other images from the internet.

8 comments on “Learning to accept that no, Nora Aunor is not national artist material as per BS Aquino

  1. xridge
    July 4, 2014

    I think you are grappling with the word “presidential award” and “discretion”. In England, even if the queen has the royal prerogative (or discretion) she is there to only confer awards. She gives her royal assent to make the law passed by the Parliament without question. She bestowed awards per recommendation of her government but she normally chooses not to deviate from the recommended list. There was no controversy because the Queen never question the recommendation of the government of the day. Mind you, she still has the royal prerogative which she can use anytime. She can even abolish the Parliament if she so wish.

    What’s problematic with Aunor’s case is that the President did not follow the criteria followed by the NCCA/CPP. In the same token, Arroyo committed the same mistake. I agree that the NCCA/CPP is recommendatory body only. But ignoring their recommendation will require a lot of justification from the President as to why he is departing from the rules and adding another criterion. Worst for Aquino is that he justified his departure using the alleged conviction of Aunor in America which is actually not true as she is clearly not convicted.

    Since Aquino’s justification has crumbled, he is technically in hot water. Maintaining his stand is a sign of arrogance. The lesson here is that it is always best to follow the recommendation of the Committee organised for this purpose. Because in any event when people raise the issue of the award, the President has the Committee to justify its selection. By contradicting the Committee’s recommendation, you are not only justifying yourself to the Committee but also to the people who demands for answer. This has never happened in the present monarchy in England because the Queen has always followed her government’s recommendation. Even if the Queen in theory is the law, she still adheres to the law of the land. Don’t forget that in England we formulate law and give justice in the name of the Queen. Even if Aquino is President and he has discretion, he is always answerable to the people. One cannot simply say that I am exercising my discretion because it is within my power. That is not the way we administer in a democratic and civilised society. Even if the Queen has the royal prerogative she never used it. Note that she is not voted and she never requires the vote of her people. However, she recognised that her power lies on her subjects. The Queen, contrary to convention, lowered the flag in half-mast when Diana died, but it won the respect and admiration of her people. I do hope that Aquino will do the same.

  2. Ahsoka
    July 6, 2014


    THANK YOU!!!

    you nailed it down. The Queen knighted my favorite rock stars the likes of Sir Elton, Sir Mick, Sir Paul.

    Below is an article I found on d internet that says:

    Why are rock stars given honors? Many reasons are given, certainly it’s true that groups like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles all have done wonders for the British economy, Many of the people knighted have been artistically important. Doing charity work helps too, BUT CLEARLY BEING A WONDERFUL PERSON IS NOT A REQUIREMENT, or Mick Jagger would not have been knighted…

    The common denominator of these individuals… they all excel in their field of art and they are exceptionally good in their craft – at the same time they all brought so much prestige and fame to their COUNTRY and to their COUNTRYMEN.

    This is true to MS. NORA AUNOR.

  3. ikalwewe
    July 10, 2014

    Thanks for the comments. I am talking only about the legality of what the president can and cannot do. The NCCA legal council said it herself: he has the legal right to reject the recommendation. Whether it was proper or not, is another question. But if you’ll take the pdi’s survey results seriously, it seems that majority (52%) don’t think Nora should be awarded anyway. So he did what was according to what the majority wants- is that proper? I don’t know. Define “proper”. Cheers!

  4. denal
    September 6, 2014

    Reblogged this on Denal's Mind.

  5. Rene
    September 9, 2014

    About the PDI survey, National Artist Award is decided by experts in the arts. It’s not a popularity award decided by surveys among bashers, etc.

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