Tuesday, March 28, 2006

National Artists


This March 2006, the joint boards of the National Commission for
Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines
(CCP) shall make the final selection for the 2006 Order of National
Artists. The body, including living National Artists, shall choose
from the list recommended by a Second Deliberation Panel last

Recently, disinformation concerning the results of the deliberations
has been coming out in sms, email and even newspaper columns. At the
very least, this disinformation has been causing needless confusion,
speculation and dismay. In the interest of transparency and
accountability yet without breaking the complete confidentiality of
the process, this letter hopes to inform the whole community of
Filipino artists and cultural workers about HOW the National Artists
are actually chosen, WHO are making the choices, and more importantly,
WHO are the artists to be finally recommended to the President of the
Republic of the Philippines *"for confirmation, proclamation and

*Transparency* in the process and *accountability *of the individuals
responsible for the selection are indeed necessary in establishing the
integrity of the awards. Thus, it must be noted that a National
Artist is chosen either through the nomination and selection process
set forth by the NCCA and CCP or by the exercise of Presidential
prerogative. This discretion is said to be legal and within the
provisions of Proclamation No. 1001 (dated Apr il 12, 1972 and signed
by then Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos) creating the National Artist Award.


The first deliberation was held in January this year. Around 100
artists and cultural workers (now called Council of Experts, not
Council of Peers as in 2003) met to decide on the first shortlist from
more than a hundred or so names nominated to or listed by (not
nominated but included after diligent review) the National Artists
Awards Secretariat.

Some 100 nominees were presented: 5 in Dance, 14 in Music, 8 in
Theater, 16 in Film, 4 in Broadcast Arts, 26 in Visual Arts, 19 in
Literature, 5 in Architecture and Allied Arts, and 4 in Fashion


*DANCE*: Paz Cielo Belmonte, Eddie Elejar, Corazon Inigo, Ramon
Obusan, Alice Reyes *MUSIC:* Fides Cuyugan Asencio, Alfredo
Buenaventura, George Canseco, Ryan Cayabyab, Josefino Cenizal,
Ernestina Crisologo, Octavio Cruz, Constancio de Guzman, Fr. Eduardo
Hontiveros, S.J., Gilopez Kabayao, Sylvia La Torre, Basilio Manalo,
Eliseo Pajaro, Ramon Santos *THEATER:* Zeneida Amador, Amelia Lapena
Bonifacio, Rustica Carpi, Romarico Cruz, Katy dela Cruz, Anthony Juan,
Antonio Mabesa, Naty Crame Rogers *FILM:* Nora Aunor, Manuel Conde,
Rogelio dela Rosa, Mike de Leon, Dolphy (Rodolfo Quizon), Peque
Gallaga, Eddie Garcia, Rita Gomez, Fernando Poe Jr., Lolita Rodriguez,
Gloria Romero, Carmen Rosales, Leopoldo Salcedo, Vilma Santos, Vic
Silayan, Charito Solis BROADCAST ARTS: Cecilia Lazaro, Nick Lizaso,
Dely Magpayo, Francisco Trinidad *VISUAL ARTS*: Pacita Abad, Federico
Aguilar Alcuaz, Glenn Bautista, Dick Baldovino, Rosario Bitanga,
Santiago Bose, Ben Cabrera, Alfredo Carmelo, Eduardo
Castrillo, Roberto Chabet, Francisco Coching, Araceli Limcaco Dans,
Abdulmari Asia Imao, Raul Isidro, Diosdado Lorenzo, Eduardo Masferre,
Mauro Malang Santos, Onib Olmedo, Ramon Orlina, Cenon Rivera, Manuel
Rodriguez, Simplicia Nena Saguil, Ricardo Trofeo, Romeo Vitug, Jaime
Zobel *LITERATURE:* Cirilo Bautista, Antonio Realce Berango, Linda Ty
Casper, Clodualdo del Mundo Sr., Ophelia Alcantara Dimalanta, Gilda
Cordero Fernando, Lazaro Francisco, Juan S.P. Hidalgo, Jr., Lucila
Hosillos, Magdalena Jalandoni, Bienvenido Lumbera, Genoveva Edroza
Matute, Buenaventura Medina, Jr., Carmen Nakpil, Francisco "Soc"
Rodrigo, Rogelio Sicat, Kerima Polotan Tuvera, Azucena Grajo Uranza,
Rene Villanueva *ARCHITECTURE AND ALLIED ARTS*: Francisco Manosa,
Felipe Mendoza, Felino Palafox, Ildefonso P. Santos Jr., Jose Maria
Zaragoza *FASHION DESIGN *: Ben Farrales, Jose "Pitoy" Moreno, Joe
Salazar, Ramon Valera


The experts (more or less ten in each group) met in groups to choose
their candidates for the first short list. Then, the whole body
convened and each group's representative announced their choice/s or

Known to the more than a hundred or so people in the deliberation,
those in the first short list are:









*Broadcast Arts*


*Visual Arts*




*Architecture and Allied Arts*

Fashion Design*



The second deliberation was held in February. A representative of each
group delivered a prepared presentation for each of the names in the
short list (called by some people as "lawyering"), after whi ch, the
representatives of the group voting individually, trimmed down the
list further to 8.

Unlike the first panel, second panel voted inter-category; one in
which a representative from dance, for example, voted for the names in
other categories.

Who are these 8 in the second shortlist? That this letter is not
prepared to disclose. A lot of names have been mentioned, as
previously stated, in sms, e-mail, and even in the press. The motives
are not clear. Sourgraping? Red-baiting? Who knows? Some say the
purpose is to preempt whatever decision the joint NCCA-CCP board will
make when it meets this month to make the final decision: is it going
to be all 8? 5? 6? Or none at all?

But what this letter is prepared to list down are the
not-so-confidential names of those who will be choosing the names to
be recommended to the president as the 2006 National Artists of the



JOSE CARLOS B. LACSON, House of Representatives
MARIETTA CHOU, Records Management and Archives Office
CORAZON ALVINA, National Museum
PRUDENCIANA CRUZ, National Library
NESTOR O. JARDIN, Cultural Center of the Philippines
NITA P. BUENAOBRA, Komisyon sa Wika
FELIPE DE LEON JR., private sector, arts
CARLOS B. EBEO, private sector, cultural communities
ALREDO G. GABOT, private sector, cultural dissemination
ROSE BEATRIX C. ANGELES, private sector, cultural heritage
CECILE GUIDOTE ALVAREZ, executive director



NESTON O. JARDIN, president
BEL DERAYUNAN, corporate secretary


ARTURO LUZ, visual arts
EDITH TIEMPO, literature
SALVADOR BERNAL, theater design


Plaza de Buensuceso
No. 5, 1o, Barcelona


Tuesday March 21. 2006

Nationalist Artist awards, anyone?
KRIPOTKIN By Alfred A. Yuson
The Philippine STAR 03/20/2006

Three years ago, a day after initial deliberations were conducted for
the National Artist awards eventually given out in June of 2003, UP's
university professor emeritus, the distinguished poet-critic-mentor
Dr. Gémino H. Abad, wrote a letter to the NCCA's then executive
director Mafin Yonzon and CCP president Nes Jardin.

Dr. Abad offered his observations on the conduct of the deliberation,
lamenting that not much time was given the Committee on Peers, headed
by him, to review the comparative merits of the nominees for

The letter was dated March 6, 2003, a day after the first-level deliberations:

"It was only on March 4 that I knew who the nominees were – Virgilio
Almario, Cirilo F. Bautista, Jose Asia Bragado, Juan Hidalgo,
Magdalena Gonzaga Jalandoni, and Alejandro Roces; and on the day
itself, during the course of our deliberations, another 'sector' (the
Multi-disciplinary) was authorized to pass to our Literature 'sector'
two other names, Bienvenido Lumbera and Bienvenido M. Noriega, Jr.

"The actual deliberations started about 10 a.m., so that we were to
consider eight nominees within about two to two-and-a-half hours. Our
anguish then was for lack of time, for so serious an Award, for so
great an honor, as the title of National Artist on the sole ground of
a nominee's inimitable achievement in art as a rich and distinctive
contribution to our national cultural heritage. Ironically, for lesser
honors (though without doubt they are also very significant) – the
Magsaysay Award, the Palanca, even the Free Press – so much more time
for the judges is expended."

He suggested giving the NCCA's research group better lead time to
accomplish their task, especially with regards regional writers, and
perhaps allowing the Council of Peers at least three months to conduct
their review and deliberation.

Of course, Dr. Abad commented, he was all too aware of the so-called
"budgetary constraints" – which to this writer must constitute the
most tricky element in the choice of National Artists every two or
three years.

Particularly telling, too, as part of Dr. Aba d's post-mortem – and
which I will hark back to in my own observations about the way this
delicate matter is handled – is the following:

"… The documents provided us on each nominee are very helpful indeed,
but they are not sufficient for the very day itself: we need to have
thought out the matter long enough, consulting with other scholars,
reading or re-reading the works of the nominees, reconsidering views
and opinions, etc., way before the meeting where a decision has to be

"Speaking only for myself – if I had known beforehand, and were given
sufficient time – I believe I could have made a much stronger case for
Cirilo F. Bautista than the write-up prepared for him in our
collection of documents. I must have been chosen, I suppose, as an
'expert' on Filipino poetry in English.

"I believe of course that Virgilio Almario deserves the highest honor
of National Artist; but I also feel that, in his own place in our
literature in English – which is not comparable with the course of our
literature in Tagalog – Cirilo Bautista cannot be justly displaced."

Now here's my rhetoric and my beef, born of credible rumors to the
effect that several weeks ago a differently composed Council of Peers
had met to deliberate over the new set of nominees, and chosen a
couple of names for Literature that would then advance to the second
level of deliberations (which in turn had a regrettable end result).
Well, to begin with, as for that new set of nominees, it seemed more
like "same-same."

As reported by the usual birdies, the front-runners were Cirilo
Bautista and Bienvenido Lumbera. National Artist for Literature Edith
L. Tiempo, who joined that council deliberation, made a strong case
for Bautista. It was also pointed out by some members of that
seven-to-eight-man group that Bautista was the compleat creative
writer. Epic poetry, short fiction i n English, a novel and a book of
poems in Filipino, and continuing works of criticism and journalism –
these are Cirilo's domain. For his part, Lumbera's more significant
work was in the field of literary scholarship and criticism.

The Council of Peers agreed to select these two names from the
nominees' list to advance to the second round, the deliberations in
which would be conducted by committee officers of the NCCA. Bautista
would be representative of the Literature nominees for creative
writing, while Lumbera would advance on the strength of his literary

Now guess who was knocked off in that second round of deliberations,
and whose name as finalist will now be presented – and "lawyered" for
– in the third and final round of deliberations conducted by the CCP
board members as well as a few NCCA reps?

Cirilo Bautista is a long-time friend of mine, and Jimmy Abad's. It is
however NOT this terribly Pinoy facto r that causes us much anguish
over the choice of Bien Lumbera as the Literature finalist. I have
much respect for Bien, and with little doubt he qualifies as a
prospective National Artist for Literature. Candidly, however, I must
say that I find his criticism unfairly biased for Filipino and
regional writers; he has practically dismissed the works of writers in
English. I suppose that's because he likes to be seen as, or is in
effect seen as, a "nationalist."

By the by, not a few writers in English in UP and beyond have asked
jocosely of one another, over bottles of beer: "Name me one
particularly memorable work of literature Lumbera has penned." These
same beer house rhetoricians also predict that it is the "extreme
Left" that will be overjoyed by their champion's ascension as National
Artist. The communist candidate, it has been said rather bitchily.

Now I do not wish this to be construed as an attack on Bien Lumbera.
Even as I could only smile over his backers' well-organized efforts at
lobbying endorsement in the months leading up to NA deliberations,
inclusive of testimonials from California Fil-Am groups and
comprehensive Internet postings, I believe Bien has indeed done
significant work for Filipino literature. Er, make that Philippine

The least I could have bargained for, if someone cared to listen
during those two rounds of deliberations, was that both Bautista and
Lumbera were advanced as finalists for the ultimate reckoning. And,
why, both could also be declared National Artists in Literature on the
same year.

But I suppose that's where "budgetary constraints" come into the
picture – that same variable that would have a committee deciding on
the inclusion of departed nominees because the cash involved in the
case of posthumous awardees is significantly less.

If it were to be an absolute one-person choice however between
Baut ista and Lumbera, I say give the creative writer the better due,
as the scholar, researcher and critic is necessarily a second-tier
citizen in the republic of arts and letters.

It may be too late, however, to repair the damage done the literary
persona of the eminent creative writer Cirilo Bautista, one charge
against whom, I hear from my usual intelligence sources, during the
NCCA second-level review was that his "reclusivity was a mark of

My eye! My word!

It does not matter that Bautista prefers to cocoon himself in his room
at home to work on his outstanding poetry and prose, rather than waste
his time socializing at book launchings, or that he only occasionally
indulges in a little beer with close writer-friends. He has been
selfless in mentoring generations of students at De La Salle and UST
and at writers' workshops. His literary editorship of and column in
Philippine Panorama magazine has for long years con tributed to the
molding of young poets and writers. He is the compleat writer, not
merely (sorry, everyone) an epiphyte of a critic.

But that's how the ball bounces, especially when humans can only be
human, subject to possible manipulation. I suppose that since my
stalwart friend Virgilio Almario was anointed National Artist for
Literature in 2003 (on the strength of his poetry in Filipino AND
criticism, and conceivably not because scholar-critic Resil Mojares
plugged for his scholarship on Filipino literature), a trend has been
established, with Bien Lumbera's succession, that may keep our
creative writers in English at bay where the National Artist for
Literature is concerned.

I am sure that "Mom" Edith Tiempo, herself a notable critic, but whose
poetry and fiction will be more of her inspiring legacy, will be
saddened by this turn of events. And I can't help but imagine how
Franz Arcellana, NVM Gonzalez and Nick Joaquin – our p revious National
Artists in Literature, all of them supremely creative writers in
English – may be pshaw-pshawing in their graves.

Maybe we can start calling it the Nationalist Artist awards. That
should be just as good a novel term as what's been bandied about as
the "DNA" or Dagdag National Artist. I hear this year Soc Rodrigo
might posthumously lay claim to that sorry title. Alas and alack. A
pity, for Soc was a poet.

Copyright (c) 2005 philstar.com . All rights reserved.

Why Beer House Rhetoricians Should Not Be in the Council of Peers

First, let me share with Mr. Yuson and his ilk the wise words of two eminent
British columnists:

Martin Amis: "Enjoying being insulting is a youthful corruption of power.
Admittedly there are some critics who enjoy being insulting well into middle
age. I have often wondered why this spectacle seems so undignified."

Paul Johnson: "The most important point: Never exploit y our power as a
columnist for personal ends."

Alfred Yuson, in his column Kripotkin (March 20 issue) impugns the artistic
achievements of Bienvenido Lumbera by harping over and over again on the
limited scope of Lumbera's writing. A "second-tier citizen" he calls
Lumbera, because he simply presumes that Lumbera is nothing but scholar,
researcher and critic.

This only points to Mr. Yuson's own semi-illiteracy and skewed ignorance
about the whole field of Philippine literature. How can anyone putting
himself forth as a spokesperson for Philippine literature be entirely
ignorant of Lumbera's primary position in the canon of Philippine culture
and literature as playwright and poet? Much more can be said for Dr.
Lumbera's artistic, intellectual and inspiring influence in the whole field
of Philippine literature, in the multiplicity of its cultures and languages.

As Yuson's article continues, he descends into senseless vituperation, until
he finally reveals his predilection for such simplistic equations as
'nationalist equals communist'. We will leave it to Yuson's fellow
rhetoricians to take him to task for dragging them down into the slime of
his own Philippine jungle energy beer house. I can only hope that when Mr.
Yuson was composing his column, he was drowning in his cups sans their

To resolve the matter, I am proposing that he read a paper on the subject,
or if he likes, even that very same column itself, for a Conference on the
Philippine Literary Canon, in which everyone else engages in a fair exchange
of educated and sober opinion.


Rosario C. Lucero
Departamento ng Filipino at Panitikan ng Pilipinas
Kolehiyo ng Arte at Literatura
University of the Philippines Diliman

FROM GÉMINO H. ABAD ( jimmyhabad@yahoo.com )

March 22, 2006


I've been mentioned in Alfred A. Yuson's column and in Joi Barrios' response
to it. I wish to contribute a thought on the matter.

All Filipino writers in whatever language are nationalists,
unless it can be proved beyond reasonable doubt that, following the
definition of "nationalism" in the document on National Artist Awards, a
writer does NOT "promote national cultural identity and the dignity of the
Filipino people through the content and form of their works." As Sir Walter
Scott has so well put it, "Breathes there the man with soul so dead, / Who
never to himself hath said, / This is my own, my native land!" I believe
that "nationalism" is what is meant by the word "National" in the title of
the Awards.

Yet "national ism," as defined for the Awards, is hardly an
artistic criterion. There are many nationalists who, not being writers or
artists, cannot be given the Award. The key word is Artist. The Award then
is to be conferred on the sole ground of a nominee's inimitable achievement
in Art as a rich and distinctive contribution to our national cultural

In that light, if by literature as Art we mean "literary works"
or "works of imagination" (poetry, fiction, drama), I believe Cirilo F.
Bautista fully deserves the National Artist Award in Literature. Since 1963
to the very present, he has wrought a considerable body of works in
Literature, in English and in Tagalog-Filipino – epic and lyric poetry, the
short story, the novel – all of exceptional worth and quality. I make no
invidious comparisons. I only insist on Art and artistic merit.

Incidentally, I cannot see why, in a given year for the Awards,
there may not be two or even three, National Artists in one or the other
artistic field. On artistic merit alone is the decision based, not on
budgetary allotment.


FROM PIPINGDILAT ( pipingdilat@gmail.com)

March 22,2006

Maraming salamat po! Thank you and muchas gracias, Professor!

It might be useful if you can ask from the NCCA or CCP for a copy of the
new--that is 2006--rules and guidelines governing the selection of the 2006
Order of National Artists. Or go to their site:


6. Candidates may be nominated und er one or more of the following

6.1.5 Literature - poetry, fiction, essay, playwriting, journalism, and/or
literary criticism.


FROM JIMMY ABAD ( jimmyhabad@yahoo.com)

March 23, 2006

THANKS, too, Marcelo. No, I wasn't really aware of the categories under
LITERATURE. Well, maybe, the author-ities on the Awards should re-focus a
little, re-conceptualize. My own personal thought is, yes, include the Essay
(there are many varieties of so-called "creative nonfiction").

I understand there are new Categories - (1) Fashion Design; (2) Broadcast
Media. I'm not sure that's a good idea. I'm not sure either about
Journalism and Criticism (or Scholarship in the Arts: to broaden it).

I guess the chief difficulty (for me, anyway) is what concept of Art may be


FROM "LOPE K. SANTOS" (email address withheld upon request)

March 24, 2006

Is this a final admission by the venerable Prof Abad that all along his
notion of art and its categories are personal and subjective, variable and
contestable? What have these writing workshops been about then for writers
like Prof Abad? All these literary contests for which he and Mr. Yuson have
been eternal judges? These literary anthologies? A power struggle between
this and that notion?

His last paragraph indicates that there is a "valid" and non-valid concept
of art. In this regard, we wonder who is speaking, being spoken to/with
and/or under what conditions matters of validity ought to be judged? By
whom? At what price?

What are the stakes for Yuson, Abad and their barkada?


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