By Gel Santos Relos
Order of the National Artists. It is the highest national recognition given to Filipino individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts. This award is conferred no more frequently than every three years, honoring:
Filipino artists who have made significant contributions to the cultural heritage of the country;
Filipino artistic accomplishment at its highest level and to promote creative expression as significant to the development of a national cultural identity;
Filipino artists who have dedicated their lives to their works to forge new paths and directions for future generations of Filipino artists.
This recognition has been raised to the level of a Cultural Order, ranking fourth in precedence among the orders and decorations that comprise the Honors of the Philippines, and considered equal in rank to the “Order of National Scientists” and the “Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan”.
The question on who should be given this highest honor has sparked passionate discussions among Filipinos worldwide when Bacolod City Representative Anthony Rolando Golez, Jr. filed House Resolution No.2317-- urging President Aquino, the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts to name actress Nora Aunor as National Artist of the Philippines, for her “immense contributions” to Philippine arts and cinema.
The buzz echoed in the Senate as well, with Senators Francis Escudero, Lito Lapid, Jinggoy Estrada and Ralph Recto saying they do not object to the resolution, and even agreed that Senator Recto’s wife, former actress and now Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos, should be given the same honor, along with veteran comedian Dolphy-- who we know is now facing serious health challenges.
Fernando Amorsolo, Levi Celerio, Atang dela Rama, Ramon Ubusan, Rolando Tinio, Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero, Lino Brocka, Fernando Poe, Jr., Nick Joaquin, Juan Nakpil, Carlos “Botong” Francisco-- they are a few of the distinguished men and women who were given the highest honors in the different fields of art: Music, Dance, Theater, Visual Arts, Literature, Film and Broadcast Arts, and Architecture and Allied Arts.
What are the criteria for this award?
According to National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the Order of National Artists shall be given to:
Living artists who are 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;
Artists who through the content and form of their works have contributed in building a Filipino sense of nationhood;
Artists who have pioneered in a mode of creative expression or style, thus, earning distinction and making an impact on succeeding generations of artists;
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; and
Artists who enjoy broad acceptance through:
- prestigious national and/or international recognition, such as the Gawad CCP Para sa Sining, CCP Thirteen Artists Award and NCCA Alab ng Haraya;
- critical acclaim and/or reviews of their works;
- respect and esteem from peers.
Who Deserves to be the Next National Artist?
Having stated this, whom do you think deserves to be the next National Artist?
Superstar Nora Aunor has received numerous national and international awards and nominations, as an actress and as a singer. She is the first Filipino actress to win an International acting award in a major Film Festival (Cairo 1995 for the movie The Flor Contemplacion Story).
In 1999, Nora received the Centennial Honor for the Arts awarded by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). She was the only film actress included in the prestigious list of awardees. In 2010, she was honored by the Green Planet Awards as one of the 10 Asian Best Actresses of the Decade.
Nora performed on stage, sold records, sang in concerts, hosted "Superstar" on television for generations. Ate Guy truly changed the taste of the Filipino fans in the 70s, making them to break away from the obsession on mestiza looking singers, television and film artists.
Nora Aunor’s arch rival since the 70s--Vilma Santos--is another multi-awarded actress. Ate Vi is known as the "Star for all Seasons" , and has proven her longevity in the entertainment industry, holding the title of grand slam queen (4x) and the longest box office queen of Philippine movies.
Like Nora, Ate Vi was a favorite television star as well, and although she did not sing as much as Nora did--she danced in VIP (Vilma in Person) and in other variety shows.
Vilma Santos entered politics in 1998 and ran for mayor of Lipa City, Batangas, where she won three consecutive elections, becoming the city's first female mayor.
In 2005, she was given the Gawad Plaridel Award by the University of the Philippines for her achievements and contributions both as an actress and a public servant. In the She was conferred an honorary doctorate degree (honoris causa) in humanities by the Lipa City College.
Vilma Santos-Recto became the first female governor of the province of Batangas in 2007, a position she holds up to now.
Rodolfo Vera Quizon in real life, Dolphy started entertaining the Filipino people at the age of 17 as a stage performer during the Japanese occupation.
He was on radio starting in the 1940s when it was the major source of entertainment for Filipinos. He starred on Conde Ubalde’s radio shows, and it was also during this time when his comedy duo with Panchito started.
Dolphy was on television since it started in the 1950s, appearing for the first time on ABS-CBN’s Buhay Artista. For decades, Dolphy made us laugh through his other programs as well, including “John and Marsha” and “Home Along da Riles”.
Dolphy’s first movie was when he was 19 years old with Fernando Poe Sr. He started doing movies for Sampaguita Pictures in 1952, and did movies with other movie outfits while being on television. He started producing his own films via RVQ Productions in 1965.
On July 25, 2008, Dolphy celebrated his 80th birthday, with the launching of a biographical book-- Dolphy,” Hindi Ko Ito Narating Mag-isa” (Dolphy, I Didn't Get Here All By Myself)-- I was honored to be given a copy of this book signed by Dolphy himself, when I interviewed him on Balitang America.
In 2010, President Noynoy Aquino conferred the Grand Collar of the Order of the Golden Heart to Dolphy - the highest award given to a private citizen by the President of the Philippines - for his contributions to the entertainment industry and for his many years of charitable and philanthropic works.
So who among Nora Aunor, Vilma Santos, and Dolphy-- deserves to be the next National Artist?