By Gel Santos Relos
Namayapa man si Dolphy, ang paggawad sa kanya ng karangalang ito ay pagpupugay sa kanyang pangalan...o legacy...o pamana sa sining at kultura ng bansang kanyang minahal, pinaglingkuran, at pinasaya sa loob ng 65 taon bilang isang tunay na artist sa stage, radyo, TV at pelikula.
Will you sign the petition (http://www.change.org/dolphy ) to honor his name and legacy in the history of Philippine arts and culture so the generations to come will know and appreciate the King of Comedy who brought so much joy and laughter to us in the midst of our struggles as a nation?
Dolphy was laid to rest on Sunday, July 15, but the clamor of a nation in mourning to give the King of Comedy the much-deserved Philippine National Artist Award lives on -- and the uproar only grows louder and stronger after his death.
Yes, this recognition could be given posthumously. The first award was posthumously conferred to Filipino painter Fernando Amorsolo.
Dolphy had definitively satisfied all qualifications for this honor: He made significant contributions to the cultural heritage of the country; his highest level of artistic accomplishments on stage, radio, television and film helped promote creative expression as significant to the development of a national cultural identity; and he dedicated 65 years of his life as an artist, which helped forge new paths and directions for future generations of Filipino artists.
The King of Comedy also reaped many awards as an actor in the films “Omeng Satanasia” and Lino Brocka’s “Ang Tatay Kong Nanay.” He was also given the “Best Performer” award in Brussels International Filmfest for his portrayal of the role of Markova, a Filipino homosexual man, forced into prostitution during the war.
It has been so many years since Dolphy was nominated for the highest national recognition given to Filipino individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts. But the award, given only every three years, had been elusive to the King of Comedy in his lifetime.
Some say politics had something to do with it. In an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC), Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) chairperson Grace Poe-Llamanzares hinted that Dolphy's endorsement of her father Fernando Poe Jr. during the 2004 presidential elections did cost the the country's "King of Comedy" the National Artist Award.
ABS-CBN news quoted Llmanzares as saying: "He [Dolphy] suffered a lot for the [FPJ] endorsement because the past [Arroyo] administration, they were a bit vengeful. There were some exchange of words to the point of [Dolphy] saying, 'I'm sorry, Madam, if I hurt your feelings.”
Others lament how personal prejudices of a few cost the King of Comedy this much deserved title, especially after National Artist Awardee for Theater Cecile Guidote- Alvarez revealed that Dolphy's portrayals of gay men throughout his film career cost him the national artist award.
In an interview on ABS-CBN Radio DZMM, Guidote-Alvarez said inclusion in the final list of nominees for national artist was "passionately" opposed in the deliberation committee, which is tasked to recommend notable personalities to be awarded the title. The loudest voice came from then Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) president Nicanor Tiongson.
"Basically, siya ang pinakamatindi. Sa botohan na-shock nga kami, hindi nakapasa si Dolphy. Sa recollection ko, ang sinasabing protesta was basically hindi karapat-dapat ang body of work [ni Dolphy] na nagpe-presenta not in a good light about the gay [community], the life [of gay men]," Guidote-Alvarez said, as quoted by ABS-CBN News.
Consequently, Dolphy was removed from the shortlist the NCCA and the CCP would jointly recommend to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
But many kababayans from different parts of the world could not and would not accept these reasons why Dolphy should not get the recognition, even after his death.
The clamor has increasingly intensified after Guidote Alvarez pointed out: "As of 1997, meron pong joint NCCA-CCP board which said the president has the authority and the prerogative to deny anything that was recommended by the NCCA-CCP, has the right to name a category, has a right to elect or add anybody in their judgment through the validation of the Honors Committee, who should be given an award, a state award.”
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.
Many Filipinos believe PNoy could have done better by using his executive power for Dolphy to be seriously considered for the highest recognition of being named as Philippine National Artist.
The biggest online Filipino community on Facebook called “Definitely Filipino” initiated a petition addressed to President Benigno Aquino III, NCCA & CCP. (http://www.change.org/dolphy )
Founder of Definitely Filipino, Ben Totanes, said: “The award wasn’t given to him when he was alive. But now that he is gone, they should give it him. It’s still an honor.”
Responding to opposition founded on the belief that Dolphy’s portrayal was demeaning to gay people, and on a more conservative view that “homosexuality is a sin, and therefore playing gay roles is a sin,” Totanes said that gay roles were not demeaning to the gay community. He argued that the King of Comedy’s portrayal of gay roles even helped raise awareness, understanding, respect and even acceptance of the gays in the community.
The “Definitely Filipino” petition states:
“This petition aims to show the support of the Filipino people in the process and eventual conferment of the National Artist 2012 Award to Dolphy for his outstanding contribution to the arts and culture of the Philippines . It is the voice of the Filipino asking:
- That Dolphy be included in the short-list of nominees/awardees submitted by the NCCA and CCP to the Office of the President;
2. That President Benigno Aquino III will heed to the call of his "boss" - the Filipino People - in declaring Dolphy as National Artist in 2012.
This petition supports the resolutions filed by the City of Manila and that in the Senate by Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito-Estrada, asking the President to declare him as National Artist in this year's competition, which is only being held every 3 years.
This petition serves as a documentation of the public's support for Dolphy in this time of mourning and recognition of his contribution in Philippine cinema and in the lives of countless Filipinos.”
Per guidelines outlined by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, “A posthumous conferral consisting of the medallion and citation shall be given to the family or legal heir/s of the honoree. The cash award of P75,000 in cheque shall be given to the honoree’s legal heir/s or a representative designated by the family immediately after the ceremony or at another time and place as requested by the family.”
Will you honor the King of Comedy by signing this petition?