CB GARRUCHO, President, Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA)
PETA is a democratic group; we haven't met among ourselves to talk about this matter and come up with a statement. So I am speaking in my personal capacity here: I was one of Cecile Guidote Alvarez's early trainees. I saw CGA at her very best--she gave to PETA and the members with such generosity and selflessness. You could call her our “aesthetic mother,” and it is her very vision that has sustained PETA for 42 years now, because we do believe in that vision. That belief--that theater and culture must serve the people--has changed the landscape and direction of Philippine theater. Because of this, if you ask me if she deserves to be a National Artist, I think she does, why not?
However, it's just really unfortunate that she's getting the award in this situation and context. For one, the person who's awarding her is the most unpopular president in Philippine history! And the process needs to be fixed talaga. I mean, there are layers and layers of deliberations to come up with a final list, only for Malacanang to countermand the process? Why should the President override the peer decision? Paano na ang mga deliberations? The process must really be questioned and improved.
Again, I reiterate, this is my personal opinion and not PETA's.
CHRIS MILLADO, Associate Artistic Director, Performing Arts Department, Cultural Center of the Philippines
I’m appalled at how some people think they can get away with murder. This waylaying of the National Artist awards is so symptomatic of the political culture of this regime. Yesterday it was the rigging of elections, then the ZTE coverup, the Cha-Cha charade, and now the gambit has reached our very own backyards. Whoever is responsible for this has done great disservice to the artists and the Filipino people. I pity the “midnight” National Artist appointees--presuming they do have accomplishments. Their celebration is now eclipsed by the shadow of this political scheming.
ALEXANDER CORTEZ, Artistic Director, Dulaang UP
This is a travesty. Clearly the arrogance of power at work. Spare the National Artist honors from politics, please. Past National Artists should lead the people, especially fellow artists, to thwart any attempts to mock the sanctity of the selection and awarding process. It is a sad day for Filipino artists.
RODY VERA, playwright/director, Executive Director of Writers’ Bloc and Virgin Labfest
What I find most reprehensible is the abuse of presidential privilege in conferring the arguably highest award for the arts in this country. GMA's abuse of presidential privilege is attested by, first, the elimination of Ramon Santos (for music) from the final roster (there were, I learned, only four) submitted by the NCCA and the National Artists screening panel. The screening panel, I am presuming, undertook a meticulous evaluation of possible nominees. So when the name of Ramon Santos came up--I couldn't understand what GMA's ground for striking his name out of the list is.
Also, I find it shameful that the conferment of Cecile Guidote Alvarez happens when she is the head of the VERY BODY commissioned to select the National Artist award. Kahit na anong contest na alam ko, automatically disqualified for nomination or conferment ang sinumang involved sa pagpili ng mga nagwawagi! I am not here to question the merits of the artists concerned. Alvarez's (or, for that matter, Carlo Caparas's) achievements in the arts field are there for everyone to evaluate or repudiate. Pero kahit maghugas si Cecile ng kamay at sabihing hindi siya kasali sa selection process, it is but DELIKADEZA to inhibit herself from even getting nominated or conferred the award WHILE she is in that office. Ang kapal.
Maaaring tutoong sabihing the National Artist Award has always had a tainted reputation of being “political” ever since its inception during the Marcos years. Pero aren't there principles of decency? (Sheesh--what a stupid question.)
Why should a president who has invariably relegated the arts to sub-standard priority even care to strike out or include names whose achievements she doesn't even probably know? Nagbasa ba siya ng komiks? Nakinig ba siya sa music? Very rarely does she even deign to listen to artists. I would even go so far as to concede if she has her favorite works of art to support, but, no! She only has ass-lickers to feed and prop up, political favors to attend to. And while we're up in arms about this--she is summarily doing the same to the Judicial and Bar Council.
FLOY QUINTOS, playwright/director
Nothing sums up more the kakapalan and lack of delicadeza of this administration. The National Artist honors should be given to people whose body of work strives for a higher plane, a greater sense of Filipino consciousness and has influenced other artists across generations. It shouldn’t be based on entertainment or popularity. Do they give the Pulitzer Prize to JK Rowling or Michael Crichton? As it is, with this dubious awards, we’re confusing young artists as to the validity of their hard work. Sige, let’s just go popular or work for a government agency to get the award!
In the case of Cecile Guidote Alvarez--head ka na ng NCCA, por delicadeza naman, tatanggapin mo pa ‘yan? If people are so garapal na to this extent, then they lack that one basic quality, the hallmark of any true artist: integrity. Also, it’s an affront to the board who decides these things. If they have any integrity, they should resign. They nitpick so much when it comes to the works of other more deserving nominated artists, tapos mapapasukan lang sila ng ganito? Mahiya naman sila! Hay naku, magtitinda na lang talaga ako ng antiques!
BART GUINGONA, actor/director
When the wrong people are honored for whatever reason--a corruption of a process, for example--the rest of us are dishonored. The highest artistic awards should be an encouragement of meritocracy, not a consolation prize from a patron.
RITO ASILO, Associate Artistic Director, New Voice Company
Artists just lost something to strive for. The National Artist title is supposed to honor excellency, consistency and a solid body of work, not just volume, pop-culture influence (which is fleeting or self-indulgent posturing). They should reevaluate what the title stands for. If they continue to churn out questionable winners, then the awards have lost their reason for being. It’s an insult to past winners who truly deserved their awards. Just imagine: Mike De Leon is not a National Artist, but Carlo Caparas is. I rest my case.
SUSAN CALO MEDINA, Travel Time TV host, cultural worker
Why are they there in the first place if they’ve not been judged and nominated by their peers?
ED CASTRILLO, sculptor
This is so anomalous and embarrassing. In the case of Cecile Guidote Alvarez, how can the steward of the very agency that administers the awards get the award? With Carlo Caparas, there are other giants of the film industry like Dolphy who are more deserving. And there are other artists of international caliber who deserve to be recognized even if they’re still young, like Lea Salonga. What has Caparas done that’s greater than any of them? Parang ubos na talaga ang decency dito sa bansa natin.