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Filipino Artists Cries Foul Over 2009 National Artists Selection

Groups of national artists says the recent selection of the 2009 Philippine National Artists was shameless and a disgust to artists in the Philippines. The artists particularly cited the inclusion of Cecille Guidote-Alvarez as one awardees, since Guidote is in fact an official of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Alvarez is the executive director of the NCCA. She is also the presidential adviser on culture. "This alone makes her in conflict of interest with the awards," says the group of Filipino artists.

Last May, Newsbreak wrote an Inside Track revealing the names of 4 artists that made it to the short list of this year’s awards. (Read the story here.) The insiders gave us the list hoping that its publication would deter President Arroyo from inserting names not chosen by the Council of Experts.

From that list in May, 3 names were announced by the Palace on Wednesday: Manuel Conde for cinema, Federico Aguilar Alcuaz for visual arts, and Lazaro Franciso for literature.

Ramon Santos who was included in the short list was dropped and then 4 others were inserted. These additions were courtesy of Malacanang. These were were Francisco “Bobby” MaƱoza for architecture, Jose “Pitoy” Moreno for fashion design, Magno Jose Carlo Caparas for visual arts and film (which makes us wonder how it is different from the “cinema” category where Conde is being recognized), and Alvarez.

President Arroyo has exercised her “prerogative” to alter the list of National Artists thrice before to accommodate political allies like Alejandro Roces, Francisco “Soc” Rodrigo, and Abdulmari Imao—despite protests from the artists who would have wanted the credibility and relevance of the awards preserved. Did these well-meaning artists actually expect her to heed their calls now?

Surely this also further the wider notion that Arroyo is indeed someone who will not pussyfoot in doing what she wants to do.

So if you want change DO NOT PUSSYFOOT!

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