The Order of the National Artists of the Philippines is the highest national recognition given to Filipino individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of fine arts in the country, namely: Music, Dance, Theater, Visual Arts, Literature, Film, Broadcast Arts, and Architecture and Allied Arts. The order is jointly administered by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (by virtue of President Ferdinand Marcos’s Proclamation № 1001 of 2 April 1972) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). The award is given irregularly and is conferred by the President of Filipinas upon recommendation by both institutions.
Through the decades since the first National Artist medal was awarded to critically acclaimed painter Fernando Amorsolo in 1972, many of the biggest names in Filipino arts and literature have graced the ranks of the Order of the National Artists such as writer Nick Joaquín (1976), musician Levi Celerio (1997), and film director Eddie Romero (2003). Selecting a national artist is based on a broad criteria, and the selection process for nominees is strict. Works of art of those who are nominated should not only conform to set standards of aesthetics; they should have also distinguished themselves among their peers by having pioneered a mode of creative expression or style, and they should have made an impact on succeeding generations of artists, among other criteria. In fact, back in 2009, controversy erupted when some of the nominees were blocked by several incumbent National Artists (including the indefatigable F. Sionil José), members of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines, and various academicians who claimed that their nomination was politicized by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when she favored them due to friendship over artistic quality. The issue even reached the Supreme Court (in the end, the court of last resort voted to boot out those nominated by Arroyo).
Early today, filmmaker Sari Dalena broke the news on her Facebook account that a new batch of National Artists has been declared. Interestingly, one of those who figured in the 2009 controversy, architect Francisco Mañosa, made it to the list. Here they are in alphabetical order:
1) Larry Alcalá (Visual Arts, posthumous)
2) Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio (Theater)
3) Ryan Cayabyab (Music)
4) Francisco Mañosa (Architecture)
5) Resil Mojares (Literature)
6) Ramón Muzones (Literature)
7) Kidlat Tahimik (Film)
Official conferment will be held tomorrow at the CCP. Congratulations to the winners!