November 28, 2014     Philippines
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June 24, 2014
Why was Nora Aunor left out in the proclamation of National Artists?

Nora Aunor and her most memorable films represented the opposite of what the Aquino administration stands for.

By MARYA SALAMAT
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Malacañang probably did not anticipate the outcry that would result from their turning down of the recommendation of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Cultural Center of the Philippines to confer on superstar actress-singer Nora Aunor the distinction of being a National Artist. Nora Aunor has been the only one in not so recent memory to have been described as “a phenomenon.” She has done so much for and brought international acclaim to the Philippine film and music industries. Her being deprived of the National Artist title is bringing back louder the oft-repeated criticism of “abuse of presidential discretion.” This time, the criticism is coming from the likes of actor Robin Padilla and a vast number of netizens. “It is sad,” award-winning TV host Boy Abunda said last Sunday, despite the president’s sister sitting across from him.

The country’s president, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, is by law tasked and vested with the right to proclaim who are the country’s new National Artists, largely basing the decision from a list submitted by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). This is the gist of the response of Presidential Spokesman, Mr Sonny Coloma, when asked to explain why Aunor was ignored. Coloma, however, did not offer any explanation as to the basis of President Aquino for excluding Nora Aunor.

Left side of this photo screengrab from "Himala" is the original version, right side is the restored version. “Himala” was initially released for Metro Film Festival in 1982. An iconic  movie for Nora Aunor, it continues to win awards and acclaim. In 2008, the film won the Viewer’s Choice Award for Best Asia-Pacific Film of All Time in the CNN Asia Pacific Screen Awards. (Photo from ABS-CBN Social Media Newsroom)

Left side of this photo screengrab from “Himala” is the original version, right side is the restored version. “Himala” was initially released for Metro Film Festival in 1982. An iconic movie for Nora Aunor, it continues to win awards and acclaim. In 2008, the film won the Viewer’s Choice Award for Best Asia-Pacific Film of All Time in the CNN Asia Pacific Screen Awards. In 2012 it was screened at the 69th Venice Film Festival in a program titled “Venizia Classici” which showcased restored classic films from around the world. (Photo from ABS-CBN Social Media Newsroom)

In the list of recommended National Artists submitted by the NCCA to the Office of the President in Sep 2013, Nora Aunor was recommended as National Artist for film. Aunor has garnered the unanimous recommendation of various artists and directors’ groups, including the government bodies tasked to promote the country’s culture and arts, the Cultural Center of the Philippines and as mentioned, the NCCA.

But as we all know by now, when the new batch of National Artists was declared late last week, after nine months of consideration in Aquino’s office, only five were announced for other fields (music, architecture, etc), leaving Aunor out. Provoking what is now nearly a national dismay. But President Aquino’s spokesman Sonny Coloma has so far responded to questions about the exclusion merely by invoking presidential discretion.

“We shouldn’t get too used in getting a mere ‘no comment’ from the office of the President,” actor Robin Padilla said in an ABS-CBN morning program today.

Even Kris Aquino, the president’s sister who had helped launch his brother’s campaign for president during the funeral of their mother the late Pres. Cory Aquino, now wants to take away the final decision as to who would be proclaimed as National Artist from the president. At her TV program “The Buzz” last Sunday, she said she hopes the decision on who should be proclaimed as National Artist would no longer be the discretion of the president. Instead, she prays that “a committee will be formed to review the lists (of recommended National Artists).”

Why not Nora?

One of the supposed justifications for excluding Nora Aunor from this year’s National Artists has something to do with her past, which was allegedly marred by drug addiction and other vices. But in choosing who to declare as Philippine National Artist, NCCA legal counsel Trixie Angeles said, in Filipino, that there is no space in the process for ‘morality.’

It is just a matter of declaring a National Artist, not canonizing a national saint, Robin Padilla said.

So why deprive Nora of that? Coloma has mentioned national security or national interest, which supposedly influenced the president’s decision. Perhaps a coincidence, but Nora Aunor’s most memorable social commentary films, which showcased her thespian abilities and her seriousness and relevance as an actress, dealt with topics that run counter to the Aquino administration’s policies.

A survey of Nora’s films over the years would yield examples of her in roles the Aquino administration typically disapproves of, or it considers the role as that of an enemy of the state. Aquino has for example been ignoring the indigenous peoples, and Nora Aunor happens to have done a movie, when she was not yet 22 but already extremely popular and controversial, where she played the role of an indigenous woman called Banaue. She organized a strike force of lightly armed women to attack their enemy camp and regain her father’s head after she was disappointed with her husband’s cowardice. Her film Bulaklak ng City Jail is regarded as an indictment of a prison system that instead of helping to rehabilitate inmates only makes them worse.

The Aquino administration has been aggressive in continuing with labor export and Nora once essayed the blockbuster role of tragic migrant worker “Flor Contemplacion”, who tragically was executed in Singapore for allegedly killing a fellow migrant worker; Aquino pushed for increased presence of US troops and armaments by signing the grossly disadvantageous US-PH Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement while Nora has once essayed the role of a sister craving justice for a brother killed by US troops after purportedly being mistaken for a wild pig in “Minsa’y isang gamu-gamo”; only recently, Andrea Rosal hogged the headline as the sad mother of a baby who died after Rosal was denied urgent medical attention, was detained in a cramped jail and was shuttled to and from her jail cell and the Philippine General Hospital while Nora portrayed a mother in “Andrea, Paano ba ang Maging Ina.” In addition, Nora Aunor’s famous film “Himala” portrayed a desperate, suffering people praying for a miracle.

Nora Aunor and her most memorable films represented the opposite of what the Aquino administration stands for.

As President Aquino gears up for his SONA, he probably doesn’t want any heckler doing a Nora-like fainting in Congress after shouting out “Walang Himala,” in the middle of his speech. When he welcomes more US troops, as his government has been shelling out public funds to build or upgrade military bases for them, he would probably abhor hearing cries like this: “My brother is not a Pig!” referring to the Filipino who becomes collateral damage as the whole country is being transformed into a US military base. (http://bulatlat.com)

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5 thoughts on “Why was Nora Aunor left out in the proclamation of National Artists?

  1. kaalyado pala niya si vilma santos at friend sil ni kris kaya naan pala e ,ayaw niya kay NORa Aunor!!!!
    Anong klasing Preidente!!!!OMG

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