Nora Aunor and the Filipino Machete Machine

Bulaklak sa City Jail-84-NoraAunor-sf“The Filipino Machete Machine” is an artistic expression that for purposes of this blog replaces “The Philippines: A Culture of Criticism”. We are dealing with the arts, so we should strive for more passion in our word work, or if not that, at least the deeper meanings that come with the incomprehensible.

Artists hereabouts apparently don’t grasp the idea of deeper meanings, for as near as I can tell, those who appreciate this artist or that are just 100 percenters themselves and allow only THEIR interpretation of the canvas to be the right one.

For sure, those who appreciate the artistic expressions of Nora Aunor have only one interpretation of the canvas that President Aquino lately painted. And they don’t have room in their souls to like it. You see, he declined to accept a list of awards with Aunor on it. He struck her name off the list.

The people left on the list were soon ignored. Indeed, their honor was pretty much destroyed by aggressive critics who trashed the system by which the award was granted. That’s the way the Machete Machine works, it tears things apart. The need for “my way” rips everyone else’s way to shreds.

Not since Private Smith and Nicole have Filipino passions among the expressive set risen to such shrill heights of complaint.

Now for myself, I had never heard of Nora Aunor, so I certainly had no artistic or moral biases when I entered this debate by popping off comments in this blog or that. My only bias is trying to figure out what is best for the Philippines. Sometimes ignorance provides an excellent perspective. One can look at things from a valley of total obliviousness or a peak of supreme, unobstructed vision.

It’s up to you to figure out from whence my perspective derives and, given that you are Filipino, I figure you will have a very firm view of that.

The forces likely doing battle in Mr. Aquino’s decision-making mind were the advocacy FOR Nora Aunor from the artistic, liberal, maybe economically disadvantaged, drug compassionate, sometimes fringe artistic idealists, passionate about the out-of-the-box lifestyle of Ms. Aunor and her acting ability. She has an amazing list of film credits. The advocacy AGAINST her would be the established set, the elderly, the Catholic moralists and others who don’t like women of loose reputation who were arrested in 2005 in Los Angeles for drug possession.

Well, the Philippines is a conservative place, and that’s the direction Mr. Aquino went when striking Nora Aunor’s name off the list of honorees for National Artist.

What a no win situation.

Let me switch to sports, for we who are artistically inclined have great agility of intellectual reach.

A few weeks ago, the President got a bill from Congress that granted citizenship to an American basketball player by the name of Andray Blatche. Citizenship would allow the basketball player to play for the Philippine national team and give them some height in competing against the ground-up-turtle-shell-eating Chinese giants and the largely leaping Africans. After all, we all know that white men can’t jump and Filipinos can’t grow.

The legislators who presented the bill to the President were getting nervous when, 9 days along, he had not signed it.

Here he is, the President of our fine nation, warding off China, pushing to accelerate his Mindanao peace agreement, fighting the nationalists about bringing American military defense to the Philippines, dealing with terrorists and leftists, if there is much difference, getting infrastructure built, dealing with a pile of corrupt senators and getting criticized like crazy by the formidable cast of friends of said corrupt senators. And THE WHOLE NATION WANTS HIM TO GIVE PRIORITY TO A BASKETBALL PLAYER!

Well, he eventually signed the bill. He did it quietly. He did not take advantage of it by hosting a publicity event that showed him as a popular sporting buff and advocate of Philippine dominance of other people running around in shorts with a big ball.

I rather had the sense that he did not want to sign the stupid bill. It is, after all, a bit of a cheater’s way to win. But he wanted less the outcry and criticism that would accompany such an act of denial of popular will.

Well, alas, with Nora Aunor, he had no good choice. He was damned if he kept her on the list, and damned if he took her off.

So he sighed, shrugged, did his deed and moved on, not explaining it to anyone. He worked with his cabinet for three days making sure priorities were straight, then flew to Japan to build that alliance to further help defend the Philippines. And promote its economic growth.

Well, my, my,

the artists – or some of them – went on a rampage. They’d probably have staged a coup if the military way weren’t so at odds with their artistic refinement and cadre of peace-loving painters. The artsy critics went so far as to say the trip to Japan, scheduled way before this conflict arose, was the President being cowardly and not facing the outraged artists.

The Filipino Machette Machine went ROAR, and there was no Katy Perry singing backup.

I had always thought artists as being deep thinkers, kind people, actually, that they could see in, around, and through things we practologists miss.

But I’ve decided that Filipino artists – or some of them, the loudest ones – are just 100 percenters in disguise. If they don’t like the painting, they’ll trash it. Or if they don’t like the painter they’ll trash him AND his art. Their deep-thinking minds for sure have no comprehension of the artistry of their President’s excellent work.

These loud artists, the 100 percenters, those that run with the Filipino Machete Machine, have no concept of gracious concession to a simple, genuine man who is working so very diligently for the betterment of the Philippines.

No, they must WIN.

At any cost.

UPDATE

On June 26, the NCCA explained that it respected President Aquino’s decision to strike Nora Aunor from the award list and believed criticism in the media had misinterpreted a simple expression of sadness, and the criticism had gotten out of hand. Inquirer article.

Comments
58 Responses to “Nora Aunor and the Filipino Machete Machine”
  1. hiddendragon says:

    Finally, a sane posting on the issue that I feel has been blown way out of proportion. I do think Nora should be granted the award but the President didn’t think so. So be it. The way the blogosphere is screaming, you would think the non-award diminishes the quality of her work. Hell hath no fury like that of a Noranian scorned. Let’s get over it. Let’s try again next year but by golly, let’s get back to some real work.

    • Joe America says:

      Thanks, hiddendragon. Yes, the frenzy is a mob, and it knoweth not what it does. I’m glad there are calmer people around. Three of us, at least. You, me and the President. ahahaha

      • gaitan says:

        You are so right. It is the prerogative of the president. The sad part it denigraded the national artist award and awardees as people to be favored by one man oblivious to any form of art. Nora even had one statement “saddened” thats it. Finish.

        • Joe America says:

          How do you know the president is oblivious to any form of art? I don’t think art was on his mind, the values he wants to represent to Filipinos was on his mind. Both are legitimate issues, the former for artists, the latter for the President.

          • Joe America says:

            I trust that you are not arguing that the president should ignore his duties to the nation, to preserve high values? If the art community only wants art to be the consideration for judgment, they ought not submit it to the President for the final decision. I thought the award was special, and was “national”, because it reflected the nation’s views. As granted to the President by the people’s vote.

  2. Liza Clutario says:

    Well count me in Joe! A lot of nonsense!!! There are more important things to do than this. I’m glad our Pnoy is not after pogi points. Sigh.

    Filipinos, what have we become???

    • Gerardo Vergara says:

      A bunch of people who thought they can do anything as long as they want to, even if they have to resort to arm-twisting (barasuhan in Tagalog slang).

    • Joe America says:

      Consider yourself counted, Liza. Thanks for dropping off a comment. Mr. Aquino is a lot like his father in many respects, determined and steady, doing what he believes is best. I disagree with him on several points, FOI, being overly loyal to people who are loyal to him, being a bit abrupt with people who cross him. But, my gosh! Look at how the Philippines is rising in international esteem, on every index known to statisticians, in financial strength, in finding a peaceful but firm way to deal with conflicts. If we could just keep that rise on our minds, we’d give him some wiggle room to be his own person. And cheer him (and us) on. Not drag him down with all the other critics with this ax or that to grind.

      • sonny says:

        Joe, a long, long time ago I came across a book THE GREEK WAY by Edith Hamilton. She and her writings introduced and influenced whatever I can claim to be the Grecophile in me. This essay of yours even this early starts me guessing that you may qualify to be to things Filipino what Ms Hamilton was to things Greek. I don’t by any means equate Filipino affairs to the great Grecian deeds of old. Nevertheless, I will be always tempted to juxtapose our Filipino affairs beside the ancient Grecian counterparts if only because of the archipelagic nature of the geography and temperament of the two lands and peoples. (Of course, I could be all wet by thinking that you do like the Philippines as many of us do.) 🙂

        • Joe America says:

          I am pleased to say you are completely dry. I have never been so intellectually invigorated as I am trying to figure out what Filipinos tend to do naturally, and why. I had not yet discovered the Greek parallel, but shall explore that some more. Maybe Atlantis is right over there in the Straits of Biliran. 🙂 Take care, however, that you do not over-inflate easily inflatable scribes by your kind comments.

      • gaitan says:

        The philippines rise attributed only because of pnoy is overblown. His 1st sona was just a dartboards of who to blame. Burn GMA for her corruption but her economic policy of building IT and BPO was heard from her sona. On his 5th sona , pnoy came in. It is actually the filipnos determination to start striving thats making this economy work. Not just one man. Name me a great policy change he made to be responsible for the supposed rise in the economy. Honesty is NOT a policy change. Name me one legislation that made things different? Both the US and KOREAN ambassadors are complaining of rise in crimes. People contend with foreign aid after disasters. No foresight on side of government. During GMA time ondoy made so much destruction but she was on the field overseeing things to be done. But like all presidents… in the end they cling to power like monarchies

        • Joe America says:

          Good of you to stop by and comment, gaitan. It is always healthy to have a diversity of views on things. Honesty is a policy change in the eyes of debt ratings agencies, as is stability. Those two factors underpin the Philippine rise in the international investment community’s eyes, as signified by the upgrade in debt agency ratings. Also, please read next Monday’s blog to understand a fundamental change that the Aquino government has brought to the Philippines. Also, Id say the Philippines is much better prepared for storms today than before, ordering helicopters and ships to be available for first response, and bringing the US in to help in that regard. Also cleaning up Manila’s horrific drainage situation. I also disagree on foresight (Monday’s blog).

          I don’t expect President Aquino to cling to power like a monarchy. He’ll be out of office in 2016.

  3. Jan356 says:

    I have liked a lot of what PNoy did or does as a politician, or as president for that matter. I still do.

    He has been doing a lot of sane things towards uplifting the plight of the Filipino people and the whole country in general. This does not mean, however, that all his decisions are infallible, and for that matter, always right.

    What’s the National Commission on Culture and Arts for, if its collective decision / recommendation is set aside for unexplained reasons? If this one was a matter of “damn if you do, damn if you don’t”, he made a grievous mistake. He could have left it to the experts. He might be President, but he’s not an expert on this and that’s why there are areas that are decentralized in order for him to focus on issues that need his expertise and leave the trivial ones, such as this one, to the experts. That’s why they are there, in the first place. It’s their job.

    True, the President may overrule that, but there should be a reason, however whimsical that might be, and within the norms of where a decision can be based from.

    If his reason is beyond that set of acceptable norm or beyond the scope of what qualifies and what not, then, I would say that this is one of those possible stupid times when a president can make a not so wise decision. By overruling the recommendation made by a legal body such as the NCCA, it’s short of insulting the people sitting on this commission (ironically created by his mother in 1987 as PCCA; later became NCCA under RA 7356).

    Arguably on this matter, the President can change, overrule, deny or whatever. But sensibly, this one miserably fails my senses.

    Filipinos can let this pass, why not? But it cannot remain unnoticed. And, I hope this cannot remain as his style of decision-making as President of this nation.

    • Joe America says:

      I appreciate the counter-view, Jan356. Many obviously agree with you. But the position relegates the President to a guy who is only used to cheer the Award committee’s recommendation. That isn’t what a busy president should be doing with his time. Let the Award Committee give out the honor and let people cheer. If it is going to the President, respect that he has decision-making authority. Criticize his decision, fine, and state the argument why. But respect it and move on. This outrage is too much. The personalizing of it to declare the President deficient is too much. It is destructive.

    • gaitan says:

      Yes you are so right. Even if it was a presidential prerogative not to confirm, it was the exact thing GMA did inbthe national artist awards in reverse. One illegal other legal. But nonetheless it made the national artist awrds so much meaningless beholden to the whim of one person deplete of any knowledge in art other than playing with the playstation.

      • Joe America says:

        What made the award meaningless was the huge outcry for Nora Aunor which buried the honor that should have been highlighted for the people who were granted the award. The character of a people is defined by how it loses as much as by how much it wins. Ask the UP basketball team about that. 🙂

  4. Janice says:

    I don’t know but my observation is in the Philippines to be a known “artist” is to actually be an “artista”. We see this kind of outrage when there is an artista from “Manilawood” about to be proclaimed a “National Artists” but nomination from the indie scene, writers, painting, arts, crafts are largely ignored by the angry masa.

    I don’t know there seems a lot of ego on some Philippine artists esp those from “Manilawood”. The artists who are more concerned about developing, honing, and preserving crafts are more concerned about that than having a bill signed for them to be in the list.

    You don’t hear the Ifugao wood carvers (who can carve human size wood statues..haha) enraged for not being recognized or the silversmiths of Benguet not being recognized for their crafts

    The last NCCA “scandal” that I remember was Carlos J Caparas. Many were enraged that he was even on the list. So yeah, this outrage does not actually surprise me… hey, it’s “Manilawood” (Mollywood?)

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, yes, exactly. The personalizing of the attack against President Aquino the man reflects that people feel personally insulted. In other words, the issue is largely about THEM. It has little to do with Nora Aunor or her craft or her values. Or the State’s values and whether or not they should be considered.

      I like the word “artista”. High class. I want to be one. Can bloggers be “artistas”? ahahahaha (I think blogging is the art of not being an artist, but being occasionally constructively offensive.)

  5. JM says:

    My knowledge on Nora Aunor is very limited. I only know that she used to be popular before I was born. I don’t know why fanaticism is so prevalent in this country. Why must other people suffer their belief? As for basketball, I rarely watch it. I only watch it when my friends insist on it. I was surprised when I recently watched, most players don’t look Filipino. What’s the point of watching “PBA” when most of the players are a bunch of foreigners? Just watch NBA. Oh well, my country is not known for being the most logical of nations. If I were the president, I’d ignore these people and just work on the important stuff.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      Filipinos love non-Filipino. Pinoy Pride is just a slogan. There really is no Pinoy Pride:

      1. They ran to Papa to protect them from Chinese armageddon;
      2. They import basketball players to represent the Philippines in basketball;
      3. They also import half-white, half-breed American beauty to represent the Filipinos in beauty contests;
      4. Recent Miss Philippine-Earth beauty contest winners were non-traditional looking Filipino with foreign last name to boot;
      5. I thought I was in Harare, Rhodesia in Greenbelt Makati. Half-white English-speaking zombies in crisp white shirt in hot humid weather troll the place until I heard “Pare, kumusta!”

      So much for Pinoy Pride.

      • Joe America says:

        It seems to me there is pride in little pockets of the Philippines, pride for this province, that band of artists, this group of leftists, that pile of oligarchs, but you are right, no one sacrifices their own thing for the nation, which is made up of a lot of OTHER people. Well, some sacrifice, but that group is wee small, it would appear.

    • Joe America says:

      As near as I can tell, the President is taking your advice.

      My wife finds PBA boring, but NBA exciting. Go figure. Her favorite player is Kevin Durant and her favorite team is San Antonio. She know the difference between arrogance and team play, which now that I think about it, is rather the difference between Nora fans who criticize their President for doing what he believes is best for the state (the alternative being a state run by artists, which is not much different than a state run by leftists), and people who grant the President a little wiggle room as he works for the betterment of all, artists, and non-artists.

    • abe galon says:

      JM

      Nora Aunor is my hometown girl (kababayan) became a star who grew up in a very humble beginning like selling things in Iriga city train station to survive; however, she forgot to look back.

      Her image as a role model doesn’t deserved that honor, so I am not sure what kind of coffee NCCA had been drinking. President Aquino did the right thing in my opinion except the basketball fiasco, and I know they will probably call me lunatic.

      Hey Joe, I was just wondering if there is any best actor and actress awarded with the Oscar statuette who had serious image problem?

      • Joe America says:

        Yes, abe, for sure. i don’t follow the glitzy set that closely, but the industry is rich with drug problems, domestic violence, sleeping around . . . about as immoral as it gets. But the people giving the award are others within the industry so, no problem. It is more, what movies did you do this year that were top notch.

        • abe galon says:

          Oh boy, I do not follow those top notch Hollywood movies anymore.

          • Joe America says:

            🙂 I think special effects dominate movies these days. Gary Cooper in “High Noon” . . . he gets “The Society of Honor Film Award for Nobility of Presentation and Values” otherwise known as the SONAFNOPAV award. A little late in the awarding, perhaps, but granted nonetheless.

  6. brianitus says:

    Uncle Joe,

    Coming from a non-fan, i say that Nora Aunor will live and probably be immortalized even without the award. I mean, if fans and supporters believe she deserves it, then she’s already a winner in their hearts. The president doesn’t agree with them and so they should suck it in. I mean, let’s all choose our battles to fight against a president, shall we?

    For clarification, is getting nominated as a National Artist a one-time deal? I mean, if the president doesn’t green light it, are there no second chances? I mean, if presidents can pardon big-time crooks like Erap, surely a Nora Aunor might get it at a different time.

    As an aside, FIBA allows having naturalized players in the tournament. So, essentially, it’s within the rules to get Andrey to play for the country. Not really cheating, just maximizing the full use of rules.

    Just as another aside, the blogosphere is full of 100 percenters. i don’t know, it appears to me that one of the immediate product of the onslaught of the information age (and social networks) had been mostly judgmental pricks and more narcissists. Sorry if I ran out of juicier words for this morning. Is being judgmental part of the birthing process of a fully developed “netizen”?

    In related thinking, it’s a totally different thing to band together in one community of 100 percenters. I mean, that’s mass delusion already; possibly sold by a snake oil salesman pretending to be a messiah of some sort. That’s the kind of thinking that gets you to goosestep and say “Heil!” The internet is a dangerous place.

    Brianitus.

    • Joe America says:

      Well, young whippersnapper, today seems to be a day for pithy comments so you fit right in. I guess I’d better bring Angry Maude back home. She’s the pithy relative and netizen. See my comment to JM, which applies to your view as well, regarding artists.

      I know that FIBA allows naturalized players, and the NBA is stocked with foreigners, and the World Cup teams these days are a mishmash of cross nationalities. I’d rather win as the Philippines though, ardent nationalist that I am.

      Your articulations are quite elegant today. You should do me a guest blog, eh? Write about netizens and leftists or somesuch. Or hell, write a noodle blog. hahaha

      • brianitus says:

        Well, I had my bowl of morning noodles for breakfast. Guest blog? Oh, that calls for my recipe for amazing home made sausages. That’s assuming I do get to perfect that.

        Anyway, cheers!

  7. macspeed says:

    LOL….to 100 percenters, most of them are gays and t-birds, sorry for that…perhaps next year…

    PNOY has sets of adviser for each category, maybe, just maybe, the queue for National Artist for this year does not include Nora Aunor, so the advice given was “delete this one we have much more older artist in the line”… such as Metal sculpture artist and alike….and perhaps the adviser is a gay personalities that has some disagreement with the gays around Ms Nora….

    Whatever, PNOY has more priorities than this, there is another time for this simple affair. But he needs to explain before 2016, Noranians are additional votes for PNOY Presidentiable bid…some Noranians are now grandmas, some has became wealthy, who can mandate their siblings, relatives and maids not to vote PNOY presidentiable candidate….

    • Joe America says:

      “There is another time for this simple affair.”

      Indeed, works for me. And you prose is flowery today, I must say. But you make the point well, we are talking about a unique community within the Philippines that expects the President to run things the way they say.

      On to politics and we’ll leave the artsy crowd to their machinations . . .

  8. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    I love Nora Aunor. She is my typical traditional looking browned-skin round face Filipino. The very same looks the Filipinos love to hate. Filipinos prefer tisoys and tisays, mestizos and mestizas.

    • Joe America says:

      She obviously has skills, too. Her list of film credits covers five wiki pages.

      As there are two voting populations in the Philippines, the middle class and the poor, there are two social populations, the glamour endowed and the real people.

    • sonny says:

      I like “constructively offensive” to apply to blogging, Joe. This description is proper reward and reason to blog. This is connection.

      I agree with MRP about some Filipinos’ dislike for what I call the Malay physiognomy. Most Filipinos have this. The tisoy/tisay preoccupation is sadly a reality. The sooner these ‘some Filipinos’ get over this, the healthier our mental health will be.

      After reading the editorial (Manila Bulletin) on Nora Aunor and Pnoy, this is too much ado in proportion to its overall value. For what it’s worth, I feel Nora Aunor deserves to be in the running for her sheer talent and this is one of those times that any president should recuse himself and move on. I have heard Ms Aunor sing and act, from ingenue to mature artist the whole country has witnessed her come out and bloom and provide us with genuine entertainment in that larger than life level manner.

      • Joe America says:

        That would have been much better, indeed. Remove the President from the occasion, for the “State” need not have a position on this, and let her receive her honor. Best resolution I’ve read on the incident.

  9. josephivo says:

    CDQ (http://opinion.inquirer.net/75937/much-ado-about-something) has a good point, laws are not godly commandments, laws are to serve the people and can be changed by the people. If we believe the president is too busy with all lofty things you enumerate, let’s free the president from this task.

    On the other hand, are only sovereignty and economics important? Or have many more, softer issues equal importance as art and culture, care and compassion, nature and diversity? Should politics and the president only deal with the “hard” issues or are the “soft” equally important? If so, the law should not be changed and president should stay involved and thus explain his decision.

    • Joe America says:

      Both excellent points. The President could have explained his position and alleviated a lot of high blood pressure within the Philippines. Maybe it was just too delicate. I might have said “Well, you know Nora Aunor is a fantastic actress, and she will get her award in time, after the incident in Los Angeles is given a little time to heal. I did not want to bend my principles as I strive for a high path for the nation.” Well, that statement needs some work, but that is the essential message.

      Clearly the arts are important, but considering all the other huge problems faced by the Philippines, perhaps it should fall to the private sector to do more.

  10. manuel buencamino says:

    “I rather had the sense that he did not want to sign the stupid bill. It is, after all, a bit of a cheater’s way to win.” Nope. There is no FIBA rule against nationalizing foreign players. Cheating would if the Philippine basketball team passed him off as a Filipino citizen when he is not.

  11. manuel buencamino says:

    We should be asking instead, why should the State be in the business of giving out National Artist awards?

    Art is creative expression, a form of free expression; the State has no business meddling in it. When art becomes a tool to advance the ends of the State – as a way of fostering nationalism, patriotism, national unity, national pride, etc. – it becomes political propaganda.

    Don’t get me wrong. I am for CCPs all over the country. I am for art departments in every school at all levels.
 But I am against State-sponsored/sanctioned National Artists awards.

    When the State becomes involved in the elevation of selected artists into National Artists, it is, in effect, de-selecting other artists, bestowing honor on certain favored artists and their work over other less favored artists and their work thus rendering those artists inferior to those conferred a National Artist award.

    That kind of preference which at the end of the day is nothing more than a question of taste – no matter how high-brow or scholarly the choices and the choosers are made out to be – is to me no different from the State showing preference for one religion or one god over another.

    Art awards cannot be likened to sports awards which are given to champions. In sports awards there is no debate among spectators who the winner is. There are scores and knockouts for everyone to see. Art awards cannot be likened to medals of valor either because bravery/heroism in battle is not debatable. There are wounds, dead bodies etc. There are objective standards for those types of awards, such cannot be said of art awards which are subjective like the judging of synchronized swimming events or ice skating.

    Art awards can be compared to Legion of Honor medals or the OBE that the queen of England rewards her loyal subjects. Those awards are within the purview of the State, the State has the right to give awards to subjects or citizens it feels have served well and are exemplars of good citizenship. When the State gives National Artist awards like it does the State honors above then the question arises whether the awards was given for the artist’s work or for his service to the State.

    We have National Artist awards for
    1. Dance – choreography, direction and/or performance.
    2. Music – composition, direction, and/or performance.
    3. Theater – direction, performance and/or production design.
    4.Visual Arts – painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, installation art, mixed media works, illustration, graphic arts, performance art and/or imaging.
    5.Literature – poetry, fiction, essay, playwriting, journalism and/or literary criticism.
    6.Film and Broadcast Arts – direction, writing, production design, cinematography, editing, camera work, and/or performance.
    7.Architecture, Design and Allied Arts – architecture design, interior design, industrial arts design, landscape architecture and fashion design

    Pray tell what objective standards are you going to use for choosing nominees and awardees?

    In 2010, a movie director who made his name making massacre movies and authoring comic books he did not draw himself was included in the visual arts category; a dressmaker famous for designing formal gowns and wedding dresses for the rich and famous was included in the Architecture, Design and Allied Arts category, and a member of the Nationsl Commission for Culture and Arts, one of the committees involved in the selection of nominess, allowed her name to be included in the Theater category. The question arises, are the CCP and NCCA awards committees immune from politics?

    Now if National Artists awards are handled exclusively by the private sector then those awards would be a private matter like the FAMAS, MMFF, Oscars, and Tonys are. They would not bear the State’s seal of approval. But in the hands of the State, in the hands of an administration temporarily in charge of the affairs of the State, the giving out of National Artist awards turns into something different, it becomes an affair of the State.

    Let awards for the arts be left in the hands of the private sector so that there is no argument over whose fan club gets satisfaction first and more importantly that nobody starts a debate about whether or not the president acted judiciously when he “snubbed” their idol.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, that all makes excellent sense to me. I wonder if all the awards are a way for the State to support the arts without spending much money doing it. But I agree, it runs counter to the notion that the State speaks for all to try to allow the State to decide what is good art, or who is a good artist. “Good” in the case of Nora Aunor meaning well behaved. This case points out the problem with the State’s engagement in these kinds of awards.

    • pussyfooter says:

      I’m way too late coming in on this one, but wanted to at least put in my vote for your entry as “Most Intelligent Online Opinion I’ve Come Across Yet”.

      I assume some historical research on this award would readily shed light on the ulterior motives for its existence (there usually are). Though I must confess at the moment I’m not quite up for the Googling.

    • Joe America says:

      Lot of rumor mongering and assumptions in that article. The main point is that the President’s deletion of Ms. Aunor was political. Political in the Philippines means personal acquaintances enter the picture, not ideological reasons. That seems to me to be a Filipino cultural thing not peculiar to Mr. Aquino. Everybody takes care of their friends or those who are owed. So Mr. Aquino is supposed to become, for this matter, “non-Filipino”?

      • parengtony says:

        My sense is a bit more drastic in that I think Nora is a victim of raw politics; that powerful elements inside Malacanang are scared shit of her joining the Binay campaign; that this is really all about the “masa vote”. Both sides know this very well and both sides recognize the great potency of a Nora Aunor direct and active endorsement – by simply telling her story. And what a story it is specially the “inaapi ng mga elitista” aspect. “Walang daang matuwid para sa mahirap”, she will say.

        Thus, I am unable to see this as smart politics by our man PNoy.He may lose some. not much, support from the so called moralista segment. But the backfire from the masa resulting from Nora’s de-selection and being rendered inferior to other National Artist may be an insurmountable political miscalculation.

        On this one I really hope I am all wet.

        • Joe America says:

          That is disturbing in the context of my defense of his right to make a choice, because to politicize the award would be of poor principle, and I would not defend it. If politics were the basis, it would have been better for him to have approved her so that she would be appreciative than to deny her, and make a popular enemy. It is rather interesting that there seems to be silence from both parties, Mr. Aquino and Ms. Aunor, so we don’t know what is happening. I’ve thought all along that the President’s refusal to explain the decision was a mistake. It leaves minds open to all the criticisms, without objection.

          • Joe America says:

            I was reading the Inquirer comment thread regarding Ms. Aunor’s statement about not getting the reward (disappointment followed by the joy of the public response). I note there are as many who have great distaste for her lifestyle, as many as are “for” her. So she is a very polarizing figure. Also her backing of Binay could pose a backlash of the backlash, for it appears that she is vulnerable to the charge of having accepted P600,000 from Gloria Arroyo not to back Fernando Poe in the presidential election. So she is a hot potato either way.

  12. pussyfooter says:

    This is going to sound embarrassingly fangirly, but I came back to this blog (not just this post) to take a badly needed breather from all the 100%ers on my Facebook feed. And to connect somewhat to another comment, yes this seems to be the unhappy revelation brought to us by the Internet. These are the true “elitista”, I suspect–those who believe THEY are “elite” (because they Know Better, All the Time, naturally).

    Thanks for the oasis of sanity.

    Incidentally, the week’s DAP case developments have provided fresh meat for the rabid. Sigh.

    • pussyfooter says:

      FWIW though, I daresay that the same people who would otherwise be “elitista”–and by that I mean they are also expensively educated, middle- or even upper-class English-using folks–but who work in government are (1) not 100%ers, and (2) doing pretty fine job of plugging away in this dismally self-defeating culture. Sometimes there’s truth to the admittedly less than lofty counterargument “And you? What have you done for your country??” So many articulate (or, well, less so) 100%ers frothing at the mouth when they’re either part of the problem or obviously, ignorantly, refusing to be part of the solution–ultimately, still part of the problem.

      I can say this because it’s my generation that is now stepping up to bat, and from what I do know, most of the minority of us who have chosen government work are swimming furiously against the tide of willful mediocrity (which is itself a mild form of corruption, as well as one aspect of conformity) and the fear and condemnation of anything else–all cultural norms, all feeding into what you’ve exotically called the Machete Machine. (I would argue that this mindlessly excessive Noranianism is in fact mediocrity–the inability, or the refusal, to step up to higher-process and original thinking that would easily conclude that this is such a small and insignificant non-issue to get so worked up about.)

      • Joe America says:

        I believe you have just topped manuelbuencamino . . .

        I am sure it must be hell to be in that river, a person wanting performance bogged down by sluggards “of willful mediocrity” which INDEED is a form of corruption. I’d become alcoholic in about a week, I think . . . good luck to you . . . keep the head up, stiff upper lip, and all that . . .

    • Joe America says:

      Meanwhile, down at cellblock crame, they party heartily deep into the night . . .

      “. . . because they Know Better, All the Time, naturally . . .” lovely expression, however, not to be unduly crabmanly, I believe the “N” deserves a cap, too.

  13. henricksays says:

    I was drawn at your blog site upon your invitation as a result of our discussion regarding the National Artist issue in another forum. I realized your seeming infatuation with our sitting president so I am not surprise to see your glowing review of the righteousness of his decision to drop Nora Aunor among the National Artists list on moral ground. And speaking of morality, I wonder what you have to say on his famous ( or infamous ) kid sister, Kris Aquino who is not exactly the role model he wants of any personality who represents artistry in the Philippines. She may not be National Artist material but do you think this president should rein in on her if only to show how “fair” he is in his moral crusade?

    • Joe America says:

      It’s good of you to stop by, henricksays. And you pose a superb challenge because Kris Aquino is one-of-a-kind. I don’t think the President should rein her in any more than I think she should insert herself into presidential affairs. In truth, they probably both take an interest in the other, offer sibling advice casually, and each respects the other for what they do.

      I corresponded with Kris a couple of years ago (she read one of my blogs to the President and wanted to relate his reaction), and she was both forthright and charming, in her unique way. Before that, I had believed as most do that she is a little flighty, living her personal life so openly, so weepily or cheerily, on television. I would flip the channel if she were getting too personal, because I have enough challenge living my own personal life without having to live hers, too.

      But there is a reason she is hired for so many advertisements. She is an INSTITUTION in the Philippines, and loved far and wide by the emotional, dramatic, star-loving Filipino populace. You know, the ones without cable who only get two channels and watch them day and night. She doesn’t need any awards, probably, because her bank accounts reflect that, on a measure of commercial popularity, she is number one. And because of that popularity, she is a asset to the President, politically. So for pragmatic reasons, if I were the President’s political counsel, I’d for sure not advise him to rein her in.

      It seems to me the solution to Kris for those who don’t like her is to turn off the television or change the dial, not to censor her or take anything away from people who do enjoy her.

  14. aldenbula says:

    Reblogged this on Alden's Album Review and commented:
    A very objective take on the National Artist issue. How come I missed this post? Hahahahaha

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