MANILA - The National Commission of Culture and the Arts (NCCA) on Wednesday confirmed that actress Nora Aunor was dropped by Malacañang from the list of national artist awardees this year.
NCCA Chair Virgilio Almario explained that Aunor, known for her iconic films such as “Himala” and “Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos” and “Bona,” was automatically nominated this year because of her previous nomination.
Aunor had been nominated for the award during the term of former President Benigno Aquino III but she was dropped from the roster of awardees due to her alleged involvement in illegal drugs.
Almario, however, said he was not privy why Aunor was dropped from the list once again, this time by Duterte.
“Noong nakaraan, maugong iyan. Ngayon wala kaming information whatsoever,” Almario told reporters.
“I think mayroong honors body na nag-aadvise sa President pero hindi ko rin alam kung sino sino iyon.”
Almario, however, noted that the board which decides who gets included in the list of national artist awardees puts more premium to the contribution of the artist to his art over what he did in his personal life.
He said the board will have to discuss whether Aunor can still be nominated again considering she has been dropped by two presidents from the list already.
PH HAS 7 NEW NATIONAL ARTISTS
President Duterte proclaimed 7 new national artists, led by Francisco Mañosa, who was initially awarded National Artist in 2009 by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. His award was withdrawn due to a Supreme Court challenge.
Mañosa is known as the architect behind the Coconut Palace, the Edsa Shrine, and the world-renowned Amanpulo and Pearl Farm resorts, among others. And now, he finally gets his due.
Also named National Artist is Kidlat Tahimik, who is dubbed as the “Father of Filipino Independent Cinema.” Some of his notable films include “Perfumed Nightmare” and “Balikbayan #1: Memories of Overdevelopment Redux III.”
Hiligaynon literary icon Ramon Muzones and literary historian Resil Mojares were both proclaimed National Artists for literature. Both are known for their literary works on history and society, having received several awards.
The National Artist for visual arts award was posthumously conferred on renowned illustrator Larry Alcala, known to many for his cartoon series “Slice of Life.”
Amelia Lapeña Bonifacio, dubbed as the “Grand Dame of Southeast Asian Children’s Theater” and founder of Teatrong Mulat ng Pilipinas, was proclaimed National Artist for Theater.
Rounding out the list is Ryan Cayabyab, a household name who has earned multiple accolades as a composer, musical director, and conductor.
Meanwhile, weavers Estelita Bantilan of Sarangani, Ambalang Ausalin of Basilan and Yabing Dulo of South Cotabato were given the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan award.
In his speech, Duterte urged lauded the national artists for their passion and dedication to their respective craft.
“Your outstanding work does not only inspire self-determination, but likewise instills patriotism and brings prestige to our beloved country,” Duterte said.
The President also urged the national artists to “pass down their knowledge and skills to the younger generation because it is only by educating and training the youth that the legacy and work of our artists can live on.”