MANILA, Philippines — The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) has announced six new National Artists whose proclamations had been signed by President Benigno Aquino III on June 20, 2014.
Affirmed by the president are Cirilo F. Bautista, Francisco Coching, Francisco Feliciano, Alicia Garcia Reyes, Ramon P. Santos and Jose Maria Zaragoza.
Three others who were proclaimed in 2009, namely Federico Aguilar Alcuaz, Manuel Conde, and Lazaro Francisco, will be included in the conferment ceremony to be held at Malacañang, and the traditional Tribute held at the CCP.
The year-long selection process for National Artists follows a multi-layer procedure. It begins with an initial deliberation and shortlisting by a Council of Experts made up of artist peers. This is then followed by a second deliberation by the Jury of Experts who in turn submits their recommendations to the boards of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the CCP. The NCCA and the CCP board members are joined by current National Artists, to vote on the final nominees to be recommended to the President.
The list is reviewed by the Office of the President’s Honors Committee before it is transmitted to the President.
The President may affirm all or only some of the recommended names but he is not allowed to add to what has been submitted by the NCCA and the CCP. In this particular instance, the President did not affirm Nora Aunor as National Artist.
“Obviously, the artists we recommended were those whose contributions to the field of culture and the arts are genuinely outstanding, and unassailable. While we had hoped that they would all be conferred the honor, the President’s approval is part of the process. Ultimately, the CCP respects that,” said Emily Abrera, chairman of the CCP board.
This presidential authority to affirm or not affirm the recommendations was vested in the 2013 Supreme Court ruling that disallowed a set of National Artists named by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo which had not undergone the deliberation and selection process.
The new National Artists are:
Bautista is a poet and educator. He has produced novels, essays, translations, criticism and theory. He traveled all over the country, conducting writing workshops to encourage the flourishing of literary arts.
Coching is credited with helping nurture komiks as a vital Philippine folk and popular art form. He wrote and illustrated 63 komiks novels, almost all of which became films. He is regarded as a creative force who excelled in the complex interplay across three artistic impulses: the literary through the stories he conceived; the graphic through the images he drew for the narratives; and the cinematic through the fiction that became scripts for the films drawn from his novels.
Francisco Feliciano propagated “Asianness” in his works. He combined Filipino culture and the Western musical idiom in his operas, ballets, orchestral works and hymns. His lifelong mission was to propagate a new language for religious music, a dream accomplished through his many students at the Asian Institute for Liturgy and Music which he founded in 1980.
Alice Reyes, as she is known to all, is considered the mother of Philippine modern dance. As a choreographer, dancer, artistic director and dance educator, she helped create the foundation of modern dance in the Philippines and spearheaded the development and promotion of a distinctly Filipino modern dance form.
Ramon P. Santos is a composer, conductor, musicologist, scholar and mentor, academic and cultural administrator. His scholarly work has contributed to a deeper understanding of Filipino culture and heritage. His compositions that combine his avant-garde musical orientation with his interest in Southeast Asian musical traditions continue to influence today’s young Filipino composers.
Zaragoza was a leading figure in the Philippine architectural scene of the 1950s. He was a pioneer in the tropicalization of modernism in the Philippines. He designed landmark worship spaces, spiritual centers, as well as some of the Philippines’ iconic edifices of commerce and culture.
The 2009 National Artists are:
Alcuaz was a painter and a lawyer, best known for his still lifes that are considered unmatched in the history of Philippine art. Based in Barcelona, Spain, Alcuaz had the whole of Europe as his artistic background. He imbibed the strengths of the great masters, absorbing the lessons of the breakthrough movements from Impressionism to Cubism. A prodigious artist, he produced a trove of canvases that bore the stylistic lineaments of Ceanne, Matiss and the great Cubists Picasso, Braque, and Gris, as he developed his own distinct identity.
Film director, writer, actor and producer, Manuel Urbano, better known as Manuel Conde, used film to transmit to a younger generation of Filipinos the stories in ancient and oral narratives like Ibong Adarna, Siete Infantes de Lara and Prinsipe Teñoso. He succeeded in giving Filipino cinema a cultural history of its own and introduced Filipino cinema to the world when his epic Genghis Khan competed in the prestigious Venice Film Festival in 1952.
Lazaro Francisco wrote 11 novels focused on the plight of the common tao, most especially the oppressed peasantry. He came into prominence not only for his social conscience but for his fine Tagalog prose that enriched Tagalog writing and the body of Filipino works. In the 1950s, his literary art was a distinctive feature of the incipient nationalist awakening of the Filipino youth movement.