“Umaandar na naman ang proseso (The process has resumed),” declared Felipe de Leon Jr., chairperson of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), before a gathering of experts from various fields of culture and the arts last Friday.
The process De Leon was referring to was the selection of the National Artists. De Leon had to stress that the process has been resumed because in 2009, the National Artists Awards were not conferred after the culture and arts communities protested the move of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to include movie director Carlo Caparas, theater artist Cecile Guidote Alvarez, and couturier Jose Moreno as recipients of the Awards.
It took four years for the Supreme Court to decide on the case filed by a group of petitioners questioning Arroyo’s actions. But in a recent—and widely hailed—decision, the high court voided the proclamation of the three on the ground that their proclamation was “issued with grave abuse of discretion.”
With that, the selection process resumes this year. The experts gathered last Friday morning at the NCCA building in Intramuros to deliberate on the nominations in the fields of architecture, design and allied arts, music, film and broadcast art, literature, theater and dance.
These deliberations are only the first step in the selection process. The country’s highest awards for Filipino artists, which are given every three years, will have a new set of recipients by November this year.