Press Conference:
The Initiative to Declare Nora Aunor as 'Pambansang Artista ng Mamamayan'
UP Vargas Museum

July 10, 2014





Bienvenido Lumbera, National Artist, explains the purpose of the Initiative to Declare Nora Aunor as 'Pambansang Artista ng Mamamayan'




Support people's initiatives against Presidential intervention!

Aquino no different from Arroyo for meddling in National Artist selection

Statement on the 31st anniversary of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines
10 July 2014, University of the Philippines Vargas Museum

On the occasion of its 31st founding anniversary, the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP)
affirms its commitment to upholding the rights and welfare of artists and cultural workers by taking a stand against Presidential intervention in the Order of National Artists, recently withheld from film actress and singer Nora Aunor by President Benigno Aquino Ill.


The National Artist award is one of the issues which affect the welfare and rights of Filipino artists. Over the past 30 years, the invocation of Presidential prerogative in the final selection process has spawned many "dagdag-bawas" controversies across different Presidential terms. It has also impinged on the right of artists, who have been recognised and recommended by their peers in the industry, to due process.


Pres. Aquino proves himself no different from his predecessor Gloria Arroyo for meddling and intervening in the National Artist Awards process (hey have both capriciously used Presidential prerogative to exclude artists duly recommended through the selection process, passing all levels of screening with flying colors. This only underscores the need to revisit the question of Presidential prerogative in the NAA selection process. On a larger scale, this issue mirrors other current national controversies emanating from the abuse of power by an elite few in the country -a situation that needs to be addressed in the long run.


Pres. Aquino's exclusion of Aunor from the roster does not invalidate her contributions to the film industry and to the development of her craft as an actress. We will always recognise Aunor for her compelling portrayals of the Filipino masses, whether as migrant, devotee, woman, activist, and member of the dispossessed majority.


We take this occasion to affirm our solidarity with fellow artists, Bikolanos, critics, educators, and youth, represented by organisations such as the Katipunan ng mga Artistang Pilipino sa Pelikula at Telebisyon (KAPPT), Kabataan Party List, Karatula, AKO Bicol Party List, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP), Nora Aunor for National Artist Movement (NA4NA), and the Film Desk of the Young Critics Circle (YCC). We join ranks to call for the need for change and to support the initiative to recognise Aunor as a People's National Artist.


The CAP is an organization of writers, artists, musicians, film-makers and cultural workers committed to the vision of a free, democratic and progressive society. It was founded in July 9, 1983 to unite Filipino artists against the Marcos dictatorship and its repressive laws which curtailed freedom of expression, and was active in the pursuit of such efforts until 1986. CAP was revived on June 17, 2000 with its members renewing their involvement and commitment towards a nationalist, people-oriented, non-sexist, progressive, scientific and liberating art and culture, organizing artists from different fields to act in defense of their well-being, rights and welfare.


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Remarks on the Nora Initiative
Patrick D. Flores, PhD
UP Vargas Museum
10 July 2014

We are gathered here today to defend the process through which the nomination of Nora Aunor was secured. Such a process has not been found wanting in terms of procedure and judgment. I am a witness to how this process has been refined over the 12 years I had served as a member of the Council of Peers, Council ofExperts, Presentor of Nominees, and at one point a member of an independent oversight committee. Surely it is not without its problems, but it was designed to ensure the broad participation oft he artistic community, alongside representatives of government, and to resist theploys of vested interests. With a highly layered and highly mediated process of this quality and rigor in place, we wonder how else could the President have decided otherwise? And where else could he have sought counsel?

It is a tribute, in fact, to the government to have fostered the conditions of this process to take place and an achievement of the community to have diligently participated as responsible citizens in honoring the efforts of artists in the vital work of culture in social life. By setting aside this process in the name of presidential prerogative or discretion is to actually stifle the spirit by which that power is vested. When the National Commission for Culture and the Arts was mandated to co-administer the process, it was meant to disperse the central control of culture that had previously exclusively rested on the Cultural Center of the Philippines and to ultimately make presidential authority nearly needless because the work for government will have been performed properly and democratically. The decision, therefore, to dishonor the nomination of Nora Aunor by the President is, to put it politely, deeply flawed and lacking in integrity or even good faith. It was weakly informed at best and unnecessarily injudicious at worst, descriptions that may ultimately translate into a waste of process, initiated by both government and people, and therefore results in nothing but sheer abuse. If there was substance that was abused here, it was this.

But we move on. Today we take a pause from our everyday tasks and invest in an auspicious moment to transcend the misdeed of the state and its transient rulers, to say nothing yet of their utter lack of charity and the complex understanding of the moral condition. Had the electorate been more discerning and exercised zero tolerance for human frailty, how many in government do you think should be given the chance to serve, let alone name National Artists?

Today,we claim Nora Aunor as truly our own, an artist of the nation and the people in the spirit of the democratic process, something that the current government has failed to completely apprehend, alongside other fundamental constitutionalities it has self-righteously overlooked.

Sabi ni Elsa sa Himala, tawagin silang lahat. At tayong lahat ay tumugon at nagtipon sa araw na ito upang ipagtanggol ang proseso ng paghirang sa Order of National Artist. Narito po tayo upang isa katuparan ang pangako ng kalayaan na pangalanan ang mga bayani ng ating buhay at angkinin ang bisa ng kanilang kabutihan. Karapatan man ito o kapalaran, narito po tayo upang pairalin ang karangalan ni Nora Aunor bilang kaganapan ng sining ng bayan.

Maraming salamat po.


Patrick D. Flores is Professor of Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the University of the Philippines at Diliman, and is the Curator of the University of the Philippines Vargas Museum and Adjunct Curator of the National Art Galleries of the Philippines and Singapore.


Beauty queens and actresses Evangeline Pascual, Miss Philippines 1973, and Maria Isabel Lopez, 
Bb Pilipinas-Universe 1982 and member of the NCCA (National Commission for Culture and Arts)


YCC Statement on the 2014 Order of National Artists

The Film Desk of the Young Critics Circle (YCC) condemns the exclusion of Nora Aunor (Nora Cabaltera Villamayor) by President Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III from the roster of NationalArtists proclaimed this year.

Aunor was nominated as National Artist for Film and duly passed all levels of screening in the legally constituted process presided over by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), acting jointly as the Order of National Artists (ONA) Secretariat. Her nomination, and her subsequent inclusion in the final list drawn up by the CCP and the NCCA, was made in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the Philippine film industry and to Philippine culture and arts in general. Her powerful portrayals of various roles over the past several decades of her career have received wide acclaim both at home and abroad, including from our own organization, which has cited her for Best Performance five times.

We are outraged that, in the wake of a stringent process of selection by our state cultural institutions, the President of the Republic nevertheless elected not to bestow upon Aunor the rank and honor of National Artist because Aunor, he claimed, had been convicted and punished in a drug case, referring specifically to her being taken into custody for alleged possession of metamphetamine hydrochloride in California in 2005. This supposedly made her unworthy to be a role model for Filipinos, and would send the wrong message about the use of illegal substances.

We argue that his reasoning is utterly destitute, premised as it is on a misapprehension of the circumstances of Aunor’s arrest, as has been pointed out by Claire Navarro Espina, Aunor’s lawyer in the United States. Moreover, it can only have a chilling effect upon anyone who has ever struggled with drug abuse, a widespread problem in this country, especially among the young—can there be no hope for rehabilitation and redemption?

We believe that issues pertaining to morality are contentious at best and must not be applied to the recognition of a National Artist. What matters most is the artist’s superior development of her craft, which should be recognized by her peers primarily, and by the Filipino people ultimately. Such consideration has been met by the disqualified nominee.

As a critics’ group that advocates dynamic interactions between artist, artwork, and audience, we think that the state plays a crucial role in the development of artistry, and the appreciation thereof, in the country. With its wide institutional reach and public funding, it significantly influences not only the creation and dissemination of works of art, but also the examination and celebration of these and their makers. The state must be mindful that it performs its role in the name of the Filipino people.

”At the end of the day,” as President Aquino always concludes his interviews, the matter at hand bodes ill for the Filipino people. The same thing happened in 2009: it will be remembered that then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whom the incumbent chief executive despises and professes to be in contrast to, chose not to proclaim renowned composer and music scholar Ramon Santos as National Artist, despite the fact that Santos had garnered the highest score from the ONA Secretariat–a act of caprice that the Supreme Court unfortunately saw fit to uphold in 2013. We are extremely concerned that the selection of such esteemed individuals as the National Artists has once more been subjected to an exercise of presidential prerogative that, however legal, does not demonstrate the least bit of rigor in thought or awareness of responsibility, and join the artistic community in the call to rethink and reform the ONA.


Lisa Ito-Tapang, Art History instructor, reads the YCC statement

Alliance of Concerned Teachers National President Benjamin Valbuena




News Release


Reference: Michael Beltran 09061892288


The Palace has long been sabotaging the roles of artists in advancing social causes. In the most recent list of proclamation of new National Artists, President Aquino himself engineered the exclusion of a Filipino Film icon, Nora Aunor. This caused outrage among netizens, including individuals and personalities in the arts and culture communities last Friday, June 20.


At a press conference of various artists supporting Aunor for National Artist Minerva Espanta, spokesperson of KARATULA, “the Palace have shown, once again, its authority to obstruct the nation’s cultural progress through its mandate discrediting Aunor’s immense contributions, specifically in acting, that portrayed and criticized relevant social issues within the country.”


“Walang makapagde-deny ng kahusayan ni Aunor sa pagsasalarawan ng iba’t-ibang krisis sa ating bansa. ‘Yung mga pelikulang kanyang pinagbidahan na talaga namang pinalakpakan ng ating mga kababayan at ng buong mundo noon ay saktong-sakto pa ring naglalarawan sa kahirapan sa kasalukuyan nating pamumuhay,” Minerva added recalling the film ‘Minsa’y Isang Gamu-gamo’, a film starred by Aunor which tackles military intervention of the United States in the 70’s, mirrors the recent signing of EDCA between Aquino and Obama.


There has been no sign of support coming from the President’s office to sustain, or even rescind their decision on the National Artist Selection.


The only response was Malacanang’s citation of the issue of morality to justify its decision. They maintained that it would not be morally upright to let Aunor be deemed a National Artist.


“How can this administration claim any kind of moral high ground when it has been proven criminal through the supreme court’s decision on the DAP. It blatantly took funds from the people and gave the executive branch complete control of P177 billion pesos to use at its own will. This is not a issue of morality in the first place, it should be about justice and the people’s welfare,” retorted Espanta.


Espanta noted that the Palace keeps on abandoning and suppressing artists who are non-weary of exposing and opposing social and political injustices through their masterpieces.


“Artists, cultural performers and the people must strive to obtain a genuine and well-cultivated arts and culture. In order to achieve this, we must continue to produce and circulate socially relevant pieces and diverse forms of art no matter what the circumstances are. Let us not be blown with the wind by such incompetency of the government. Sabi nga ni Nora Aunor, ‘Walang himala, ang himala ay nasa ating mga kamay.” Minerva ended. ###


Michael Beltran, spokesperson  of KARATULA



Concerned Artists of the Philippines


For Immediate Release

25 June 2014

Artist group slams PNoy’s abuse of Presidential prerogative in National Artist Awards

Exclusion of Aunor is arrogant, elitist, dangerous — CAP  


An artists group today challenged PNoy’s “abuse of Presidential prerogative” in the National Artists Award (NAA) process, pointing out how it reflects the crisis of governance under Aquino.


“PNoy’s exclusion of Nora Aunor, who has been recommended by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA), is arrogant, elitist and dangerous. It is arrogant because it shows that  President can arbitrarily overturn the results of a duly-constituted deliberation process. It is elitist because it further holds the NAA hostage to the whims of the President and patronage politics. And it is dangerous because it is an abuse of power, which is happening with increasing impunity under the current administration” said visual artist Renan Ortiz, spokesperson of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP).


“The provisions which invest the President with the authority to overturn NAA recommendations yielded by the CCP and NCCA deliberations should be examined and scrapped once and for all. These are among the many legal loopholes that reinforce the culture of corruption which has permeated and adversely affected Philippine institutions. This prerogative also carried with it the responsibility to decide based on due process and justice, which we cannot entrust corrupt administrations to uphold,” Ortiz said.


Walang himala sa panghihimasok ni PNoy sa NAA. The blatant abuse of Presidential prerogative has spawned many ‘dagdag-bawas’  controversies in the NAA for the past 30 years. President Marcos intervened in the 1982 selection process; Ramos created a new category (historical literature) to accommodate his choice in 1997; Estrada appointed a friend in 1999; and Arroyo has repeatedly conferred the award to individuals not included in the NCCA-CCP shortlist, culminating in a major controversy in 2009. PNoys actions are no different from that of his predecessors like Arroyo.These actions are eroding public faith in the process and devaluing the importance that the NAA should have for the Filipino people,” Ortiz explained.


“The current public and critical outrage over Aunor’s exclusion is not surprising, nor should it be dismissed as sour-graping. Aunor’s critically-acclaimed work as an actress has yielded some of the most important moments in Philippine film history, which constitute our heritage. The masses look up to Aunor because her performances are not only stellar; they have also embody various social realities and experiences of the people long marginalised by an elite few,” Ortiz noted.


He warned that the NAA controversy underscores the crisis of governance under Aquino.


“Corruption takes many forms. It is not only an issue of PDAF and pork barrel allocations. It is also accommodating the whims of KKK (kaibigan, kakilala at kapamilya) and putting arbitrary personal interests over due process and the clamor of the people,” Ortiz emphasized.


The CAP is an organization of writers, artists and cultural workers committed to the principles of freedom, justice and democracy. It was founded in 1983 to unite Filipino artists against the Marcos dictatorship and its repressive laws which curtailed freedom of expression.


Reference: Renan Ortiz, CAP Spokesperson


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Concerned Artists of the Philippines


2 July 2014


PNoy’s flimsy logic gives more reason to reform NAA selection process

Protect the award against abuse and patronage politics, artists demand


Quezon City — The Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) today denounced President Benigno Aquino III for witholding the National Artist Award to film actress and singer Nora Aunor on the basis of her alleged drug conviction.


Aquino yesterday said that giving the award would send out the “wrong message to the nation” as she was convicted for using illegal drugs. Aunor’s legal counsel, however, clarified that she has been cleared of charges in 2007 after undergoing rehabilitation and after tests came out negative.


“PNoy’s flimsy logic and arrogant moralism is not enough basis to withhold the award that Aunor deserves as an artist. He owed Aunor and the Filipino people an explanation for his silence, and now his only stated reason is found wanting in substance,” CAP spokesperson and visual artist Renan Ortiz said.


“PNoy grossly fails to consider that Aunor has endured and in fact prevailed over many trials that she has encountered as an artist and as a citizen. If he really wants to send the right message against illegal drugs, then the Aquino administration should instead show concrete results by catching and hauling into jail the big fish who are coddling and conniving with the foreign drug syndicates. Instead, his administration has been preoccupied with illegal and unconstitutional initiatives such as the Disbursement Acceleration Program while mouthing token statements against zero tolerance for corruption and patronage politics,” Ortiz said.


“The President’s capricious display of politicking gives all the more reason to reform the NAA selection process, particularly with regard to the question of Presidential intervention. Legal loopholes that hold the awards hostage to the whims of the President and of patronage politics should be examined and done away with for good,” Ortiz said.


“PNoys actions are no different from that of his predecessors like Arroyo: letting caprice, misplaced privilege and politicking prevail over what is just.These actions are eroding public faith in the process and devaluing the importance that the NAA should have for the Filipino people. We call on lawmakers to act on this situation,” Ortiz explained.


“Aunor’s critically-acclaimed work as an actress has also yielded some of the most important moments in Philippine film history, which constitute our heritage. The masses admire Aunor because her performances are not only stellar; they also effectively portrayed social realities and experiences of the people long marginalised by an elite few, who are represented by the likes of PNoy the haciendero Presidentand dynastic heir,” Ortiz said.


The CAP is an organization of writers, artists and cultural workers committed to the principles of freedom, justice and democracy. It was founded in 1983 to unite Filipino artists against the Marcos dictatorship and its repressive laws which curtailed freedom of expression.


Reference: Renan Ortiz, CAP Spokesperson


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