“The National Artists are also entitled to a monthly life pension, medical, and hospitalization benefits; life insurance coverage for awardees who are still insurable; a place of honor, in line with protocular precedence, at national state functions…and a state funeral and burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani”
Some good news from the waning days of the Rodrigo Duterte presidency is that he named a new batch of National Artists in recognition of their “distinct and impactful contribution to the realms of Philippine arts and culture.”
Via Proclamation 1390, s. 2022 dated June 10, upon the joint recommendation of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and Cultural Center of the Philippines, named National Artists for 2022 were Agnes D. Locsin (dance), Salvacion Lim-Higgins (design), Marilou Diaz-Abaya (film), Ricardo Lee (film), Nora C. Villamayor or ‘Nora Aunor’ (film), Gemino H. Abad (literature), Fides Cuyugan Asensio (music), and Antonio ‘Tony’ Mabesa (theater).
The Order was established in 1972 via a presidential proclamation “to give appropriate recognition and prestige to Filipinos who have distinguished themselves and made outstanding contributions to Philippine arts and letters,” with the first award conferred posthumously on Fernando Amorsolo for visual arts.
According to the government’s Official Gazette, “the Order of National Artists” is one of the “Honors of the Philippines” (capitalizations as is), embodying “the nation’s highest ideals in humanism and aesthetic expression through the distinct achievements of individual citizens.”
The Order is administered jointly by the NCCA and the CCP, and, per NCCA rules, “should be conferred every three years.” So the next batch of National Artists should be announced in 2025, still within the incoming administration’s term.
According to the NCCA’s National Artists of the Philippines guidelines, NAs receive the following honors, privileges, and emoluments: the rank and title of National Artist, as proclaimed by the President of the Philippines; the insignia of a National Artist and a citation; and a cash award of P100,000 net of taxes, for living awardees, and P75,000 net of taxes, for posthumous awardees, payable to legal heir/s.
They are also entitled to a monthly life pension, medical, and hospitalization benefits; life insurance coverage for awardees who are still insurable; a place of honor, in line with protocular precedence, at national state functions; and recognition at cultural events. As a final tribute, they shall receive a state funeral and burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Lim-Higgins’ and Diaz-Abaya’s awards were given posthumously, and I am sure that their families appreciate the honor. However, wouldn’t it be better if the award were given while the awardees are still alive and able to benefit from the prestige and emoluments the award carries?
In the case of Aunor, the award should have been given ages ago. Dolphy should have been made National Artist before he died. Cartoonist Nonoy Marcelo, who died in 2002, has been nominated for a posthumous award – I wonder what happened to that move.
Let us hope the incoming administration will take note of this and bestow the awards on the deserving while they are still around to enjoy it.
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Speaking of National Artists, one of the freshly-proclaimed NAs is on the teaching panel of a nationwide writing workshop.
National Artist for Literature Gemino H. Abad is a senior guest panelist for the University of Santo Tomas Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies National Writers’ Workshop held online from June 13 to 22.
The other senior guest panelists, all acclaimed writers, are University of the Philippines professors Luna Sicat Cleto and Victor Emmanuel Carmelo Nadera and poet Jerry Gracio.
This year’s writing fellows are: Larissa Mae Suarez and Reil Benedict Obinque (short story), Carla Mortel Baricaua and Jerwin Bilale Uy (maikling kuwento), Jessie Raymundo, Karl Ren Lalas, and Cindel Ong (poetry), John Christopher DG Lubag and Nikki Mae Recto (tula), Linus Van Plata, Hezekiah Louie Zaraspe, and L. A. Piluden (creative nonfiction), Jason Federigan Pozon and Sherald Salamat (sanaysay), and J.M. Gomez and Zarina Sarapuddin (one act play/screenplay).
The 2022 workshop is the 11th since the Center’s revival in 2012, but the 22nd counting the workshops held by the Center’s founding director Ophelia Dimalanta.
This year’s workshop director is Joselito Zulueta, while Nicole Marfil-Burris is workshop coordinator; both teach creative writing at UST.
This year’s teaching panel comprises Zulueta and Burris, and CCWLS officials and Resident Fellows, all of whom are noted writers, poets, and academics: Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo (CCWLS director), Ralph Semino Galán (CCWLS assistant director), Augusto Antonio Aguila, Ma. Ailil Alvarez, Mark Angeles, Paul Castillo, Joselito Delos Reyes, Nerisa del Carmen Guevara, Jose Mojica, Jenny Ortuoste, Benedict Parfan, Chuckberry Pascual, and John Jack Wigley.
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Also to be held online this month, from June 22 to 25, is the 15th Palihang Rogelio Sicat, a prestigious all-Filipino language writers workshop.
Scriptwriter and fictionist Jose Y. Dalisay Jr. will deliver the keynote address, while the craft lecturers include dramatist Chris Millado, fictionist and critic Eli Rueda Guieb III, filmmaker and writer Kristian Sendon Cordero, essayist Bebang Siy, and journalist Danilo Arao.
Twelve writing fellows from over a hundred applicants were chosen to attend: Michaela Elaine Q. Azores and Carmela H. Esguerra-Jose (children’s story); Keanu Harold G. Reyes (flash fiction); Larry Boy B. Sabangan and Arnold Tristan L. Buenaflor (short story); John Brixter M. Tino, Roda Tajon, Gregorio V. Bituin Jr., and Jefferson G. del Rosario (poetry); Anne Richie G. Balgos (drama); and Edward Joseph O. Fernandez and Mark Andy Pedere (essay).
PRS is named after and in honor of author Rogelio Sicat, a beloved teacher and friend to a generation of writers. The workshop founders are Reuel Molina Aguila and Jimmuel Naval.
The teaching faculty and panel members are award-winning writers of the University of the Philippines Department of Filipino and Philippine Literature: Luna Sicat Cleto, Michael Francis C. Andrada, Vladimeir B. Gonzales, Romulo P. Baquiran Jr., Victor Emmanuel Carmelo D. Nadera, Tilde Acuña, U Z. Eliserio, Amado Anthony Mendoza, Eugene Y. Evasco, Will P. Ortiz, Elyrah L. Salanga-Torralba, Bernadette V. Neri, Rommel B. Rodriguez, Glecy C. Atienza, Naval, and Aguila.
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