It’s unusual that I talk about what I don’t want. But after watching Media In Focus last night, I thought it makes sense to share my views on National Artist Controversy.
Please understand that this is not a personal attack on the credibility and hard work of the director. I’m watching some of his works and when I was still young, I was reading his works, too. But, there’s one part of the conversation that I thought makes the comics icon not deserving of the award. Let me carefully give you my analysis.
It was the first time I’ve heard Carlo J. Caparas on the hot seat. There were three of them in the panel including Prof. Butch Dalisay and another young guy. Cheche Lazaro first asked what a national artist is. Prof. Dalisay defined it. It became clear, and Cheche repeated say it, that the issue is not the director or the awardees, but the alleged abuse of President’s prerogative.
Now, here’s the part that turned me off. Director Caparas showed his illustrations and drawings and told everyone that he is, in fact, an illustrator that qualified him to take the award for visual arts and film category. He insisted that he can draw. He said he started doing those drawings before he finally decided to focus on script-writing (in this case he should have been nominated for Literature category).
Carlo J. Caparas clearly told his audience that because he thought he will have more money in script-writing, he decided to do that instead of drawing. He was very insistent about his qualification as a visual artist yet he gave up his “visual arts” qualification because of his greater desire to earn more money.
Now, what is a National Artist for me?
A national artist for me is a person who is not motivated by anything but his contribution to the Filipinos. He is, in no way, motivated to do his craft by prestige or money or any other personal desire. He must be sincere and faithful in his works even if it’s not giving him a luxury living. He must be someone that should serve as a model for the next generation.
I cannot see myself as insistent as the director because by insisting I know it makes me even more undeserving of such award. I cannot see myself talking about what qualifies me to have the award yet doing otherwise for another reason. I cannot see myself questioning my critics who are in the same screening committee that screened the nominees.
A national artist is a model for the next generation. This year’s awards simply don’t get that point. I am sad to have witnessed this page of history but I am grateful that I’m able to read its hidden message. However I hope next time, it would be another scene.