We are appalled that Carlo J. Caparas has been declared a National Artist. We write furious essays denouncing the way Malacanang made a mockery of the selection process. We attend events to proclaim our outrage at the palace’s bizarre choice. Well we forgot something.

Who will explain to the average Filipinos—to whom ‘arts and culture’ is an alien concept that has no bearing on their daily lives, but to whom the name Carlo J. Caparas is familiar because they follow telenovelas based on his comic book characters—why he is not worthy of the National Artist award?

If we do not do this, then all our protests serve only to proclaim our intellectual superiority to Mr. Caparas—surely a sign of massive insecurity. Once again, we will be talking amongst ourselves.

The Uses of Outrage“, Jessica Zafra

* * *

The fact remains, however, that Mr. Caparas is unqualified for the award he received. He was named National Artist for Visual Arts and Film – he himself had admitted that he did not draw the art for his more than 200 graphic novels.

In that Media in Focus episode, Caparas pulls out his mural paintings (“na mahirap po gawin”) and shows them off. I can draw, you know, he says. Darn it, my baby brother probably has some old sketches somewhere at home. Must our family show that to the CCP and the NCCA and say, Look, he can draw, you know?

Major *facepalm* moment of the night.

Body of work, Mr. Caparas, body of work. You have your graphic novels, which you wrote but didn’t draw, and your films.

As for the “Film” side of this award, well, really, Madame President? Caparas over Dolphy? Really?

* * *

This is just insane. It’s like the President is going around, trying to figure out the segment of society she hasn’t pissed off yet. Oh, of course, she must have said, the artists!

Nominations to the National Artist Award are screened by the CCP and the NCCA. For the first time ever, the President dropped a nominee from the list and added not one but FOUR awardees, one of whom (Pitoy Moreno) did not even make the shortlist, and another (Caparas) who was never screened by the CCP/NCCA at all.

And if you’re thinking, So what? Award lang naman, wala naman yang silbi, hindi naman yan makakain.

Well, according to the NCCA:

The following privileges are provided to those conferred with the Order of National Artists:

  1. The rank and title of National Artist, as proclaimed by the President of the Philippines;
  2. The National Artist medallion and citation;
  3. Lifetime emolument and material and physical benefits comparable in value to those received by the highest officers of the land such as:

3.1. a cash award of One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00), net of taxes for living awardees;

3.2. a cash award of Seventy Five Thousand Pesos (P75,000.00), net of taxes for posthumous awardees, payable to legal heir/s;

3.3 a monthly life pension, medical and hospitalization benefits;

3.4. life insurance coverage for Awardees who are still insurable;

3.5. arrangements and expenses for a state funeral;

3.6. a place of honor, in line with protocular precedence, at national state functions, and recognition at cultural events.

Lifetime emolument.

Taxpayers, there goes our money. Wave goodbye.

Well done, Madame President.

* * *

Postscript: National Artist for Cinema, Lino Brocka, once said that his desire was not to create the Great Filipino Film, but to develop the Great Filipino Audience.


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