Deeply mysterious: Philippine President BS Aquino’s veto of Nora Aunor’s National Artist bid

Strange that a government that gives the time of day to the adolescent rants of has-been starlets like Lani Mercado, wife of embattled Senator Bong Revilla (who languishes in prison awaiting trial for alleged pork barrel thievery), would suddenly invoke that all-too-familiar Filipino-style debate-ender when it came to explaining why it had reportedly “snubbed” popular performer Nora Aunor’s bid for the distinction of “National Artist”: Basta.

nora_aunorPhilippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III is final signatory to the roll of artists to be conferred this distinction every year. The list is compiled and deliberated jointly by the Board of Directors of two government agencies: the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). The exclusion of Aunor (regarded as the “Superstar” in her heyday in the 1970’s) has outraged many Filipinos. In the absence of any comment from Malacanang speculation over why President BS Aquino vetoed Aunor’s bid for National Artist has proliferated in recent days…

“They did not snub Ate Guy (Aunor’s nickname) … they ignored the cultural expression she represents, that of the downtrodden masses,” said filmmaker Joel Lamangan, who gave Aunor her best actress award in Cairo International Film Festival for “The Flor Contemplacion Story” in 1995.

Lamangan addressed the rumor that Aunor was denied the honor because of past controversies—from her tax woes in the 1980s to a drug case in the United States that was eventually stricken off the record in 2007.

Lamangan highlights an important point here…

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“Morality is not part of the criteria; it’s the body of work that matters,” Lamangan said. “Not whom an artist sleeps with. Not what he or she smokes or drinks. What should be considered is the uniqueness and excellence of an artist’s works.”

Netizens ‘debating’ the issue were quick to sieze on this piece of insight quipping how that latter fact bodes ill for presidential sister and top showbiz celebrity Kris Aquino as it will bar her from ever attaining the title of National Artist owing to a personal way of life many in the Philippines’ “civil society” and its attack-dog morality police in the powerful Roman Catholic clergy regard as appalling.

But Malacanang continues to stonewall the growing indignation amongst Aunor’s legions of fans. Pressed for answers all Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma had to say was, “The President has the prerogative to approve all or none, without needing to explain,” to which CCP Chairman of the Board Emily Abrera chimed in affirming that President BS Aquino “doesn’t have to explain anything.”

Thus endeth the “debate” over Nora Aunor’s tragic bid for national recognition thanks to the Filipino people’s equally popular Chief Executive.

Nora Aunor is no small deal. She started her career in the Philippine entertainment industry as a singer after she won an amateur singing contest. She made her film debut with All Over the World in 1967 and also guested in youth-oriented films produced by Vera-Perez Pictures and United Brothers Production. Aunor transformed herself into a serious actress and came to be regarded as an acting heavyweight, performing in films such as Tatlong taong walang Diyos (1976), Himala (1982), Bona (1980), The Flor Contemplacion Story (1995) and Thy Womb (2012) which gave her international and local awards and nominations.

Aunor received 17 FAMAS Award nominations and was elevated to the “Hall of Fame” after winning five Best Actress Awards. She is the most nominated actress of Gawad Urian Awards with 18 nominations, winning seven. She has more nominations as Best Actress than any other Filipino actor in both FAMAS and Gawad Urian award giving bodies. She has won eight trophies from PMPC Star Awards for her work in television and movies, eight Metro Manila Film Festival, four Luna Awards, five Young Critics Circle Awards, a Cairo Film Festival award, an Asia Pacific Screen Awards, an Asian Film Awards, a Berlin Film Festival Award nomination, and a Venice Film Festival Awards nomination, amongst others.

In 1983, Aunor was recognized as one of the The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) in the Field of the Arts. In 1999, Aunor received the Centennial Honor for the Arts awarded by the CCP. She was the only film actress included in the list of awardees. In 2010, she was hailed by the Green Planet Movie Awards as one of the “10 Asian Best Actresses of the Decade”. She received the Ani ng Dangal Award (Harvest of Honors). from the NCCA in 2013 and 2014. In 2013, she received the “Light of Culture Awards from Philippine Centre of the International Theatre Institute and the ITI-Earthsavers UNESCO Dream Center for pioneering in the integration of theater, television, and film.

Aunor is also one of the few Asian actresses to be nominated as best actress in three Asian film awards namely: 6th Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) in Australia (winner), 55th Asia Pacific Film Festival (APFF) in Macau. and in the 7th Asian Film Awards (AFA) in Hong Kong (winner) for the movie Thy Womb.

[NB: Parts of this article were lifted from the article “Nora Aunor” in a manner compliant to the terms stipulated in the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License that governs usage of content made available in this site.]

13 Replies to “Deeply mysterious: Philippine President BS Aquino’s veto of Nora Aunor’s National Artist bid”

  1. With respect to F. Sionil Jose, I am not convinced that Nora Aunor’s body of work stands out as an exemplary model of Philippine cinema. However, the idea that Malacañang is capable of evaluating the work of the individuals submitted for honour of being designated ‘National Artists’ is ludicrous. There really is no explanation for the palace to exclude Ms Aunor unless it stems from some obscure political reason.

    1. @ Johnny saint,oh really your not convinced? paano cya nanalo sa ibang bansa no. kung hindi nya na convince ang mga judges dun? hheheheh

  2. I see Kris Aquino and Vilma Santos hands in this issue. It’s about professional rivalry/jealousy in exchange for political clout.

  3. mamatay na sa inggit sina Vilma Santos at Kris Aquino at isama na dyan ang isa pang intrigera na naturingan pa namang pangulo ng Pilipinas na si Pinoy ( gayradar say he is a gay) pero hindi na nila mapipigil pa ang pagiging National Artist ni Nora Aunor. Kung di man ngayon dahil naharang nga ng ate Pinoy ko sigurado yan sa susunod na pagkakataon isa na si Nora sa magiging National Artist ng bansa. Shame on you Pnoy Aquino, may araw ka rin…


  5. If someone do a “V for Vendetta” remake in Filipino maybe she should play as V, and Pnoy as the evil Adam Sutler..

  6. AbNoy must hate Gloria so much that anyone with even a faint resemblance to her, like “ate Guy”, makes his blood boil, and re-awakens his old sense of cruel unfairness.

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