Selection of National Artist Awards in the Philippines yet another scandal
This year´s selection of the National Artists of the Philippines has resulted in a – quite predictable – controversy. As scooped earlier, movie director Manuel Conde is among those who have been named National Artist. However, the last-minute inclusion of Carlos J. Caparas, cartoon artist and director of often violent, low-budget movies, has sparked a heated controversy.
Caparas was not include in the original list of nominees for the prestigious title, that comes with a pension and the right to an official funeral, that a board from the National Commussion of Culture and the Arts passed on to the office of president Gloria Arroyo.
When Arroyo announced the list of this year´s national artist, two of the nominees had mysterious disappeared, while shlockmeister Caparas and Jose Pitoy Moreno, the dress maker of Imelda Marcos, recieved the title of national artist. It is not the first time that the president uses her “presidential prerogative” to ignore the selection of the experts´comittee.
While Caparas´ brand of komiks, the Tagalog term for graphic novels, is in fact a quite significant feature of Philippine pop culture, is is questionable if his particular brutal and assembly-line produced works are really what should be honored by the government as exemplary Philippine culture. It is like giving this kind of award to action stars like Chuck Norris, just because his films used to be popular.