A candid and personal examination of the Philippine comics scene from a social, cultural, economic and business point of view.

Saturday, September 05, 2009


Jesus save us!

We’ve seen a lot of anger and resentment these past few days on Caparas’ bagging the 2009 National Artist award for visual art and film. Most of it coming from the so-called “artist community” of arthouse actors, directors, musicians, writers, and yes, “refined” komiks artists and writers (whatever that means); the so-called educated or “cultural” elite of the country.

You’re all too familiar with the weak pros and strong cons against Caparas’ non-worthiness for the “visual arts” category. We’ll not get into that. Its been looped to death all over the internet by now that you’re probably on the verge of vomit.

No, we’re here to look at this emotionally charged tragi-comedy from another angle. And that is, IF Caparas’ films and komiks writing had no real artistic merit, IF it was never celebratory or influential in the first place, then WHERE were these “concerned artists” when Caparas’ nomination for National Artist was announced way back in 2006? Why only now in 2009, a good four years after, when the damage has already been done? WHERE were these “concerned artists” during the intervening years from 2006 to 2009? Were they just smirking on the sidelines, making snide remarks to themselves saying it will never happen? Are these “concerned artists” to blame for something in all this? Has their inaction and apathy in the past led them to cry over spilt milk in the present? Is this instant karma?

Former President Fidel Valdez Ramos joins mega director Carlo J. Caparas and former Prime Minister Mahathir Mahamad of Malaysia in the elite list of Gusi Peace Prize Awardees slated on November 22.

This developed amid the resounding clamor for Caparas to be conferred the National Artist Award next year for his cinematic excellence, as well as for his komiks novellas numbering over 800, 200 of which were made into box-office hit flicks.

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The Gusi Peace award is at par with Sweden’s prestigious Nobel Peace Prize Award given to individuals or institutions adjudged as having given the “greatest benefit to mankind”.

Caparas will be conferred the Gusi award for his vital contribution in advocating peace and justice with his cinematic excellence as a scriptwriter and novelist.

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The Gusi Peace foundation is a non profit charitable foundation envisioned by its founder, the late Capt. Germeniano Javier Gusi, in 1910 to give proper recognition by conferring awards of excellence and distinction to eminent individuals or groups who have distinguished themselves as exemplars of society in scientific discoveries, medicine or physiology, physics, chemistry, performing arts, business and philanthropy, economics, humanitarianism, politics, academe, literature, religion, visual arts, internationalism, and other fields of endeavors with respect to human life and contribution to peace worldwide. Xxx “ (“Carlo J. Caparas for National Artist” by Efren Montano, appearing in the October 17, 2006 issue of “People’s Tonight” tabloid newspaper)

Former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Chairman, MANUEL MORATO, is the President of the GUSI Peace Prize Foundation. Morato, as is well known, is supportive of Caparas who makes regular guest appearances in his television show.

So where were these “concerned artists” then?

After 2006, what followed was the 2007 Caparas “komiks caravan” and his much ballyhooed attempt to revive the local komiks industry. No howls of collective protest were made then of his dubious “cinematic excellence and distinction in the “visual arts”, especially from the “traditional” komiks people who were gainfully employed (or exploited depending on whose side of the fence you’re on) under Caparas and Sterling Paper Products. In fact, even after Caparas’ komiks line were cancelled, NONE of these traditional “komiks” people were protesting in large numbers over the internet or in other media questioning the "artistic merits" of his movies and komiks works.

It is only now, when the cultural elite's whole artistic world has finally crumbled, that we see this symbolic overflowing of "tough love” on Caparas by no less than the “refined”, “traditional” and “concerned” komiks writers and artists. With clenched fist and all the melodrama they can muster you can hear them scream their hearts out: He’s no visual artist! His works have no artistic merit! He’s a massacre film makre!” Sta. Banana, what a revolting development. Jesus save us! indeed. If the Caparas komiks line were still ongoing, ten to one, you can bet the komiks farm that these "cultured" komikeros would be keeping their mouths shut and holding some poorly organized fun run in Intramuros for Caparas.

Its politics and hypocrisy at its bedside best, folks. You can be sure that after all this is over, you can see these “artists” pat themselves on the back for a job well done; screaming to high heavens that they are the “light” to all this “darkness”. Good Grief. And then they go back to their enclosed artistic self-indulgent shell of a world in Mt. Olympus. Hwow. Such poetry. Such synchronized inanity. No wonder the general public is apathetic to all this “national artist” b.s. Know why?

Because the works of these “concerned artists” have never been accessible to the low income general public in the first place as Caparas’ works have been. There’s no connection, widespread familiarity and nostalgia to begin with.

The general public who are—ahem—“poor”, have no knowledge of “expensive” and “exclusive” art and refinement especially those produced by the “cultured” elite of komikeros and indies.

Yet, these komikeros and other culturally-minded “concerned” artists like them cry and bewail that our third world economy is against them. They’re not businessmen. Its corrupting. They don’t want to be, so everything has to be expensive. The audience has to keep up with them. Art must be expensive, “high”, “abstract”, “progressive” bla bla bla. And what happens? They’ve left the field open to massacre kings like Caparas to dominate and when the latter gets to win a National Artist award they cry FOUL.

And they call themselves the “light” to all this political “darkness”. Screw moi. No thank you. We can think for ourselves, thank you very much.

In the ongoing Caparas melee which is really a battle of vain and empty artistic pride, no one can really take sides except maybe standby and watch the cockfight go its final predictable course. It has nothing life-changing to offer. And we are the poorer for it.

Jesus save us.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Aw, let them give him a GUSI, it's a micky mouse award anyway. I couldn't care less.

But not as my National Artist.

Yaweh! Deliver us from inanities.

8:19 AM

Blogger aklas isip said...

Let's get this straight. You're willing to let Caparas get these "mickey mouse" awards recognizing his so-called excellence in filmmaking and comics writing, which all lead up to a National Artist award, but once he gets the award, that's the only time you're going to object?

Don't you think that by NOT objecting earlier, you've practically acknowledged and allowed Caparas to run for the National Artist award--and after winning, turn it into ANOTHER mickey mouse award?

C'mon. That's just plain apathy.

2:32 PM


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