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

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Understanding the National Artist "AWARD"

Past recipients of the presidential national artist award complain that having Carlo J. Caparas as a national artist unduly includes him within their roster, as if the national artist award created some "Order" or distinct club of truly exceptional and honored individuals. This is wrong.

As you read Executive Order No. 236, which is the basis of Caparas' declaration, you will find that the national artist award does NOT create an "Order" or exclusive association of honored and exceptional national artists. THANK GOD! Can you imagine calling Caparas, SIR Carlo or "Gat" Caparas? Heavens to mergatroid!

Executive Order No. 236 is entitled: "Establishing the Honors Code of the Philippines to create an Order of Precedence of Honors conferred and for other Purposes". The national artist award is indeed an honor BUT in the precedence, or "order", of presidential honors, it is probably a lower category meaning further, that individuals who are not totally exceptional can join this particular group. Hence, the nomination and conferment of a mere "award" to Caparas.

Ridiculous you say? That is the revision made in 2003 by President Arroyo when she issued Executive Order 236, Section 1 of which reads as follows:

"Section 1. The Honors Code. There is hereby established the "Honors Code of the Philippines" (hereinafter referred to as the 'Honors Code') as set out in this Executive Order.

The Honors Code emphasizes the exceptional prestige of the Honors conferred hereunder. Unless otherwise enumerated as Honors within the Order of Precedence established by this Executive Order, all other presidential awards, while tangible recognitions of merit and accomplishment, shall not be considered Honors for the purposes of this Honors Code." (Italics Ours)

In the enumeration of "Honors" in E.O. 236, the "national artist" award is NOT included. It is a mere presidential award and certainly, not the highest. E.O. 236 emphasizes this in its definition of terms, as follows:

"Section 2. DEFINITION OF TERMS. The following terms, as used in this Executive Order, shall be defined as follows:

2.a) An Order is an award that grants membership in an exclusive association of honored individuals, and which by tradition carries with it distinctive insignia to be worn by recipients.

b) Decoration. A decoration is a wearable award usually conferred for a specific act of meritorious service.

c) Medal. A Medal is a wearable award usually conferred to recognize service and/or achievement or to commemorate a significant event.

For purposes of this Executive Order, Orders, Decorations and Medals, which are awards of the highest prestige, are collectively referred to as Honors.

d) Award. An Award is a tangible means of recognizing accomplishment and/or merit, usually in the form of a citation, plaque, trophy or medallion." (Emphasis Ours)

So you see? The national artist "award" is not of the highest prestige or an "Honor" to begin with. It is not part of an "Order". It is a mere recognition of accomplishment. Past and present "national artists" do not belong to an exclusive club of exceptional individuals. There is no Order of national artists. Having won the national artist award for visual art and film does not confer an 'Honor" or real prestige to the massacre king. Doesn't that bring a tear in your eye and a sigh of relief? Isn't that Gloria one sly cookie?

Section 7 of the same E.O. 236, emphasizes the point even further:

"Section 7. Other Presidential Awards. The President may confer Presidential Awards not otherwise included in the Order of Precedence of the Honors Code, as set out in Section 3 of this Executive Order. For the avoidance of doubt, Presidential Awards not otherwise enumerated in Section 3 of this Executive Order are not considered Honors as defined herein." (Emphasis Ours)

Guess what? The national artist award is not part of the enumeration of Honors in Section 3 of E.O. 236. So, the national artist award is not really an "Honor". This is stressed under Section 11 (c) of this same Executive Order:

"Section 11. Discontinuance of Previous Awards.

a. Upon the effectivity of this Executive Order, only Honors enumerated under Section 3 hereof shall be awarded. Accordingly, the following civilian Awards shall no longer be conferred:
(i) Medal of Honor
(ii) Rizal Collegiate Palms
(iii) Mabini Teachers Medal
(iv) Rizal Pro Patria Award
(v) Presidential Citation for Honesty and Integrity
(vi) Order of the Grieving Heart
(vii) Presidential Award in Education
(viii) Order of Kalantiao
(ix) Republic Cultural Heritage Award
(x) Presidential Citation for Outstanding Humanitarian Services
(xi) International Artist
(xii) Bayani ng Bagong Republika
(xiii) Presidential Citation for Outstanding Service to Philippine
(xiv) Presidential Award for Heroism in Times of Disaster
(xv) Sajid Bulig Presidential Award for Heroism
(xvi) Presidential Mineral Industry Environment Award

b. The above-mentioned civilian Awards shall remain extant during the lifetime of the last holder of the respective Awards, and the holders of said Awards shall continue to enjoy the rights and privileges thereof. Thereafter, the respective affected Awards shall cease to exist and be discontinued.

c. All other Awards which have not heretofore been mentioned may continue to be awarded as Presidential Awards, but such awards shall not be considered Honors for purposes of this Honors Code." (Emphasis Ours)

So there you have it. The "concerned" national artists can stop daydreaming that they are part of some exclusive and fraternal club of distinguished artists. Its not. This means that massacre kings like Caparas can join. April "Boy" Regino can join. Any "artist" who is really not that uber-distinguished can join.

That's the national artist "award" for you.


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