In defiance to the gloomy skies and faces of thousands of Filipinos who are still mourning, here I am in my corner of the office in an unreasonably gleeful state despite missing an important protest march, the threat of a cancelled movie date and the prospect of going home very late due to heavy traffic. This joyful exuberance has nothing to do with some future good luck such as hitting the lotto jackpot or of being inserted to the now much-derided National Artist Award. However, this has to do with the National Artist Award, yes, or how its honor was scandalized, disrespected, corrupted, and bastardized by ignorant, inutile, and reckless imbeciles whose passion and sole purpose of existence seemingly is to make our political and artistic life miserable.
We all know by now how those Fantastic Four--Alvarez, Caparas, Manosa, and Moreno--were inserted into the horror list courtesy of presidential prerogative, an exclusive power solely exorcised by the highest official of the land with the lowest moral wisdom and judgment, so far in history.
We all know by now also that two of the F4s, Alvarez and Caparas, have since broken their silence, them being the favorite ridicules apparently because they are the most deserving of the undeserving list.
Alvarez lawyered for herself, and rattled off her accomplishments in trying (in vain) to convince us she deserved the honor for being such a theater luminary.
Caparas, on the other hand, painfully lectured about the millions that flocked to watch his obra, the retake of the Maggie dela Riva rape saga, proudly his only one film with lesser relevance and contribution to the development of the local film industry because the rest of them have no relevance and contributes nothing at all. The four million he claimed to have watched his film watched not because it was a Carlo Caparas film; they watched because it was a Maggie dela Riva retelling, which was both fashionable as a story and as a genre during that period in the 90s when beautiful coeds in Metro Manila and in some parts of the country turned up in some canals badly beaten, raped, and shot to their death.
Arousing mere curiosity, as well as capitalizing on the penchant for flesh on the big screen especially among the male species, in all honesty does not and will never qualify for sensible, significant, much less critical contribution to the growth of the local film industry. Maybe Caparas is only referring to box office returns when he asserts his right to being chosen for the honor. While Viva could vouch his box office claim, it could not measure the real benchmark of a remarkable film simply because it had none, except perhaps for reminding that once upon a time, a beautiful actress was gang-raped by men who belonged to the elite members of the society. And then what? As we call it then, Caparas films belonged to a unique genre of 'pito-pito' films that had seen better days in the 90s. But it was gone too soon, much to the delight of the more discriminating taste of the moviegoing public that certainly deserved more than just the endless flesh-gun-and-knife formula of those 'pito pito' obras.
Alvarez may have some claim to fame, or honor for that matter. Maybe. Yet, credentials is not the be-all, end-all of the Order of National Artist. Credentials what? Will you please explain clearly, Ms. Vilma Labrador, if you can? Admittedly, I'm no fan of either Lumbera or Almario as artists, but I have no agenda in joining the furor except to question the logic, if any, in choosing these Singit National Artists, in the process abrogating the established tradition of collegiality in the selection process. Surely, nobody could explain the mess here, except for Labrador who, unlike her counterpart in the CCP, the eminent Emily Abrera, could never lose a sleep over her and her big, little boss' latest indiscretion. Her insistence smacks both poor and bad taste, not to mention it lacks an aura of delicadeza because there was none, there is none, and there never will be until she has summoned all the courage to decline the honor and save not only herself but the Order of National Artist itself as an institution. She had already declared it would be her joy to accept it and share it with her family. How could she, or you, or we, undo that? She can't, you can't, we can't.
NCCA commissioner Elmar Beltran Ingles seems to be the lone sensible voice today, more sensible than that Malacanang twitter who is not as lovely as her namesake pet looks, he who acknowledged the critical nature of selection as it involves people's money and trust more than anything else.
These are unbiblical times yet we must lose no hope for a change of heart, as hoping for a miracle seems to be an exclusive affair of the umblemished souls, of angels, that are not on our side these days. Change of heart we make this a mantra with the following supplication that the Fantastic Four, most especially the beloved two of them, decline the honor. When everything else fails, then the other three awardees should do it for them, i.e decline the honor. I believe with this final act, the Fantastic Four, especially the beloved two of them, will live forever haunted by the ghost of a scandalous, disrespectful, corrupt, and bastardized award offered by ignorant, inutile, and reckless imbeciles with whom they are so beholden.