Artists’ group rejects Aquino’s justification for Nora Aunor snub

“Aquino’s flimsy logic and arrogant moralism are not enough bases to withhold the award that Aunor deserves as an artist.” – Concerned Artists of the Philippines


MANILA — President Benigno Aquino III finally broke his silence on his reason for delisting acclaimed actress, singer Nora Aunor from those declared as National Artists.

Aquino yesterday said that giving the award would send the “wrong message to the nation” as she was allegedly convicted for using illegal drugs. Aunor’s legal counsel, however, clarified that Nora was not convicted for drug use or abuse in California and that the drug charges against her were dismissed in 2007.

In a statement, the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) denounced today President Aquino’s witholding the National Artist Award to film actress and singer Nora Aunor and his supposed basis, Aunor’s alleged drug conviction.

A scene from Nora Aunor's widely acclaimed film "Himala" (Left is the original, right is digitally restored)
A scene from Nora Aunor’s widely acclaimed film “Himala” (Left is the original, right is digitally restored)

“Aquino’s flimsy logic and arrogant moralism are not enough bases to withhold the award that Aunor deserves as an artist. He owed Aunor and the Filipino people an explanation for his silence, and now his only stated reason is found wanting in substance,” CAP spokesperson and visual artist Renan Ortiz said.

Ortiz added that Aunor has endured and in fact prevailed over many trials she has encountered as an artist and as a citizen.

CAP told Aquino that if he really wanted to send the right message against illegal drugs, then his administration should show concrete results instead by catching and jailing the big fish who are coddling and conniving with the foreign drug syndicates. Ortiz pointed out that Aquino himself is hardly a paragon of morals, given that his administration “has been preoccupied with illegal and unconstitutional initiatives such as the Disbursement Acceleration Program while mouthing token statements against zero tolerance for corruption and patronage politics.”

Reform in choosing National Artist sought

With the latest controversy involving another “capricious display of politicking,” more reasons bolster calls to reform the National Artist Award selection process, particularly with regard to the question of presidential intervention. Ortiz proposed that legal loopholes, which hold the awards hostage to the whims of the Philippine president and of patronage politics, should be examined and done away with for good.

CAP also called on the lawmakers to act quickly on the matter, as Aquino’s actions, which, they said, were no different from that of his predecessors like Arroyo, are “eroding public faith in the process and devaluing the importance that the National Artist Award should have for the Filipino people.”

In withholding the National Artist Award for Aunor, President Aquino, said Ortiz, has demonstrated neither better morals nor incredibly high standards for what is art. According to Ortiz of CAP, “Aunor’s critically-acclaimed work as an actress has also yielded some of the most important moments in Philippine film history, which constitute our heritage. The masses admire Aunor because her performances are not only stellar; they also effectively portrayed social realities and experiences of the people long marginalised by an elite few, who are represented by the likes of Aquino the haciendero President and dynastic heir,” Ortiz said.

The CAP is an organization of writers, artists and cultural workers committed to the principles of freedom, justice and democracy. It was founded in 1983 to unite Filipino artists against the Marcos dictatorship and its repressive laws which curtailed freedom of expression. (

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  1. An artist friend from UP gave me an interesting explanation why Nora Aunor did not deserve the National Artist nomination. The main criteria that is the guiding parameter for the selection of the National Artist is the the nominee’s original ‘body of works’. If you will consider a movie actor as a nominee, he or she should not have only acted on a film created, written and directed by others but should have created original stories, written them for the screen and directed these for the movie making process. Merely acting in a movie does not constitute as part of the ‘original body of works’ criteria. To compare these with the creations of our true Natonal Artists such as Locsin, Abueva, etc. would only pale in comparison and subject these movie actors / individuals to ridicule in our schools when their works are studied and subjected to scrutiny. The main culprit in this national dilemma is the Board of Trustees of the National Commission for the Arts and Culture who I believe made an emotional nomination without truly analysing and applying the ‘original body of works’ criteria. The previous boards were very careful in applying this criteria so as not to subject nominees to controversy and ridicule. I guess Malacanang also provided a flimsy excuse for her exclusion as most great artists because of their artistic temperament are not models of normal behaviour but nobody can question their achievements in their ‘body of works’. It might be worthwhile to suggest to Ms. Nora Aunor to start her own creations in the film category as it is not too late to add to her list of accomplishments, then no one would be able question her qualifications for the National Artist award.

  2. At 1st i agreed w/P-noy, in excluding Nora because of her drug charges w/c in the end there was no conviction. tsismis lang pala ang sinabi ni P-noy based on the common perception. If we want morality to be an issue in choosing National Artist, why was Dolphy chosen, when he was living in sin for so many years w/ Zsa2 Padilla, & w/ other women successively. Bakit si FPJ gusto nyong gawin N.A., eh ang dami ring anak sa labas.
    LET’S BE CONSISTENT! Baka sa susunod si Kris Aquino na ang maging N.A.

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