Posted by: Elmer Brabante | August 20, 2009

A Review on the National Artists Awards

Let’s set the records straight.  IS CARLO J. CAPARAS DESERVING OF THE TITLE ‘NATIONAL ARTIST FOR CINEMA AND VISUAL ARTS”?  A cursory look at the Guidlines along with a review of Caparas’ works in comparison to those of the National Artists in the same categories will definitely aid us to decide whether he deserves it or not.

The National Artists of the Philippines

The Order of National Artists (Orden ng Gawad Pambansang Alagad ng Sining) is the highest national recognition given to Filipino individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts; namely, Music, Dance, Theater, Visual Arts, Literature, Film and Broadcast Arts, and Architecture and Allied Arts. The order is jointly administered by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and conferred by the President of the Philippines upon recommendation by both institutions.

The Order of National Artists is one of the Honors of the Philippines that embodies the nation’s highest ideals in humanism and aesthetic expression through the distinct achievements of individual citizens. While the Republic bestows due recognition to these singular achievements, it in turn honors its own cultural heritage, whose enrichment these achievements have significantly effected, enhanced, and given direction.

These achievements are measured in terms of their vision, unusual insight, creativity and imagination, technical proficiency of the highest order in expressing Filipino culture and traditions, history, way of life, and aspirations.


  1. The National Artist Award (Gawad Pambansang Alagad ng Sining) was established under Proclamation No. 1001 dated April 27, 1972 to give appropriate recognition and prestige to Filipinos who have distinguished themselves and made outstanding contributions to Philippine arts and letters. The first award was conferred posthumously later that year on Fernando Amorsolo.
  2. Proclamation No. 1144 dated May 15, 1973 named the CCP Board of Trustees as the National Artist Awards Committee and Presidential Decree No. 208 issued on June 7, 1973 reiterated the mandate of CCP to administer the National Artist Awards as well as the privileges and honors to National Artists.
  3. The NCCA was organized under Republic Act No. 7356 dated April 2, 1992 and given broad responsibilities over the development and promotion of the Filipino national culture and the arts, including awards to persons who have significantly contributed to the development and promotion of Philippine culture and the arts.
  4. Executive Order No. 236 dated September 19, 2003, otherwise known as the Honors Code of the Philippines, conferred additional prestige on the National Artist Award by raising it to the level of a Cultural Order, fourth in precedence among the orders and decorations that comprise the Honors of the Philippines, and equal in rank to the Order of National Scientists and the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan. The National Artist Award was thereby renamed the Order of National Artists (Orden ng mga Pambansang Alagad ng Sining).

    Executive Order No. 236
    Section 9 . Committee on Honors. There is hereby created a Committee on Honors (hereinafter referred to as the “Committee”) composed of the following:

    Chairman: Executive Secretary
    Vice Chairman: Secretary of Foreign Affairs
    Members: Head, Presidential Management Staff; Presidential Assistant for Historical Affairs; Chief of Presidential Protocol; Chief of Protocol and State Visits, DFA

    The Committee shall assist the President in evaluating nominations for recipients of Honors hereunder, as well as of Presidential Awards. For this purpose, the Committee may authorize relevant departments or government agencies to maintain Honors and/or Awards Committee to process nominations for Honors and/or Presidential Awards.


The Order of National Artists aims to recognize:

  1. Filipino artists who have made significant contributions to the cultural heritage of the country.
  2. Filipino artistic accomplishment at its highest level and to promote creative expression as significant to the development of a national cultural identity.
  3. Filipino artists who have dedicated their lives to their works to forge new paths and directions for future generations of Filipino artists.


The following privileges are provided to those conferred with the Order of National Artists:

  1. The rank and title of National Artist, as proclaimed by the President of the Philippines;
  2. The National Artist medallion and citation;
  3. Lifetime emolument and material and physical benefits comparable in value to those received by the highest officers of the land such as:

3.1. a cash award of One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00), net of taxes for living awardees;

3.2. a cash award of Seventy Five Thousand Pesos (P75,000.00), net of taxes for posthumous awardees, payable to legal heir/s;

3.3 a monthly life pension, medical and hospitalization benefits;

3.4. life insurance coverage for Awardees who are still insurable;

3.5. arrangements and expenses for a state funeral;

3.6. a place of honor, in line with protocular precedence, at national state functions, and recognition at cultural events.


The Order of National Artists shall be given to:

  1. Living artists who are Filipino citizens at the time of nomination, as well as those who died after the establishment of the award in 1972 but were Filipino citizens at the time of their death;
  2. Artists who through the content and form of their works have contributed in building a Filipino sense of nationhood;
  3. Artists who have pioneered in a mode of creative expression or style, thus, earning distinction and making an impact on succeeding generations of artists;
  4. Artists who have created a substantial and significant body of works and/or consistently displayed excellence in the practice of their art form thus enriching artistic expression or style; and
  5. Artists who enjoy broad acceptance through:

– prestigious national and/or international recognition, such as the Gawad CCP Para sa Sining, CCP Thirteen Artists Award and NCCA Alab ng Haraya;
– critical acclaim and/or reviews of their works;
– respect and esteem from peers.
[Emphasis mine.]


  1. The National Artist Award Secretariat shall announce the opening of nominations through media releases and letters to qualified organizations.
  2. Candidates may be nominated under one or more of the following categories:

a. Dance – choreography, direction and/or performance;

b. Music – composition, direction, and/or performance;

c. Theater – direction, performance and/or production design;

d. Visual Arts – painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, installation art, mixed media works, illustration, graphic arts, performance art and/or imaging;

e. Literature – poetry, fiction, essay, playwriting, journalism and/or literary criticism;

f. Film and Broadcast Arts – direction, writing, production design, cinematography, editing, camera work, and/or performance; and

g. Architecture, Design and Allied Arts – architecture design, interior design, industrial arts design, landscape architecture and fashion design.

  1. Nominations for the Order of National Artists may be submitted by government and non-government cultural organizations and educational institutions, as well as private foundations and councils.
  2. Members of the Special Research Group, as well as agencies attached to the NCCA and CCP shall not submit nominations.
  3. NCCA and CCP Board members and consultants and NCCA and CCP officers and staff are automatically disqualified from being nominated.
  4. Nominations shall be accepted only when these are submitted in writing and with proper supporting documentation, as follows:

a. A cover letter signed by the head or designated representative of the nominating organization. The cover letter shall be accompanied by a Board Resolution approving the nominee concerned with the said resolution signed by the organization President and duly certified by the Board Secretary.

b. A duly accomplished nomination form;

c. A detailed curriculum vitae of the nominee;

d. A list of the nominee’s significant works categorized according to the criteria;

e. The latest photograph (color or black and white) of the nominee, either 5” x 7” or 8” x 11”;

f. Pertinent information materials on the nominee’s significant works (on CDs, VCDs and DVDs);

g. Copies of published reviews; and

h. Any other document that may be required.


  1. The Order of National Artists shall not be conferred more frequently than every three (3) years.
  2. The Order of National Artists shall be conferred by the President of the Philippines on June 11 or any appropriate date in fitting ceremonies to be organized by the National Artist Award Secretariat.
  3. The medallion of the Order of National Artists and citation shall be given to the honoree during the conferment ceremony. The cash award of P100,000.00 in cheque shall be given immediately after the ceremony or at another time and place as requested by the honoree.
  4. A posthumous conferral consisting of the medallion and citation shall be given to the family or legal heir/s of the honoree. The cash award of P75,000.00 in cheque shall be given to the honoree’s legal heir/s or a representative designated by the family immediately after the ceremony or at another time and place as requested by the family.

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