Scapegoat for suspended National Artist process? | Inquirer Opinion

Scapegoat for suspended National Artist process?

/ 11:26 PM July 08, 2012

I am disturbed by the article of Totel de Jesus published in INQUIRER.net (7/5/12), which highlighted accusations reportedly leveled at me by Cecile Guidote-Alvarez in Anthony Taberna’s radio program “Dos por Dos.” There was no attempt whatsoever to get my side on these allegations, hence this letter.

The accusations made against me by Ms. Alvarez as reported are selective and misleading. She makes it appear that one person (in this case, myself) can actually engineer the outcome of the second stage of the National Artist selection process, when in reality it is a council of about 20 experts representing various disciplines that chooses, through majority and secret vote, the candidates to be short-listed for the final deliberations.

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The selection of a National Artist is done in three stages by three bodies and it is simply impossible for any one person to influence all of them into making the same decision.

As to the negative statements Ms. Alvarez attributed to me, I believe that her revelation of these constitutes a grave breach of the confidentiality that she, as cochair of the 2009 National Artist Awards Selection Committee, should have been the first to uphold and protect. Her disclosure of the comments I made in strictest confidence strikes at the very heart of the selection process, even as it speaks volumes about her character. A matter for serious concern today is whether the National Artist Award will maintain its integrity after all the blows it has suffered since 2009.

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Since she has decided to “expose” my statements, and lest I be accused of skirting the issue, I want to clarify those statements without breaching the confidentiality of the rest of the deliberations.

At the second meeting of the experts, I did express reservations about Dolphy as National Artist because I believed that the two icons he created for film and TV—the screaming gay and the happy-go-lucky poor man—have, in the majority of his movies, equated gayness with abnormality and mindless frivolity on the one hand, and romanticized or deodorized poverty on the other. As a participant in the selection process, I thought it was my right and duty to express this opinion, just as others in the group had every right to express theirs, all toward helping the peers make an enlightened evaluation of the candidate. (The opinion I expressed in no way diminishes my continuing admiration and respect for Dolphy as a most talented comedian and a very kind human being.)

My comments on Dolphy were made in 2009. Why are they being exhumed now? Why is my name being dragged into the controversy? Am I being turned into a scapegoat to cover up for the scandalous dagdag-bawas that led to the suspension of the awards in 2009? Is this a ploy by some people to regain face and credibility, by riding on the emotionally charged and media-magnet issue of a National Artist Award for the ailing and hugely popular comedian?

Dolphy’s kin have made it clear that to them the award is no longer an issue. Why can’t we all show a little respect by leaving them in peace as they go through this very difficult time in their lives?

—NICANOR G. TIONGSON,

professor emeritus,

UP Film Institute,

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College of Mass Communication,

University of the Philippines-Diliman,

[email protected]

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TAGS: Cecile Guidote-Alvarez, culture, dolphy, entertainment, National Artist, Totel de Jesus
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