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At Large

Keeping it in perspective

I have been—and still am—supportive of the bid to have Nora Aunor declared a National Artist. As I had previously said, her body of work is a showcase not just of acting talent and depth of artistry but also of the myriad identities of the Filipino woman—betrayed wife, spiritual seeker, activist, stoic martyr, everywoman.

So when Malacañang announced the latest crop of National Artists that pointedly excluded “Ate Guy,” I admit I felt a twinge of dismay. And this “twinge” only grew in intensity as the lame-brained explanations and justifications multiplied. Even the Palace has admitted that the award is for artistic accomplishment and genius and not for sainthood, so leading a blameless life is hardly a requirement. So she had a suspended drug conviction in the United States? So her personal relationships have been beyond the pale? But what of it? What has that got to do with the price of bawang in Nepa-Q Mart?

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Still, it’s not a tragedy on the same scale as Typhoon “Yolanda,” or a scandal that measures up to the stink of the pork barrel scam. Let’s keep a sense of perspective here, people!

Much has been made of P-Noy’s exercise of personal prerogative, overriding the recommendations of both the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Still, the law creating the National Artist award does vest ultimate decision-making power on the President, and so he had all the right to leave out any nominee that he felt disinclined to honor. Then again, it’s not too late for him to change his mind—and I’m sure pleasing the millions of Ate Guy fans out there is worth the potential embarrassment. Or as someone said: With all the problems crowding his plate, P-Noy didn’t need another problem on the scale of the controversy and ill feelings generated by his snub of Ate Guy.

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But getting P-Noy to undergo a change of heart over this issue cannot be done with vitriol, insults, and threats of a mass uprising by Noranians.

If I read him right, all the protests and name-calling will only further harden his position. He is, as he himself admits, rather stubborn. And as his biography has shown, the more adversity he faces, the stronger his resolve. We need only look at the stream of people visiting Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla—who have strong show biz connections, by the way—to remember how steadfastly he sticks to his guns no matter the pressure or public displeasure.

What will make P-Noy change his mind about a National Artist award for Ate Guy? One idea, and it is admittedly quixotic, is for Nora herself to issue a public statement thanking her supporters for their spirited championing of her cause but admonishing them against fueling their anger and resentment. She can even invoke the cherished cliché of losing award nominees: It is an honor just to be nominated. And indeed it is.

Maybe then, with public choler somewhat tamed, the heated atmosphere may cool a bit and allow Malacañang a face-saving gesture: After giving due consideration to the matter, the President has decided that Nora Aunor indeed deserves the honor. Or, as Kris Aquino herself said, half-seriously, on her Sunday TV show: Ate Guy could wait until the next round of awards, but this time her archrival, Ate Vi (Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos to us non-show biz folk) should likewise be named. Now that would be a momentous contest!

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Maybe it’s in retaliation for his snub of Ate Guy, but leftist groups are denouncing what they labeled as attempts by P-Noy supporters in the government to “lobby” for the grant of the Nobel Peace Prize to the President.

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The nomination—though we aren’t even sure if P-Noy has indeed been nominated for the award—is supposed to be rooted in the successful negotiations for the establishment of a Bangsamoro entity in Mindanao, calling for the cessation of a decades-long armed struggle by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and the passage of the law creating the Bangsamoro.

Denying that it was leading any such effort, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said it was preoccupied these days with getting the law passed and shepherding it through a plebiscite.

But even if the Opapp is indeed pulling strings to win the award for P-Noy, what of it? Isn’t the historic accord indeed worthy of a Nobel Prize? Or is saving the lives of thousands, which can be lost if the fighting were to continue unabated, unworthy of recognition and support?

The emergence of the Bangsamoro after decades—no, centuries—of oppression, discrimination, violence and bloodshed is indeed a proud moment for Filipinos regardless of faith. It’s also a hopeful sign for all those working to resolve seemingly intractable conflicts elsewhere. It is certainly welcome, a proud moment for all of us Pinoys.

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A few clarifications from Nandy Pacheco regarding a recent column on the “Movers of Christ’s Peace.” The movement, a leaderless, self-directed campaign by individuals for peace and nonviolence, is being launched in a soft, low-key manner in time for the “Year of the Laity.”

The Year of the Laity, clarifies Pacheco, was declared this year by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines and not by the Vatican, as I had erroneously stated.

The Movers of Christ’s Peace expect to culminate the campaign by 2021, by which time, they hope, the Filipino nation will “accept Christ’s Peace” and live it through “love, truth, justice, forgiveness, reconciliation and nonviolence.” In my previous column, I forgot to mention the word “love,” and now I wonder why it escaped my attention. Does age have something to do with it?

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