national artist award: transparency vs. confidentiality

on facebook yesterday, dr. isagani cruz posted this status and link re nick tiongson‘s objection to dolphy’s portrayal of gay roles:

I was there, but could not reveal this due to confidentiality. Ex-CCP top official opposed Dolphy’s National Artist Award, says Guidote-Alvarez 

which generated this exchange between danny arao and joel david in the comment thread.

Danilo Arao Thanks for sharing, sir. I was surprised [by] this “disclosure.” It sets a bad precedent. Future deliberations could be compromised as supposedly confidential matters could be disclosed in the future.

Joel David Actually transparency should be part of the process. It’s a recognition with the designation “national.” All this secrecy can be regarded as a large part of the reason for the dagdag-bawas scandal that resulted in Carlo Caparas’s “selection.”

Danilo Arao Hi, Joel. Yes, transparency is absolutely necessary and I think even minutes of the meeting could be made public. But specific comments, especially those deemed inconsequential, should be made confidential or off-the-record. In our own college, we don’t publicly disclose those nominated for Gawad Plaridel. We only announce the winners so that we don’t unnecessarily embarrass those who did not get it (and I think they’re equally deserving if evaluated by a different set of judges)…

Joel David I really must differ. The Gawad Plaridel is an award given by an institution that doesn’t claim to be public, although it is. So its process should be open to members of the public if any member is interested. Both institutions (UP and NCCA) use public funds. GP doesn’t need to “publicize” its process because the public isn’t interested. But at this point, there is interest in the National Artist awards.

Danilo Arao Yes, I see where you’re coming from and that’s also a valid point. But I think our difference of opinion has to do with transparency. It may be absolutely necessary but it’s not necessarily absolute, if you get my drift. At any rate, this deserves further discussion and it may be imperative for NCCA to review its rules and selection processes.

Joel David Here’s my point. If I were in an NA decision-making process, I would also object to the idea of Dolphy being declared a winner. That’s my personal, subjective position. But I would not want to hide in any confidentiality arrangement. It’s not a national security issue. If I wouldn’t want to be embarrassed by taking that position, I’d just recuse myself from participating. Simple as pie.

Danilo Arao  Quick rejoinder: The issue here is not Dolphy but Guidote-Alvarez breaching the confidentiality agreement. Is it ethical and professional for her to do so? Did she break the trust given to her by her peers who participated in the selection process? (In the context of the controversy surrounding the selection of NAs in 2009, we should also consider the fact that her controversial selection as NA is pending in the Supreme Court, alongside that of Carlo J. Caparas.

Joel David  It’s disturbing to even think that just because Cecile may have been a dagdag-bawas beneficiary, her credibility has been compromised. That’s not how a democracy works. If one day GMA claims to have evidence of wrongdoing by Pnoy, it’s in everyone’s interest to check her claim before judging her motives. As to a prior agreement by the NA committee to observe confidentiality – that’s an arrangement that could have worked given a few assumptions: that collegiality existed among the members, and that they’d be careful enough with the process so that no controversy will arise. In short, it’s purely for their benefit, not the interested public’s. Once that implicit agreement is ruptured, then all bets are off.

i agree with joel david re transparency but not regarding his objection to dolphy being declared a national artist.  like direk peque gallaga, whose thoughts i’ll be sharing in my next post, i think dolphy deserves it, and deserved it 10 years ago. 

i get where danny arao is coming from.  until the rule on confidentiality is dropped, there can be no condoning guidote-alvarez’s disclosure.  however, her controversial selection as NA in 2009 does not render what she disclosed in-credible.  and now that it’s out in the open, there is no ignoring or pooh-poohing the information.  tiongson’s “comment” cannot be rated “inconsequential,” considering that it cost dolphy the national artist award.

if the selection process had been transparent, and the minutes of meetings made public, nothing off-the-record, would tiongson have dared, or gotten away with it?  would someone not have dared in turn, nay, been obliged, to take up the cudgels for dolphy?  tiongson’s position is defensible but only on the level of gay portrayals.  no matter how “violent” or impassioned tiongson’s disapproval, surely there were even more powerful arguments in favor of dolphy.  it’s not as if kabaklaan were all that dolphy’s body of work is about.

confidentiality is elitist, and it sucks.  public deliberations would be highly educational and raise discourse and consciousness on what it takes to be a national artist.

also, what does it take ba to be a panelist in such deliberations.  kailangan ba talaga ng sangkatutak na academic credentials?  baka dapat meron ding psychological screening to determine kung may hang-ups about this or that.  time for the ncca and ccp to level up.


  1. restyo

    re dolphy’s portrayal of kabaklaan, i saw those — facifica falayfay and ang tatay kong nanay. these two works are not representative and didn’t struck me as meant to corrupt people and inspiring the public en masse to turn gay or what, just an honest portrayal of the plight of cross-dressers and gender-bending roles, nothing more. ang mas inexpect kong ireraise na objection eh yung pagiging babaero ni pidol hehe

    • actually nagulat din ako na kabaklaan ang naging issue pala. but on second thought, back in those days of facifica falayfay, and long after, ang lakas pa rin ng homophobia. many young gays suffered in the hands of macho fathers and brothers, and i can imagine that all the fun and laughter generated by dolphy’s gay antics didn’t help any.

      akala ko rin that the objection was to his womanizing ways. but some national artists were gay, and some no doubt were babaeros too, but that wasn’t taken against them kasi body of work nga ang tinitingnan, and not kung good role models ba sila o hindi.

    • I think Cecile Guidote-Alvarez should have the “delicadesa” to inhibit herself from being nominated by the NCCA/CCP selection committee simply because she was an executive director during the search for National artist. Like her padrina, the fake president GMA, she stole the honor and prestige of being a national artist for self interest. i agree with Angie that Dolphy deserves an artist award not for his “kabaklaan” but for his distinct accomplishment thru cinematic films that depict or represent the cultural struggles of ordinary Filipino comedians who have “to act” convincingly using the “third sex gender” as a tool of his artistic prowess.