By Evelyn Macairan
The Philippine Star
June 22, 2014
MANILA, Philippines - The decision of Malacanang not to proclaim multi-awarded actress Nora Aunor as a National Artist for film is a big loss to the movie industry, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) said yesterday.
NCCA chairman Felipe de Leon Jr. told The STAR he was puzzled why Malacañang rejected their recommendation to include the 61-year-old Aunor (Nora Villamayor in real life) in the country’s newest batch of National Artists.
“I cannot understand, Malacañang has not yet given an explanation. This is a big loss to the film industry because it lost an opportunity to have another artistic role model,” said De Leon.
He said they would ask Malacañang to reveal the reason behind Aunor’s exclusion.
“We would ask if there was a big reason for it to decline her nomination. If there is no big reason, then may be we would try to ask Malacañang to reconsider,” he added.
Malacañang declared on Friday six outstanding Filipinos as National Artists. They are Alice Reyes for dance, Francisco Coching (posthumous) for visual arts, Cirilo Bautista for literature, Francisco Feliciano and Ramon Santos for music and Jose Maria Zaragoza for architecture, design and allied arts.
De Leon recalled that during the deliberation of the NCCA board of commissioners and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) board of trustees on the nominees for the new set of National Artists, Aunor had one of the highest ratings.
He praised Aunor for her outstanding artistic achievements. “She is a good actress. She is able to give meaning to being an artist. Her style is to be so absorbed in her work, and she shows off the real Filipino in the roles that she portrays,” he said.
There were speculations that Malacañang might have turned down Aunor’s nomination because of her drug conviction in the United States. But the NCCA head said Aunor has served the penalty for her crime.
“This issue is no longer important for us,” he said.
Another rumor was that Aunor had a tax evasion case, but De Leon said this was never substantiated.
Aunor, who has been called Philippine cinema’s “superstar,” began her career as a singer and later became recognized for being an exemplary actress.