Duterte fetes Nora Aunor, 7 other new national artists

PRESIDENT DUTERTE poses with new National Artists, some with representatives

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte last week conferred the Order of National Artists on eight personalities led by actress Nora Aunor and scriptwriter Ricardo Lee in Philippine culture and arts.

The conferment rites were held at the Malacañan Palace’s Rizal Hall.

The award was given to Nora “Nora Aunor” Villamayor, Marilou Diaz-Abaya, and Ricardo Lee (National Artists for Film and Broadcast Arts); Antonio “Tony” Mabesa (National Artist for Theater); Agnes Locsin (National Artist for Dance); Fides Cuyugan-Asensio (National Artist for Music); Salvacion Lim-Higgins (National Artist for Design); and Gemino Abad (National Artist for Literature).

Lim-Higgins, Diaz-Abaya, and Mabesa were posthumously bestowed as national artists.

Aunor, who skipped the awarding ceremony, was represented by children Ian and Matet de Leon, who both followed her footsteps by joining the Philippine show business industry.

Duterte personally awarded the Order of National Artists to Lee, Locsin, Cuyugan-Asensio, and Abad.

The Order of National Artists is “a rank, a title, and a wearable award that represents the highest national recognition given to Filipinos who have made distinct contributions in the field of arts and letters,” according to the briefer posted on the Official Gazette.

Each national artist will receive a gold-plated medallion minted by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and a citation, based on the guidelines issued by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

The National Artists will also get a life emolument and material and physical benefits comparable in value to those received by the country’s highest officers.

Living awardees will be given a minimum cash award of P200,000, net of taxes; a monthly life pension worth P50,000; medical and hospitalization benefits not exceeding P750,000 every year; life insurance coverage; a state funeral; and a place of honor in state functions, national commemoration rites, and other cultural presentations.

A one-time minimum cash award of P150,000, net of taxes, will be granted to the legal heir of the deceased awardees.

To date, the country has a total of 86 national artists.

Meanwhile, Duterte also conferred the Presidential Award on several Cabinet secretaries, members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), and medical experts.

The RTVM uploaded a taped video of the awarding ceremony also on Thursday at Rizal Hall.

National Task Force Against Covid-2019 (NTF) chief implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. and NTF Against Covid-19 deputy chief implementer and testing czar Vivencio Dizon were among the recipients of the awards.

Joining Galvez and Dizon were Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and Senator Christopher Lawrence Go. (Jeanne Michael Penaranda)