July 27, 2016

Who’s Who: National Artists of the Philippines

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  • If you’re given the title of National Artist, you can consider yourself one of the best. By being given the title, it means you have given significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts and letters. The recognition is given to those who excel in the fields of Music, Dance, Theatre, Visual Arts, Literature, Film and Broadcast, and Architecture or Allied Arts.

    A person who receives this title gets the following honors and privileges:

    1. Rank and title of National Artist, as proclaimed by the President of the Philippines;

    2. Insignia of a National Artist and a citation;

    3. Cash awards, monthly life pension, medical, and hospitalization benefits, life insurance coverage, state funeral and burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery), and a place of honor at national state functions along with recognition at cultural events

    There are 66 recognized National Artists to date, with the fields of Visual Arts, Literature, and Music having the most number of recognized National Artists.

    Here are some of the more well-known National Artists of the Philippines:

    Leandro V. Locsin (Architecture, 1990)


    (Photo grabbed from arkitektura.ph)


    A man who believes that true Philippine Architecture “is the product of two great streams of culture, the oriental and the occidental… to produce a new object of profound harmony,” Leandro V. Locsin is the man responsible for designing everything you see at CCP Complex – the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Folk Arts Theatre, Philippine International Convention Center, Philcite, and The Westin Hotel (now Sofitel Philippine Plaza).


    Lino Brocka (Cinema, 1997)


    (Photo grabbed from NCCA)


    Catalino “Lino” Ortiz Brocka is known to many as one of, if not the greatest Filipino director of all time. He espoused “freedom of expression” throughout all his films, injecting each and every one with a social activist spirit. Some of his well-known works include Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang (1974), Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag (1975), and Insiang (1976), the latter being the first Filipino film to be shown at Cannes.


    Carlos “Botong” Francisco (Visual Arts, 1973)


    (Photo from alchetron.com)


    Hailing from the Art Capital of the Philippines, Angono native Carlos “Botong” Francisco is known for single-handedly reviving the modern art of murals through works that showed slices of the past. He was such a prolific muralist that he became its most well-known practitioner for almost 30 years. Want a glimpse of his works? Your best bet is to visit Manila City Hall.


    Levi Celerio (Literature and Music, 1997)


    (Photo grabbed from Rappler)


    Levi Celerio, a prolific lyricist and composer, is known for having effortlessly translating or rewriting lyrics of traditional Filipino melodies like “O Maliwanag Na Buwan” (Iloko), “Ako ay May Singsing” (Pampango), and “Alibangbang” (Visaya). He’s also been immortalized in the Guinness Book of World Records as the only person to make music using just a leaf.


    Leonor Orosa Goquingco (Dance, 1976)


    (Photo courtesy of NCCA via flickr)


    Leonor Orosa Goquingco is a pioneer Filipino choreographer known to many as “The Trailblazer,” “The Mother of Philippine Theater Dance,” and “Dean of Filipino Performing Arts Critics.” She has produced stunning choreographies during her 50-year career, highlighted by “Filipinescas: Philippine Life, Legend, and Love,” which elevated native folk dance to its highest stage of development.


    Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero (Theater, 1997)

    wilfrido ma guerrero

    (Photo grabbed from NCCA via flickr)


    Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero is a teacher and theater artist who, in his 35 years of teaching, has mentored some of the country’s best Filipino performing artists, including Joy Virata and Joonee Gamboa. He is also the founder and artistic director of the UP Mobile Theater, leading the way for the concept of a theater campus by bringing theater closer to students and audiences in the countryside.


    Sionil Jose (Literature, 2001)

    f sionil jose

    (Photo grabbed from fsioniljose.com)


    One of the few living national artists, F. Sionil Jose is best known for creating the five-novel masterpiece known as the Rosales saga: Poon; Tree; My Brother, My Executioner; The Pretenders; and Mass. Set in the town of Rosales, Pangasinan, it talks about the five generations of two families, the Samsons and the Asperri, during the Spanish and American occupation.


    Lucrecia R. Kasilag (Music, 1989)


    (Photo grabbed from NCCA)


    If you’re a fan of Filipino artists that blend Filipino ethnic and Western music, then you should probably get to know Lucrecia R. Kasilag. An educator, composer, performing artist, administrator, and cultural entrepreneur, she is seen as the pioneering figure for fusing Filipino ethnic and Western music, helping elevate Filipino’s appreciation for music. Her best work is the prize-winning Toccata for Percussions and Winds, Divertissement and Concertante, which incorporates indigenous Filipino instruments.

    Got other Filipino National Artists you want to share or know about? Leave their name in the comments below.


    Source: National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Official Gazette

    Recent Comments

    Thank you so much im Karl

    10 months ago

    thank you! it help me sso much

    10 months ago

    Hi, is mr F. Sabater Philippine artist rated? I have a 1962 painting in oil on canvas but know little about him or his work though I have to say the work I have is incredible piece of village life at dusk, the shadows and stick houses and boats are great. Any comment would be well received. Thanks. Robert. UK.

    2 years ago
    What do you think about this article?
    ★★ ★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★


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