The focus on the recently-proclaimed National Artists, who are now members of the Order of National Artists, detracts from the National Scientists who deserve equal recognition and obscures a necessary -and still-unawarded- reform, the creation of the Order of National Social Scientists.
The Cultural and Scientific Orders of the Philippines at present are far better organized and rational than in the past: National Artists (for individual achievement in the classical arts, though why haute coiture has been included here is beyond me), Manlilikha ng Bayan (for achievement, whether individual or as a group, in the indigenous arts and crafts: and one could argue designers could better be recognized as such), National Social Scientists, and National Scientists.
The debate of course between the Arts and the Sciences id endless. Is history, for example, an art (literature) or a science?
There has been much discussion as to whether history should not henceforth be treated as a branch of science rather than of literature… As regards part of the discussion, the minds of the contestants have not met, the propositions advanced by the two sides being neither mutually incompatible nor mutually relevant. There is, however, a real basis for conflict in so far as science claims exclusive possession of the field.– Theodore Roosevelt
I view it as art, as primarily, literature; but the overwhelming Amerigo-Filipino-Teutonic consensus is that it is a science, a Social Science. Our official compromise is that until the Order of National Social Scientists was established, historians were proclaimed National Scientists; and one non-academic was proclaimed a National Artist for Historical Literature. The idea being: a social scientist is one by according to academic degree; a person fulfilling much the same purpose is an artist. More importantly, it means that the social scientist is not an artist and cannot (should not?) aspire to artistry.
Sylvia Mayuga and Randy David both write of what National Artists are, and what they should be -even how they should be chosen. The debate is pointless since no one can quite grasp what a National Artist is and what the title represents.
As it is at present, the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts seek out, weigh and evaluate, nominations for National Artist; they go through a pretty professional process, and then submit their recommendations to the President, under whose authority they work in making the short list. The President of the Philippines as head of state and government ratifies, rejects, or amends the choices, more often than not merely approving what has been put forward. When a President sets aside or modifies what the culturati have put forward, a debate ensues; sometimes the public agrees with the President overwhelmingly, or coldly: but no President has put forward a patently unsuitable choice, to my mind. On the whole, the process works.
Then again were it up to me, I would dispense with the CCP and the NCCA and simply leave it up to each president, letting the public be the ultimate judge. If the choice reflects a national consensus, the new National Artists will be hailed; if not, they will be ignored. Greater attention could be given to selecting and honoring National Scientists, and finally selecting and recognizing National Social Scientists.
Read the Honors Code of the Philippines:
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