27 December 2012

Philippine National Artists for Literature

The title Pambansang Alagad ng Sining (National Artist) is the highest distinction given to a Filipino who gave a singular contribution to the enrichment of national art. It is given in various fields of art (Music, Dance, Theater, Visual Arts, Literature, Film, Broadcast Arts, at Architecture and Allied Arts).

The chosen National Artists are announced through a Presidential Proclamation. They will also be included in the Order of National Artists and will be honored with a collar and citation in a ceremony. There are many benefits that a National Artist will receive, such as a monthly pension, state funeral and burial, and acknowledgement in cultural events.

The Order of National Artists is administered by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and is awarded by the President of the Philippines after the recommendation of these two institutions following a set of criteria and guidelines.

In the category of Literature, the proclaimed National Artists since 1972 are the following. (Links go to Goodreads.)

Amado V. Hernandez

Jose Garcia Villa

Nick Joaquín

Carlos P. Romulo

Francisco Arcellana

Rolando S. Tinio*

Levi Celerio*

N. V. M. Gonzalez

Carlos Quirino*

Edith L. Tiempo

F. Sionil José

Virgilio S. Almario

Alejandro R. Roces

Bienvenido Lumbera

* Tinio is conferred the title for Theater and Literature; Celerio for Music and Literature; and Carlos Quirino for Historical Literature.


The award is not without controversy. In 2009, the awarding of National Artist to several individuals, including Lazaro Francisco for Literature (posthumous), was put on hold. The reason? Then President Gloria Arroyo included in the list four individuals (her political allies) who did not undergo deliberation by the final selection committee. It was greeted with protests by many, leading to the suspension of the awarding of National Artist.

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