PRESS RELEASE

June 27, 2022


A Tribute will be given to eight exemplary personalities who were proclaimed National Artists, at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Main Theater on Wednesday, June 29, 2022 at 5pm.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte conferred them the Order of National Artist in the field of dance, theatre, film and broadcast arts, literature, music, and fashion design, in a ceremony held last June 16 at the Rizal Hall of Malacanang. They were declared as the new National Artists by virtue of Presidential Proclamation no. 1390 signed on June 10.

The newly declared National Artists are Agnes Locsin (Dance), the late Salvacion Lim-Higgins (Fashion Design), the late Marilou Diaz-Abaya (Film and Broadcast Arts), Ricardo ‘Ricky’ Lee (Film and Broadcast Arts), Nora Cabaltera Villamayor aka Nora Aunor (Film), Gemino Abad (Literature), Fides Cuyugan-Asensio (Music), and Antonio Mabesa (Theater).

Agnes Locsin is a choreographer, director, and teacher. She is dubbed as one of the “most progressive contemporary choreographers in the Philippines,” for she distinctively utilizes Filipino beliefs, rituals, and ethnic traditions in her choreographies, concepts, and direction, which she was able to beautifully merge with her knowledge in Western dance techniques and called it “neo-ethnic.” Among her successful works are Babaylan, which won second place in the Tokyo International Choreography Competition in 1993; Taong Talangka (Man-Crab); Salome which won second place for dancer Camille Ordinario in the 1994 Concours International de la Danse in Paris, France; and narrative works like one on the life of the mythical hero Labaw Dungon in the epic Hinilawod from the island of Panay.

Salvacion Lim-Higgins, known to the fashion world as “Slim’s”, is credited for innovating and transforming the look of terno into a world-class silhouette by combining the elements of Philippine costume with European couture details and construction. She was known for her exquisite drapery, constant and evocative use of indigenous materials such as piña and jusi, referencing ethnic motifs in her modern dresses, and forward-looking and cutting-edge approach to fashion. Lim-Higgins introduced draping into traditional costumes and developed “convertible ternos.” Filipiniana took a more nuanced look through the eye-catching costumes she created for the Bayanihan Dance Company.

Marilou Diaz-Abaya was a film and television director and screenwriter. She began her career in the 1980s and was part of the generation that defined what is today remembered as the “Second Golden Age of Philippine Cinema.” Her notable works are Brutal (1980), which marked Diaz-Abaya’s clear directorial style and unique feminist voice, as she emerged as a bold experimenter of storytelling structure and a fierce creative protester of the harrowing plight of women in a male-dominated society; Moral (1982), which offered a nuanced commentary on the expectations and burdens placed onwomen’s shoulders against which they explore their desires and navigate their shifting place in society; Karnal (1983), where the perverse entanglement of paternalism, desire, and drive for control results in a violent tragedy; Milagros (1997), where she moved away from pointed advocacies and delved instead on an enigmatic exploration of feminine desire and innocence; Sa Pusod ng Dagat (1998), which further explored the complex meaning of womanhood; Jose Rizal (1998), the biopic of the national hero; Muro-Ami (1999), portrayed the lives of exploited children in the illegal practice of reef hunting; Bagong Buwan (2001), endeavored to tell a fair and informed story about war-torn Muslim Mindanao; and Noon at Ngayon: Pagsasamang Kay Ganda (2003), which tells the story of four middle-aged women who have weathered life’s storms and reconciled with their pasts.

Ricardo Lee also known as Ricky Lee is a screenwriter for film and television, journalist, playwright, and a multi-awarded fictionist who published several novels, plays, essays, and short story collections along his screenplays and screenwriting manuals. He has demonstrated his mastery of writing historical films, literary and true-to-life adaptations, political, courtroom, and dramas, the stories of “outsiders” and marginalized figures such as laborers, prostitutes, rebels, migrant workers, and gay people, and his consistent elevation of all manner of genre fare, from horror to tearjerkers to comedies. Lee emerged in screenwriting in the late 1970s as part of the generation of filmmakers who ushered the “Second Golden Age of Philippine Cinema.”

Nora Cabaltera Villamayor, also known as Nora Aunor, has been in different fields for more than four decades—film, television, music, and stage. Her journey to fame started when she joined and won a local amateur singing contest in a radio program called “Darigold Jamboree”. She came to be known as the girl with the “golden voice” with the unique tone of her voice. It was Tower Productions that gave her the biggest break: the title role in D’ Musical Teenage Idols, opposite Tirso Cruz III. Sampaguita Pictures’ 34th-anniversary presentation was also a Nora-Tirso starrer, Fiesta Extravaganza, and that is when people began referring to her as “Superstar”. Succeeding years would see her taking on a wide variety of movie projects, showing her versatility by making comedies, melodramas, and musicals. Her extensive filmography with 170 films is not only matched but exceeded by the number of awards and citations she has received from local and international organizations.

Dr. Gémino H. Abad is a writer, critic, scholar, literary historian, and anthologist with numerous books and literary awards including ten poetry volumes, nine volumes of literary criticism, two volumes on his own poetics, two short story collections, a five-volume historical anthology of Philippine poetry in English, and a six-volume anthology of Philippine short stories in English, from 1956 (the year where the late Leopoldo Yabes’ anthology left off) to 2009. Several of these books have received national literary awards such as the Gawad Dangal ng Lahi given by the Carlos Palanca Memorial Foundation; the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for his poetry; the CCP Award for Poetry; the Ani ng Dangal Award of the NCCA; the UMPIL’s Gawad Alagad ni Balagtas for lifetime achievement in poetry and literary criticism; the Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan sa Larangan ng Panitikan from the City of Maynila; the Manila Critics’ Circle National Book Award for poetry, for anthology, for personal anthology; and the Philippines Free Press Literary Awards for the short story, essay, and poetry.

Professor Emeritus Fides Cuyugan-Asensio’s more than six decades of involvement with the art of opera displays her dedication and passion to bringing inaccessible Western dramatic idiom into Philippine theaters for the Filipino opera enthusiasts to experience and learn from. She’s dedicated to opera and musical theater, which enriched the Philippine artistic scene. Her exceptional achievements in many years of exemplary service to the field such as performing, teaching, producing, and directing opera and theater productions, contributed to a Renaissance of classical musical theater in the country. Her performance of Sisa in Felipe de Leon’s Noli Me Tangere became a hallmark in the country’s musical theater history.

Antonio “Tony” Mabesa, known as the Lion of the Theater, was a director, actor, and teacher who greatly contributed to the growth and diversity of Philippine theater. His theater teaching, formalism as aesthetics, and methods of production have made an impact on his students. He was a professor, artist and mentor who will be remembered for his lessons on discipline, commitment and respect for theater.

The Order of National Artists (Orden ng mga Pambansang Alagad ng Sining) is the highest national recognition given to Filipino individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts; namely, Music, Dance, Theater, Visual Arts, Literature, Film, Broadcast Arts, and Architecture and Allied Arts. The order is jointly administered by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and conferred by the President of the Philippines upon recommendation by both institutions.

The Order of National Artists was established by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 1001 dated April 27, 1972 to give appropriate recognition and prestige to Filipinos who have distinguished themselves and made outstanding contributions to Philippine arts and letters. The order is jointly administered by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and conferred by the President of the Philippines upon recommendation by both institutions.

The National Artist Award is given every three years by the President of the Philippines in the month of June.  To date, there are a total of 81 National Artists, including those newly proclaimed.

Tickets for the public will be given starting 3pm at the CCP Ramp.

In observance of health and safety guidelines, those attending the event are advised to read the CCP protocols for Alert Level 1: https://bit.ly/CCPNewNormal.