WHEN I read that the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) was one of two entities that recommended to the President the declaration of actress Nora Aunor as Natonal Artist, I was worried.

My eldest daughter works as a volunteer in the NCCA and I dreaded the thought of catching her on TV frothing in the mouth, like another woman lawyer did, over the President’s snub of Aunor and his implied disrespect for the esteemed and distinguished men and women who constitute the NCCA as well as the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).

“I had nothing to do with that,” Kay told me over the phone, much to my relief. “The nomination was done by the commissioners.” Turns out she’s with the committee on monuments and sites and besides, she said, tongue in cheek, “I am a Vilmanian.”

I’m not sure if Nora and Vilma (Santos) were still the principal rivals for the title of primus inter pares in Philippine entertainment when my children were growing up.

I do remember that both, Nora especially, were child actresses who appeared in many comedy and musical movies that I watched at the Star theatre in what is now the Gaisano bookstore in Colon.

By the time they starred in serious and mature roles, I was too old, or thought I was, to watch their movies so I couldn’t say for sure if they were good actresses. I understand though that they have awards to show that they are.

But only Aunor was included in the list of proposed national artists that the NCCA and the CCP submitted to the President. Now they, who snubbed Santos, are up in arms because he snubbed Aunor.

I think that we all need a refresher course on the meaning of recommendation. It is synonymous with advice, counsel, guidance, direction, suggestion or proposal. While it is in itself a decision on the part of the one who is recommending, it is not binding on the person to whom it is addressed.

The NCCA and the CCP know that. The President’s critics know that, too.

What is obvious but the critics are not saying in the brouhaha over Aunor’s exclusion is that the bestowal of the honor of National Artist is vested exclusively in the President. This is a discretionary power, not his ministerial duty. The Supreme Court said so.

Anyone who wants to have the final say on who is fit to be declared a National Artist should hearken to this advice: Pag-presidente una mo.


This is not a defense of Mayor Mike Rama’s brother Fernando who, if I am not mistaken, is the husband of one of my English teachers in college. There is no excuse for pouring coffee on another man’s face and punching him.

We need, however, to look at what we, lawyers, call the antecedent facts. The American, Henri Angers, was having breakfast inside a fast-food outlet when Fernando arrived and asked the security guard to line up and order for him.

This did not sit well with Angers, who called the guard to tell him that he didn’t have to do Rama’s bidding. “I don’t like someone using people for their own benefit,” he told Cebu Daily News in a phone interview. “I was able to get my own coffee and my own breakfast, why can’t he?”

Come to think of it: if Angers had minded his own business and let the security guard deal with Fernando, would Rama have punched him?

By the way, Rama is 78 while Angers is 76. Na-high blood ang duha ka senior citizens sayo sa buntag.