Pinoys in Focus: Lets get to know our National Artists

The Cultural Center of the Philippines recently feted seven individuals who were conferred with the National Artist Award by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2018. The tribute showcased the amazing contributions of these artists to the country’s culture and identity and served as a reminder of the hard work and the passion that these individuals exerted to embrace and promote Filipino art.

Sadly, not all Filipinos are aware of the amazing contributions of these legendary artists to art, film, music and literature and what great impact their work has created to pave the way for future generations. The good news is that there is a way to rectify this by learning about these future icons.

Here’s a lowdown on the Philippines’ National Artists 2018. Hopefully, we can continue to do this until every Filipino recognizes these national artists and their work.

Lauro “Larry” Alcala

Most Filipinos will be familiar with the world visual artist Larry Alcala because of his use of comic strips to find humor in the daily life of Filipinos. For close to 60 years of cartooning, his wit and humor helped him create over 500 characters for some 20 comic strips that were carried by different publications. His most popular work was “Slice of Life” which Pinoys followed for decades. Apart from his comic strips, he made two murals inspired the production of six motion pictures based on his cartoon creations.

Amelia Lapeña Bonifacio

Theater advocate Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio made her mark in the art world for establishing the Teatrong Mulat ng Pilipinas, which helped place the Philippines on the world theater map. She wrote plays based on materials based on painstaking research, and had been involved in the production and design of puppets.

Lapeña-Bonifacio, who also known as the “Grand Dame of Southeast Asian Children’s Theatre” drew upon the untapped wealth of Philippine and Asian folklore and experimented with various forms and techniques of Asian theater arts and puppetry to enrich the Philippine cultural heritage in drama.

Raymund “Ryan” Cayabyab

Maestro Ryan Cayabyab is one of the most recognizable names in the music industry because of his mastery of composition, technique as well as his ability to hone talents who make an impact in the music scene.

His music reflects the exuberance of life and human happiness, thus capturing the very essence of our Filipino soul and social experiences. His learned, skillful, and versatile musical style spans a wide range of genres: from conservatory or art compositions such as concert religious music, symphonic work, art song, opera, and concerto to mainstream popular idioms in the music industry and in live contemporary multimedia shows.

Kidlat Tahimik

Filmmaker Kidlat Tahimik uses cinema to convey his vision to portray the connection between the film and the filmmaker. Kidlat epitomized the possibilities of alternative modes of filmmaking and the artisanal form of production. His mode of filmmaking also serves as his mode to call out to Filipinos to live out their independence and protect their culture from too much westernization.

Francisco Mañosa

Architect Francisco Mañosa courageously and passionately created original Filipino forms, spaces with intricate and refined details. Through the years, he successfully constructed masterpiece spaces for both the poor and the rich. Even before eco-friendly designs became the trend, he already blazed the trail in the use of indigenous materials, bamboo, coconut, rattan, capiz, and various kinds of inlay and applied all these into first class architectural finishes, furniture and furnishings.

Among the structures he designed was the Tahanang Pilipino (or the Coconut Palace), internationally awarded Aman Pulo Resort with its deconstructed “bahay kubos” style, and the San Miguel Building with its rice terrace–like green balconies and “tukod” inwardly slanting windows.

Resil Mojares

An educator, scholar, essayist and fictionist, and cultural/literary historian, Mojares is one of the leading figures in regional literature and history.

As founding director of the Cebuano Studies Center, an important research institution which placed Cebu in the research and documentation map, he pioneered Cebuano and national identity formation. As a leading figure in cultural and literary history, he networked actively in many organizations. For over 50 years, Mojares has published in diverse literary forms (fiction, essay, journalism, scholarly articles, and books) across a wide range of discipline (literature, history, biography, cultural studies, and others). To date, he has 17 published books (3 more in the press) and edited, co-edited, or co-authored 11 books, and written numerous articles for popular and scholarly publications.

Ramon L. Muzones

Literary icon Ramon Muzones was a Hiligaynon poet, essayist, short story writer, critic, grammarian, editor, lexicographer, and novelist who authored an unprecedented 61 completed novels. Some of his works represent groundbreaking “firsts’ in Hiligaynon literature such as the feminist Ang Bag-ong Maria Clara, the roman a clef Maambong Nga Sapat (Magnificent Brute,1940), the comic Si Tamblot (1946), the politically satirical Si Tamblot Kandidato Man (Tamblot is Also a Candidate, 1949), the 125-installment longest serialized novel Dama de Noche (1982-84), etc. Hailed by his peers as the longest reigning (1938-1972) among “the three kings of the Hiligaynon novel,” Muzones brought about its most radical changes while ushering in modernism. With a literary career that spanned fifty-three years (1938-1990), his evolution covers the whole history of the Hiligaynon novel from its rise in the 1940s to its decline in the 1970s.

So there you have it! Some tidbits on our national artists and our national treasures. I hope this inspires you to follow in their footsteps and continue with the gains that their works have created to make an impact in the local and international sphere. Shoutout to CCP for sharing these information with us.

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