Regardless of this title that has been unjustly conferred on Carlo J. Caparas, he will never be a National Artist in my eyes, and in the eyes of many of his peers and former collaborators. He can delude himself into thinking he deserves this title, clinging to it like a child clings so savagely to a toy, but he will never be a true National Artist, as far as I’m concerned.
All arguments with regards to his being a “visual artist” or not aside, there are many other reasons why CJC is not qualified to have this title. As many of you who visit my blog over this issue are aware, I have only stuck to this “CJC is not a Visual Artist” argument for the sake of pointing out a logical and objective reason why CJC is not even qualified to even be in the running.
But there is a mountain of other reasons why this title does not belong to him. Would I have run an online petition simply because “CJC is not a Visual Artist”? Of course not. Because then I would have to run an online petition for every comics writer to become a candidate, and that includes the likes of Mars Ravelo, Pablo Gomez and Clodualdo Del Mundo. I would point out that these writers are not qualified according to the NCCA guidelines as they are now. Unfair, but it’s true. But I won’t start a petition, nor would I go on an extended rant against them on this blog and elsewhere.
So what’s different/special about CJC?
CJC asks: “Why me?” Well, sir, I’ll tell you why.
And this time, I will include FILM in my argument.
Granted that President GMA bypassed the NCCA altogether and chose 4 additional National Artists, a prerogative that has apparently been granted to her by law. The abuse of this prerogative is the issue of the petition that has put before the Supreme Court.
It is claimed that PGMA used an “Honors Committee” that has similar guidelines to the NCCA. In the absence of these guidelines, I think it’s only logical that they would follow virtually the same criteria. Text in italics correspond with selected text from the NCCA guidelines.
The Order of National Artists is one of the Honors of the Philippines that embodies the nation’s highest ideals in humanism and aesthetic expression through the distinct achievements of individual citizens.
These achievements are measured in terms of their vision, unusual insight, creativity and imagination, technical proficiency of the highest order in expressing Filipino culture and traditions, history, way of life, and aspirations.
As you can see, this title is a big deal. Probably the biggest deal in terms of recognition and acclaim. Whoever these artists are, they must be the best of the best, and yes, the absolute most deserving. They should have made significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts.
Now if people would simply use common sense, would you really consider CJC as someone who embodies the nation’s highest ideals in humanism and aesthetic expression through his achievements, achievements that are measured in terms of their vision, unusual insight, creativity, imagination, technical proficiency of the highest order?
If you have seen any of CJC’s movies then you would know that the answer is one big fat NO.
If I may be blunt, his movies SUCK. They are absolutely terrible. I know because I’ve SEEN them. In one particular movie I endured watching, it was one horribly done scene after horribly done scene. And I’m not even talking about a massacre movie.
His popular movies are exploitative, and are naturally financially successful because of it. What, does CJC think his movies sell because they’re GOOD? No, people go to see his movies to see pretty young starlets raped and killed. They want to see dramatizations of national and personal tragedies played on the screen like news reports.
His popular movies exploit these tragedies by creating quickie films that are bereft of proper research, aesthetic and technical quality, haphazardly put together so that the incident it is exploiting is still fresh in the public’s mind. “Strike while the iron is hot.” is a common mantra that filmmakers of CJC’s sort live by.
Think hard about this phrase: …embodies the nation’s highest ideals in humanism and aesthetic expression…technical proficiency of the highest order in expressing Filipino culture…
And contrast that with just the titles of some of CJC’s popular movies:
The Marita Gonzaga Rape-Slay: In God We Trust!
… aka The Marita Gonzaga Rape Slay
The Maggie dela Riva Story (God… Why Me?)
Lipa Arandia Massacre (Lord Deliver Us from Evil)
… aka Lipa Massacre (Philippines: English title: short title)
… aka Lipa Massacre: God Save the Babies!
The Untold Story: Vizconde Massacre 2 – God Have Mercy on Us
The Vizconde Massacre Story (God Help Us!)
Victim No. 1: Delia Maga (Jesus, Pray for Us!)
The Nation’s highest ideals in humanism and aesthetic expression indeed.
The Order of National Artists aims to recognize:
Filipino artists who have made significant contributions to the cultural heritage of the country.
Filipino artistic accomplishment at its highest level and to promote creative expression as significant to the development of a national cultural identity.
Filipino artists who have dedicated their lives to their works to forge new paths and directions for future generations of Filipino artists.
CJC has written many komiks novels, and written and directed many films, but have they really made significant contributions to the cultural heritage of this country, contributions of the highest artistic level? Once again, a big fat NO. Again, common sense. His films are significant, I give him that, but in all sorts of detrimental ways. Are any filmmakers today or komiks creators today following in his footsteps? I don’t think so. Many of us in the artistic community do not consider CJC an artistic influence, and that whatever his accomplishments are, they are not worth following.
The Order of National Artists shall be given to:
Living artists who are Filipino citizens at the time of nomination, as well as those who died after the establishment of the award in 1972 but were Filipino citizens at the time of their death;
He passes on this criteria. But then again, every living Filipino artist qualifies for this one as well.
Artists who through the content and form of their works have contributed in building a Filipino sense of nationhood;
I have never been proud to be a Filipino whenever I see his films. NEVER. In fact, I feel ashamed. There have been many films from abroad that swayed my emotions so much so it made me question my love for being Filipino. For example, seeing the movie HERO made me feel that if I were Chinese, this movie would have made me very proud to be Chinese. Carlo J. Caparas has never made a movie that was powerful enough to sway me to feel deep and unfettered love and pride to be Filipino. NEVER.
Artists who have pioneered in a mode of creative expression or style, thus, earning distinction and making an impact on succeeding generations of artists;
Aside from creating a few memorable characters in comics (in collaboration with talented visual artists), CJC is not known to have pioneered any kind of mode of creative expression or style in comics. In fact, whatever styles he has are simply rehashes of what other writers have done before. In film, his techniques are a mish mash of tricks and gimmicks that other filmmakers have done, but done BADLY. If he has any impact in succeeding generations of artists, then it’s to inspire them to to look for other inspirations. Personally, the only respect I can give him is the respect I typically give an older individual, and yes, and for co-creating memorable komiks charcters. But his work has never been influential. In fact, his work is prime example of things I should NOT to do.
Artists who have created a substantial and significant body of works and/or consistently displayed excellence in the practice of their art form thus enriching artistic expression or style; and
“Consistently displayed excellence”. If CJC and his supporters are looking for a reason for the outrage, this is one of them. Consistently displayed excellence? You must be joking. His body of work is car wreck after car wreck of artistic disasters. They may have been financially successful, but financially successful is not what we’re measuring here, obviously. There is plenty of testimony on the lack of quality to CJC’s work as expressed by other professionals in the comics and film world both here on this blog and elsewhere.
Artists who enjoy broad acceptance through:
- prestigious national and/or international recognition, such as the Gawad CCP Para sa Sining, CCP Thirteen Artists Award and NCCA Alab ng Haraya;
- critical acclaim and/or reviews of their works;
- respect and esteem from peers.
Why is there so much outrage over this issue? Why did several National Artists march and bury their medals in protest? Why all the clamor and noise and blood and thunder? WHY INDEED?
If it isn’t obvious yet, it only means that CJC does not enjoy broad acceptance. He does not have critical acclaim for his work, nor does he have the respect and esteem of many of his peers.
READ the comments of CJC’s former collaborators and peers Dell Barras, Nestor Malgapo, Jose Mari Lee, Fermin Salvador and Glady Gimena right in this blog. Read the statements of Jun Lofamia, Ernie Patricio, and Frank Redondo here.
Read about John Becaro’s disappointment with CJC here.
Randy and John were both representatives of the younger generation of comics creators at the Komiks Congress in 2007.
I used to have so much respect for Carlo J. Caparas. In fact, in 2004 when Steve Gan suggested that I work with CJC on new Panday stories, and that he would talk to CJC for me, I was excited. But what I have seen and experienced in the past several years eroded whatever respect and esteem I have for him. I’m talking about what happened with Sterling Comics. Up to this day many komiks writers and illustrators feel fury and frustration over what happened. Komiks Illustrator Ogie Almeda hints about it here.
I count myself among the many comics professionals, both veteran and young, who have lost their respect and esteem for this man over what happened, and the things he has said and done ever since.
And now, a scant two years later, CJC is being given the National Artist title, and he is wondering why people are up in arms. He wonders why people in the komiks industry isn’t proud of him and supporting him, crying “WHY ME?”. The nerve is just unbelievable. The incredible unbelievable gall of it. The unbelievable gall of his supporters who are simply blind at the things this man has done.
Respect and esteem? I have very little for this man.
A few individuals are dismissing the fact that people are up in arms about this. Do you think we’re doing this because, wala lang? Do you think we have lots of free time on our hands and protest about things MINDLESSLY? ALL OF THIS IS HAPPENING FOR A REASON. And I’m giving you a lot of reasons why right now.
Instead of automatically shutting out any argument, why don’t you listen to what we are actually saying?
Even in this cursory browse of the NCCA guidelines, it’s perfectly obvious that Carlo J. Caparas fails on many counts. Fails spectacularly. Open your eyes! Take off your damned blinders and have some common sense!
Carlo J. Caparas? National Artist? COME ON!