‘Genuine gem?’: Why Ramon Revilla Sr’s nomination as National Artist is not welcomed by some

August 27, 2020 - 3:57 PM
This composite photo shows file photos of the late Ramon Revilla Sr., a former senator and actor. (Bong Revilla Jr./Facebook)

The nomination of the late Ramon Revilla Sr. to hold the much-coveted national artist title earned some disapproval from Filipinos online.

Revilla, a popular action star who also served at the Senate, died last June 26 at 93 years old.

READ: ‘Wala na po ang tatay ko’: Bong Revilla mourns demise of ex-senator Ramon Revilla Sr.

In two separate resolutions, Senators Manny Pacquiao and Sherwin Gatchalian nominated the Revilla patriarch to become a National Artist for Film, citing his contributions to Philippine culture and the arts.

Pacquiao through Senate Resolution No. 477 filed on July 27 stated that the elder Revilla’s “artistry” and roles that depicted the “Filipino way of life” make him fit for the title.

“Revilla Sr. is an embodiment of talent, intelligence, the artistry that makes him befitting of the title of National Artist,” Pacquiao said.

“Through the years, he has contributed immensely in the development of Philippine art [and] his movies depicted not only the Filipino way of life but also our unique culture and strong ideals,” he added.

Meanwhile, Gatchalian through Senate Resolution No. 482 filed on July 29 similarly said that Revilla was a “genuine gem” in the development of arts in the country.

“He is a genuine gem who has contributed much to the proliferation and appreciation of the arts in our country,” Gatchalian said.

Revilla became popular for his movies “Nardong Putik” and “Pepeng Agimat” in the 1970s. He also won several awards as an actor and producer for his films back then.

His personal life also became the subject of controversy after it was reported that he fathered at least 72 children from 16 different women.

The National Artist Award is considered the highest honor conferred to Filipinos who made significant impact and contributions in various fields including music, architecture and film in Philippine history.

The public disagrees

Some Filipinos, however, disagreed with the nomination and argued that there are other notable artists who are more deserving of such merit.

Award-winning poet Jerry Gracio called Revilla Sr. a “ham actor” on Twitter.

“Ramon Revilla Sr. is a ‘genuine gem’ and worthy of the National Artist Award? Jusko, he’s a ham actor! He has contributed much to the proliferation of ham acting and bad films,” he said.

Collins Dictionary defined ham acting as “an actor who overacts or relies on stock gestures or mannerisms.”

Other Filipinos suggested other celebrated artists whom they perceived have contributed more to Philippine arts than Revilla.

These include tribal tattoo artist Whang-od Oggay, Nora Aunor, Vilma Santos, Maricel Soriano, Lea Salonga and Eddie Garcia.

Screenshot by Interaksyon

Aunor had been nominated twice—the first in 2014 by former President Benigno Aquino III and the second and last time in 2017 as an automatic nomination.

Aquino immediately removed her before due to her alleged illegal drug abuse.

In 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte also did not include her name among the new roster of National Artists, who include Ryan Cayabyab in music, Eric de Guia in film and Francisco Mañosa in architecture.

Qualifications for the National Artist Award

The qualifications to be part of the Order of National Artists are quite subjective. Aside from being a Filipino citizen, the artist has to be recognized for his or her “significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts and letters.”

“The rank and title of National Artist is conferred by means of a Presidential Proclamation. It recognizes excellence in the fields of Music, Dance, Theater, Visual Arts, Literature, Film and Broadcast Arts, and Architecture or Allied Arts,” the explanation from the Official Gazette read.

The National Commission on Culture and the Arts and the Cultural Center of the Philippines make up the award-giving body.

Based on the NCCA’s rules, the National Artist title is to be given every three years.