Award-winning actress Nora Aunor was finally proclaimed National Artist, the country's highest recognition given to Filipinos who have made significant contributions to Philippine arts, after years of clamor from the film community.
Aunor—born Nora Cabaltera Villamayor—is now a National Artist for Film and Broadcast Arts and leads the new batch of National Artists declared by President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday, June 10.
She is known for her roles in Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos (1976), Minsa'y Isang Gamu-gamo (1976), Himala (1982), Bulaklak sa City Jail (1984), The Flor Contemplacion Story (1995), and Thy Womb (2012).
During her five-decade career in acting, she got over 200 acting nominations and awards here and elsewhere, the most for an actor in the Philippines.
The "Superstar" was nominated at the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences or FAMAS Awards a record 17 times. She was also bestowed the Gawad CCP for Film and Broadcast Arts by the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 2015.
Her acting prowess was also recognized abroad, including in Africa, Europe, Australia, and North America, while her singing talent bagged her several Awit Awards and Philippine Recording Distributors Association Awards.
Aunor was supposed to be proclaimed National Artist in 2014, but then-President Noynoy Aquino removed her from the list of awardees because of her past drug use.
Aunor was arrested for possession of methamphetamine, locally called shabu, at the Los Angeles Airport in the United States in 2005. She underwent a six-month drug rehabilitation program to avoid arrest.
Based on rules, she's automatically nominated to become National Artist in 2018 due to her inclusion in the previous shortlist. She, however, was excluded again from the roster announced by Duterte that year. The National Artist for Film and Broadcast Arts 2018 went to director and writer Kidlat Tahimik.
In a statement after the much-awaited proclamation on June 10, Aunor thanked Duterte, her family, as well as her fans, dubbed as Noranians, for the support.
“Wala pa akong maisip na sasabihin ko sa ngayon dahil sa labis na kasiyahan sa aking puso at para po sa ating lahat," she said. “Sa mga taong nanalangin po at nakipaglaban hanggang sa huli para maibigay sa akin ang kanilang pinangarap na ako’y mahirang na isang National Artist for Film."
“Higit po sa lahat, walang katapusang pasasalamat sa ating Panginoon," she added.
“Maraming salamat po sa...mga taong nasa likod ng napakataas na karangalang ito.”
Other National Artists that were proclaimed, by virtue of Proclamation No. 1390 upon the joint recommendation of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the CCP, are:
- Agnes Locsin - Dance
- Ricardo "Ricky" Lee; Marilou Diaz-Abaya (posthumous) - Film and Broadcast Arts
- Gemino Abad - Literature
- Fides Cuyugan-Asensio - Music
- Antonio “Tony” Mabesa (posthumous) - Theater
- Salvacion Lim-Higgins (posthumous) - Fashion
Duterte didn't name a National Artist for Architecture, Design and Allied Arts, and Contemporary Arts this year.
Aside from the prestigious title, National Artists will get the following perks:
- P100,000 cash award for living awardees and P75,000 for posthumous awardees (payable to legal heirs), net of taxes
- Monthly life pension
- Medical and hospitalization benefits
- Life insurance for those who are still insurable
- State funeral and burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani
- Place of honor at national state functions and cultural events