The Order of National Artist (ONA) was recently conferred to seven Filipinos who made significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday, October 24, 2018, handed National Artist awards, upon recommendation by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CPP) to seven individuals led by popular composer and musical director Ryan Cayabyab.

ONA is the highest national recognition given to Filipino artists.

Cayabyab received the title of National Artist for music, recognizing his works ranging from commissioned theater musicals, choral pieces and orchestral pieces to commercial recordings of popular music.

Other ONA awardees include: Lauro “Larry” Alcala for visual arts, Francisco Mañosa (Architecture and Allied Arts), Ramon Muzones and Resil B. Mojares (Literature), Amelia Lapeña Bonifacio (Theater) and Eric de Guia a.k.a. Kidlat Tahimik (Film and Broadcast Arts).

In his speech, Duterte called on the awardees to share their skills and knowledge to the younger generation amid the fast-paced, highly technological and modern world.

“I urge our awardees to never hesitate to pass down their knowledge and skills to the younger generation because it is only by educating and training the youth that the legacy and work of our artists can live on,” Duterte said.

“To this year’s awardees, I laud you for the passion and dedication to your chosen craft. Your outstanding work does not only inspire self-determination, but likewise instills patriotism and brings prestige to our beloved country,” he added.

Duterte also gave Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (GAMABA) awards to Ambalang Ausalin, Estelita Bantilan and Yabing Masalon-Dulo; and 2018 Philippine Heritage awards to winners in four categories.

These are Adaptive Reuse award won by Rizal Park Hotel; Heritage Education and Interpretation: local government unit (LGU) of San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte; Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage Award (LGU of Magalang Pampanga); and, Heritage Program Support Awardee (LGU of Angeles City).

The GAMABA has been instituted as a national tribute to the creative and technical genius of the Filipino traditional artist.

On the other hand, the Philippine Heritage awards is an annual conservation recognition program which aims to promote cultural preservation and conservation of Filipino cultural heritage.

Duterte underscored the need to preserve and protect the country’s cultural sites.

“In ways more than one, art has been a witness to this storied history of our nation. It gave rise to the revolutions and served as a voice to those who fought for democracy and emboldened the spirit of the Filipino during the turbulent times,” the President said.

“Indeed, art has gone as a general service and we recognize this by supporting our local and traditional artist and spearheading initiatives to safeguard, preserve, and protect our cultural sites,” he added.

Duterte, together with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, also conferred the Presidential Medal of Merit on Filipina painter Araceli Limcaco Dans.

“As we celebrate Filipino excellence in all forms, may your creativity and artistry continue to inspire our people to become positive in building a more progressive and vibrant Philippines,” Duterte said. (Jelly Musico/PNA)