Life is about using the whole box of crayons.—Anonymous
Creativity is intelligence having fun.—Albert Einstein
The true work of art is but a shadow of the Divine Perfection.—Michelangelo
For the first time, two groups of National Artists (Pambansang Alagad ng Sining) received recognition in Malacañang. President Benigno S. Aquino III handed out the awards and paid tribute to their work. For the first time, too, the awardees as well as their families and guests were treated to merienda after, catered by Cibo and supervised by Asia’s Best Female Chef 2016, Gaita Fores.
It was heartwarming to see our National Artists looking grand in their barong tagalogs and ternos as they walked—some in wheelchairs, others hobbling with canes—through the Hall of Presidents toward the Ceremonial Hall. I thought National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes walked like the true ballerina she still is, shoulders back, stomach in, chin up. Also there were National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) head Felipe De Leon, Jr., chairman of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Emily Abrera, and president of CCP Raul Sunico.
The awardees came from two batches. Awardees for 2009 were Federico Aguilar Alcuáz for visual arts (posthumous), Manuel Conde for film and broadcast (posthumous), and Lazaro Francisco for literature (posthumous). The 2014 awardees were Cirilo Bautista for literature, Francisco V. Coching for visual arts (posthumous), Francisco Feliciano for music (posthumous), Reyes for dance, Ramon Santos for music, and José Maria Zaragoza for architecture (posthumous).
Lulu Coching Rodriguez’s mother, 92-year-old Filomena Coching walked gingerly to receive her husband’s honors. Later, for the picture-taking, she clung to the arm offered by a gracious President Noy, who was, incidentally, her idol as well as her husband’s. Months ago, she wrote PNoy a personal, handwritten letter imploring him to please, please be the one to give out the National Artist honors before he leaves office. I don’t know if this letter did it but Mrs. Coching was happy she received her beloved husband’s award from PNoy. Lulu’s sister Maridel was there, too, with her pretty daughter Valerie as well as their brother. Lulu’s portraits of four presidents can be seen at the Hall of Presidents.
Jun Urbano, son of Manuel Conde and more popularly known as “Mr. Shooli” for his long-running television show, was also there along with art patron Danny Dolor. Hardworking ladies for the arts, Cora Manimbo, Sylvia Lichauco, Baby Coching, and Mita Rufino enjoyed seeing each other again after a long time. Socials secretary Susan Reyes, take a bow. Everything fell into place beautifully, even the musical interlude provided by the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by Herminigildo Ranera with soloists Myramae Meneses and Arman Ferrer.(Manila Bulletin)