When national artists are not artists of the nation

When national artists are not artists of the nation.

IN A CONFERENCE ON postcolonialism, I studied the works and reasons why people are accorded the title national artist for literature. 

Two things are clear here: only writers of Tagalog and English have been accorded such an honor, and not one--not a single one--has been recognized for writing in the language in their own people.

There is such a thing as national representation, and this act by the Republic of the Philippines to perpetuate this injustice is an act of betrayal of the diversity of the Philippine homeland.

We have not done so.

We are not ready--perhaps not willing--to do so.

Those who are managing the educational and cultural affairs of this land are all pro-Tagalog people, with some of them sold to the isomorphic illogic of if it is Tagalog/Pilipino/Filipino=national language=nationalism.

And now, in the campaign for the basic rights of our people to their own languages, the pressure groups are using the national artists to side with them, and these national artists, the Tagalog icons, are permitting themselves to be used.

This is how to govern: to be unjust and unfair to the others that constitute the nation.

Happy days are here again!


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