Kalpana Kalpana (Editor)

National Artist of the Philippines

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Type  Order
First induction  1972
Status  Currently constituted
National Artist of the Philippines

Awarded for  having made significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts
Sovereign  President of the Philippines
Next (higher)  Order of Gabriela Silang

National Artists of the Philippines (Filipino: Pambansang Alagad ng Sining ng Pilipinas) is an order bestowed by the Philippines on Filipinos who have made significant contributions to the development of Philippine art. Originally instituted as an Award, it was elevated to the status of Order in 2003.


The Order is administered by the Cultural Center of the Philippines by virtue of President Ferdinand Marcos's Proclamation № 1001 of April 2, 1972 and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. The first award was posthumously conferred on Filipino painter Fernando Amorsolo.


The Order is the highest state honor conferred on individuals deemed as having done much for their artistic field. Deserving individuals must have been recommended by both the Cultural Center and the National Commission on Culture and the Arts prior to receiving the award. Such people are then titled, by virtue of a Presidential Proclamation, as National Artist (Filipino: Gawad Pambansang Alagad ng Sining, "National Servant of the Arts Award"), and are inducted into the Order.

Recipients attend a conferment ceremony at Malacañang Palace, where the President bestows on them the insignia of the Order: an ornate, gilt collar and a small pin, both depicting the Order's emblem. In addition to the collar, each new Member is given a citation that is presented during the conferment ceremony. The Cultural Center of the Philippines then presents a Memorabilia Exhibit of the recipients' works, and holds a Gabi ng Parangal (Night of Tributes) for the National Artists at the Tanghalang Pambansa.


Categories under which National Artists can be recognized originally included:

  • Music - composition, direction, and/or performance;
  • Dance - choreography, direction and/or performance;
  • Theater – direction, performance and/or production design;
  • Visual Arts – painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, installation art, mixed media works, illustration, graphic arts, performance art and/or imaging;
  • Literature – poetry, fiction, essay, playwriting, journalism and/or literary criticism;
  • Film and Broadcast Arts – direction, writing, production design, cinematography, editing, camera work, and/or performance; and
  • Architecture, Design and Allied Arts – architecture design, interior design, industrial arts design, landscape architecture and fashion design.
  • However, national artists have since been honored under new categories. The NCCA 'created' the category of National Artist for Fashion Design when it nominated Ramon Valera, but subsumed that category under "Architecture and Allied Arts". President Fidel V. Ramos issued an executive order creating the category of National Artist for Historical Literature before conferring the honor to Carlos Quirino.


    Nominations for National Artist of the Philippines are based on a broad criteria, as set forth by the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the National Commission on Culture and the Arts:

    1. Living artists who have been Filipino citizens for the last ten years prior to nomination as well as those who have died after the establishment of the award in 1972 but were Filipino citizens at the time of their death;
    2. Artists who have helped build a Filipino sense of nationhood through the content and form of their works;
    3. Artists who have distinguished themselves by pioneering in a mode of creative expression or style, making an impact on succeeding generations of artists;
    4. Artists who have created a significant body of works and/or have consistently displayed excellence in the practice of their art form, enriching artistic expression or style; and
    5. Artists who enjoy broad acceptance through prestigious national and/or international recognition, awards in prestigious national and/or international events, critical acclaim and/or reviews of their works, and/or respect and esteem from peers within an artistic discipline.

    Nominations are then submitted to the National Artist Secretariat that is created by the National Artist Award Committee; experts from the different art fields then sit on a First Deliberation to prepare the short list of nominees. A Second Deliberation, which is a joint meeting of the Commissioners of the NCCA and the Board of Trustees of the CCP, decides on the final nominees. The list is then forwarded to the President of the Philippines, who, by Presidential Proclamation, proclaims the final nominees as members of the Order of National Artists.

    Honors and Privileges

  • The rank and title of National Artist, as proclaimed by the President of the Philippines;
  • The insignia of a National Artist and a citation;
  • A lifetime emolument and material and physical benefits comparable in value to those received by the highest officers of the land such as:
    1. a cash award of One-Hundred Thousand Pesos (₱100,000.00) net of taxes, for living awardees;
    2. a cash award of Seventy-Five Thousand Pesos (₱75,000.00) net of taxes, for posthumous awardees, payable to legal heir/s;
    3. a monthly life pension, medical and hospitalization benefits;
    4. life insurance coverage for Awardees who are still insurable;
    5. a state funeral and burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani;
    6. a place of honor, in line with protocolar precedence, at national state functions, and recognition at cultural events;

    The Roster of National Artists

  • Proclaimed in 2009 but conferment delayed due to a controversy. Order was later bestowed to candidate in a ceremony at Malacañang Palace in November 2013.
  • Controversies

    Over the years there have been several controversies involving the awarding of National Artist or involving awardees.

    2009 National Artist of the Philippines controversy

    In August 2009, the conferment of the Order of National Artists on seven individuals by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo became controversial when it was revealed that musician Ramon Santos had been dropped from the list of nominees short-listed in May that year by the selection committee, and that four other individuals had been nominated via "President’s prerogative": Cecilla Guidote-Alvarez (Theater), Magno José "Carlo” Caparás (Visual Arts and Film), Francisco Mañosa (Architecture), and José “Pitoy” Moreno (Fashion Design).

    Members of the Philippine art community–including a number of living members of the Order–protested that the proclamation politicised the title of National Artist, and made it "a way for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to accommodate her allies." Specific protests were raised regarding the nomination of Guidote-Alvarez, who was also Executive Director of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, because it was purportedly a breach of protocol and delicadeza (propriety), and of Caparás, on the grounds that he was unqualified for nomination under both the Visual Arts and the Film categories. On July 16, 2013, the controversy finally ended after the Supreme Court of the Philippines voted 12-1-2 that voided the four proclamations.

    On June 20, 2014, five years after he was originally shortlisted in 2009, Dr. Ramon Santos was finally conferred National Artist for Music by President Benigno S. Aquino III.


    National Artist of the Philippines Wikipedia