By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America Bureau
July 17, 2014
SAN FRANCISCO – Nora Aunor was at her best in the 1995 movie “The Flor Contemplacion Story” which made her the first Filipino actress to win an international acting award in a major film festival.
In fact, Aunor has the most number of international Best Actress awards and nominations,compared to any other Filipino actor. In the Philippines, she’s the most nominated actor in major award giving bodies. Appearing in more than 170 films since the late 1960s, La Aunor not only received the utmost respect of her peers, she also became the first Filipino people’s “superstar”.
And so it’s still unfathomable for Noranians or die-hard Aunor fans, how their idol was dropped by President Benigno Aquino III from the list of this year’s National Artist awardees.
Aquino’s reason: he does not want to send a message that drug use, which he said Aunor was convicted for in California in 2005, is acceptable.
Avid Noranian Epee Rafanan said, “We’re trying to award an artist here. We are not looking for a saint.”
And besides, Rafanan argued that the president’s basis is wrong. Aunor was never convicted of the crime because a Los Angeles court dismissed the drug-related case against her in 2007. During this time, Aunor was trying to build a life in the United States.
Attorney Lou Tancinco, who was Aunor’s immigration attorney then, said, “We were still in the process of trying to get a greencard when this happened so in order for us to be able to continue the process, she should be clear of any criminal convictions.”
Tancinco said, the fact that Aunor eventually got her greencard, means she was not convicted of any crime and that Aquino’s basis in depriving her the National Artist award is simply unfounded.
And besides, she said, the fact that Aunor received the highest number of votes from the jurors of the National Artist Award means her body of work speaks for itself. Tancinco reasoned, “The National Artist award is not based on whether the artist is morally upright. I’ve read the criteria. It’s not part of it.”
Noranians in America and all over the world hope to correct what they feel is a grave mistake by circulating an online petition that aims to gather one million signatures and have the president reconsider Aunor for it. “The only person who doesn’t change his mind is someone who doesn’t have one,” Rafanan expressed, citing a Confucius saying.
The campaign, led by the Nora Aunor for National Artist Movement, also aims to bring the case to the Philippine Supreme Court and have lawmakers pass a resolution declaring Aunor a National Artist.
They hope justice will be granted to Aunor before Malacanang bestows the award on new national artists in August.
You may contact Henni Espinosa at email@example.com for more information.