Ate Vi For National Artist

MANILA, Philippines - After actress Nora Aunor, it is Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos' turn to be endorsed as National Artist.

House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo "Erin" Tañada also initiated calls to declare Vilma Santos as a national artist after Bacolod City Rep. Anthony Golez filed a resolution asking to proclaim Nora Aunor of the same title.

Tañada insisted that Santos equally deserves to be a national artist for her contribution in lifting the film industry by capturing the hearts of Filipino moviegoers when she competed against Aunor during the 1970s. "We cannot separate those two. Where there is Nora, there should also be Vilma because they grew up practically at the same time. I think both deserve such recognition," Tañada said. "If and when a submission is given, then we will certainly take it under consideration," he said. Carandang said Aunor is widely recognized in the movie industry.

"She has a very good and very sterling career in movies and she's certainly one of the people that we respected in the industry so that would be seriously considered if that were submitted to the proper agency," he said.

Malacañang said that the move to make Aunor as National Artist would be taken into consideration. Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) Secretary Ramon Carandang said they are aware of the reports in the media but a formal proposal has yet been received by the Palace. "I understand there have been reports and some people are calling for that but I don't think anyone has actually formally submitted a nomination of Nora Aunor," Carandang said. The title National Artist is given to a Filipino who has been given the highest recognition for having made significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts.

Among the National Artists for Cinema include the late movie actor Fernando Poe, Jr., also known as FPJ or "The King," and acclaimed film directors Ishmael Bernal and Lino Brocka.