Does this present generation of Filipinos, or even those who are the next in line, really care about who gets proclaimed as National Artists? I doubt it.
If I have to choose one from amongst our national artists, my choice would be Levi Celerio, our greatest composer/lyricist with over 4,000 love, folk and Christmas songs to his credit. I doubt, though, if our people even know who he is and how gifted he was. But for the young-at-heart Pinoy art lovers in our land, many of his songs, like Sapagkat Kami Ay Tao Lamang, Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit, Waray-Waray, Basta’t Mahal Kita and Pitong Gatang, still ring in our ears.
I would not have learned to like Journey’s songs if not for Arnel Pineda. My admiration for the Filipino talent may not have been reawakened if not for Charice. Like Freddie Aguilar, I consider Arnel and Charice as artists in their own rights. And I would be lying if I say that I do not goose bump feel a sense of national pride as I watch different international audiences give them a standing ovation.
The reason why I think that eventually, it will be the artist Levi Celerio who will be most remembered by future generations of Filipinos, is because of this suspicious beating or perhaps longing in my heart that Filipino patriotism is making a comeback.
If I were Mariah Carey, I, too, will be threatened by “brown monkey” Regine Velasquez. But should we care what other people think of us Filipinos? Perhaps. But what matters is what we think of ourselves. Are we now comfortable within our own skin, or are we still trying to prove ourselves to the world?
The bottom line is this: There will be another Levi Celerio if the goal of our artistic pursuit once again becomes individual excellence and not personal glory or riches.
(Posted by Conrad Tolosa)