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  • Writer's pictureLeonora Lo-oy

Whang-od not qualified for National Artist Award, but eligible for GAMABA


Tabuk City, Kalinga – As the nomination for the Order of National Artist in the country reopens, Filipinos rally for the conferment of the highest citation for Filipino artists to Apo Whang-od. Nevertheless, she is said to be ineligible.


On November 23, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) announced the opening of nominations for a new batch of national artists which runs until June 30, 2024.


National Artist Award is the highest distinction being conferred to Filipinos who have done much in Philippine music, dance, theatre, visual arts, literature, film and media, arts, architecture and design.

Among the bearers of the prestigious title include Fernando Amorsolo, Jose Garcia Villa, Nick Joaquin, and Nora Aunor, among others.


Awardees get a minimum cash grant of P200,000; P50,000 monthly life pension; medical and hospitalization benefits; life insurance coverage; a state funeral; and a place of honor in state functions, national commemoration rites, and other cultural presentations.


Whang-od’s craft falls under GAMABA but not under the Order of National Artist


Filipinos have been calling for the inclusion of the oldest mambabatok in the list of national artists for her significant cultural contributions. Many netizens argue online that it is better to bestow her the award now, than give it when she’s no longer around.


Amidst these calls, however, NCCA Chairman Victorino Manalo explained that the 106-year-old cannot be given the award as her craft doesn’t fall into the categories covered by the Order of National Artist.


“Unang una, ang artistic field ni Whang-od ay hindi sa national artist papatak kundi sa GAMABA, Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan. Pang-GAMABA talaga ang kanyang field,” he said.

What is GAMABA?


GAMABA(National Living Treasure) is an honor for practitioners of traditional arts who mostly come from the indigenous communities in the country.


Awardees enjoy the same benefits like P200,000 cash award; minimum lifetime personal monthly stipend of P50,000; medical and hospitalization benefits; a state funeral; a place of honor in sate functions, national commemoration ceremonies, and all other cultural presentations.


Currently nominated

Since 2015, senators like the late Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Nancy Binay, Loren Legarda, and Sonny Angara have nominated Whang-od for the GAMABA award on different occasions, but she is yet to receive it.


Currently, Apo Whang-od is again vying for the GAMABA which is still under deliberation.


National citation already conferred to the oldest mambabatok is the Dangal ng Haraya Award which was given to her in 2018.

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