Is Freddie Aguilar up for the NCCA leadership?

Paolo Abad

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Is Freddie Aguilar up for the NCCA leadership?
The veteran singer-songwriter says he was called by Duterte's executive assistant, Bong Go, about the possibility of heading the National Commission for Culture and the Arts

MANILA, Philippines – Veteran singer-songwriter Freddie Aguilar, one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s staunchest supporters, may be up for a government position – specifically, as head of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).

At the launch of the commemorative album Mga Awit Para sa Tunay na Pagbabago, Monday, July 11, Freddie said he had asked Duterte to create a department for culture and arts.

“Meron po akong hiningi sa kanya. Gusto ko po ay bigyan niya ng isang departamento ang kultura at sining natin,” he said.

(I asked him for something. I want him to create a department for culture and the arts.)

He said that Duterte’s long-time executive assistant, Christopher “Bong” Go, called him regarding this request: “Tinawagan ako ni Bong Go, at ang sabi niya, Ka Freddie, hangga’t wala pa po yung department na hinihiling po ninyo, puwede po ba ninyo pamunuan muna ang NCCA?’

(Bong Go called me and said, “Ka Freddie, while the department you’re asking for isn’t in existence yet, can you head the NCCA in the meantime?”)

He narrated that he agreed, adding: “Sa madaling salita, kung pakikinggan ko po ang sinabi ni Bong Go, parang sinabi na po niya na ibibigay na po ng Presidente ‘yung department of culture and arts.”

(In other words, if I understood Bong Go, it’s as if he said that the President would create a department of culture and arts.)

Mahahawakan ko lang po siya kung tutulungan ako ng lahat,” he said. “Nandito po si Cesar Montano, nakikita niyo po si Anthony Castelo. Lahat po ng mga kausap kong nagmamahal sa bayan natin […] nakikipag-usap na po ako sa kanila at lahat po sila’y nakahandang tumulong.”

(I would be able to hold the position if everyone helps me. Cesar Montano is here. You see [singer] Anthony Castelo. Everyone I talked to who loves our country – I have talked to them and they said they are prepared to help.)

Cultural revolution

Freddie said he wants a department for culture and the arts because he wants a “cultural revolution.”

He explained, “Gusto ko po talaga na magkaroon tayo ng cultural revolution sa ating mga kababayan. Ito lang po ‘yung revolution na walang mamamatay.”

(I really want us to have a cultural revolution. This is the only revolution where no one will die.)

“Ang ibig sabihin ko po sa cultural revolution ay pinapangarap ko po na ibalik po ‘yung mga talagang Pilipino na pag-uugali natin, pati sining natin – ibalik sa atin ‘yung itinanggal ng mga banyaga.”

(What I mean by cultural revolution is that I dream that our Filipino customs and our art – which were taken away by foreigners, would be returned.)

He later added, “‘Pag nagkaroon po tayo ng cultural revolution,pag sinabi po ng Ilokano, Kapampangan, Bisaya – lahat po niyan, maninindigan na siya po ay Pilipino.”

(If we have a cultural revolution, an Ilocano, Pampagueño, Visayan – all of them would identify as Filipino.)

Freddie Aguilar composed the tune, “Para sa Tunay na Pagbabago”, which was used during Duterte’s campaign.

He also performed the song at the inauguration of the President in Malacañang Palace.

The NCCA, according to its website, is described as the “overall policy making body, coordinating, and grants giving agency for the preservation, development and promotion of Philippine arts and culture; an executing agency for the policies it formulates; and tasked to administering the National Endowment Fund for Culture and the Arts (NEFCA) fund exclusively for the implementation of culture and arts programs and projects.”

According to the law which created the NCCA, Republic Act (RA) 7356, the chairperson of the commission is elected by a 15-member Board of Commissioners among themselves (Section 9).

Felipe de Leon Jr, who heads the Subcommission on the Arts, is the incumbent chairperson.

RA 7356 stipulates that non-ex-officio members of the Board of Commissioners (i.e., those not part of it because they hold another office) should serve a term of 3 years, and no more than two consecutive terms. –

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Paolo Abad

Paolo Abad writes, edits, and shoots for a living. He is one of the founding partners of the online radio platform Manila Community Radio.