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Pitoy Moreno and a big Oscar Awards for the Philippines

The 2018 edition of the Oscar Awards shown worldwide was described by writers and critics in different panorama. Some said it was exciting, some pictured it as the dullest, while others said the colors and glitters waned. But fanatics regard it as the year’s grand celebration of triumph for the victors and a motivation for losers to work harder and better their craft.

Whatever adjectives attributed to Oscars 2018, the Wheelchair Observer described the 90th edition of the Academy Awards as the best Oscars for the Philippines. Monumental, unforgettable, historical, worthy of grand celebration by the entire nation.

Why? In the last ceremony, the Philippines is the biggest recipient of 2018 trophy because of two Morenos. The Philippine’s Pitoy and the Puerto Rico’s Rita.

Jose “Pitoy” Moreno, Jr., born February 25, 1925 and died just recently, was a Filipino fashion designer regarded by the Asian fashion arena as the Fashion Czar of Asia. He was always in the spotlight of the world artistic fashion scene in the 1960’s until his retirement, paving the way for young designers in Europe, the Middle East, the Americas, and other parts of Southeast Asia.

Moreno graduated at the University of the Philippines with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. He joined the Upsilon Sigma Phi fraternity, where he built a strong society network with Ferdinand Marcos, Benigno Aquino Jr., Salvador “Doy” Laurel and many others. His closest friends were actress-painter Celia Diaz, who later became Mrs. Doy Laurel, and another great woman painter Araceli Dans, who treasured the hand-crafted designs made by Pitoy in many of her artworks.

Moreno was the fashion designer for the Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company. His designs were exhibited at the World’s Fair in Seattle, Washington and New York City and appeared on the pages of global magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Fortune, Harper’s Bazaar, Holiday, and Le Figaro. Moreno introduced the words jusi, piña and lepanto to the world. Philippine terminologies incorporated in international artistry.

Many heads of state, kings and queens, prominent personalities from Asia, Europe, and the Americas were his clients for many years. Adorned by Moreno’s artistic embroidery and hand-paintings include beauty queens, First Ladies of the Philippines, US First Lady Nancy Reagan, Pat Nixon, Betty Ford, Queen Sirikit of Thailand, Queen Margarretta of Bulgaria, Queen Sophia of Spain, Princess Margaret of Britain, the Marquesa de Villaverde, María del Carmen Martínez-Bordiú y Franco, Princess of Japan, Cristina Ford, Margot Fonteyn, Deeda Gerlach, and many more.

In 2009, Moreno was declared as a National Artist for Fashion Design by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. This was met with protest by other National Artists, such as Bienvenido Lumbera (National Artist for Literature), who told media that the work of Pitoy Moreno was not an accepted art form and was simply dressmaking. Grabe po naman kayo Mr. Lumbera!

And Rita Moreno?

A news dispatch after the Oscar 2018 narrated that back in 1962, Rita Moreno won an Oscars for her role as Anita in “West Side Story.” The Puerto Rican actress received the award wearing a beautiful black and gold gown. More than five decades later, she returns to the Oscars red carpet wearing the same dress.

Moreno, 86, recalled that the gown was made in the Philippines while shooting the movie “Cry of Bataan”. The Filipino designer is Jose Moreno, popularly known as Pitoy Moreno. Pitoy is one of the most celebrated fashion designers in the Philippines on that days.

Rita Moreno said she was hoping Pitoy watched the 2018 Oscars ceremony so “he gets to see this extraordinary dress again.” For 56 years, Rita kept and treasure the gown made and designed for her by Pitoy whom many national artists of the Philippines in 2009 said undeserving to be an artist. They protested in the streets, feasted on media, belittled Pitoy in despicable manner.

While Rita, very proud in an avant-garde artistic gown made by Pitoy attracted international notice, praises, media attention, presented the award for Best Foreign Film won by Chile’s “A Fantastic Woman”. She even said that she always remember the Filipino designer anytime she reminisces about the 1962 Oscars, hearing news about the Philippines, and in visiting his closet of gowns.

Rita Moreno is one of only twelve artists in the world to have won all four major annual American entertainment awards: an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy and a Tony; one of 23 achievers of the so-called Triple Crown of Acting, with individual competitive Academy, Emmy and Tony awards (she and Helen Hayes are the only female who have achieved both distinctions). She won other awards including the much valued Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor.

Rita Moreno with very high respect and admiration to the Filipino Design Artist made the biggest throwback in the arts world and stole the spotlight at the 2018 Oscar Awards simply by wearing an evening gown designed for her by the late Filipino designer in 1962.

Iba talaga kung pagsasampalin ng panahon ang mga ipokrito at ipokrita sa larangan ng sining sa Pilipinas. Ang hinahamak-hamak na si Pitoy Moreno na hindi umano karapat-dapat sa titulong Pambansang Alagad ng sining ay kinikilala at iginagalang sa buong mundo dahil sa sining ng paglikha. Higit sa lahat, sa sining na nagsusulong ng mga gawang Filipino na pumaparehas at umuungos sa iba pang malalaking bansa.

The recent Oscars is a wake-up call to the leaders of the arts community in our country specially the NA selection committee. The term Pambansa should be the number one criteria. How can one be a Pambansa when even a piece of his or her work is not even known in a school classroom much more nationally. Pitoy is not only Pambansa but Pandaigdig.

Halimbawa, sapat ang tulang “Isang Dipang Langit” at nobelang “Mga Ibong Mandaragit” upang si Ka Amado V. Hernandez ay maging National Artist. Gayon din sina Fernando Amorsolo, Botong Francisco, BenCab, Cesar Legaspi at iba pa. Ilang gawa lamang nila ay pasok na pasok sa kamalayan ng bansa. Sapat na ang “Aguila” upang si Eddie Romero ay kilalanin. Lalo na ang musika nina Mang Levi Celerio at Lucio San Pedro. Pero mayroong premyadong kahit isang tula o pamagat man lamang ng kanilang sinulat ay hindi alam ng tao. This is the line of assesment that should be address.

It is fundamental to revisit the criteria for the selection. The National Artist award is a state award. This column heard that another batch of National Artist will be announced later. Who are the nominees this year? Who selected them? How they were chosen?

The people have the right to know.

The last Oscars was a strong warning to take action concerning something that was overlooked or neglected. It was a criticism in the highest level for the entire arts bureaucracy in our country.

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