it’s just too much. maybe, too soon.
anyone who has seen me since FrancisM’s death, anyone who has read this blog’s past two entries, would know that I love FrancisM. that i’m a fan, that i respect him as an artist and person, that i admire the kind of convictions that he had, the lines he crossed to prove that he would die for them.
but even to me, pushing for a National Artist Award for FrancisM is like shooting from the hip and getting all overwhelmed by emotion. yes, he has affected this nation, he has spoken about it with honesty, has stood up for the Pinoy and Pinay. but is he the only one who has done this? is he the one who most deserves this award at this point in time?
this is not to question the amount of work that he has done, nor is it being ironic about the fact that FrancisM can’t create new songs anymore and build on his existing work — i will get to that later. this is to be truthful to the fact that death shouldn’t be the deciding factor in choosing who will be National Artist of this country at any given time. yes, it should be life lived, it should be creative output, it should be affecting nation, as so many have said (check out this rundown) about FrancisM. but this may be said of so many other artists, and in which case, it is imperative to look at who else should be up for the National Artist Award, dead or alive. who else is both artist and citizen like FrancisM, and has had more years to prove it.
i can’t imagine FrancisM disagreeing. anyone who listens to his songs will know that while he stood for the present and looked to the future, he had a pretty good sense of the past in his hands. this can only be proven by the kind of respect he had for the artists who came before him, a respect that’s made real by his effort at collaborating with them.
with Bartolome in “Tayo’y Mga Pinoy”, the original of which he sampled. with Ayala who wrote the lyrics to and played instruments for “Halalan”. with Hanopol for whom he wrote lyrics to the song “Namamasyal” for Hanopol’s all-guitar album Lagablab. if you read his blog entries on working with Cayabyab, it is clear that FrancisM had utmost respect for him as well (calling him Maestro, or Mr.C). and then there’s Smith: who will dare say that he isn’t the living rock god of this country, and that he doesn’t deserve the National Artist award as well? Pepe has changed the way we view ourselves, as much as FrancisM has.
it is because of these collaborations, alongside the many FrancisM’s songs that talk about respecting those in the past, learning from what they’ve done, standing up for what they’ve gone through, that i can imagine FrancisM saying: no, don’t give it to me just yet. no, let me fall in line. let me see all these people i respect, from Bartolome to Ayala, Hanopol to Smith to Cayabyab, get what they deserve first. and then think about me. then, consider me.
so no, this shouldn’t be about whether FrancisM is able to fulfill all the requirements to be National Artist as Smoke was able to show, nor should this be about his death. it should be about his work and what else his estate can come up with, by him, from him and for him after his death. many things can be done, beyond FrancisM’s life. he had projects lined up, and given the outpouring of support upon his death, this work can appear in tranches and we would all be falling all over ourselves to get to them. FrancisM’s body of work also goes beyond music and rap, because he was also photographer and video director, he was host, he was artist and clothing designer. there is so much more that FrancisM can offer at this point in time despite, and maybe precisely because of, his death.
and once we have seen the true breadth of his work, once the family has been given a chance to prove the value of their patriarch to this nation, then let’s talk about the National Artist award. Then, let us discuss what it is that makes FrancisM more deserving of it, than those guys he had admired, respected, and collaborated with. then, let us imagine him as National Artist, because he will finally deserve it, and would’ve wanted it himself if he were only alive to see it.