Response Speech by Lino Brocka upon receiving the 1985 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts
The filmmaker, like his peers in the other media, now realizes that the artist is also a public person. He no longer isolates himself from society. Instead of working in his ivory tower he is a citizen of the slums, of the streets, of the battlefields if need be. The artist is becoming a participant. He tries to be true, not only to his craft but also to himself. What he says on the screen, he also says in the streets. For it is the supreme duty of the artist to investigate the truth no matter what forces attempt to hide it. And then to report this truth to the people, to confront them with it. Like a whiplash it will cause wounds but will free the mind from the various fantasies and escapist fares with which “the establishment” pollutes our minds.
To the best of our abilities, and even if we often times fail, we must produce films that will hurt, films that will disturb, films that will not let you rest. For the times are bad and, given times like these, it is a crime to rest. We cannot rest, and should not, while there is a Filipino starving in Negros, an Aquino crying for justice, a victim of police killing lying in a garbage heap. Although it is the duty of the artist to work for what is true, good and beautiful, first we must expose and fight what is wrong.
In these times, when the government-controlled media hide the truth, when most of what we get is silly gossip, pretty flesh and sensationalized crime, we must go to the streets to find out what is happening. We must listen to those who dare risk their lives and livelihoods, who reiterate once more the utmost duty of the artist, that he be a committed person, taking the side of any human being who is violated, abused, oppressed or dehumanized, and that he use whatever instrument is his–the pen, the brush or the camera.
I accept this award for all such artists, dedicated persons whose names may never be known or published, doing their share, whether in the streets or in prison camps. Some of them may even have died, or at this very moment be fighting for their lives. This award then is for these artists.
They may gag and blindfold you, silence and imprison you, but they will never be able to destroy what made you an artist in the first place–your brave and continuing dedication to the human race.
Together with you I thank the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation for telling us that we should continue our work.