Veteran actress Nora Aunor has thanked fans for their outpouring of support after the president of her native Philippines refused to honour her with a top cultural award due to a past drug issue.
The famed Thy Womb star's name was noticeably absent from the annual list of National Artists President Benigno Aquino Iii announced on Monday (30Jun14), even though officials at the National Center for Culture and the Arts (Ncca) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (Ccp) submitted her name for the prestigious prize.
Explaining his decision, the President said, "My only problem - we all know I respect Ms. Nora Aunor - was her drug conviction. She was convicted and punished, and the question here is: if we make her a National Artist, is there a message we are sending to the people?"
Aunor was never actually convicted - she was arrested for drug possession in Los Angeles in 2005, but the charges were dropped in 2007 after she completed a rehabilitation programme.
Now Aunor has spoken out about the scandal, admitting she was initially "hurt" by the list snub.
She says, "(The) outpouring of support that I saw and felt from my countrymen - my colleagues in the industry, fans and friends, priests and nuns, teachers and other academicians (sic), media people, national artists, even ordinary people from here and abroad - more than made up for the disappointment.
"(The people's reaction) made me feel that, with or without the trophy and honour that are given by those in power, the Filipino masses have already spoken and have conferred the highest honour on (me), by declaring (me) the people's national artist in their hearts."