National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera has passed away. He was 89.
Lumbera, a Professor Emeritus at the University of the Philippines Diliman’s Department of Filipino and Philippine Literatures, spent much of his decades-long career writing numerous works in English and in Filipino. He began as a poet, releasing the poetry collection Likhang Dila, Likhang Diwa (1933), and Balaybay: Mga Tulang Lunot at Manibalang. He completed his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Comparative Literature at Indiana University in 1967.
When Martial Law was declared, Lumbera went underground and became the editor of revolutionary literary publication Ulos. He was arrested by the military in January 1974 and released December of the same year. He began teaching at the Department of Filipino and Philippine Literatures at the UP College of Arts and Letters in 1976, and became the editor of Diliman Review in 1977.
At the height of Martial Law, Lumbera took on other creative projects, writing librettos for musical theater, including highly acclaimed musical dramas such as Tales of the Manuvu; Rama, Hari; Nasa Puso ang Amerika; Bayani; Noli me Tangere: The Musical; and Hibik at Himagsik Nina Victoria Laktaw.
Lumbera has received numerous awards throughout the years, including the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature, and Creative Communication Arts in 1993, the Gawad CCP, Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas, Manila Critics’ Circle, and the Palanca Awards. He was conferred with the title of National Artist for Literature in 2006.
Tributes and messages outpoured from writers’ and artists’ circles on social media, who mourned the poet’s and critic’s passing.
Hindi ko mailalarawan ang nadaramang lungkot. Paalam Dr Bienvenido Lumbera (1932-2021), manunulat, kritiko, guro, Pambansang Alagad ng Sining sa Panitikan. Mahal na mahal ka namin.
— Jerry B. Grácio (@JerryGracio) September 28, 2021
This article, Bienvenido Lumbera, National Artist for Literature, passes away, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.