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Poet, national artist Lumbera passes away, 89

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Filipino poet and National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera passed away Tuesday. He was 89 years old.

Lumbera’s daughter, Tala, confirmed the news in a Facebook post. Meanwhile, Metro Manila Film Festival spokesperson and talent manager Noel Ferrer said the cause of death was stroke complications.

“Thank you so much and goodbye, Tatay Bien! Our National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera passed away a while ago at 9:14 a.m. due to ‘complications of stroke.’,” Ferrer said.

Born on April 11, 1932 in Lipa, Batangas, Lumbera created the highly acclaimed musical dramas “Tales of the Manuvu,” “Rama, Hari,” “Nasa Puso ang Amerika,” “Bayani,” “Noli Me Tángere,” and “Hibik at Himagsik nina Victoria Laktaw.”

Acknowledged as one of the pillars of contemporary Philippine literature, cultural studies, and film, having written and edited numerous books on them, he taught literature and creative writing in Ateneo de Manila University, University of the Philippines, De La Salle University and University of Santo Tomas.

He had received his bachelors and masters’ degrees from UST, the last in 1950. He also earned a Ph. D. in Comparative Literature from Indiana University in 1968.

After President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law, Lumbera was arrested by the military in January 1974. He was released in December of the same year.

In 1993, he was given the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communications after he “challenged Philippine society’s colonial point of view and restored the poems and stories of vernacular writers to an esteemed place in the Philippine literary canon.”

In 2006, he was honored with the National Artist Award for Literature.

Many of Lumbera’s colleagues and friends also expressed their grief online as they bid the renowned writer a heartfelt farewell.

Writer Rolando Tolentino said: “Ang sakit ng pagyao ng Artista ng Bayan. Maraming salamat (Our National Artist’s passing hurts so much. Thank you).”

Novelist Lualhati Bautista said: “Farewell, Bien, National Artist for Literature. You are one of the people I truly love. My condolences to you, Cynthia, to the family, to all the writers, students, and friends. You have our utmost honor.”


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