In a Facebook post posted by the artist’s daughter, Tala, it was revealed that Bienvenido Lumbera, one of the country’s National Artists, at age 89, passed on the morning of September 28, due to complications of a stroke, at his home in Quezon City.
Lumbera received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature, and Creative Communications in 1993 before being named a National Artist of Literature in 2006.
The poet, playwright, critic, translator, and teacher was born on April 11, 1932, in Lipa, Batangas.
After the passing of his parents, Timoteo and Carmen, he lived with his godparents Enrique and Amanda Lumbera. He would go on to spend most of his life writing and teaching, already publishing poems before he left college in 1953.
Most of his works dealt with many of the social issues during his time. He himself was an outspoken activist, who was often found at demonstrations, and never afraid to voice his support for causes whether in his works or out on the streets.
He firmly believed that artists had a responsibility to speak out about injustices. At a press conference for the National Coalition for the Protection of Workers’ Rights and the militant labor alliance Kilusang Mayo Uno in 2005, he stated that “literature gives a voice to those who have been silenced,”
His notable works included widely influential musicals such as “Tales of the Manuvu”, “Rama Hari”. “Hibik at Himagsik nina Victoria Laktaw” and “Bayani”. As well as a collection of poetry called “Likhang Dia, Likhang Diwa”, and critical literature “Revolution: Essays on Literature, Cinema and Popular Culture”, including the textbook “Philippine Literature: A History and Anthology.”
As well as an advocate for the Filipino language, he was a strong challenger of colonialism. The citation for his Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1993 included a quote from Lumbera, “language is the key to national identity.
Until Filipino becomes the true lingua franca of the Philippines, the gap between the well-educated classes and the vast majority of Filipinos cannot be bridged.”