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Vol. VI, No. 18      June 11-17, 2006      Quezon City, Philippines











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Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera: An Authentic National Artist

By the Artists for the Removal of Gloria (ARREST Gloria)

We in the artists for the Removal of Gloria (ARREST Gloria) convey our warmest congratulations to Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera – literary scholar, social commentator, librettist, and poet – for his receipt June 9 of the National Artist Award for Literature in a ceremony at the Malacańang Palace.

Not only is the conferment of the said award on him long overdue. He is definitely one of the most deserving recipients of the National Artist Award since it was first given in 1973.

Lumbera had been a truly national artist long before anyone even thought of nominating him for the National Artist Award.

He started out in his advocacy of a culture reflecting the aspirations and struggles of the Filipino people in the 1960s by involving himself in the movement for the Filipinization of the country’s educational system. It was also around this time that he began to highlight in his work as literary critic and historian the value of the works of those writers seeking to continue the patriotic traditions of Francisco Balagtas, Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, and Aurelio Tolentino.

In 1971, he became the chairman of the militant writers’ organization Panulat para sa Kaunlaran ng Sambayanan (PAKSA). He also became adviser of the progressive poets’ group Galian sa Arte at Tula (GAT) upon its establishment in 1973.

His involvement in cause-oriented writers’ organizations led to his arrest and incarceration in 1974. After his release, he continued to be active in the people’s movement. He has absolutely no record of compromising the causes he has espoused for personal or professional gain, unlike some of those who received or were considered for the National Artist Award ahead of him.

At present, Lumbera is a national council member of the multi-sectoral Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), and chairperson of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP). He also chairs the Boards of Directors of Kodao Productions and the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG).

We laud Lumbera for his recognition of the important role that culture plays in shaping a country’s destiny. In this regard, he is with few equals in all the circles he moves in.

His librettos and poetry are vivid and moving portrayals of the Filipino people’s historic quests for sovereignty and social justice. His essays are incisive dissections of particular aspects of the state of the nation at given historical junctures. His scholarly work – the originality of which we can ascertain unlike that of a few who claim to be “pioneers” in the realm of Philippine literary scholarship – contribute greatly to the records of our nation’s achievements in the field of arts and culture.

Lumbera is indeed an authentic National Artist, in that his artistic work reflects and inspires our struggles as a nation. By this, he deserves a place in the same league with fellow National Artists Amado V. Hernandez and Lino Brocka.

June 10, 2006

Southern Tagalog Exposure + KASIBULAN Women Visual Artists’ Collective + KUMASA (Kulturang Ugnayan ng Manggagawa at Uring Anakpawis sa Timog Katagalugan) + ARTIST, Inc. (Arts Research and Training Institute in Southern Tagalog) + Kilometer 64 Poetry Group + Tambisan sa Sining + APLAYA (Artistang Pangkultura ng Mamamalakaya sa Timog Katagalugan) + UPLB Umalohokan + Pokus Gitnang Luson + Paolo Martinez + Andrea Muńoz + Gian Paolo Mayuga + Jeffrey Ferrer + Onin Tagaro + Bobby Balingit + Winnie Balingit + Lourd de Veyra + Dong Abay + Ninj Abay + Con Cabrera + Roselle Pineda + Heidi Takama + Boom Dizon + Rommel Lozano + Mary Rose Abano + Aba Dalena + Sari Dalena + Gari B + Adios GMA-NCR + Tudla Productions

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© 2006 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

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