Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera: An Authentic National Artist
By the Artists for the Removal of Gloria (ARREST
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
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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