(OCTOBER 24)—Five of the seven National Artists declared by the Office of the President of the Republic of the Philippines on Oct. 23 are UP alumni: Lauro “Larry” Zarate Alcala Sr. (Visual Arts), Amelia Lapeña Bonifacio (Theater), Raymundo “Ryan” Cipriano Pujante Cayabyab (Music), Kidlat Tahimik (Cinema) and Resil B. Mojares (Literature).
Completing the list of the seven newly declared National Artists are: Francisco Mañosa (Architecture) and Ramon Muzones (Literature).
According to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the Order of National Artists is “the highest national recognition given to Filipino individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts; namely, Music, Dance, Theater, Visual Arts, Literature, Film, Broadcast Arts, and Architecture and Allied Arts. The order is jointly administered by the NCCA and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and conferred by the President of the Philippines upon recommendation by both institutions.”
Alcala was a well-known cartoonist and illustrator in the country. Among his popular cartoon series are “Slice of Life” (1980), “Mang Ambo” (1963) and “Kalabog en Bosyo” (1949). According to Sagisag Kultura Vol. 1 (2015), Alcala made over 500 cartoon characters, 20 comic strips, six films, two murals and 15,000 published pages in his 56 years as a professional cartoonist.
He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting at UP in 1950 through a scholarship granted by publisher Don Ramon P. Roces. He served as a professor at the UP College of Fine Arts from 1951 to 1981.
Bonifacio is a playwright, puppeteer and educator dubbed as “The Grande Dame of the Southeast Asian Children’s Theater.” Her first two plays, “Sepang Loca” (1957) and “Rooms” (1958) both won awards in the Wisconsin Playwrighting Competition and were staged at the UW Play Circle Theater in the United States. In 1977, she founded and managed the Teatrong Mulat ng Pilipinas, UP’s official children’s theatre and puppetry company. Among her most popular works translated in different languages are “Ang Paghuhukom” and “Sita & Rama: Papet Ramayana” which were staged all over the world.
She is a Professor Emeritus in UP and served as an English professor. She helped establish the UP Creative Writing Center where she served as director from 1986 to 1995.
Cayabyab is a musician, composer and conductor popularly known in the music industry as Maestro or Mr. C. He was also known for forming the popular ‘90s singing group Smokey Mountain. He is currently the executive director of the Philpop Music Fest Foundation, Inc., the group that organizes the Philippine Popular Music Festival. In 2004, he received a Gawad CCP award for Music and was one of the recipients of the 100 awards of the CCP Centennial Honors for the Arts.
Cayabyab entered UP Diliman (UPD) as a student in 1971 and took up a course in Business Administration. He later shifted to the UP College of Music (CMu) and earned a degree in Bachelor of Music major in Theory. He served as a professor at CMu under the Department of Composition and Music Theory.
Kidlat Tahimik, formerly known as Eric de Guia, is a film director, writer and actor dubbed as the “Father of the Philippine Independent Film.” His debut film “Perfumed Nightmare” (1977) which won three awards at the Berlin Film Festival was distributed by Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope and premiered in the James Agee Cinema in New York.
Among his works are “Turumba” (1983), a documentary which won the Best Third World Film at the Mannheim Film; his short film “Memories of Overdevelopment” (2010) and “Lakbayan” (2018).
Kidlat Tahimik studied AB Speech and Drama in UP in 1962. He earned his Master in Business Administration degree from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He was a former lecturer at the UP College of Mass Communication (CMC). In 2009, he received a UP Gawad Plaridel Award (Independent Film) from CMC.
Mojares, a historian and Philippine literature critic, is a former director of the Cebuano Studies Center. He is a Professor Emeritus at the University of San Carlos where he earned his bachelor’s degree in English, master’s degree in Literature and post graduate studies. He obtained his doctorate degree at the then UP College of Arts and Sciences in 1979.
Mojares has won several National Book Awards from the Manila Critics Circle and received the Free Press and Carlos Palanca prizes for his short stories. He also received a Centennial Award for Cultural Research from the CCP. He also served as visiting professor or fellow at the Universities of Wisconsin, Hawaii, Michigan, Kyoto University, University of California, Los Angeles, and the National University of Singapore.
The new members of the Order of National Artists, according to the NCCA’s National Artists of the Philippines Guidelines, will receive a cash award of P100, 000 net of taxes for living awardees; a cash award of P75,000 for the posthumous awardees payable to their legal heir/s; a monthly pension, medical and hospitalization benefits; life insurance coverage for Awardees who are still insurable; a state funeral and burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, and a place of honor, in line with protocular precedence, at national state functions, and recognition at cultural events.