National Artist Salvador Bernal dies

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 26 2011 03:44 PM | Updated as of Oct 27 2011 02:56 AM

National Artist for Theater and Design Salvador “Badong” Bernal. Photo courtesy of CCP

MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) - National Artist for Theater Design Salvador "Badong" Bernal passed away on Wednesday afternoon. He was 66.

In a phone interview with abs-cbnNEWS.com, Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) artistic director Chris Millado said Bernal was brought to St. Luke's Medical Center in Quezon City at around 12 p.m. on Wednesday but was declared dead on arrival.

"He (Bernal) already suffered a stroke many years back...But we don't know the actual cause of death yet," he said.

Millado said Bernal last worked with CCP in "Banaag at Sikat," Bienvenido Lumbera's rock musical which was staged at the Little Theater in August 2010.

Before his death, the National Artist was working on the design of "King Lear" with the Philippine Educational Theater Association to be directed by his long-time friend and collaborator, Felix "Nonon" Padilla.

"Badong redefined scenic design in the Philippines and was a teacher and mentor to our current crop of designers. He was responsible for creating the beautiful sets and costumes that defined the aesthetics of the various ballet, theater and musical productions at the CCP and other venues," Millado said in a statement released by the CCP hours after the phone interview.

"He will be greatly missed as a theater artist, mentor and friend," he added.

Palace mourns Bernal's death

Malacañang on Wednesday night said it is saddened by the news of Bernal's passing.

"We join our countrymen in mourning the death of one of our cultural pillars, and extend our deepest sympathies to his family and the entire artistic community," it said in a statement.

"Badong Bernal's life consisted of him showcasing, time and again, the creativity and ingenuity inherent to Filipinos. His resourcefulness and meticulous pursuit of perfection on the stage will be missed.

"Beyond his impressive career as an artist, he made it his mission, as teacher, to pass on his knowledge to those who will have to stand in his place in the coming generations. He did his part to ensure that Philippine art will continue to be dynamic and relevant, even as the torch is passed from old masters like him to emerging talents in the nation's artistic landscape.

"May his life and work continue to inspire Filipinos in all fields and endeavors, and may we all continue to strive to live up to the standard of excellence he has set."

National Artist, teacher

The CCP said it will release another statement to inform the public about the schedule of activities for the necrological services for Bernal, who was conferred the National Artist Award for Theater Design in 2003.

According to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Bernal has designed more than 300 productions since 1969 and was known for harnessing the design potential of inexpensive local materials such as bamboo and abaca.

He was also a teacher at the University of the Philippines and the Ateneo de Manila University, and was the creator of the CCP Production Design Center.

The Guidon, the official student newspaper of the Ateneo, said on Twitter that Bernal was scheduled to teach two classes for the Interdisciplinary Studies Department this coming semester.