Bienvenido Lumbera

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Bienvenido Lumbera is a Filipino poet, critic and dramatist. He is a National Artist of the Philippines and a recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communications. He won numerous literary awards, including the National Book Awards from the National Book Foundation, and the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards.

Personal life[edit]

Lumbera was born in Lipa on April 11, 1932.[1] He was barely a year old when his father, Christian Lumbera (a Shooting Guard with a local basketball team), fell from a fruit tree, broke his back, and died. Carmen Lumbera, his mother, suffered from cancer and died a few years later. By the age of five he was an orphan. He and his older sister were cared for by their paternal grandmother, Eusebia Teru.

When the war ended, Lumbera and his grandmother returned to their home in Lipa. Eusebia, however, soon succumbed to old age and he was once again orphaned. For his new guardians, he was asked to choose between his maiden aunts with whom his sister had stayed or Enrique and Amanda Lumbera, his godparents. The latter had no children of their own and Bienvenido, who was barely fourteen at the time, says he chose them mainly because "they could send me to school."


Lumbera received his Litt.B. and M.A. degrees from the University of Santo Tomas in 1950, and then his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Indiana University in 1968.


Lumbera taught Literature, Philippine Studies and Creative Writing at the Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, the University of the Philippines Diliman, and the University of Santo Tomas. He was also appointed visiting professor of Philippine Studies at Osaka University of Foreign Studies in Japan from 1985 to 1988 and the very first Asian scholar-in-residence at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Martial law[edit]

After Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law, Lumbera was arrested by the Philippine military in January 1974. He was released in December of the same year. Cynthia Nograles, his former student at the Ateneo de Manila University, wrote to Gen. Fidel Ramos for his release. Lumbera married Cynthia a few months later. In 1976, Lumbera began teaching at the Department of Filipino and Philippine Literatures, U.P. College of Arts and Letters. In 1977, he served as editor of Diliman Review upon the request of then College of Arts and Sciences Dean Francisco Nemenzo. The publication was openly against the dictatorship but was left alone by Marcos’ authorities.

Creative works[edit]

At the height of Martial Law, Lumbera had taken on other creative projects. He began writing librettos for musical theater. Initially, the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) requested him to create a musical based on Carlos Bulosan’s America Is in the Heart. Eventually, Lumbera created several highly acclaimed musical dramas such as Tales of the Manuvu; Rama, Hari; Nasa Puso ang Amerika; Bayani; Noli me Tangere: The Musical; and Hibik at Himagsik Nina Victoria Laktaw. Sa Sariling Bayan: Apat na Dulang May Musika, an anthology of Lumbera's musical dramas, was published by De La Salle University-Manila Press in 2004. Lumbera authored numerous books, anthologies and textbooks such as: Revaluation; Pedagogy; Philippine Literature: A History and Anthology; Rediscovery: Essays in Philippine Life and Culture; Filipinos Writing: Philippine Literature from the Regions; and Paano Magbasa ng Panitikang Filipino: Mga Babasahing Pangkolehiyo.

Organizational affiliations[edit]

Lumbera also established his leadership among Filipino writers, artists and critics by co-founding cultural organizations such as the Philippine Comparative Literature Association (1969); Pamana ng Panitikan ng Pilipinas (1970); Kalipunan para sa mga Literatura ng Pilipinas (1975); Philippine Studies Association of the Philippines (1984) and Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (1976). In such ways, Lumbera contributed to the downfall of Marcos although he was in Japan during the 1986 Edsa uprising, teaching at the Osaka University of Foreign Studies.

Lumbera is also the founding and current chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the multi-awarded media group Kodao Productions and a member of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines and the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.

Literary reputation[edit]

Lumbera is now widely acknowledged as one of the pillars of contemporary Philippine literature, cultural studies and film, having written and edited numerous books on literary history, literary criticism, and film. He also received several awards citing his contribution to Philippine letters, most notably the 1975 Palanca Award for Literature; the 1993 Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature, and Creative Communication Arts; several National Book Awards from the Manila Critics Circle; the 1998 Philippine Centennial Literary Prize for Drama; and the 1999 Cultural Center of the Philippines Centennial Honors for the Arts. He is currently the editor of Sanghaya (National Commission on Culture and the Arts), Professor at the Department of English in the School of Humanities of the Ateneo de Manila University, Emeritus Professor at the Department of Filipino and Philippine Literature, College of Arts and Letters, U.P. Diliman, and Professor of Literature at De La Salle University. For a time, he also served as president of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), a national organization of more than 40,000 teachers and employees in the education sector.

The launching of Bayan at Lipunan: Ang Kritisismo ni Bienvenido Lumbera, edited by Rosario Torres-Yu and published by the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, was celebrated by the University of the Philippines in January 2006.

Bienvenido Lumbera was proclaimed National Artist in April 2006.



  • Ka Bels
  • The Yaya’s Lullaby
  • Servant
  • Sadness
  • the tae
  • Eulogy of Roaches

Literary criticism[edit]

  • Revaluation: Essays on Literature, Cinema, and Popular Culture, 1984
  • Tagalog Poetry, 1570-1898: Tradition and Influences on Its Development, 1986
  • Abot-Tanaw: Sulyap at Suri sa Nagbabagong Kultura at Lipunan, 1987


  • Pedagogy
  • Philippine Literature: A History and Anthology



External links[edit]