Tribute to Ka Bien Lumbera

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Communist Party of the Philippines September 29, 2021

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and all revolutionary forces pay tribute to Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera (Ka Bien), people’s artist and stalwart of the revolutionary cultural movement in the Philippines. Ka Bien passed away yesterday at the age of 89. The Party extends its deepest sympathies to the Lumbera family, as well as to all of Ka Bien’s friends, comrades and colleagues.

The revolutionary forces in the Philippines, especially those in national democratic cultural movement, feel a deep sense of loss with the passing away of Ka Bien. He gave invaluable contributions to the theory and practice of the Filipino people’s cultural revolution which they wage alongside their economic, political and military struggles. His views on outstanding cultural and ideological issues were always considered highly for their incisive and historical insights. Ka Bien (Prof. Lumbera, to many) was among the strongest pillars of the national democratic cultural movement in the Philippines. He was a poet, a playwright and literary and cultural critique. He stood firmly for the interests of the people against the dominant bourgeois and feudal culture promoted by the oppressors and exploiters.

Ka Bien was an indefatigable activist and organizer. As a young cultural worker, he was inspired by the revival of the patriotic movement in the early 1960s and the surge of mass activism under the leadership of Kabataang Makabayan and the incipient Party, as well as the cultural revolution in China. He chaired the Panulat Para sa Kaunlaran ng Sambayanan (PAKSA), a pioneering patriotic and democratic organization of cultural workers in the 1960s.

For promoting the patriotic, scientific and mass-oriented culture, he became a target of the US-Marcos dictatorship. He was arrested and thrown into prison in 1974. His one year imprisonment only further steeled his courage and determination to fight. Ka Bien went underground and participated in revolutionary cultural work. He helped produce revolutionary poetry, anthologies and other works of art that promoted the people’s armed and mass resistance against the fascist dictatorship.

He saw the important role that cultural workers played in the mass movement and in the course of waging social revolution. He served as chair of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines. He served as president of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, was also a member of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan. He was named as National Artist for Literature in 2006.

As a cultural worker and academic, Ka Bien promoted the people’s aspiration and struggle for national and social liberation. He exalted works of revolutionary literature in the Filipino people’s struggle against Spanish colonialism and US imperialism and explicated their continuum with the current struggle of the Filipino people against imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.

The revolutionary movement will always remember Ka Bien Lumbera as among the literary and cultural greats of the Philippine revolution and a beloved comrade-in-arms.

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