Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio, Ryan Cayabyab among newest National Artists

National Artist
Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio and Ryan Cayabyab

Malacañang announced on Tuesday the newest set of people to be inducted Wednesday into the Order of the National Artists of the Philippines.

One of the artists to be awarded is Amelia Lapeña Bonifacio, known as the “Grand Dame of Southeast Asian Children’s Theater.” This pioneer in Philippine puppet theater previously received in 2015 the Natatanging Gawad Buhay! award for Lifetime Achievement.


After her research in the ‘70s on Asian puppetry (Japanese bunraku and Indonesian wayang, for example), she saw the need for this form of theater for young children in the country. This led her to found Teatrong Mulat ng Pilipinas, the official theater company and puppetry troupe of the University of the Philippines, in 1977.

This conferment for Amelia Lapeña Bonifacio will be the eighth to be awarded under the Theater category. She will be joining stalwarts and pioneers in Philippine theater, including Daisy Avellana, Honorata “Atang” de la Rama, Rolando S. Tínio, Salvador F. Bernál, Lamberto V. Avellana, Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero, and Severino Montano.

Also slated to be proclaimed as National Artist is Ryan Cayabyab, who is an esteemed composer, musical director, and conductor. Cayabyab has also previously written for the theater stage. The most acclaimed of his works are his musicals Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, and his adaptation of the Nick Joaquin play, Ang Larawan.

Joining the list as well is architect Francisco Mañosa, who is famous for designing the Coconut Palace and the EDSA Shrine. On the other hand, historian Resil Mojares and Hiligaynon novelist and essayist Ramon Muzones will be proclaimed National Artists in Literature.

Rounding up the list will be cartoonist Larry Alcala, widely known for his cartoon series Slice of Life, and Kidlat Tahimik, dubbed as the Father of Philippine Independent Cinema.

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