Different personalities and family members mourned the death of multi-awarded writer and renowned novelist Lualhati Bautista. She was 77.
The prolific writer passed away “peacefully” around the morning of February 11, Saturday, according to one of her grandchildren.
Bautista, a Martial Law survivor, was one of the most iconic figures in contemporary Philippine literature renowned for her stories that depicted abuse and life under late Ferdinand Marcos Sr’s nine-year Martial Law.
She garnered the prestigious Carlos Palanca Awards for Literature for her novels “GAPÔ” in 1980, “Dekada ’70” in 1983, and “Bata, Bata… Pa’no Ka Ginawa?” in 1984.
READ: ‘Dekada ’70’ Penguin edition? Lualhati Bautista gets offer to have novel published
All of these works enjoy wide readerships and continue to be used in high school, college and graduate studies as supplementary and/or required readings.
Bautista’s works as a screenwriter also earned recognition from the Metro Manila Film Festival, Film Academy of the Philippines, Star Awards, Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences Awards and the Gawad Urian Awards.
These include her screenplays for “Kung Mahawi Man ang Ulap” and “Bulaklak sa City Jail.”
She has authored ten books and 11 screenplays, as well as two short stories and a short story collection.
Bautista was also the recipient of several recognition awards from the Institute of National Languages, the Writers’ Union of the Philippines, Guillermo Mendoza Memorial Scholarship Foundation, the Feminist Centennial Film Festival, UP Film Center’s 16th International Women’s Film Festival, St. Scholastica College, Colegio de San Juan de Letran, and Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino.
She was also the vice president of the Screenwriters Guild of the Philippines, chair of the Kapisanan ng mga Manunulat ng Nobelang Popular, and a national fellow for fiction at the University of the Philippines Creative Writing Center in 1986.
In her writings, Bautista was known for her courageous exploration of women’s issues, compelling female characters, and their honest realism.
The novelist was also an activist known for her staunch criticism of the social and political system.
ALSO READ: Lualhati Bautista thanks Filipino netizens who helped shut down red-tagging commenter | ‘Takot at pagtitimpi’: Linya-Linya, Lualhati Bautista’s collab shirt highlights importance of speaking up
RELATED: Lualhati Bautista remembers Martial Law victims ahead of 49th anniversary of declaration | On Women’s Month, Lualhati Bautista, Etta Rosales speak on podcast to reflect on womanhood
Meanwhile, several tributes poured in honoring Bautista’s life, her contribution and her whole persona following her passing on Sunday.
One of her grandchildren, Xyril Salazar, described the renowned writer as a “fierce writer and critic, with a pen as mighty as her and with convictions and wits that made fascists tremble in fear to most.”
“With her ideals and advocacies all beyond reproach, always with the intent of advancing the social consciousness, especially about women’s rights and toppling the macho-feudal society we collectively live in,” he wrote on Twitter.
“A woman that has braved the regime of Marcos Sr. himself, never [wavering] and never backing down even when the dictator himself had the gun directly at her throat. Pinakamataas na pagpupugay sa iyo nanay, Lualhati,” Salazar added.
Lualhati Lives (1/6)
No words can express the sorrow that I, and my family find themselves in.
It is with the heaviest of hearts to let friends, family, admirers and critics know that my Writer, Novelist, Women's Rights advocate, Activist and loving grandmother Lualhati Bautista pic.twitter.com/v0CdozYcEc
— Xy #LualhatiLives (@XyrilSalazar) February 12, 2023
Former vice president Leni Robredo honored Bautista who supported her 2022 presidential bid.
“Isang pagpupugay kay Lualhati Bautista. Maraming salamat, Ma’am, sa pagbabahagi ng sarili, husay, at tapang sa pamamagitan ng inyong buhay at mga akda. Malaking karangalan po na matanggap ang inyong suporta,” she wrote.
Isang pagpupugay kay Lualhati Bautista. Maraming salamat, Ma’am, sa pagbabahagi ng sarili, husay, at tapang sa pamamagitan ng inyong buhay at mga akda. Malaking karangalan po na matanggap ang inyong suporta. pic.twitter.com/l3fXHdgw8g
— Leni Robredo (@lenirobredo) February 12, 2023
“Star of All Seasons” Vilma Santos, who top-billed the movie adaptations of Bautista’s “Bata, Bata… Pa’no Ka Ginawa” and “Dekada ’70,” also paid tribute to the literary heavyweight.
“Paalam at marning salamat, Bb. Lualhati Bautista. Sumalangit nawa ang iyong kaluluwa. Ipagpatuloy ko ang pakikipaglaban para sa karapatan ng mga kababaihan!” she wrote, mentioning the name of her iconic characters, Lea Bustamante and Andrea Bartolome.
Artist and comedian Jun Sabayton, also known as “Bayaw,” also shared how Bautista’s works shaped him as a person.
“Nawasak ako nong una kong nabasa ang Gapo [noong] high school ako, dahil sa Filipino teacher namin namin na si Mrs. Velarde na unang nag-introduce sa amin ng Ricky Lee, at dinala niya kami para manood naman ng Play ng Pitik Bulag sa Buwan ng Pebrero,” he wrote.
“Galit na galit ako sa Amerikano na binabaril nila na parang hayop ang mga katutubong Filipino sa nobela ni Ma’am Lualhati. Paalam po at maraming salamat sa sining niyo, Lualhati Bautista. S.L.N. (sumalangit nawa),” Sabayton continued.
Historian Xiao Chua described himself as a “fanboy” of the renowned writer, who he said was “patriotic.”
“Sana nakita mo kung paano po kayo pinagluluksaan ng bayang inirepresenta ninyo sa inyong mga akda, lalo na ang mga ina. Mabuhay ang bayan sa inyong mga akda, at mabuhay kayo sa puso ng bayan!” he said.
Entertainment writer Dindo Balares said that Bautista was among the writers who opened his eyes.
“Isa si Lualhati Bautista sa dalawang Pilipinong manunulat na nagsilbing tagaakay ko noong nag-uumpisa akong humakbang patungo sa mundo ng literature,” he said.
“Nagtuturo nang hindi nila nalalaman, dahil ang mga akda na mismo nila ang giya. Walang kaplastikan. Dambuhala ang mga obra-maestra, ‘di nagsulat ng kasinungalingan, masasakit na katotohanan ang mga pananaw, pero mapagkalinga at mapagmahal sa personal na pakikisama,” Balares added.
“Rare breed sila, katangi-tanging mga nilalang. Nakakalungkot mang sulatin, tila wala nang natitira. Maligayang paglalakbay tungo sa iyong Paraiso, Ate Ine,” he continued.
Other entities also commemorated the late renowned writer.
“Lualhati Bautista was an award-winning and renowned novelist, a fierce activist and critic, and one of the most iconic writers in contemporary Filipino literature. She may be gone, but her powerful stories will live on in our hearts and minds,” the National Book Store said.
“Paalam po, Ma’am Lualhati Bautista,” Anvil Publishing said.
“Maraming salamat sa iyong mga obra. Habang buhay kang mananatili sa aming puso at alaala,” the publishing house added.
The University of the Philippines’ Institute for Creative Writing quoted writer Luna Sicat-Cleto, who described Bautista’s works as having a “cathartic spark of agency” and calling her a “harbinger of conceptual and ideological lualhati” or peace.
“She allows us to engage in her honest meditations of modernity, of feminine and masculine identities, of racial and gender diversity, of the need to assert our rights for better, if not thoughtfully written stories that come from us, from who we truly are, as people, as selves,” Cleto said.
“Lualhati Bautista’s literary assertions came from her sincere belief in one’s basic right of freedom of speech. That indeed has brought us joy and sublime admiration for her voice,” she added.
The Cultural Center of the Philippines also paid a tribute to the writer, a Gawad CCP Para Sa Pantikan awardee.
“REST IN POWER, LUALHATI BAUTISTA,” it said.
“Pambihira ang nilikhang mga akda ni Lualhati Bautista bilang pangunahing manunulat sa ating panahon. Anim na dekada siyang puspusang nagsulat, at nakilala sa kaniyang mga nobelang nagmarka sa kamalayan ng mga mambabasang Pilipino, lalo na’t ang marami rito’y naisalin din sa midyum ng tanghalan, telebisyon, at pelikula,” it addded.
“Para sa kaniyang mga akdang may lakip na pahiwatig na gaano man kasama ang pinagdadaanan ng kaniyang mga tauhan sa lipunang mabangis at mapang-api, magtatagumpay pa rin ang kanilang pagkatao sa paglipas ng panahon. Taos-pusong pagpapasalamat,” the CCP continued.
Project Gunita, an academic research organization, said it would continue honoring Bautista’s works and activism.
“Isa si Lualhati Bautista sa maraming Pilipino na naging saksi at lumaban sa diktadurang U.S.-Marcos, at nagpunyagi upang panatilihin ang alaala ng ating bayan. Nagpupugay kami, at patuloy na gugunitain ang kanyang mga akda at pakikibaka. #DefendHistoricalTruth,” it said.
Local shirt brand Linya-Linya, which collaborated with the multi-awarded author, expressed its gratitude for Bautista’s creation of “meaningful” writings and literary works.
“Kay Ma’am Lualhati Bautista, premyadong nobelista, makata at tagapagtaguyod ng Panitikang Pilipino, isang mapagmahal na ina, lola, at kaibigan — maraming salamat po sa mga makabuluhang kuwento at akda; sa pagiging bukal ng tapang at inspirasyon sa marami, lalo na sa kababaihan; sa pagiging mahalagang tinig at mabuting impluwensya sa paglaban at pagpapasya para sa mga mahahalagang isyung panlipunan,” it said.
“Salamat po sa pagmamahal sa Linya-Linya at sa aming munting community, kung saan ipinagkatiwala ninyo ang ilan sa inyong mga obra at salita. Higit sa mga damit na inilabas natin sa ating mga kolaborasyon, hinding-hindi kukupas, at habambuhay nang nakatatak ang inyong mga linya sa aming mga puso at diwa,” the brand added.