Filipino artists are mourning today as they bid farewell to one of Philippine theater’s greatest pillars. Teatrong Mulat ng Pilipinas announced through a Facebook post the unfortunate passing of its founding artistic director, National Artist Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio. According to the theater company, the University of the Philippines Professor Emeritus died early morning of Dec. 29, Tuesday. She was 90.
Born on April 4, 1930 in Binondo, Manila, the Filipina artist was a well-known playwright and theater director for children’s theater. In 1959, Lapeña-Bonifacio helped build the Speech and Drama Department in the University of the Philippines in Diliman where she taught theater history and speech subjects.
As a thespian, Lapeña-Bonifacio was best remembered for her works on puppet theater. In 2010, she was honored with the title “Mother of Philippine Puppetry” by UP’s Department of Speech Communication and Theatre Arts for her efforts in promoting Philippine stories and Asian puppetry and eventually creating a Philippine puppet tradition.
Before she became a National Artist for Theater in October 2018, Lapeña-Bonifacio had written 44 plays, 136 short stories, and 26 books, mostly for children and young adults. Some of her notable plays were Abadeja: Ang Ating Sinderela (Abadeja: Our Own Cinderella), Papet Pasyon (Puppet Passion), and Sita & Rama: Papet Ramayana.
Rest in power, Lola Amel.