Personalities across the sociopolitical spectrum mourned the passing of acclaimed Filipino author Lualhati Bautista, who passed away on Sunday, Feb. 12 at 77 years old.
Vilma Santos-Recto, who portrayed Lea Bustamante and Amanda Bartolome in the respective movie adaptations of Bautista's Bata, Bata Pa'no ka Ginawa? and Dekada '70, took to her Instagram stories to thank the author's contributions to the country.
"Sumalangit nawa ang iyong kaluluwa. Ipagpatuloy ko ang pakikipaglaban para sa karapatan ng mga kababihan," Recto-Santos wrote, signing it as Lea Bustamante, Amanda Bartolome, and Ate Vi.
Xyril Salazar, Bautista's grandson, on Twitter remembered her not only as a writer, novelist, women's rights advocate, and activist, but also as a "loving mother and grandmother."
Salazar said his "Nanay Ine" was a fierce writer and critic, with a pen as mighty as her and with convictions and wits that made fascists tremble in fear. In particular, he noted how Bautista braved the martial rule of Ferdinand E. Marcos, "never wavering and never backing down even when the dictator himself had the gun directly at her throat."
Lualhati Lives (1/6)— Xy #LualhatiLives (@XyrilSalazar) February 12, 2023
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
"Ang iyong mga matutulis na salitang tumulong magpabagsak ng mga sagad-sagarang diktador; nagmulat at nagpakilos ng libo-libong mga kasamang matapang na lumalaban tulad mo, at mga salitang araw-araw ay nagbibigay inspirasyon sa milyong mga Artista ng Bayan tulad ko, na pilit gumagawa ng sining na malaya at mapagpalaya," Salazar said on Twitter.
Screenwriter Jerry Gracio, who authored the poetry collection Bagay Tayo and its sister essay collection Hindi Bagay, said Bautista should've long been conferred the National Artist for Literature title—the Philippines's highest distinction for writers.
"Matagal na dapat naging National Artist for Literature si Lualhati Bautista, tagatala ng danas ng babae, ng babae at ng bayan, ng mismong bayan," Gracio said on Facebook.
Bebang Siy, who wrote the creative nonfiction books It's A Mens World and It's Raining Mens, also noted how Bautista was more than just a female writer, pro-women, for women, and somebody who chronicled the woman experience.
"Siya ay isang manunulat na buo ang loob, at tumuligsa sa mga abusado at diktador," Siy said on Facebook. "Ang kanyang tinig ay tinig ng isang Pilipino na bumabangga sa dahas at awtoridad."
Siy noted that Bautista taught everybody that fighting against abuse is the responsibility of everybody, regardless of gender.
Comedian Jun Sabayton recalled growing up reading Bautista's works. In particular, he said it was 'GAPÔ that really moved him in high school.
"Galit na galit ako sa Amerikano na binabaril nila na parang hayop ang mga katutubong Filipino sa nobela ni Mam Lualhati," Sabayton said on Facebook. "Paalam po at maraming salamat sa sining niyo. Nalulungkot ako sa iyong pagkawala."
He's also hoping for more women National Artists, noting that most awardees are men.
Novelist Edgar Samar of Janus Silang fame attributed his love of reading and writing to Bautista. "Nagluluksa sa pagyao ng nobelistang pinagkakautangan natin ng maraming bagay—bilang bayang nagsisikap na huwag makalimot," Samar said on Facebook.
Journalist Joel Salud, a close friend of Bautista (who's also the godmother of his daughter), thanked her for the happy memories and for all the help she gave to his family.
Salud recalled how Bautista provided a crib to his then-newborn daughter. "My family owes you an immense amount of gratitude for the care and friendship you offered our way," he said on Facebook. "Farewell for now, beloved warrior. You've fought the good fight, and you've kept the faith. Undoubtedly, you have lived up to your name—Lualhati, meaning Glory."
Among her most significant contributions was the crafting of a Tagalog prose style at once accessible and powerful. —American historian Joseph Scalice
Ferdinand Jarin, who wrote the Palanca award-winning essay Anim na Sabado ng Beyblade which eventually became an essay collection of the same title, recalled his humble beginnings as a writer and how Bautista supported him every step of the way.
"Pero lagpas-lagpas pa sa pagsusulat, lagi mo ring pinalalakas ang loob ko sa mga laban ko sa buhay," Jarin said on Facebook. "Sabi mo pa noon: 'Ang importante lagi, nasa likod mo 'yong matitinong mga tao.'"
He also remembered Bautista, his "Tita Hati," and her sense of humor. "Nang maikuwento ko sa'yo noon na di ako naging manunulat kundi dahil sa mga nobela mo, sabi mong pabiro: 'Kasalanan ko pa pala, Ferdie.'"
American historian Joseph Scalice noted how Bautista's works are "historically grounded and socially incisive."
"Among her most significant contributions was the crafting of a Tagalog prose style at once accessible and powerful," Scalice said on Twitter.
Ateneo de Manila University shared its video interview with Bautista, who was the recipient of its Gawad Tanglaw ng Lahi in 2022. The award is given to individuals "who have dedicated their life’s work to the pursuit of Filipinism and the Filipino identity through any of the channels of culture."
"Nakikiramay kami sa lahat ng kanyang naulila, at sisikapin naming isulong ang mga ipinaglaban niya sa panitikan—ang tinig at kapangyarihan ng kababaihan, at ang tunay na kalayaan," Ateneo said on Facebook.
The Cultural Center of the Philippines on Facebook posted the citation of Gawad CCP Para sa Sining in 2020, when Bautista won the award.
"Pambihira ang nilikhang mga akda ni Lualhati bilang pangunahing manunulat sa ating panahon," an excerpt of the citation read. "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."
Bautista is known for her novels ’GAPÓ (1980), Dekada ’70 (1983), and Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa? (1988), as well as her Palanca-winning short stories Tatlong Kwento ng Buhay ni Juan Candelabra (1982) and Buwan, Buwan, Hulugan mo Ako ng Sundang (1983), as well as screenplays Bulaklak ng City Jail (1984) and Kadenang Bulaklak (1994).
Her remains are available for public viewing on Feb. 15 to 17 at St. Peter Chapels in Commonwealth, Quezon City. Internment is scheduled on Feb. 17 at the Holy Cross Memorial Park in Novaliches, Bautista's family said.