National Artist for Theater and Design Salvador “Badong” Bernal passed away yesterday. He was 66 years old.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of a great artist,” says CCP Vice-President and Artistic Director Chris Millado. “Badong redefined scenic design in the Philippines and was a teacher and mentor to our current crop of designers. He was responsible for creating the beautiful sets and costumes that defined the aesthetics of the various ballet, theater and musical productions at the CCP and other venues,” Millado continues. “He will be greatly missed as a theater artist, mentor and friend.”
Considered as the Father of Philippine Theater Design, Salvador Floro Bernal produced a brilliant body of works which have enriched Filipino original works in theater, dance and music. Since 1969, Bernal designed more than 300 productions for drama, musicals, operas and concerts such as those for Musical Theater Philippines and Opera Guild of the Philippines. He had designed period costumes for movies like Oro, Plata, Mata and Gumising Ka, Maruja and for TV commercials and calendars. Bernal was known for using indigenous and locally available materials for stage such as bamboo, abaca fabric, hemp twice raw, rattan chain links, and styrofoams in productions such as Rajah Sulayman, Abaniko, La Traviata, Tomaneg at Aniway and Pagkahaba-haba man ng Prusisyon sa Simbahan din ang Tuloy (Much Ado About Nothing). As an acknowledged guru of contemporary Filipino theater design, Bernal created the CCP Production Design Center and organized PATDAT (Philippine Association of Theatre Designers and Technicians) in 1995. As president of PATDAT, which is also the Philippine Center of OISTAT (Organisation Internationale des Scenographes, Techniciens et Architectes du Theatre), Bernal introduced Philippine theater design to the world.
His last CCP production was the musical version of “Banaag at Sikat” with Tanghalang Pilipino. Before his death, Bernal was working on the design of King Lear with PETA to be directed by long time friend and collaborator Felix “Nonon” Padilla.
Salvador Bernal was conferred the National Artist Award in 2003. Necrological services will be announced later.