Even though he had already been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year, actor Bernardo Bernardo managed to make his final bow on the big screen, in Joel Lamangan’s “The Significant Other,” which was shown in cinemas recently.
Bernardo passed away on Thursday morning, according to talent manager Noel Ferrer. He was 73.
Lamangan described Bernardo as the epitome of a dedicated actor. “He easily switched from theater to TV and film and did his job to the highest level. It’s a sad day for Philippine entertainment.”
His passing is deeply felt in show business, which also suffered the loss of actor Spanky Manikan and filmmaker Maryo J. delos Reyes recently.
Singer-actress Mitch Valdes, who played Bernardo’s daughter in the stage musical “Katy!” in 1987, hailed him “as a powerful and impressive actor onstage.”
“He was very generous,” model-turned-producer Bessie Badilla said. “He flew from Los Angeles to New York to cohost the book launch of [Inquirer columnist] Ruben Nepales with me.”
Famous for playing the gay nemesis of the late “Comedy King” Dolphy in the ABS-CBN sitcom “Home Along da Riles” in the 1990s, he lived for a spell in the United States. He returned to the country in 2015.
Filmmaker Adolfo Alix Jr. recounted: “I am a big fan of his work in Ishmael Bernal’s ‘Manila by Night’ (for which he won an Urian best actor in 1981). When we met at an event, I immediately cast him in ‘Ronda’ and ‘Whistleblower.’”
Bernardo also played a “tikbalang” (mythical half-man/half-horse creature) in Lav Diaz’s “Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis,” which won the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize at the Berlinale in 2016.
One of the best actors
Diaz called Bernardo “one of the country’s best actors.”
“Hele” producer Bianca Balbuena related that Bernardo “would rehearse his lines every morning, would coach his coactors in his spare time and shared his life stories on the set.”
Friends remember fondly his wicked sense of humor.
Ces Quesada, his costar in the stage and movie versions of “Imbisibol,” said: “He would playfully play the evil ‘third wheel’ in my marriage—often telling people that my daughter was actually his. I am really going to miss him.”
Wake is at St. Peter Chapels, Araneta Avenue, Quezon City. Cremation is set on Tuesday.