Screen and theater actor Bernardo Bernardo passes away at 73

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Bernardo Bernardo. (Photo by Ben Villao from the actor's Facebook page)

Bernardo Bernardo has passed away, his niece Susan Vecina Santos, reported on the actor’s Facebook page Thursday morning. He was 73 years old.

The cause of the actor’s demise was not revealed in the post, but Bernardo had been undergoing treatment since January for what he himself described as “a potentially life-threatening tumor in his pancreas.”

Born in Manila, Bernardo finished his degree of Bachelor of Literature in Journalism from the University of Santo Tomas. He got his theater training at the University of California and graduated and with a Master of Arts Degree at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts under a British Council grant.

Already a respectable theater actor when he transitioned to films in the mid-1970s, Bernardo went on to win the Gawad Urian Best Supporting Actor award in 1981 for his role as Manay Sharon in Ishmael Bernal’s “Manila By Night” (also titled “City After Dark”).

After several more movies where he got typecast in gay roles, Bernardo nabbed what was probably his most memorable role — as Dolphy’s nemesis Steve Carpio in the hit sitcom “Home Along Da Riles” and its subsequent movie offshoots.

After “Home Along Da Riles” ended its run, Bernardo migrated to the United States during the early 2000s. It was during this period that he lost several members of his immediate family (mother, brother, sister) as well as adopted son and close friends. A period of depression led to a diagnosis of mild bipolar disorder which was subsequently treated.

More than 10 years later, he returned to the country and performed in theater and film projects again, starting in 2014 with Nick Olanka’s indie drama “Ronda” starring Ai-Ai delas Alas.

This was followed by Lawrence Fajardo’s “Imbisibol,” which won him his second Gawad Urian Best Supporting Actor award in 2016.

His last two films were the recent Metro Manila Film Festival Best Picture “Ang Larawan” directed by Loy Arcenas and the romantic drama “The Significant Other” directed by Joel Lamangan.

Throughout his career, Bernardo also appeared in Japanese, Chinese, French-Italian and American co-productions filmed in the Philippines.

Trailblazing director Lav Diaz who directed Bernardo in the acclaimed epic “Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis” called the actor “a powerful performer” who also served as an inspiration during the film’s shoot.

Prior to his demise, Bernardo also headed the theater arts department of the Meridian International (MINT) College in Taguig City.