Veteran theater and film actor Bernardo “Bernie” Bernardo died on Thursday at the age of 73 of pancreatic cancer.
His death was first announced on his Facebook page by his niece Susan Vecina Santos, who posted, “Our Tito Bernardo Bernardo passed away this morning, thank you for all your prayers.”
Santos said her uncle’s wake will be held at St. Peter’s Chapel in Quezon City beginning Friday.
The actor’s family and friends learned that he had pancreatic tumor on January 7, through his own Facebook post.
“Last month, after a series of lab tests (including an ultrasound and CT Scan), my medical specialist friends at the UST hospital, a gastroenterologist and an oncologist, shared their findings: (in layman’s terms) my pancreas is swollen because of a tumor, possibly malignant, growing in the head of the pancreas. As it grows it begins to press on the bile duct and the pancreatic duct and with increasing pressure, the ducts eventually get pinched off,” the actor wrote.
Admitting that he had “very real pain and fear of the unknown,” Bernardo appealed for prayers to help him get through one or two difficult procedures and the “controlled panic mode” in which the life-threatening condition has placed him.
Friends quickly mounted a fundraising dinner to help Bernardo with his medical treatment in mid-January, but the actor’s condition quickly deteriorated.
A graduate of Journalism at the University of Santo Tomas in 1967, Bernardo took a Masters Degree in Dramatic Art at the University of California-Santa Barbara. He then pursued further studies in London and Phoenix.
From 1973 to 1989, Bernardo joined his very first theater company in Repertory Philippines both as an actor and stage director. He is best remembered for the musicales “Song and Dance,” “The King & I,” “Grease” and “Jesus Christ Superstar,” as well as straight plays including Nick Joaquin’s “Tatarin” and Tennessee Williams’ “Camino Real.”
On television, Bernardo became a household name in the role of gay office manager Steve Carpio on the iconic sitcom “Home Along da Riles,” starring the late Comedy King Dolphy. The show had two movie spin-offs, both of which had Bernardo in the cast.
He was last seen in Star Cinema’s “The Significant Other” shown in February, playing support to lead stars Lovi Poe, Tom Rodriguez and Erich Gonzales.
Since news of the actor’s passing, social media has been flooded with messages of condolences and fond tributes for Bernardo.
“Rest In Peace, Bernardo Bernardo. This has been heavy news to hear. Tito Bernie was my very first leading man in the very first show I ever did, The King and I (he played the King of Siam and I was one of his daughters). Kind, funny, ebullient, brilliant, big hearted. Sigh,” Lea Salonga wrote on her Facebook and Twitter pages.
“Goodbye, Bernardo Bernie Bernardo. It was a treat to work with you in ‘They’re Playing Our Song’ so long ago. You were wonderfully talented, funny, sensitive, and kind. Rest peacefully with God forever, old pal,” tweeted veteran actress and singer Leah Navarro.
“I wished we had more time with you Tito BB. We had so many grand plans! Anne and I are devastated by your passing… RIP Bernardo Bernardo. This country just lost a National Treasure, the world lost a beautiful human-being, but more than that, we lost a dear friend,” photographer and filmmaker Atom Magadia wrote on Facebook and Instagram.
“We were planning to do a caravan for the Philippine youth diaspora. Tito Bb, paano na? Sabi mo magpapagaling ka. Bakit mo kami iniwan? Maraming salamat sa lahat. Ang hirap tanggaping wala ka na. Isang tunay na kaibigan at kakampi. Mamimiss kita sobra,” Film Development of the Philippines chairman Liza Diño-Seguerra said on Facebook.
“Ciao, Bernardo Bernardo, you were fabulous, as always, dear,” wrote TV director Noel Añonuevo on Facebook.