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Nat’l artist for dance Obusan, 68

National Artist for Dance Ramon Obusan, who promoted Philippine culture through traditional dances, died of cardio-pulmonary arrest at 4 p.m. yesterday at the Makati Medical Center.

He was 68.

President Arroyo expressed sadness over the death of Obusan.

“Ramon Obusan was a true national treasure, and distinguished himself by preserving and promoting our culture through dance,” Mrs. Arroyo said in a statement.

Obusan was named National Artist last May.

He was the founder of the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group, which earned fame and distinction for its fidelity and authenticity in presenting Filipino traditional dances.

Obusan established the group in 1972. Up to the time of his death, he was overseeing it’s annual Christmas program “Vamos A Belen” at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. He was also in the midst of preparations for the cultural presentation for the state dinner to be hosted by President Arroyo for the forthcoming ASEAN Summit.

Mrs. Arroyo said that the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group generated “tremendous goodwill for our people and brought so much joy tot he audiences worldwide.”

Obusan began his career in dance with the Bayanihan Philippine National Dance Company, first as an instrumentalist, and then later as a dancer. He was also a researcher, archivist and documentary filmmaker.

His citation for National Artist says that “Obusan has broadened our understanding of our cultural life and expressions” and “through the ROFG, he has effected cultural and diplomatic exchanges using the multifarious aspects and dimensions of the art of dance.”

“The sudden demise of National Artist for Dance Ramon Obusan saddens us because he was a pillar in Philippine traditional dance,” CCP president Nestor Jardin said. “We join the countless young folk dancers, teachers and researchers he trained and worked with in mourning his passing away.”

Josie Guillen, head of the CCP Dance Division, said, “Ramon Obusan was a man and an artist of the masses. Everything he did was for the Filipino.”

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines are making preparations for a state funeral for Obusan.

Details the necrological ceremonies will be announced later. Obusan’s remains will lie in state at his home in Pasay City.

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