Rene Aranda, 66
CHIEF EDITORIAL cartoonist of the Philippine Star for 33 years since 1987, Rene Aranda passed away in his home in Pasay City on August 24 of lung cancer. He was 66.
In a Facebook post, the Aranda family said he was rushed to the hospital on July 8. “He was diagnosed with lung cancer that had spread to his colon and adrenal gland. Due to the spread and toll that the disease has already taken on his body, he decided not to undergo further testing and any type of treatment,” they added.
The Star said that in hospital the cartoonist continued to draw for the editorial page, and to send in his strips – “Prof in The STAR, Sports Manny for Pilipino Star Ngayon, Tanong Tanod for PM, as well as Pinong Sipag Newsboy for the Sunday cover of PSN. It was only in the last month when the disease progressed so rapidly that he could no longer grasp a cell phone, according to his partner Lorena, let alone a pen for drawing.”
During his hospital stay, Pitik Bulag, an online page of cartoonists, called for tributes to Aranda on August 3. Caricatures of all styles poured in for Aranda, as posted in Pitik Bulag’s facebook page. “His cartoons sting corrupt politicians. Aspiring young cartoonists are very familiar with him as he was the perennial judge of campus journalism training and press conferences,” said his fellow cartoonists.
According to the Star, Aranda was born on May 16, 1956 and was raised in Manila. During the martial law years, he was enrolled in the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts, where among his teachers were Roberto Chabet and National Artist Jose Joya. He eventually dropped out because of an early marriage.
He was an active member of the Samahang Kartunista ng Pilipinas, composed of editorial cartoonists of major broadsheets and tabloids of the day, among them Neil Doloricon, Romy Buen and Tonton Young. He was also vice president of the Animator’s Association of the Philippines.
He was a much sought speaker, resource person, and judge in newspaper competitions and seminars. He was able to finish his journalism degree at the Lyceum of the Philippines University.
The Star shared that before the pandemic, Aranda was slowly easing into retirement, but was still regularly sending his strips and illustrations. “COVID did not make a dent on his production, and only the Big C was able to silence his wildly imaginative pen and good humor,” they added.
He is survived by Lorena de Luna, their children Kathryn and Keith and his children from his previous marriage, Kristoffer, Kristine and Karl.