Adelina Gurrea Monasterio

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Adelina Gurrea Monasterio (1896-1971), a native of La Carlota, Negros Oriental, was a Hispano-Filipino editor and poet, whose significant body of work in the Spanish language is only now being recognized in her native country.

Early Life

Gurrea was born in La Carlota on 27 September 1896. Her parents were Carlos Gurrea Candela, originally from Navarra, Spain, and Ramona Monasterio Pozo, a Tagalog mestiza. She was part of the Hispano-Filipino class of landed hacendero families in Negros Occidental such as the Araneta, Camón, Lopetegui, Uriarte, and Zuloaga families. Her upbringing with Filipino nannies made her fluent in Visayan. She was sent as a young girl to be a pensionada in Saint Scholastica's of Manila, where at the age of 11 she presented a comedy. Although her native toungue was Spanish, she was among the first generations of English to be educated in the English language. She described her bilingual education as such: ""Pero ni siquiera en Manila tuve ocasión de rodearme de un ambiente cultural en castellano, porque al año de llegar allí me metieron interna en un colegio de monjas (...) que llevaban el plan educativo norteamericano enseñando todas las asignaturas en inglés". "

Gurrea subsequently attended other schools in Manila where she also studied in English. She discovered her literary talents very early on and at the age of 15 she received an literary award for her short story "El Bufón".

As a journalist he worked for the La Vanguardia of Manila, where she was encharge with the women's and literary section. In 1921 she moved to Spain, where she would live her whole life, although she maintained her Philippine citizenship. She accompanied her mother who desired to return to her native Spain, uprooting her whole family except for her eldest brother Ricardo.

Gurrea maintained her ties to the Philippines, remaining as the correspondent of La Vanguardia and other Manila newspapers such as El Mercantil and El Excelsior. In 1923 she won her first award as the winner of Premio Casa de España de Manila for a poem in honor of pacificism of King Alfonso XIII. During the Spanish Civil War she continued to be a correspondent of the bilingual Iloilo newspaper Tiempo/Times writing under the pseudonym of "Juan de Castilla".

In Madrid mindful of the work of national hero Jose Rizal she co-founded Asociación España-Filipinas in 1934. In 1950 she founded the Círculo Hispano-Filipino. She made two sentimental journeys to the Philippines in 1958 after the death of her mother and in 1966 when she was inducted as a member of the prestigious Academia Filipina. In her final years she published a book of her youthful poetry titled "En agraz". She died in Madrid on 29 April 1971.

She became the first poetess of renown in Hispanic Philipines, as well as the second woman nominated to be a member of Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española after Evangelina Guerrero Zacarias.


She was the editor of the Women's and Literary Section of La Vanguardia in Manila for three years as well as several magazines based in Manila.

In 1921, she moved to Spain and lived there until her death in 1971. She continued to write for La Vanguardia and several Manila magazines while in Madrid. She co-founded the Asociacion España-Filipinas in 1934. She was a regular member of the Academia Filipina from 1939.

During the Spanish Civil War, she wrote from the republican zone as a correspondent of the bilingual Tiempo/Times of Iloilo, under the pseudonym "Juan de Castilla." She was also the co-founder and secretary of Circulo Filipino, wherein she published Jaime C. de Veyra's La Hispanidad en Filipinas.

Her works included poems such as El Nido, A Mis Primos, El Fantasma de Maria Clara, Del Prado Amigo, No Estes Triste, Mas Senderos, and En Agaz. She also wrote a play entitled Auto Historico-Satirico de Filipinas. She also published a collection of tales called ''Cuentos de Juana'' in 1943, which were based on her recollection of the favorite stories of her Visayan nanny, with illustrations by Hispano-Filipino painter Luis Lasa. It was awarded first prize by the Certamen Internacional de Literatura de la Unión Latina de París in 1951. It was republished in 1955. A new edition was published by Instituto Cervantes de Manila in February 4, 2008, edited by Beatriz Alvarez Tardio. It is considered one of the finest works in Hispano-Filipino literature.

She was a recipient of the Premio Zobel in 1955 for her collection of poems A Lo Largo del Camino (Along the Road).

In 1964 the prestigious Editorial Doncel of Madrid awarded her children's book Comodín y Pamplinosa. Her last published works were Más senderos (1967) and En agraz (1968). She left unfinished on her death a historical novel on the adventures of Ferdinand Magellan.

Her biographer Beatriz Alvarez-Tardio described her writing as full of strong nostalgic longing for the land of her birth: "Adelina Guerra never ceased identifying herself as a Filipina, always longing for the land where she grew up and to which she dedicated most of her writings. The return to the Philippines, which she had left as a young girl, was postponed again and again. Through her prologues and poems, she expressed her desire to come back and be reintegrated in the place she called her native land. However, she could not leave Spain for many years. Hence, her nostalgia was so intense and her memories of her native land were so vivid."

Writer Danton Remoto called her early poems as "redolent of Spanish poetry, mawkish and sentimental", but cited her later work in the 70s as transcendent and modern. IOne of her last poems called "Twilight Path" brilliantly evokes an elegaic mood with an economy of lines:

"The pebble-less pathway/ Runs across the green country./ On this road my steps now stray;/ I am no longer on the true journey./ The brambles smothered/ The route of my white, winged horses;/ Hard flint gathered/ Beneath my weary courses./ Tomorrow: paths,/ Solitude in the streets,/ The end of the day,/ My wheels and the rocky ground,/ On which my feeble steps/ Dissipate into nothingness."

She died in Madrid in 1971.


  • Cuentos de Juana. Malay tales from Philippine Islands. Madrid: Prensa Española, 1943.
  • A lo largo del camino. Poetry. Madrid: Círculo Filipino, 1954. Introduction by Federico Muelas. Drawings by Beatriz Figueirido.
  • Filipinas, heredera privilegiada. Decía ayer...digo hoy: Conferencia en el Círculo Filipino de Madrid. Madrid: Graf. Mundial, 1954
  • Más senderos. Poetry. Madrid: Suc. De Rivadeneyra, 1967
  • En agraz. Poetry. Madrid, 1968


  • Brillantes, Lourdes. 81 Years of Premio Zobel: A Legacy of Philippine Literature in Spanish. Philippines:Filipinas Heritage Library, 2006.
  • Cañiza, Cecilia. "Adelina Gurrea y Monasterio: La traducción de la identidad cultural en la poesía filipina" in Gaceta Hispanica, Spring, 2006. Accessed 1 April 2011
  • Alvárez Tardío, Beatriz. "Writing athwart: Adelina Gurrea's life and works" 2010.
  • Gallo, Andrea. “Adelina Gurrea Monasterio”, en Revista Filipina: Revista Trimestral de Lengua y Literatura Hispanofilipina. Tomo VIII. No. 4, Primavera 2005. Página web:
  • Malig, Jr., S. B. “Adelina M. Gurrea”, en CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art. V. IX: Philippine Literature. Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines, 1994.
  • Veloso, Alfredo S. "Anguish, Fulness, Nirvana: A collection of famous poems in Spanish written by Filipino writers". 1960.

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