Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero

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Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero (22 January 1910-28 April 1995) was a Filipino playwright, director, and actor. He is considered one of the pillars of Philippine drama and theater.

Early life and education

He was born on 22 January 1910 to Manuel S. Guerrero, an essayist, and Eliza Ocampo. He is the nephew of Fernando Ma. Guerrero and the cousin of writers Evangelina Guerrero-Zacarias, Nilda Guerrero-Barranco, Leon Ma. Guerrero, and Carmen Guerrero-Nakpil.

His cousins discovered his writing inclinations when he was 12. As his mother took him to watch plays at the Manila Grand Opera House, he was exposed early to the works of José Echegaray, Jacinto Benavente, and Henrik Ibsen.

He studied at the Ateneo de Manila, Gregg's Business School, and at the University of the Philippines (UP) but he dropped out of each school.


He worked as a representative and proofreader for La Vanguardia and as a drama critic at the Manila Tribune. He worked as a scriptwriter for Filippine Films in 1939. From 1950 to 1951, he wrote and directed Purico's Dulaan ng Buhay on the radio. In 1959, he adapted and directed six of his plays for Caltex Caravan.

His one-act play, No todo es risa (Not All Is Laughter) was written in grade school. It was staged for the Rector's birthday. His first English play, Half an Hour in a Convent, was written when he was a sophomore in UP in 1934.

After the Catholic Women's League staged his first three-act play, The Forsaken House, Guerrero decided to make theater a profession.

He has written and directed some 100 plays. Among the most popular ones were:

  • Women Are Extraordinary, 1937
  • Hate Begins, 1938
  • Romance in B Minor, 1939
  • Movie Artists, 1940
  • Wanted: A Chaperone, 1940
  • Forever, 1941
  • Condemned, 1944
  • Frustrations, 1944
  • Wow These Americans, 1946
  • Perhaps, 1947
  • Three Rats, 1948
  • Deep in My Heart, 1951
  • In Unity, 1953
  • Our Strange Ways, 1953

These plays dominated Japanese Occupation shows. They were produced in Manila and the provinces, in English and Filipino translations.

His works were anthologized in:

  • 13 Plays, 1947
  • 8 Other Plays, 1952
  • 7 More Plays, 1962
  • 12 New Plays, 1971
  • My Favorite 11 Plays, 1976
  • 4 Last Plays, 1980
  • 18 Plays Translated in Pilipino, 1985

Guerrero formed the Filipino Players and served as its director from 1940 to 1947. He was appointed as assistant professor of dramatics in 1947 which caused an uproar among the faculty as did not possess a university degree. He was nevertheless appointed and served as director of the UP Dramatic Club for 16 years. Under his leadership, the club has produced over 120 foreign and Filipino plays and casting and training future directors who were then neophyte actors like Behn Cervantes, Tony Mabesa, Jonee Gamboa, Lino Brocka, Ishmael Bernal, Celia Diaz-Laurel, Jun Roy, and Joy Virata in his production.

Upon the suggestion of UP President Carlos P. Romulo, Guerrero set up the UP Mobile Theater. It had more than 2,500 performances all over the country. It also presented his plays in English and in regional languages for 19 years.

He retired from UP in 1982 after 35 years of service. He was named professor emeritus the following year. The theater in the Arts and Sciences building at UP was named after him in 1976.

Awards and recognition

  • Rizal Pro-Patria Award for Drama, 1961
  • Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan Award for Drama, 1969
  • Republic Cultural Heritage Award for Literature, 1972
  • Ateneo de Manila University's Tanglaw ng Lahi, 1981
  • Aliw Hall of Distinction Award for Playwriting, 1982
  • Diwa ng Lahi Award, 1985
  • Gawad CCP Para sa Sining for Theater, 1989




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