Wilfredo Ma. Guerrero (January 22, 1911 - April 28, 1995) was a Filipino playwright, director, teacher and theater artist. He has written well over a hundred plays, 41 of which have been published. His unpublished plays have either been broadcast over the radio or staged in various parts of the Philippines.
His publications include 13 Plays (first published in 1947), 8 Other Plays (1952), 7 More Plays (1962), 12 New Plays (1975), My Favorite 11 Plays (1976), 4 Latest Plays (1980), Retribution and eight other selected plays (1990) and The Guerreros of Ermita (1988).
He has been the teacher of some of the most famous people in the Performing Arts at present: Behn Cervantes, Celia Diaz-Laurel, Joy Virata, and Joonee Gamboa.
Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero was born in Ermita, Manila. At the Age 14, he has already written his first play in Spanish, entitled, "No Todo Es Risa." This play was produced at the Ateneo de Manila University when he was 15.
Aside from becoming a reporter and a proofreader for La Vanguardia, a Spanish newspaper, and a drama critic for the Manila Tribune, he also worked for some time in Philippine Films as a scriptwriter. He also became the director Filipino Players from 1941-1947. In 1947 he was appointed as the University of the Philippines Dramatic Club director despite lacking a degree, a position he served for sixteen years.
In 1962, he organized and directed the U.P. Mobile Theater that goes on the road all over the Philippines to for performances.
Several Guerrero plays have been translated into and produced in Chinese, Italian, Spanish, Tagalog, Visayan, Ilocano and Waray. Six of his plays have been produced abroad: "Half an Hour in a Convent" at the Pasadena Playhouse, California; "Three Rats" at the University of Kansas; "Condemned" in Oahu, Hawaii; "One, Two, Three" (premiere performance) at the University of Washington, Seattle; "Wanted: A Chaperon" at the University of Hawaii; and "Conflict" in Sydney, Australia.
His Life as a Child
Wilfrido grew up from a wealthy family. His father, Dr. Manuel, was considered the most renowned doctor of his time, his reputation based on his “clinical eye” which could diagnose a person’s illness by just studying that person’s outside appearance. Among his clients were some of Manila’s richest, like Brias Roxas, the Ayalas, Pardo de Taveras, Zobels, Roceses, Osmeñas, Alberts, etc. Thus, his father could afford to give them all the comforts of life.
They were not allowed to eat with their hands and they were forbidden to speak Tagalog. He had a totally comfortable life.
He was nearly seven when his father died. They were left with the big house at Plaza Ferguson, two cars (which his mother sold), and a Php10,000 life insurance. Five months after the funeral, they rented the first floor of his cousins the Mossesgelds’ house for Php50.00. His mother had their house rented to an American family and they lived on the monthly income. All of them being To be able to study high school in Ateneo in Intramuros, he and his brothers, Edmundo, Lorenzo, Manuel became choristers. They got free tuition which was Php60.00 a semester, but they had to buy their textbooks. When he reached third-year high school, being sick and fed up with having to hear daily Mass, he took the courage to go to Don Alejandro Roces, Sr., who had been one of his father’s patients and whose wife was a close friend of their mother. He went to Roces’ office at the Manila Tribune and stated his purpose. Don Alejandro readily agreed, and he paid for his tuition for his last two years in high school.
Why He Started Writing
His favorite aunt, Maria Araceli, discovered his writing ability. When he was around 12 or 13, she noticed him writing on scraps of paper, then hiding them inside his cabinet drawer.
He wrote his first complete one-act play, No Todo Es Risa, while in his second year high school. He showed it to the late Father Juan Trinidad, S.J. (who at that time was translating the Bible into Tagalog) and he liked it. The priest said his Spanish was idiomatic and decided to stage it for their Father Rector’s (Fr. O’Brien) birthday.
And yet soon after his aunts death, he wrote some of his most popular comedies, like Movie Artists, Basketball Fight, and Wanted: A Chaperon.
Years later, he made his aunt the principal character in Forever as Maria Teresa and later as Maria Araceli in Frustrations. “Both women are like my aunt: imperious, strong-willed, wise, but also humane,” he wrote.
He has received three national awards: the Rizal Pro-Patria Award in 1961, the Araw ng Maynila Award in 1969, and the Republic Cultural Heritage Award in 1972.
The U.P. Mobile Theater has been a recipient of two awards when he was its director: The Citizen's Council for Mass Media Trophy (1966) and the Balagtas Award (1969).
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