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JOSE MA.

HERNANDEZ

(1904-1982)

Dramatist, Author and Educator

A distinguished man of letters, Jose Ma. Hernandez was born on June 19, 1904. Hegraduated
valedictorian from the Mabini Intermediate School and received the degree of Bachelor of Science in
education from the University of the Philippines in 1928. After graduation, he enrolled at Columbia
University for the summer term of 1929. He earned his master’s degree in English, cum laude, from the
University of Notre Dame in Indiana. His thesis was, “The Philosophy of Joseph Conrad.”

While still a student in UP, Hernandez taught at the Zaragoza Elementary School in Manila. This was
until 1925, when he was transferred to Santa Ana Elementary School. In 1928, he taught at the
Welfareville High School, and was appointed instructor in English at the University of Santo Tomas and
in education, with assignments in high school, at the UP.

However, he later gave up such appointments because of poor health. From being professor in English
at UST in 1931, he rose to become dean of its English department in 1933. In 1935, he began teaching
English at San Beda College and, in 1937 at St. Theresa’s College and San Juan de Letran as well.

It was at UST, in 1935, that he gained his doctor of philosophy degree, summa cum laude, with “The
Story of Oriental Drama” as his thesis. For his literary efforts, Dr. Hernandez received several awards and
prizes. In 1923, he won the Philippine anti-leprosy essay contest. His play, “The Mask,” placed second
in a contest sponsored by the UP Dramatic Club in 1927. The first prize for the ode contest in the UP
National Heroes’ Day fete in 1928 was awarded to him. The Philippines Free Press honored with a
special prize in its short story contest of 1929. The winning story was “No Rain.” His short Biblical
play, “The Olive Garden,” won second prize in the drama contest of the University of Notre Dame
in 1931. He and classmates Loreto Paras-Sulit, J.V. Panganiban and Paz Lotorena formed the Philippine
Writers Association, which antedated the UP Writers’ Club, and the Literary Guild of the Philippines.

Hernandez had his training in the theater in the United States. His most significant plays are “Panday
Pira,” a historical drama in three acts which was presented by UP’s Rizal Center; “Prelude to Dapitan,”
which he wrote in collaboration with Jose Villa Panganiban; “White Sunday,” which won a prize in the
Palanca Memorial award in Literature for the one-act play in 1960, and “And the Day But One,” the
Cultural Center of the Philippines play awardee in 1970.A prolific writer, Dr. Hernandez authored An
Introduction to Literary Criticism and Business English and Correspondence, and co-authored English for
Filipinos with Jean Edades, and The Rizal Caravanand Social Studies and Character Education with Z.C.
Ella and E.A. de Ocampo.

The bureau of Education has incorporated in the “Philippine Prose and Poetry” series for secondary
schools three literary pieces of Dr. Hernandez. The poem “My Home” is included in Volume III, while the
Play, “Panday Pira” and the treatise, “The Outlook for Filipino Drama,” are found in Volume IV.

Other noteworthy activities of his were: editor-in-chief of UP High’s Clarion in 1924 and the
UP’s Alpha in 1928; student editor of the Tribune in 1928; UST delegate to the “Conference on Higher
Education of the University of the Philippines” in 1935; UST delegate to the “IX Biennial International
Educational Conference” in Tokyo, Japan in 1937; president of the Victoria School and life counselor to
the World Anti-Communist League, 1968-1971; and lone Filipino auditor of the Vatican II, 1964-1966. At
one time, he served as assistant press secretary of President Elpidio Quirino.

Hernandez is prided to be the only lay person from the Philippines to attend the Ecumenical Council of
Pope John XXIII in India. He was president of Catholic Action of the Philippines after Soc Rodrigo.He ran
for Senator on Manny Manahan’s ticket in 1957 along with Raul Manglapus, who later became Senator.

He was also Secretary General of the World Anti-Communist League after Ramon Bagatsing and he
served in Seoul, South Korea in the late 60s.

Hernandez was married to the former Loreta Carreon and they had eight children. Herminia, Ernesto,
Sylvia, Leonor, Alice, Carmen, Jose Jr. and Victoria.

His 6 daughters survives, his sons passed away, Jose Jr. in 1989 and Ernesto in 2010. His daughter Alice
H. Reyes is a journalist, former Vice-President of the National Press Club, founding president of Aliw
Awards Foundation Inc. and 1st VP of FAMAS.