Doreen Fernandez

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Doreen Gamboa Fernandez
StellaKalaw DoreenFernandez.jpg
Nationality: Filipino
Field/s of Study: Filipino food, food culture, and the theater arts

Doreen Gamboa Fernandez (28 October 1934 – 24 June 2002) was a Filipino professor, historian, writer and critic best known for her writings on Filipino food, food culture, and the theater arts. Apart from many books and academic articles, she wrote a regular column on food and dining for the Philippine Daily Inquirer. She taught English at Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), serving also as head of the Communication Department and moderator of the student newspaper.

She was married to interior designer Wili Fernandez.  


Early life and education

She was born on 28 October 1934 to Aguinaldo Severino Gamboa and Alicia Lucero Gamboa.

She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree major in English and History in 1954 from St. Scholastica's College, Manila. She completed her Master of Arts degree major in English Literature (1965) and Ph.D. in Literature (1976) from ADMU.


She started teaching at ADMU in 1972. She has taught literature, composition, creative and critical writing, and journalism. She has chaired the departments of Communication, English, and Interdisciplinary Studies. She was a member of the editorial boards of Philippine Studies, Filipinas Journal of Philippine Studies, and The Asian Theatre Journal.

She specialized on cultural, literary, theater and culinary history and has written for scholarly and popular publications. She had also been regularly invited to speak at international conferences and symposiums.

She was a recipient of the Fulbright Asian Scholar in Residence Award (1983, Ohio University Southeast Asian Studies Summer Institute; 1992, Michigan University Seminar on Southeast Asian Literatures in Translation).

She also did video scripts for Tikim, a video documentary on Philippine food (1989); Panitikan on Philippine literature (1992); and Dulaan on contemporary theater.

She was a columnist of The Manila Chronicle, Mr. & Ms. Magazine, The Philippine Journal of Education, Philippine Daily Inquirer, and Food Magazine. She was also a contributor in many journals, periodicals and books, including The Oxford Companion to Food.

She was an editor and contributor to the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Encyclopedia of Philippine Art (1994); contributor to the Encyclopedia of Post-Colonial Literature in English (1995) and Modern Southeast Asian Literature in Translation: A Resource for Teaching (1997); and editorial consultant and contributor to the 10-volume Kasaysayan: The Story of the Filipino People (1998).

She was a co-founder of the Babaylan Theater Group, which was established in 1973 with Nicanor Tiongson, and the Cultural Center Research Association of the Philippines, which was established in 1975.

She was a member of the board of trustees of CCP, Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), and the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, among others. She was a member of the Manila Critics Circle, and the judiciary for the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature.

Food writing

Doreen became a food writer through the encouragement of her husband, Wili Fernandez, who was himself an avid gourmet. Having never written about food before, she did thorough research and pored over the work of other culinary writers.

She believed that food was an ideal and easily-accessible way to understand one's culture and oneself. She introduced to her readers their tastes and by doing so, she  introduced them to values and ways of life common to Filipino people. She wrote not only about food, but about the distinctly Filipino in food. In an unpublished essay, she said that "Food punctuates Philippine life, is a touchstone to memory, a measure of relationships with nature and neighbors, and with the world."


During the Martial Law era she became an underground activist and supported the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the National Democratic Front (NDF). She founded the theater group Babaylan, which defied government censorship by staging plays critical of the Marcos regime. She was also involved in the Cultural Research Association of the Philippines, which advocated the study of nationalist culture.  

List of publications

  • Iloilo Zarzuela: 1903-1930 (1978)
  • In Performance (1981)
  • Tikim: Essays on Philippine Food and Culture (1994)
  • Face to Face: The Craft of Interviewing (1995)
  • Palabas: Essays on Philippine Theater History (1996)
  • Fruits of the Philippines (1997)
  • Palayok: Philippine Food Through Time, On Site, In the Pot (2000).
  • Contemporary Theater Arts: Asia and the United States
  • “Feasts and Feats: Festschrift for Doreen G. Fernandez”. ‘’The Journal of Asian Studies’’. (Quezon City: Office of Research and Publications, Loyola Schools, Ateneo de Manila University, 2000).
  • “The Food World of Miguel Ruiz”.Reflections on Philippine Culture and Society
  • with Edilberto N. Alegre. ”The Writer and His Milieu: An Oral History of First Generation Writers in English”. (De La Salle University Press:  1984)
  • with Edilberto N. Alegre. Writers and Their Milieu (1987)
  • with Edilberto N. Alegre. “Lasa” series on Dining in Manila and the Provinces (1989, 1990, 1992); *with Edilberto N. Alegre. Sarap: Essays on Philippine Food and Culture (1988)
  • with Edilberto N. Alegre. Kinilaw: A Philippine Cuisine of Freshness (1991)


Awards and recognition

  • Achievement Award from the National Research Council in 1997
  • CCP Centennial Honors for the Arts (Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Philippine Centennial Commission), 1999
  • Recipient of National Book Award for Writers and Their Milieu, 1987



External links



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