Alejandro Roces

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Alejandro Roces
Chairman of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board
In office
March 23, 2001 – 2002
Preceded byNicanor Tiongson
Succeeded byMarilen Ysmael-Dinglasan
Secretary of Education
In office
December 30, 1962 – September 7, 1965
Preceded byJose Tuason
Succeeded byCarlos P. Romulo
Personal details
Alejandro Reyes Roces

(1924-07-13)July 13, 1924
Manila, Philippine Islands
DiedMay 23, 2011(2011-05-23) (aged 86)
Manila, Philippines
SpouseIrene Yorston Viola
Parent(s)Rafael Roces and Inocencia Reyes
  • Journalist
  • author
  • essayist
  • dramatist
  • teacher
  • educator
  • fighter
  • raconteur
  • patriot
  • public servant
Known for
Awards Order of National Artists of the Philippines

Alejandro Reyes Roces (13 July 1924 – 23 May 2011) was a Filipino author, essayist, dramatist and a National Artist of the Philippines for literature. He served as Secretary of Education from 1962 to 1965, during the term of Philippine President Diosdado Macapagal.

Noted for his short stories,[1] the Manila-born Roces was married to Irene Yorston Viola (granddaughter of Maximo Viola), with whom he had a daughter, Elizabeth Roces-Pedrosa.

He attended elementary and high school at the Ateneo de Manila University, before moving to the University of Arizona and then Arizona State University for his tertiary education. He graduated with a B.A. in Fine Arts and, not long after, attained his M.A. from the Far Eastern University back in the Philippines.[2] He has since received honorary doctorates from Toyo University,[3] Baguio's St. Louis University, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, and the Ateneo de Manila University. Roces was a captain in the Marking's Guerilla during World War II and a columnist in Philippine dailies such as the Manila Chronicle and the Manila Times. He was previously President of the Manila Bulletin and of the CAP College Foundation.

In 2001, Roces was appointed as Chairman of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB). Roces also became a member of the Board of Trustees of GSIS (Government Service Insurance System) and maintained a column in the Philippine Star called Roses and Thorns.

Don Alejandro Roces Sr. Science-Technology High School


During his freshman year in the University of Arizona, Roces won Best Short Story for We Filipinos are Mild Drinkers. Another of his stories, My Brother's Peculiar Chicken, was listed as Martha Foley's Best American Stories among the most distinctive for years 1958 and 1951. Roces did not only focus on short stories alone, as he also published books such as Of Cocks and Kites (1959), Fiesta (1980), and Something to Crow About (2005). Of Cocks and Kites earned him the reputation as the country's best writer of humorous stories. It also contained the widely anthologized piece "My Brother's Peculiar Chicken". Fiesta, is a book of essays, featuring folk festivals such as Ermita's Bota Flores, Aklan's Ati-atihan, and Naga's Peñafrancia.

Something to Crow About, on the other hand, is a collection of Roces' short stories. The book has been recently brought to life by a critically acclaimed play of the same title; the staged version of Something to Crow About is the first Filipino zarzuela in English. This modern zarzuela tells the story of a poor cockfighter named Kiko who, to his wife's chagrin, pays more attention to the roosters than to her. Later in the story, a conflict ensues between Kiko's brother Leandro and Golem, the son of a wealthy and powerful man, over the affections of a beautiful woman named Luningning. The resolution? A cockfight, of course. Something to Crow About won the Aliw Award for Best Musical and Best Director for a Musical Production. It also had a run off-Broadway at the La Mama Theater in New York.

Through the years, Roces has won numerous awards, including the Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan Award, the Diwa ng Lahi Award, the Tanging Parangal of the Gawad CCP Para sa Sining, and the Rizal Pro Patria Award. He was finally bestowed the honor as National Artist of Literature on 25 June 2003.

When once asked for a piece of advice on becoming a famous literary figure Roces said, "You cannot be a great writer; first, you have to be a good person".[4]

In 1994, Roces was the chairman of the Board of Jurors for the 1994 Metro Manila Film Festival, in which he and the board made the unprecedented decision not to award any film entry that year six of the major awards, including Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Director.[5]


  1. ^ Joseph A. Galdon (1972). Philippine Fiction: Essays from Philippine Studies, 1953-1972. Ateneo de Manila at the University Press.
  2. ^ Archived 2007-08-09 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Honorary Doctors | Toyo University". (in Japanese). Retrieved 2020-12-09.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Roxas, Cip S. (December 31, 1994). "Goodbye, 1994". Manila Standard. Kamahalan Publishing Corp. p. 11. Retrieved December 10, 2021.

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