National Artist for Literature (2003)
(July 13, 1924 – May 23, 2011)
“You cannot be a great writer; first, you have to be a good person”
Alejandro Roces, is a short story writer and essayist and considered as the country’s best writer of comic short stories. He is known for his widely anthologized “My Brother’s Peculiar Chicken.” In his innumerable newspaper columns, he has always focused on the neglected aspects of the Filipino cultural heritage. His works have been published in various international magazines and have received national and international awards.
Ever the champion of Filipino culture, Roces brought to public attention to the aesthetics of the country’s fiestas. He was instrumental in popularizing several local fiestas, notably, Moriones and Ati-atihan. He personally led the campaign to change the country’s Independence Day from July 4 to June 12, and caused the change of language from English to Filipino in the country’s stamps, currency, and passports, and recovered Jose Rizal’s manuscripts when they were stolen from the National Archives.
His unflinching love of country led him to become a guerilla during the Second World War, to defy martial law and to found the major opposition party under the dictatorship. His works have been published in various international magazines and received numerous national and international awards, including several decorations from various governments.