Paz Marquez-Benitez
(1894 - 1983 )

Tall and elegantly attired in full terno, she was a familiar figure on the campus of the pre-war University of the Philippines. She was Paz Marquez Benitez, beloved mentor to the first generation of Filipino writers in English. Inspiring many students who later became literary luminaries, she had an enduring influence on the emergence and development of Philippine literature in English.

Born to the prominent Marquez family of Quezon Province, Marquez Benitez belonged to the first generation of Filipinos trained in the American educational system. She was a member of the first freshman class of the University of the Philippines, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1912. She taught at the University’s English department from 1916 to 1951, acquiring a reputation as an outstanding teacher. Among her students were Loreto Paras Sulit, Paz Latorena, Bienvenido Santos, Manuel Arguilla, S.P. Lopez and National Artist Francisco Arcellana, who later emphatically declared, “She was the mother of us all!”

Among ALIWW’s prized exhibits are the journals of Paz Marquez Benitez, which are inscribed in two hard-bound volumes. The entries, written by hand in both pencil and ink, date from 1924 and extend for an as yet undetermined number of years. Of special interest to literary scholars are her notes on the tentative plot and setting of her short story, “Dead Stars.” This story, first published in 1925 and regularly anthologized since, is considered the first modern short story written in English by a Filipino.


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