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Amado V. Hernandez
Relief bust at Amado Vera Hernandez Monument, Plaza Hernandez, Tondo, Manila.
Amado Vera Hernandez

(1903-09-13)September 13, 1903[1]
DiedMarch 24, 1970(1970-03-24) (aged 66)
SpouseAtang de la Rama[2]
National Artist of the Philippines.svg
Order of National Artists of the Philippines

Amado Vera Hernandez, commonly known as Amado V. Hernandez (September 13, 1903 – March 24, 1970), was a Filipino writer and labor leader who was known for his criticism of social injustices in the Philippines and was later imprisoned for his involvement in the communist movement. He was the central figure in a landmark legal case that took 13 years to settle.

He was born in Tondo, Manila, to parents Juan Hernandez from Hagonoy, Bulacan and Clara Vera of Baliuag, Bulacan.[1] He grew up and studied at the Gagalangin, Tondo, the Manila High School and at the American Correspondence School.

Career as a Writer

While still a teenager, he began writing in Tagalog for the newspaper Watawat (Flag). He would later write a column for the Tagalog publication Pagkakaisa (Unity) and become the youngest patnugot (editor) of Mabuhay (Long Live) at the age of 28.[4]

His writings gained the attention of Tagalog literati and some of his stories and poems were included in anthologies, such as Clodualdo del Mundo's Parolang Ginto and Alejandro Abadilla's Talaang Bughaw.

In 1922, at the age of 19, Hernandez became a member of the literary society Aklatang Bayan which included noted Tagalog writers Lope K. Santos and Jose Corazon de Jesus.

In 1932, he married the Filipino actress Atang de la Rama. Both of them would later be recognized as National Artists: Hernandez for Literature, de la Rama for Theater, Dance and Music.

World War II

Hernandez joined the resistance movement when the Japanese invaded in the Philippines in 1941. He was an intelligence operative of the guerilla outfit of Marking and Anderson, whose operations covered Bulacan and the Sierra Madre mountains, throughout the Second World War.

While he was a guerilla, Hernandez came in contact with guerillas of the Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon (Hukbalahap) which was founded by Luis Taruc and other communist ideologues continued by the Philippine Commonwealth troops entered in Bulacan. It is believed that this was when Hernandez developed sympathies, if not belief, with the communist movement.

Labor leader

After the war, President Sergio Osmeña appointed him councilor of Manila during the reconstruction of the war-devastated city. He also became president of the defunct Philippine Newspaper Guild in coordination with its editor in chief, Narjeey Larasa. During this time he published articles on landlordism, collaboration with the Japanese, the reintroduction of American armed forces and the execution of guerilla leaders.[5]

But his most significant activities after the war involved organizing labor unions across the country through the labor federation Congress of Labor Organizations (CLO). Influenced by the philosophy of Marx he advocated revolution as a means of change. On May 5, 1947, he led the biggest labor strike to hit Manila at that time. The following year, he became president of the CLO and led another massive labor demonstration on May 1948.[6]

In 1950, the Philippine military started a crackdown against the communist movement, which was had sparked open rebellion in some areas on Luzon island, and the CLO headquarters was raided on January 20, 1951. Hernandez was arrested on January 1951 along with several trade union leaders in Manila[7] on the suspicion that he was among the leaders of the rebellion.


Though the authorities could not find evidence to charge him; For six months, he was transferred from one military camp to another and it took nearly a year before he was indicted on a charge of rebellion with murder, arson and robbery - a complex crime unheard of in Philippine legal history.

The case stirred the interest of civil rights activists in the Philippines and Hernandez was assisted at various times by legal luminaries like Senator Claro M. Recto, former President José P. Laurel and Claudio Teehankee, who would later become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines. But he remained in prison while his appeal was pending.

It was while he was imprisoned that he wrote his most notable works. He wrote Isang Dipang Langit (A Stretch of Heaven), which later won a Republic Cultural Heritage Award, and Bayang Malaya (Free Nation), which later won a Balagtas Award. Also written in prison was his masterpiece Luha ng Buwaya (Tears of the Crocodile). Portions of his novel Mga Ibong Mandaragit (Birds of Prey) was also written while he was at the New Bilibid Prison. He also edited the prison's newspaper Muntinglupa Courier.

After five years of imprisonment, the Supreme Court allowed Hernandez to post bail on June 20, 1956.[4] He then resumed his journalistic career and wrote a column for the Tagalog tabloid Taliba. He would later be conferred awards in prestigious literary contests, like the Commonwealth Literary Contest (twice), Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards (four times) and journalism awards given by the National Press Club of the Philippines (four times).

On May 30, 1964, the Supreme Court acquitted Hernandez[4] in a decision that would be a landmark in Philippine jurisprudence. The case People of the Philippines vs. Amado V. Hernandez is now a standard case study in Philippine law schools.

Hernandez continued to write and teach after his acquittal. He was teaching at the University of the Philippines when he died on March 24, 1970.[8] The University of the Philippines posthumously conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Humanities honoris causa on March 14, 1972.[9] The Ateneo de Manila University awarded him its first Tanglaw ng Lahi award. He was posthumously honored as National Artist for Literature in 1973.[10] Together with poet José García Villa, Hernández was the first to receive the title in literature.



His socio-political novels were based on his experiences as a guerrilla, as a labour leader and as a political detainee.



Awards and nominations

Awards and nominations
Year Award Giving Body Category Nominated Work Results
1925 Makata ng Ilaw at Panitik Won[13]
1938 Commonwealth Literary Contest Kayumanggi Won[13]
1958 1958 Palanca Awards One-Act Play in Filipino Muntinlupa Won
1959 1959 Palanca Awards One-Act Play in Filipino Hagdan sa Bahaghari Won
1962 Republic Cultural Heritage Award Isang Dipang Langit Won[13]
1964 City of Manila Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan ng Lungsod Maynila Won[13]
1970 Ateneo de Manila University Tanglaw ng Lahi Won[13][14]


  1. ^ a b Peralta, Arnel (2015). "Review of Ka Amado". Philippine Studies: Historical & Ethnographic Viewpoints. 63 (2): 279–282. doi:10.1353/phs.2015.0015. ISSN 2244-1093. JSTOR 24672338. S2CID 192384479. Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  2. ^ Degroot, Veronique; Klokke, Marijke J. (1 May 2013). Materializing Southeast Asia's Past: Selected Papers from the 12th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists. NUS Press. ISBN 978-9971-69-655-9. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  3. ^ "Order of National Artists: Amado V. Hernandez". National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d Tablan, Ferdinand (June 2011). "Kaisipang Sosyalismo sa mga Akda ni Amado V. Hernandez" (PDF). Kritike (in Tagalog). 5 (1): 15–35. doi:10.25138/5.1.a.2. Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  5. ^ Gregorio, Ferdinand S (4 September 2012). "In Defense of Freedom: Philippine Press Through the Ages". National Historical Commission of the Philippines. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  6. ^ a b c Valiente, Tito Genova (2 June 2021). "The Mighty Words: Writers of Protest and Revolution". Philippines Graphic. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  7. ^ Bulosan, Carlos (1 May 1979). "Terrorism Rides the Philippines". Amerasia Journal. 6 (1): 139–141. doi:10.17953/amer.6.1.x025433333186258. ISSN 0044-7471. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  8. ^ "Did You Know: Amado V. Hernandez born today". 13 September 2019. Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  9. ^ Alfonso, Oscar M.; Bauzon, Leslie E. (1985). University of the Philippines: The First 75 Years (1908-1983). University of the Philippines Press. p. 699. ISBN 978-971-10-5018-4. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  10. ^ a b Coroza, Michael M. (2006). "Review of Bullets and Roses: The Poetry of Amado V. Hernandez, a Bilingual Edition". Philippine Studies. 54 (3): 487–490. ISSN 0031-7837. JSTOR 42633884. Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  11. ^ a b c d Manipon, Roel Hoang (15 September 2003). "In Focus: The Amado V. Hernandez Birth Centenary: The Revolution of His Words". National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  12. ^ Cruz, Andres Cristobal (1971). "Ka Amado: Bartolina at Barikada". Philippine Studies (in Tagalog). 19 (2): 255–286. ISSN 0031-7837. JSTOR 42632100. Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  13. ^ a b c d e "Hernandez, Amado V." Sagisag Kultura (in Tagalog). National Commission for Culture and the Arts. 2015. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  14. ^ "Tanglaw ng Lahi Award". Ateneo de Manila University. 26 June 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2021.