Latest Stories

Tony Perez–why he’d rather write a play on the Filipino psyche than one tackling ‘ephemeral’ social issues


PLAYWRIGHT Tony Perez in his Cubao home. AMADÍS MA. GUERRERO

Growing up in San Fernando, Pampanga, where his father, an army colonel, was based, Tony Perez tended to be reclusive, although he was happy enough with his toys.

“My being reclusive led me to expand and rely on my imagination, speculating on a lot of things on what could be the present, the future and even the past,” he recalls. “I think that’s what every writer does.”

The Ateneo de Manila grade school “was a big culture shock” for him because there were hundreds of pupils his age and, according to him, the teachers could not give everyone individual attention.

“Grade school was traumatic for me in that sense because I was forced to socialize, but of course it was necessary and again I turned to books.”

Nevertheless, a paragraph he had written had impressed one teacher, who said he should be a writer someday. That set the future playwright (and visual artist and shaman) on his course. Perez believes that one should study grade school at the Ateneo, high school at De La Salle, and college at the University of the Philippines.

This is ironic because it was at the Ateneo high school that he bloomed. His first staged play was the now classic “Hoy Boyet…” This led to many other plays during and after school, and later to his collected works, and books on fiction and nonfiction.

Excellent teachers

“I had excellent teachers,” Perez says. “One was Onofre Pagsanhan (every Ateneo boy’s “Mr. Pagsi”). He influenced me and I must give him credit for that. And then there was (National Artist) Rolando Tinio. He was very a controversial person, but I learned so much from him. I must mention Nonon Padilla. He was my classmate, we worked together… he directed many of my plays. I look forward to working with Nonon again, except that it’s very hard to find producers.”

Perez has an MA in Clinical Psychology, a background which has served him well in his plays, which tend to be dark and moody, focusing on often tense relationships between men and women.

“Most of my plays draw out or portray the Filipino psyche which no other playwright, I think, has really succeeded in,” he observes. “Other playwrights—this is not a criticism but an observation—are very concerned about social issues, which is good because theater must change or effect some change in people. But I find such issues ephemeral.”

As for him, he “would rather write a play remembered and restaged a 100 years from now because it addressed the psyche of the Filipinos rather than current issues.”

Major change

“An old man of 62” now, Perez has learned that “a person is very much a product of his religion, his education, his family, his friends, and nothing can ever change that.”

But he adds: “Of course a person can also reach out and do a major change, like Mother Teresa. She changed a lot of people. I can actually do that—not that I’m Mother Teresa!—but as a clinical investigator, with my MA in psychology, I can change people.”

The playwright concludes: “There’s no such thing as the road not taken because the road can always be taken whenever one wishes. It’s a question of having the time, but one will always have the talent and resources to be able to take that road.”

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Filipino playwright , Philippine literature , stage play , Tony Perez , ” Philippine Theater

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  3. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  4. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  5. Almost mugged on Chino Roces Avenue
  6. How healing waters accompanied my journey of faith
  7. Palawan favorite getaway of show biz celebrities
  8. ‘Archaeology tour’ of Cebu’s heritage of faith
  9. Transitions and resurrection in the performing arts
  10. Philippine novelist wins US book award amid cancer and ‘Yolanda’
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  4. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  5. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  6. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  7. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  8. This is not just a farm
  9. 12 other things you can do at Pico de Loro Cove
  10. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  6. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  7. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  8. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  9. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?


  • Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  • Why are Americans obsessed with missing plane?
  • Napoles to have surgery on Tuesday – report
  • Mayor’s assassination linked to black sand mining controversy
  • Initial batch of Etihad passengers tested negative for MERS-CoV
  • Sports

  • PBA D-League: Waves edge skidding Superchargers
  • Ilad’s last-second basket lifts Gems over Bakers
  • Reigning champs Miami open playoffs with win
  • Spurs subdue Mavericks in playoff opener
  • Wawrinka beats Federer to win Monte Carlo Masters
  • Lifestyle

  • Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  • Transitions and resurrection in the performing arts
  • ‘Archaeology tour’ of Cebu’s heritage of faith
  • Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  • ‘Imports’ from London, and play of the year
  • Entertainment

  • Arrest warrants out vs. Deniece Cornejo, Cedric Lee, et al over serious illegal detention
  • Lindsay Lohan says she had a miscarriage
  • Discovery network cancels Everest jump
  • ‘Captain America’ stays strong atop US box office
  • Easter musings
  • Business

  • Century Pacific Food sets IPO price at P13.75 per share
  • Oil prices down in quiet Asian trade
  • Asian shares mixed in holiday-thinned trade
  • BDO seen keen on bidding for Cocobank
  • Bataan freeport investment pledges up 1,302%
  • Technology

  • PH has slowest internet in Southeast Asia
  • Nintendo’s trailblazing Game Boy marks 25th anniversary
  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Opinion

  • Gigi’s home
  • Palace stonewalls on MRT inquiry
  • Couple of things too
  • There is plenty of water behind Wawa Dam
  • Triduum thoughts of a young boy
  • Global Nation

  • Filipinos in Middle East urged not to panic amid MERS-CoV scare
  • Obama on mission to quiet Asia skeptics
  • Search for Etihad passengers launched
  • Japan presents $57-B ‘dream plan’ to solve Metro congestion
  • Tim Tebow’s charity hospital in Davao seen to open in 7 months