Screenwriter, Komiks Writer

August 18, 1938 – January 14, 2021

Elena M. Patron-de los Angeles, ‘Lena’ to friends and family, was a komiks legend and screenwriter, best remembered for writing komiks during a time when the industry was dominated by male writers.

She was born in Ermita and attended Washington Elementary School and Arellano High School. She didn’t go to college, even when she aced the entrance exam at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (formerly Philippine School of Commerce). In 1955, she found herself pursuing writing as a career, starting at Liwayway with a published short story. She became a feature writer for the publication, and later the assistant of the general manager.

She penned the column “Tahanan at Sining” under the pseudonym ‘Mareng Lena’ for Liwayway. One of her columns, “Mga Payo ni Ate Mameng,” was adapted into comics, thus introducing her to the format. When Liwayway found itself on hard times in the mid-1960s, Patron began writing for komiks, with her eventual success helping pave the way for the entry of other women writers into the industry.

Her novel Kapatid Ko Ang Aking Ina was a huge success. In 1969, the book was adapted to film by Emmanuel H. Borlaza for Virgo Film Productions, for which she won the FAMAS for Best Story. Her other successful novels include Lord, Give Me a Lover; Blusang Itim; Kislap sa Dilim; Adult Kid; Ako Si Emma, Babae; Kislap sa Dilim; Mumay; Oras-Oras, Araw-Araw; Isinilang Ko ang Anak ng Ibang Babae; Pompa; Dalawa ang Nagdalantao sa Akin; Padre, Si Eba; Bago N’yo Ako Sumpain; Ligaw-Tingin, Halik-Hangin; Kape’t Gatas; Balbakwa; and Nagbabagang Luha—all of which were adapted to film.

Apart from her FAMAS win, Patron received awards from The Citizen’s Council for Mass Media, Starlight Cultural Foundation, Komiks Operation Brotherhood, Inc., and the Catholic Mass Media Awards.

Starting in the 1990s, upon the decline of Philippine komiks readership, Patron moved into writing Tagalog romance paperbacks, including Mga Kuwento ng Puso (1998), Naglalambing ang Umaga (2000), and Kisses of Lies (2006). She remained a dutiful writer even late in life, writing a food column for Liwayway titled “Magluto Tayo,” and finishing her last novel, Lover Boy.

Mindful that she never received formal training in writing, she once admitted that she read voraciously to refine her writing, but also believed destiny and luck had a role to play in her success: “Siguro sinuwerte lang ako. At naniniwala ako sa takda.”

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