Educator, Theater and Radio Pioneer

September 6, 1929 – June 9, 2021

Leticia Hofileña Tison was a speech, drama, and broadcast communication educator who taught at the University of the Philippines (UP) for more than 30 years, eventually being appointed professor emerita by the University of Board of Regents in 1995.

Fondly called “Ma’am T,” Tison was among the founding pillars of UP’s Department of Speech and Drama when it was established in 1959. It was later renamed the Department of Speech Communication and Theatre Arts (DSCTA) in 1977.

Tison was the longest-running chair of the Department, having served from 1971 to 1985. She also served as a program pioneer for DZUP, UP’s official radio station which is now run by the UP College of Mass Communication.

In 1971, then-UP President Salvador P. Lopez appointed Tison one of the members of the committee assigned to “study and formulate a project in the field of art, music, literature, and library development for submission to the foreign aid agency of the Federal Republic of Germany and other countries.”

In 1976, with Tison’s help, Professor Emeritus Antonio O. Mabesa launched the first season of Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas (Dulaang UP). Its first production was Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” and the Filipino adaptation of Lilia Antonio’s “Pagkahaba-haba Man ng Prusisyon.”

She was also Professorial Lecturer in Broadcast Communication in UP Visayas in Iloilo from November 1977 to May 1978.

Tison also once did a beer commercial with National Artist for Film Fernando Poe Jr. in the 1980s.

Stage director Alexander Cortez credited Tison as among those who helped him evolve as an artist, and actress Boots Anson-Roa also named Tison as among the most influential people in her life.

Dr. Belen D. Calingacion, the DSCTA’s current chair, recalled her first meeting with Tison: “I first met Ma’am T when she visited Silliman University in Dumaguete. Ma’am T gave a lecture on the speech communication and theatre arts program of UP. The memories are vague now but I can still see [her] strolling through the office of the Department of Speech and Theater Arts of Silliman with her winsome smile. It was affection at first sight.”

Tison passed away at 91 due to pneumonia.

Dada Lorenzana Santiago, a former student of Tison, considered her a “second mother”: “It was a blessing to be in her class. What I admired in her and learned from her was her natural unaffected way of speaking. She had studied in the Northwestern University in Chicago but never did she speak with an American twang. She spoke English in an unpretentious and Filipino way that was clear, the way then-popular newscasters Jose Mariveles and Bong Lapira delivered their news.”

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