WELL-LOVED UST literature pedagogue Milagros Tanlayco devoted her life to imparting the knowledge and beauty of literature to eager students. After nearly six decades of mentoring countless students, who have become great literary writers and literature teachers themselves, Tanlayco succumbed to a stroke last May 10. She was 78.

“She was a dynamic professor with a sense of drama,” said Ferdinand Lopez, a former student of Tanlayco who now teaches literature at the Faculty of Arts and Letters.

“She is strict but at the same time sympathetic to the needs of her students,” said Theology professor Crispulo Acuña, who was also a student of Tanlayco.

“She was always on time for class, armed with a well-made syllabus, and meticulous when it came to details,” said Paulo Tenchavez, a student of Tanlayco at the UST Graduate School.

Tanlayco herself had been mentored by well-loved UST literature professors Clemencia Colayco and Carolina Garcia. She initiated courses such as Oriental literature, African literature, literary criticism, and the Bible as literature.

Called “Inang” by younger professors at Arts and Letters, Tanlayco had a strong conviction for democracy up until the recent national elections, when she suffered a stroke after failing to vote because of the long queues and extreme heat at the Torres High School in Gagalangin, Tondo.

She got a high fever and after housemates found her unconscious in bed, she was rushed to the UST Hospital. She was pronounced dead at 7:15 p.m.

“She died trying to vote,” Jose Victorino Tanlayco, her nephew, said.

“The importance of God, family, loyalty, integrity and the individual person were lessons we have learned from Auntie Mila,” he added.

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Her remains were transferred to the Santisimo Rosario Parish last May 14 for a UST necrological service arranged by Artlets. Father Vice-Rector Pablo Tiong, OP led the Mass. Many old professors came to pay tribute to Tanlayco, including retired deans and faculty. Tanlayco was cremated on the same day at La Loma Crematorium.

During the necrological service, UST Graduate School Dean Lilian Sison described Tanlayco as a dedicated professor. “Tanlayco was a pleasure to work with,” she said.

“She loved English intricacies,” remembered Alice Colet Villadolid, a professor at Artlets and a classmate of Tanlayco in her undergraduate studies.

Dean Emerita Magdalena Villaba, remembered Tanlayco’s “handbag of pharmacy”: she would fish out medicine from her bag whenever her friends needed medication.

Tanlayco graduated cum laude in the AB English program of the then Faculty of Philosophy and Letters in 1951. She finished her master’s and doctorate in literature at the UST Graduate School. She received the Catholic Authors Award in 1997. In 2002, Tanlayco was named Professor Emerita. She taught for 58 years. K.N.K.C. Grafil


  1. I was a student of Professor Tanlayco in second year college at the Faculty of Arts and Letters in 1981. I remember her as someone with noticeable enthusiasm with what she did and a genuine passion for the literature. She took us to places far, wide and ancient and sprinkled some humor with what she imparted. She’s one great facilitator of knowledge and ideas and what the academe lost the heavens gained…well-lived life, ma’am.

  2. My major was Literature. As such, we had the great privilege of having her in our major subjects. She can teach Literature with her eyes closed, (and i mean it literally and figuratively). It was her different approach in teaching that made me love literature more. Her passion and distinct authority over the subject has earned her students’ respect.

    Her presence may be overwhelming at times, more so intimidating, so to speak, but these qualities helped mould her students to be better advocates of literature and for the most part, great writers this country could ever produce.

    So long Ms. Tanlayco. You will always be remembered.

  3. I was second year back then in Letran when she taught me during one of our class in Philippine Literature. She was like a grandmother to me. I and my classmates would always “sundo” her at the the faculty room of Letran. She tells a lot of stories about her experiences in writing and teaching that made me love literature more.

    She was a very good teacher. I felt sad when she died. On the other hand I felt happiness because she no longer feels the pain in this world. She is now resting. Resting together with the Almighty God.

  4. I was one of her Philippine Literature students in Letran, 2 years ago. We are really fond of Dr. Tanlayco and would lovingly call her “granny”. I can still remember her short comments as we accompany her to the faculty room. Nobody can deny her incredible wit and remarkable memory. Somehow, she made us appreciate and love our Literature. Dr. Tanlayco, our “granny”, thank you for sharing your knowledge with us. We were blessed to attend her internment at La Loma cemetery.


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