Doreen Gamboa Fernandez was born on 28 October 1934 to Aguinaldo Severino Gamboa of Silay, Negros Occidental and Alicia Lucero Gamboa of Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija.
She obtained her A.B., major in English and History in 1954 from St. Scholastica's College, Manila and completed her M.A. in English Literature (1956) and Ph.D. in Literature (1976) from the Ateneo de Manila University. She began teaching at the Ateneo de Manila in 1972 and chaired the departments of Communication, English and Interdisciplinary Studies. She was a member of the editorial boards of Philippine Studies, Filipinas Journal of Philippine Studies, and The Asian Theatre Journal. She would have rendered thirty years service in October 2002.
In 1998 she was recognized with Metrobank Foundation's Outstanding Teacher Award.
She taught literature, composition, creative as well as critical writing, and journalism. Her research included cultural, literary, theater and culinary history, on which she has written for scholarly and popular publications and had regularly been invited to speak at international conferences and symposiums.
She was twice a recipient of the Fulbright Asian Scholar in Residence Award (1983, Ohio University Southeast Asian Studies Summer Institute; 1992, Michigan University Seminar on Southeast Asian Literatures in Translation).
A prolific writer, she authored the Iloilo Zarzuela: 1903-1930 (1978); In Performance (1981); Tikim: Essays on Philippine Food and Culture (1994); Face to Face: The Craft of Interviewing (1995); Palabas: Essays on Philippine Theater History (1996); Fruits of thePhilippines (1997); Palayok: Philippine Food Through Time, On Site, In the Pot (2000). With Edilberto N. Alegre, she co-authored "The Writer and His Milieu (1984) and Writers and Their Milieu (1987, recipient of National Book Award); the Lasa series on dining in Manila and the provinces (1989, 1990, 1992); Sarap: Essays on Philippine Food and Culture (1988); and Kinilaw: A Philippine Cuisine of Freshness (1991).
She wrote video scripts as well: Tikim, a video documentary on Philippine food (1989, Philippine Information Agency); Panitikan on Philippine literature (1992, CCP), which earned first prize, video documentary category from the Film Academy of the Philippines; and Dulaan on Philippine contemporary theater (1994, CCP).
She was a columnist of The Manila Chronicle, Mr. & Ms. magazine, the Philippine Journal of Education, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and Food magazine. She has contributed numerous articles in journals, periodicals and books, including to The Oxford Companion to Food (1999, Oxford University Press).
She was editor and contributor to the CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art (1994, Cultural Center of the Philippines); contributor to the Encyclopedia of Post-Colonial Literatures in English (1995, Routledge), and with Resil Mojares to Modern Southeast Asian Literature in Translation: A Resource for Teaching (1997, Arizona State University); and editorial consultant as well as contributor to the 10-volume Kasaysayan: The Story of the Filipino People (1998, Asia Publishing Co Ltd).
She was co-founder of the Babaylan Theater Group (1973, with Nicanor G. Tiongson), and the Cultural Research Association of the Philippines (1975). She was a member of the board of trustees of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), and the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, among others. She was also a member of the Manila Critics Circleand of the judiciary for the Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature.
She received the Achievement Award from the National Research Council in 1997, and in 1999 she was recognized with the CCP Centennial Honors for the Arts (Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Philippine Centennial Commission), honoring 100 Filipinos who helped shape the arts in the Philippines in the last century (1898-1998).
She was married to interior designer Wili Fernandez.
Photograph by Stella Kalaw.