Estrella Alfon was born in Cebu City in 1917. Unlike other writers of her time, she did not come from the intelligentsia. Her parents were shopkeepers in Cebu. She attended college, and studied medicine. When she was mistakenly diagnosed with tuberculosis and sent to a sanitarium, she resigned from her pre-medical education, and left with an Associate of Arts degree.
Alfon has several children: Alan Rivera, Esmeralda "Mimi" Rivera, Brian Alfon, Estrella "Twinkie" Alfon, and Rita "Daday" Alfon (deceased). She has 10 grandchildren.
Her youngest daughter, was a stewardess for Saudi Arabian Airlines, and was part of the Flight 163 crew on August 19, 1980, when an in-flight fire forced the aircraft to land in Riyadh. A delayed evacuation resulted in the death of everyone aboard the flight.
Alfon died on December 28, 1983, following a heart attack suffered on-stage during Awards night of the Manila Film Festival.
She was a student in Cebu when she first published her short stories, in periodicals such as Graphic Weekly Magazine, Philippine Magazine, and the Sunday Tribune.
She was a storywriter, playwright, and journalist. In spite of being a proud Cebuana, she wrote almost exclusively in English. She published her first story, “Grey Confetti”, in the Graphic in 1935.
She was the only female member of the Veronicans, an avant garde group of writers in the 1930s led by Francisco Arcellana and H.R. Ocampo, she was also regarded as their muse. The Veronicans are recognized as the first group of Filipino writers to write almost exclusively in English and were formed prior to the World War II. She is also reportedly the most prolific Filipina writer prior to World War II. She was a regular contributor to Manila-based national magazines, she had several stories cited in Jose Garcia Villa’s annual honor rolls.
In the 1950s, her short story, "Fairy Tale for the City", was condemned by the Catholic League of the Philippines as being "obscene". She was even brought to court on these charges. While many of her fellow writers did stand by her, many did not. These events hurt her deeply.
In spite of having only an A.A. degree, she was eventually appointed as a professor of Creative Writing at the University of the Philippines, Manila. She was a member of the U.P. Writers Club, she held the National Fellowship in Fiction post at the U.P. Creative Writing Center in 1979.
She would also serve on the Philippine Board of Tourism in the 1970s.1940: A collection of her early short stories, “Dear Esmeralda,” won Honorable Mention in the Commonwealth Literary Award.
1961-1962: Four of her one-act plays won all the prizes in the Arena Theater Play Writing Contest: “Losers Keepers” (first prize), “Strangers” (second prize), “Rice” (third prize), and “Beggar” (fourth prize).
1961-1962: Won top prize in the Palanca Contest for “With Patches of Many Hues.”
1974: Second place Palanca Award for her short story, "The White Dress".
1979: National Fellowship in Fiction post at the U.P. Creative Writing Center.
Estrella Alfon has won the Palanca Awards a number of times:Forever Witches, One-act Play (Third place, 1960)
With Patches of Many Hues, One-act Play (First place, 1962)
Tubig, One-act Play (Second place, 1963)
The Knitting Straw, One-act Play, (Third place, 1968)
The White Dress, Short Story (Second place, 1974)
Magnificence and Other Stories (1960)
Stories of Estrella Alfon (1994) (published posthumously)
Servant Girl (short story)
Alfon was at times charged with sloppy writing and suspected of writing for money.