Marili Fernandez-Ilagan was born on November 6, 1964 in Davao Oriental. She obtained her A.B. in Communication Arts from the Ateneo de Davao University in 1984, after securing a major in Journalism and a minor in Theater Arts. She was a recipient of a National Indigenous Grant for Scholarship Program from 1980 to 1984.
A proud Mindanaoan artist, Fernandez-Ilagan has acquired vast research materials of national and regional cultural concerns, which she enriches through her love of theater. She has also helped produce magazines and documentaries that tackle the indigenous people's claim for their ancestral lands, the effects of war on the children of Mindanao, and gender matters deeply rooted in religious and sociopolitical contexts. She is involved in several publications, including Theater and Reality , CCP's Ani , Mindanao Community Theater Network , a compilation of plays, and an account of community theater practice in the Philippines. She also participates in conferences and presentations. She is a member of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines and the Women Playwrights International-Philippines.