She was a poet, playwright, critic, and journalist. Petronila Cleto was also an activist, who fought for democracy in the Philippines. In Canada, where she moved in 1991, she was a fierce advocate of migrant rights.
On January 11, 2018, Cleto, or Pet to many, passed away in Toronto. She was 72. She is survived by her daughter Cynthia.
Cleto was selected as the 2010-2011 Lecturer-in-Residence at the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences at George Brown College in Toronto.
From 2008 to 2009, Cleto was the International Writer-In-Residence at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
Cleto was educated in the University of the Philippines, Carleton University in Ottawa, and York University in Toronto.
Cleto’s plays included Operetang Tatlong Kusing, an adaptation of Bertold Brecht's Threepenny Opera, and Pasintabi Sa Nuno (To Our Ancestors), which was performed at the Nancy International Theatre Festival in France.
In Toronto, Cleto was a regular voice in Radyo Migrante and Migrante TV.