Virgilio S. Almario

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Virgilio S. Almario, better known in literary circles as Rio Alma, is a poet, literary historian, critic, translator, editor, teacher, and cultural manager. His works soars from the lyrical to the satirical to the epic, from the dramatic to the incantatory, in his often severe examination of the self and the society.

Early life and education

Almario was born on March 9, 1944. His parents are Ricardo Almario and Feliciana Senadren. He is married to Emelina B. Soriano and has three kids named Asa Victoria, Ani Rosa and Agno Virgilio.

He finished elementary from Camias Elementary School in 1955 and secondary from San Miguel High School in 1959. He graduated from the University of the Philippines with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1963. He was later a candidate for M.A. in education at the University of the East in 1968. He then attained a M.A. in Filipino in 1974 from the University of the Philippines.


He became a social studies teacher in his alma mater, San Miguel High School, during the early years of his career. In the summer of 1963, his life as a poet flourished while he was taking up units in Education at the University of the East. Together with Rogelio G. Mangahas and Lamberto E. Antonio, they spearheaded the second successful modernist movement in Filipino poetry. He later shed of his modernist and formalist interests in favor of a nationalist and politically engaged orientation and joined the activist movement during the martial law period. During this time, he busied himself with research projects on literary history and the search for native traditions in Philippine literature.

He was also a translator and editor of various literatures. He has translated the best contemporary poetry written by Nick Joaquin, Bertolt Brecht, Euripides, and Maxim Gorki. He has also translated novels written by Jose Rizal, Jose Corazon de Jesus, Lope K. Santos, Alfredo Navarro Salanga, and Pedro Dandan.

In 1968 and 1970, Almario authored two slim but seminal volumes, Makinasyon (Machination,1968), and Peregrinasyon (Piligrimage, 1970), wherein he first showed his unorthodox technique and use of language. The latter won a national award. He subsequently organized, in his apartment, the first of his weekend workshops for young poets, the Galian sa Arte at Tula.

In 1969, he was invited to teach in the Department of Philippine Studies of Ateneo de Manila University. Since 1973, he has dedicated his weekends for young writers by conducting workshops and consultations in his apartment to help develop younger generations of poets. He enrolled as a graduate student at UP, and went into editing and writing work. In 1977, he accepted a project to head the Nutrition Center of the Philippines’ publishing house for children’s books – his other devotion. This became the Children’s Communication Center, publisher of the now-famous Adarna Books series, as the country’s most successful publishing house for children’s literature.

In 1985, he opened the Rio Alma Clinic which is now managed by the organization LIRA (Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika, at Anyo) while he serves as head lecturer.

Within and outside academe, in journalism, publishing and cultural management, Almario has made his presence felt. He has been with the teaching staff of UP Writers Workshop, director of the UP Sentro ng Wikang Filipino, conceptualizer and editor-in-chief of the watershed UP Diksiyonaryong Filipino (2001), and presently director of the UP Likhaan: Institute of Creative Writing (formerly Creative Writing Center).

He has been executive director and editor of the Adarna Books series published by Children’s Communication Center, founding secretary general of the Philippine Board of Books on Young People (PBBY), publisher-editor of the defunct Diyaryo Filipino (the first broadsheet in Filipino) and Filipino Magazin, founding member of the Manila Critics Circle that gives the annual National Book Awards, and former executive director of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).

On 25 June 2003 he was proclaimed National Artist for Literature. Besides being the director of the U.P. Institute of Creative Writing, he also became a dean of the College of Arts and Letters at U.P. in that same year.

He was the project director of National Komedya Festival in U.P. from 2007-2008. He was also the head of committee for Natatanging Publikasyon Award and Filipino Poetry for the U.P. Centennial Literary Award in 2008.


  • Chairman, Writer's Union of the Philippines (now Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas), 1986
  • Editorial Board member, The Observer and The Independent, 1987-1988
  • Deputy Secretary, Afro-Asian Writers Union, 1988
  • Writer-in-residence, U.P. Writer's Workshop, 1984, 1987, 1994 and 1995
  • Project Officer, Development Academy of the Philippines, 1995
  • Director, U.P. Sentro ng Wika, 1996
  • General Manager, NCP Publishing Corporation
  • Editor-in-chief, Diyaryo Filipino, 1990-1993
  • Publisher, Filipino Magazine, 1993-1997
  • Executive Director, Board of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), 1998
  • Executive Director and Commissioner, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, 1999-2001
  • Director, U.P. Institute of Creative Writing, 2002
  • Dean, U.P. College of Arts and Letters, 2003


Published works


  • Japanese version of Ibong Adarna story, Ohanashi Caravan, Tokyo, Japan
  • Water, An Ecology Book, contributing editor, Asia/Pacific Cultural Center for UNESCO (ACCU, Japan), 1996
  • Trees, An Ecology Book, contributing editor, Asia/Pacific Cultural Center for UNESCO (ACCU, Japan), 1995
  • Kuwentuhan Mo Ako!, translation of short stories for children, editor, ACCU, Japan, 1992
  • The Sun, contributing editor of an ecology book for children, ACCU, Japan, 1998


  • Editor, UP Centennial Edition of Balagtas’ Florante at Laurawith English translation by Marne Kilates, Office of the Chancellor, UP Diliman, 2008
  • Author, Romanza, poetry collection with paintings by Marivic Rufino and English translation by Marne Kilates, Tahanan Books, 2008
  • Author,Mga Biyahe, Mga Estasyon (Journeys, Junctions), poetry collection with English translation by Marne Kilates, Anvil Publishing Inc., 2008
  • Author,Si Rizal: Nobelista, critical essays on Noli and Fili, UP Press, 2008
  • Editor,101 Icons, symbols of Filipino culture, Bench/Adarna House, 2007
  • Author,Bakit Kailangan ang Himala, collection of poems, UP Press, 2007
  • Sonetos Postumos, book of poems with translation by Marne Kilates and paintings by National Artist Ang Kiukok, 2006
  • Mahigit Sansiglo ng Makabagong Tula sa Filipinas, editor of an anthology of modern poems in Filipino, English, Spanish, Pampanggo, Ilocano, Bicolano, Cebuano, Ilonggo, Waray, Anvil publishing, 2006
  • Pag-unawa sa Ating Pagtula, a literary history and criticism of poetry in Filipino, Anvil Publishing, 2006
  • Tatlong Pasyon sa Ating Panahon, poems for children with illustrations by Mark Justiniani, Neil Doloricon, Ferdinand Doctolero, UST Press, 2006
  • Memo Mulang Gimokudan, book of poems, University of the Philippines Press, 2005
  • Dust Devils, book of poems with translation by Marne Kilates, Aklat Peskador, 2005
  • Dionatext, co-editor of an anthology of modern diona, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, 2004
  • Ang Hayop na Ito, book of poems, Anvil Publishing, 2004
  • Sentimental, book of poems, Anvil Publishing, 2004
  • Sari-Sari, book of poems, Anvil Publishing, 2004
  • Estremelenggoles, book of poems, Anvil Publishing, 2004
  • Pablo Neruda: Mga Piling Tula, co-editor and translator, University of the Philippines Press, 2004
  • Barlaan at Josaphat, editor of a modern edition of the first translated fiction in the Philippines, 2003
  • Ikatlong Bagting, co-editor of an anthology of young poets, UST Press, 2003
  • Pacto de Sangre: Spanish Legacy in Filipinas, Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day Committee, 2003
  • Textanaga, co-editor of an anthology of modern tanaga, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, 2003
  • Dalitext, co-editor of an anthology of modern dalit, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, 2003
  • Translation of JB by Archibald McLeish, November 2002
  • Bulacan: Bayan ng Bayani’t Bulaklak, editor of a coffeetable book on the history and culture of Bulacan, Bulacan Heritage Foundation, 2002
  • Florante at Laura, editor of the revised edition, Institute for Public Policy, 2002
  • Supot ni Hudas: Book of Poems, U.S.T. Publishing House, 2002
  • U.P. Diksiyonaryong Filipino, editor-in-chief, Anvil Publishing, 2001
  • Mutyang Dilim, Talingdao Publishing, 2001
  • Kalahating Siglo sa Ibabaw ng Mundo, collection of essays, Anvil Publishing, 1998
  • Tradisyon at Wikang Filipino, collection of critical studies on language, Sentro ng Wikang Filipino, 1998
  • Manuel Sityar: Rebolusyong Filipino, editor of the translation of Memorias Intimas (1896-1898) by Manuel Sityar, Sentro ng Wikang Filipino, 1998
  • Una Kong Milenyum, two volumes, anthology of all published poems, U.P. Press, 1998
  • Noli Me Tangere, translation of Rizal’s novel, National Centennial Commission, 1999
  • El Filibusterismo, translation of Rizal’s novel, National Centennial Commission, 1999
  • 100 Events that Shaped the Philippines, editor, Adarna books, 1999
  • Patnubay sa Pagsasalin, co-editor, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, 1996
  • Si Tandang Basio Macunat, editor, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, 1996
  • Poetikang Tagalog: Mga Pagsusuri sa Sining ng Pagtulang Tagalog, editor, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, 1996
  • Sa Dakong Silangan: Jose Corazon de Jesus, editor, Cultural Center of the Philippines, 1995 *Sentimiento: Translation of Gemma Cruz’ Fiction and Essays, Anvil Publishing Inc., 1995
  • Dakilang Tinig ng Dakilang Awit, translation of Jovita Fuentes, A Lifetime of Music by Lilia Hernandez Chung, Foundation for Nationalist Studies, 1995
  • Bumasa at Lumaya: A Source Book on Children’s Literature in the Philippines, editor with Ma. Elena Paterno et al, Anvil Publishing Inc., 1994
  • Muli, Sa Kandungan ng Lupa, poetry, De La Salle University Press, 1994
  • Jose Corazon de Jesus: Ilang Piling Taludtod, a salute to J.C. De Jesus and his poetry in commemoration of his birth centennial, editor with Romulo Baquiran Jr., Sentro ng Wikang Filipino and UMPIL, 1994
  • Panitikan ng Rebolusyon (G1896), Isang Paglingon at Katipunan ng mga Akda nina Bonifacio at Jacinto, Sentrong Pangkultura ng Pilipinas, 1993
  • Filipino ng mga Filipino, collection of newspaper columns about language, Anvil Publishing, 1993
  • Mga Bacchae, translation of the Bacchae by Euripides, 1992
  • Kung Sino ang Kumatha kina Bagongbanta, Ossorio Herrera, Aquino de Belen, Balagtas, atbp., literary criticism, Anvil Publishing, 1992
  • Students’ Philippine Almanac, editorial director, Filway Marketing Inc., 1991
  • Mga Retaso ng Liwanag, poetry, Aklat Peskador, 1991
  • Lumikha ng Kuwento, Tula at Laruang Pambata, manual on writing stories, creating songs and poems, making toys for children from indigenous materials, co-author, 1991
  • Parikala, anthology of new poets in the 1980s, editor, Kalikasan Press, 1990
  • Mga Bakasyonista, translation of Summer Folks by Maxim Gorki, 1990
  • Ang Pangginggera at mga Piling Tula ni Lope K. Santos, editor, 1990
  • Turtle Voices in Uncertain Weatherby Alfredo Navarro Salanga, editor, CCP, 1989, co-translator and editor, 1989
  • Makabagong Tinig ng Siglo, selected modern world poets in translation, co-translator and editor, 1989
  • Katon Para sa Limang Pandama, poetry, Aklat Peskador, 1987
  • Selected Poems 1968-1985(bilingual edition), Maya Books, 1987
  • Kabalikat sa Kalayaan, translation of Aide-de-camp to Freedom by Teodoro M. Kalaw, 1986 *Taludtod at Talinghaga, poetics, Aklat Balagtasyana, 1985 and Anvil Publishing Inc., 1991
  • (A)lamat (H)istorya, poetry, Aklat Balagtasyana, 1985
  • Palipad-Hangin, poetry, Aklat Peskador, 1985
  • Mga Retrato at Rekwerdo, poetry, 1984
  • Mga Piling Tula ni Jose Corazon de Jesus, editor, Aklat Balagtasyana, 1984 and Dela Salle University Press, 1995
  • Balagtasismo versus Modernismo, literary criticism, Ateneo Press, 1984
  • Galian, co-editor, Aklat Peskador, 1983
  • Walong Dekada ng Makabagong Tulang Pilipino, anthology of major poets in Pilipino 1900-1980, PECO, 1981
  • Patnubay sa Masinop na Pagsulat, writing stylebook, National Bookstore, 1980
  • Doktrinang Anakpawis, poetry, Aklat Peskador, 1979
  • Ang Makata sa Panahon ng Makina, literary criticism, U.P. Press, 1972
  • Peregrinasyon at Iba Pang Tula, poetry, Ateneo Press, 1970
  • Makinasyon at Ilang Tula, Pioneer Press, 1968
  • Over 50 children’s storybooks in the Aklat Adarna series
  • More than a hundred poems and stories and numerous essays on literature and history published in national and international publications
  • Anthologized and cited in books, magazines, journals, and folios
  • Translations of poems and plays by literary and theater masters

Honors and Awards

  • U.P. Centennial Award, 2008
  • U.P. Centennial Professorial Chair, 2008
  • Best Book of Poetry, National Book Development Board, 2006
  • National Artist for Literature, 25 June 2003
  • Saiko Eiyosho, highest honorary award from Soka Gakkai University, 2003
  • Gawad Chanselor, Pinakamahusay na Mananaliksik, February 2003
  • Gawad Chanselor, Pinakamahusay na Nilathalang Pananaliksik, February 2003
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, July 2002, by the Philippine Board on Books for Young People
  • Gatpuno Antonio Villegas Award, June 2002, Lungsod ng Maynila
  • The Book Development Leadership Awards, 29 June 2001, by the National Book Development Congress 2001
  • Sagisag Balagtas, Pinakamataas na Karangalang Gawad ng PASATAF, Abril 2001
  • Centennial Award for Literature, 1998, given by the Cultural Center of the Philippines to 100 outstanding Filipino artists and writers of the 20th century
  • National Book Award for Translation, 1999, by the Manila Critics Circle
  • National Book Award for Editing, 1999, by the Manila Critics Circle
  • Plaque of Honor and Citations, 19 July 2000, by the Philippine Board on Books for Young People
  • Plaque of Appreciation, 8 September 2000, by the town of San Miguel, Bulacan
  • Outstanding Citizen Award for Literature, Dangal ng Lipi Award, Bulacan, 1993
  • Outstanding Citizen Award for Literature, Gantimpalang Quezon, Quezon City, 1993
  • Outstanding Citizen Award for Literature, Gawad Patnubay ng Sining, City of Manila, 1992
  • Southeast Asia (SEA) Write Award, Bangkok, 1989
  • Poet of the Year (Makata ng Taon), Talaang Ginto, Institute of National Languages, 1984
  • Palanca Memorial Awards for poetry and essay, 1970, 1979, 1984, 1990
  • CCP Literary Awards for poetry and essay, 1975, 1979, 1984
  • Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) Award for Literature, 1980
  • National Book Award for Poetry, Manila Critics Circle, 1982
  • Amado V. Hernandez Award, Institute of National Language, 1980
  • Emilio Jacinto Plaque for Outstanding Contributions to Literature and Philippine Studies, U.P., Department of Filipino and Philippine Languages, 1976
  • Balagtas Award for poetry and essay, 1975
  • Second Poet of the Year, Talaang Ginto, Institute of National Languages, 1967 and 1970
  • Benigno Aldana Award, Outstanding Teacher of Bulacan, Bulacan Public School Teachers Association, 1968
  • Mercado Awards for Poetry and Essay, KADIPAN, 1966


  • “Culture Profile: Virgilio S. Almario”. National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Accessed 20 November 2007
  • “Virgilio S. Almario”.Panitikan. Accessed 20 November 2007
  • “Biography”.Rio Alma.Accessed on 17 February 2011
  • Insights, "Strike" by Rennz Z. Faminial
  • Insights, "Real Great Guy" by Sang-Yoon Kim
  • Summaries, "Muling-Tula Bilang Paghahamon sa Pagsasalin ng Tula" by Sang-Yoon Kim
  • Summaries, "Ibangon ang Dangal ng Lahi" by Rennz Z. Faminial

External links



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