SHARING the same birth date as National Artist and folk dance pioneer Francisca Reyes Aquino is fellow National Artist, poet, literary historian, and critic Virgilio Almario!
Almario who goes by the pseudonym Rio Alma was born on March 9, 1944 in Camias, San Miguel, Bulacan.
Before he became a National Artist of the Philippines, an artist, poet, critic, renowned translator, and cultural manager, he was an AB Political Science student in the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman. He finished his degree in 1963.
In 1967, he released his first collection of poems titled “Makinasyon at Ilang Tula.”
According to UP, Almario was "blacklisted" by the military during the years of Martial Law under former President Ferdinand Marco because he was an activist. During this period, he dedicated his time and focus to studying the history and tradition of Philippine literature.
Almario, the current chairman of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino, is an important figure in nurturing Filipino high school students' knowledge of Filipino literature.
That's because he translated Jose Rizal's “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo.” Also included in his works is the children's story “Ibong Adarna.”
Almario also helped revive and reinvent traditional Filipino poetic forms. Despite being well-versed in traditional Filipino poetic forms, he also excelled in modernist poetics.
Among his books on criticism, literary history, and anthologies are:
Taludtod at Talinghaga
Balagtasismo Versus Modernismo
Kung Sino ang Kumatha Kina Bagongbanta, Ossorio, Herrera, atbp.
A recipient of multiple awards, Almario was proclaimed as the National Artist for Literature by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2003.