|Rio Alma's latest book Ang Romansa ng Pagsagip ng Osong Marso to be launched on Mar.8, the day before his birthday, by the UST Publishing House at UP Vargas Museum|
Rio Alma, the multi-genre literary artist, cultural manager, and teacher
Virgilio Senadren Almario’s nom de plume, is born during the Fire Prevention Month.
This explains why he is the most prolific figure in Philippine literature.
This guru’s on fire!
In fact, literally and literarily, the word “rest” is missing in his vocabulary.
Even after he was given the Orden ng Pambansang Alagad ng Sining 10 years ago, he continued to harvest for his hard work. Urban legend has it that he has this unbreakable daily habit of placing blank bondpaper on his typewriter to write whatever that comes into his mind!
Did this Rio Alma Ritual change when he began encoding on his first computer?
Since 2001, he had been unstoppable, as in coming out with books, as author or editor or translator – annually, yes, annually -- for 11 years with more than 40 titles and counting: Mutyang Dilim (Talingdao Publishing, 2001); UP Diksiyonaryong Filipino (Anvil Publishing, 2001); Supot ni Hudas (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2002); Florante at Laura (Institute for Public Policy, 2002); Bulacan: Bayan ng Bayani’t Bulaklak (Bulacan Heritage Foundation, 2002); JB, Filipino translation of Archibald McLeish’s JB (Dulaang UP, 2002); Barlaan at Josaphat (Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2003); Ikatlong Bagting (UST Press, 2003); Pacto de Sangre: Spanish Legacy in Filipinas (Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day Committee, 2003); Textanaga (National Commission for Culture and the Arts, 2003); Dalitext (NCCA, 2003); Dionatext (NCCA, 2004); Ang Hayop na Ito(Anvil Publishing, 2004); Sentimental (Anvil Publishing, 2004); Sari-Sari (Anvil Publishing, 2004); Estremelenggoles(Anvil Publishing, 2004); Pablo Neruda: Mga Piling Tula (University of the Philippines Press, 2004); Memo Mulang Gimokudan (UP Press, 2005); Dust Devils (Aklat Peskador, 2005); Sonetos Postumos, UP Press (2006);Sansiglong Mahigit ng Makabagong Tula sa Filipinas (Anvil Publishing, 2006); Pag-unawa sa Ating Pagtula(Anvil Publishing, 2006); Tatlong Pasyon sa Ating Panahon (UST Press, 2006); 101 Icons (Adarna House, 2007);Bakit Kailangan ang Himala (UP Press, 2007); Isang Sariling Panahon (NCCA, 2008); Likhaan 2: Journal of Philippine Contemporary Literature (UP Institute of Creative Writing, 2008); UP Centennial Edition of Balagtas’ Florante at Laura (Office of the Chancellor, UP Diliman, 2008); Romanza (Tahanan Books, 2008); Mga Biyahe, Mga Estasyon (Anvil Publishing Inc., 2008); Si Rizal: Nobelista (UP Press, 2008); Buwan, Buwan Bulawan (Adarna House, 2009); Pitik-Bulag (Government Service Insurance System, 2009); More 101 Icons (Adarna House, 2009);Huling Hudhud ng Sanlibong Paglimot at Pagbabalik sa Filipinas Kong Mahal (C&E Publishing, 2009); Unang Siglo ng Nobela sa Filipinas (Anvil Publishing, 2009); Filipino ng mga Filipino (Anvil Publishing, 2009); Pitong Bundok ng Haraya (UST Publishing, 2010); Panitikang Pambata sa Filipinas (Anvil Publishing, 2010); UP Diksiyonaryong Filipino (UP Sentro ng Wikang Filipino-Diliman/Anvil Publishing, 2010); Muling-Pagkatha sa Ating Bansa (UP Press, 2010); Rizal: Makata (Anvil Publishing, 2011); Jacintina, Hiyas ng Panulat ni Emilio Jacinto(Aklat Peskador, 2011); Ang Maikling Kuwento ng Filipinas: 1896-1949 (Anvil Publishing, 2012), Komedia de Baler (Sen. Edgardo Angara/National Historical Commission of the Philippines, 2012), and Ang Pag-ibig sa Bayan ni Andres Bonifacio (UST Publishing House, 2012).
On Friday, 8 March, the day before his birthday, he and the UST Publishing House will be launching at the UP Vargas Museum his latest book yet first of its kind. Entitled Ang Romansa ng Pagsagip sa Osong Marso, it is considered the only speculative poetry collection in the country, if not the world.
He is turning 69, which is why is hotter!
Hotter even when he became a National Artist in 2003?
Well, that very same year, he garnered Saiko Eiyosho, highest honorary award from Soka Gakkai University, and two Gawad Chanselor from UP Diliman: as Pinakamahusay na Mananaliksik and as Pinakamahusay na Nilathalang Pananaliksik. Since then, he had been been on a roll: from Best Book of Poetry from the National Book Development Board (2006) to U.P. Centennial Professorial Chair (2008) to University of the Philippines Centennial Award (2008) to U.P. Artist 3 (2010), and U.P. Professor Emeritus (2010).
Only belatedly, he received the highest honor for being an outstanding citizen: Manila’s Gawad Diwa ng Lahi(2010), Bulacan’s Tanging Dangal ng Lipi Award (2008), and Quezon City’s Most Outstanding Citizen (2009).
Last year, as the so-called “father of modern Philippine children’s literature,” he was recognized for being the moving spirit behind Adarna Books -- the first comprehensive series of educational books for Filipino children -- and the founder of Philippine Board on Board for Young People (PBBY). He went to the United States to accept the Distinguished Country Scholar Award 2012 from the International Children’s Literature Society during the 39thInternational Children’s Literature Conference on 14 June at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts.
Recently, a sudden turn of events in Rio Alma’s life seems like an answer to a lot of his unfinished businesses, in one way or another.
He is the new Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino’s Chair!
A natural born Bulakenyo from San Miguel, he is no Juan-come-lately, so to speak, in the field of language or lexicography. He has books about the national language issues namely Filipino ng mga Filipino in 1993 and 2009, Tradisyon at Wikang Filipino in 1998, and Patnubay sa Masinop na Pagsulat in 1981. He was the Director of U.P. Sentro ng Wikang Filipino from 1993 to 1996. Of course, aside from editing the UP Diksiyonaryong Filipinosince 2004, he is also at the helm, as chief editor and translator, of the Vocabulario de la Lengua Tagala by Juan de Noceda and Pedro Sanlucar since 2007.
Well, to all the lazybones at KWF, he means bad news!
Why? Because Rio Alma seems to be singing: “So many things to do, so little time...”
Vim Nadera: How was your first day of office as Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino Chair?
Virgilio Almario: Alam mo ba ang ginawa ko noong unang araw ko sa KWF? Sinabi ko sa kanilang lahat na 12 taong walang Diyos ang wikang Filipino.
VA: Dahil wala silang ginawa. “Masakit mang sabihin,” wika ko, “hindi kayo nagsikap na bigyan ng payo ang inyong mga pinuno, ang mga nauna sa akin, para naman bigyan sila ng bisyon at misyon ng Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino.”