Rene O. Villanueva, the Philippines' most prolific and influential
writer of stories for children passed away early this afternoon,
December 5, 2007.
In the late 70s, he was part of the original group of writers organized
by Virgilio Almario for a children's book development project of the
Nutrition Center of the Philippines. This initiative, called Aklat
Adarna, would evolve into the Children's Communication Center. A
commercial offshoot of this is the current Adarna House, the
country's biggest publisher of books for children.
Rene eventually became head writer for the legendary television
program Batibot of the Philippine Children's Television Foundation
(PCTVF). As head writer he influenced not only future writers for
children, aspiring scriptwriters and dramatists but also the public's
appreciation of developmental media aimed at the youngest citizens of
our country. He would be recognized with a TOYM award and, later,
become a member of the Hall of Fame of the Don Carlos Palanca
Memorial Awards for Literature, the country's premier literary
competition. His talent as well as his commitment to children's
literature would see his works published by most of the main
publishing houses of Philippine children's books. Indeed, the very
existence and persistence of the contemporary Philippine children's
book industry can be attributed in no small part to him. Not
satisfied with this, he persisted in his vision as a member of the
Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY) and with his work
as a teacher both in university and in the many workshops he gave
throughout the archipelago.
His works were typified by a sense of an authentic recognition of the
Filipino child's realities, unclouded by sentimentalism or easy
mawkishness. They rang true because he had an ear for his people's
language and the way they spoke it at home and in the street and so
the language itself grew because of him.