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Rene O. Villanueva
(1954-2007)

PBBY

Rene O. Villanueva 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.