Abad, Gémino H.


The poet and literary critic Gémino H. Abad was born on February 5, 1939 in Sta. Ana, Manila. 

At present, he is a University Professor Emeritus at the University of thePhilippines. His current writing and research include “Upon Our Own Ground”, a two- volume historical anthology of short stories in English, 1956- 1972, with critical introduction; “Our Scene So Fair”, a book of critical essays on the poetry in English since 1905 to the mid- 50s, and; “Where No Words break”, a volume of his own poems.

His parents are the noted novelist, playwright and essayist in Sugbuanon and Spanish, Antonio M. Abad, who was at one time Chair of the Department of Spanish in UP, and Jesusa H. Abad, professor of Spanish in UP. He is married to Mercedes A. Rivera, with whom he has five children.

He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, magna cum laude, from UP on 1963, and has been teaching English literature and creative writing since then in the UP Department of English and Comparative Literature, even after his retirement in 2004. He earned his Master’s degree with honors, 1966, and Ph.D in English, at the University of Chicago under a Rockefeller Fellowship Grant. In 1993, he was appointed University Professor in Literature, the highest academic rank at the University of the Philippines.

In UP, he served as Secretary of the University and the Board of Regents from 1977- 1982; as Vice- President for Academic Affairs, 1987- 1990, and; as Director of Likhaan: the UP Creative Writing Center, 1995- 1998. He was the first holder of the Carlos P. Romulo Professional Chair in Literature from 1982- 1983, and received the UP Outstanding Faculty Award for 1985- 1986. He was also holder of the Irwin Chair for Literature at the Ateneo de Manila University, 1993. He received the Chancellor’s Award as Best Office Administrator in 1998 for his management of the UP Creative Writing Center as its Director.

He was a Fellow at the Cambridge Seminar, Trinity College, University of Cambridge, 1988; a Fellow in the International Writers Program, University of Iowa, 1990; a Visiting Professor at the Center for Philippine Studies, University of Hawai’i at Manoa, 1991; a Fellow at the Oxford Conference on Teaching Literature Overseas, Corpus Christi College, 1995, and; Exchange Professor in Literature at St. Norbert College Wisconsin, 1998, and at Singapore Management University, 2003; represented the Philippines in the 3rd “Mediterranea International Festival of Literature and the Arts” in Rome, July 2006.

Abad is also a member of the UP Writers Club and founding member of the Philippine Literary Arts Council (PLAC), which puts out the Caracoa (since 1982)- the only poetry journal in English in Asia. He has served as director and member of the teaching staff in numerous Writers Workshops in UP, Siliman/ Dumaguete, MSU- IIT, and San Carlos University/ Cornelio Gaigao Workshop. He is a judge in various literary contests such as the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards, Graphic, Free Press, NVM Gonzales Fiction Awards, and Maningning Miclat Literary Awards. He is a speaker/ paper reader in various writers’ national conferences and various international conferences of scholars.

He was a columnist in The Manila Chronicle, a weekly column called “Exchange”, with NVM Gonzales, Sylvia Ventura and Luning Bonifacio Ira; The Evening Paper, a weekly column “Coming through”, with NVM Gonzales and Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo; Musa: The Philippine Literature Magazine, a monthly column called “Vates: Our Poets Speak”, and; Flip, a monthly column “Poet’s Clearing”.

He is cited in The Oxford Companion to the English Language, 1992, as among “poets of note”. He is also included in the Encyclopedia of Post- Colonial Literatures in English, ed. Eugene Benson and L. W. Conolly (London: Routledge, 1994) and the CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art (IX: Philippine Literature, 1994).

His awards include the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature: first prize for poetry in English, 1976 (The Space Between); second prize, 1980 (Counterclockwise); first prize, 1983 (The Outer Clearing), The CCP Award for Poetry: second prize, 1973 (In Another Light), Manila Critics Circle National Book Award for poetry, 1988 (Poems and Parables); for anthology, 1989 (Man of Earth), 1993 (A Native Clearing), 1999 (A Habit of Shores); for personal anthology, 2002 (A Makeshift Sun) and 2005 (In Ordinary Time), Asian Publishers Catholic Authors Award, 1990, Free press Literary Awards: third prize for the short story (Tarang), 1993; first prize for the short story (Introibo), 1997; first prize for the essay (A Day in One’s Life), 1997; second prize for the poem (A Description), 2000, Gawad Pambansang Alagad  ni Balagtas, 1996, for lifetime achievement in poetry and literary criticism, UP Alumni Association Professional Award in Literature, 1997, Ellen F. Fajardo Foundation grant for Excellence in teaching, 2000- 2001, Chancellor’s Award for Best Literary Work, 2002 (A Makeshift Sun), and Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan sa Larangan ng Panitikan, Lungsod ng Maynila, 2004.

Some of his poetry, fiction, critical essays and short stories are Fugitive Emphasis, State of Play, Orion’s Belt and Other Writings, Father and Daughter, Getting Real: An Introduction to the Practice of Poetry and Who’s Afraid of Ching Dadufalza?

He edited books like The Likhaan, The Likhaan Book of Poetry and Fiction, An Edith Tempo Reader, 100 Love Poems: Philippine Love Poetry in English since 1905, Father Poems, Honoring Fathers: An International poetry Anthology, NCAA Ubod Project, The NVM Gonzales Awards Stories and Supreme Court Decisions as Literature. His edited textbooks are The Likhaan Anthology of Philippine Literature in English from 1900 to the Present, Frequently Asked Questions on Poetry, and Our People’s Story: Philippine Literature in English.

His syllabi-textbooks include Philippine Literature in English: Poetry, Fiction, and Drama; Greek and roman Literature, and; Introduction to the Writing of Poetry. His index is Index to Filipino Poetry in English, 1905 to 1950.  

This year 2009, Gemino Abad won the Feronia Prize in Rome, Italy.

Partial bibliography:

Abad, Gémino H. / A Habit of Shores 1999

Abad, Gemino H. / A Makeshift Sun: Stories and Poems 2001

Abad, Gemino H. / Getting Real: An Introduction to the Practice of Poetry 2004

Abad, Gémino H. / In Ordinary Time: Poems, Parables, Poetics 1973-2003 2004

Abad, Gémino H. / Orion’s Belt and Other Writings 1996

Abad, Gémino H. / Poems and Parables 2002 Ed

Abad, Gemino H. / The Children’s Hour Stories on Childhood Vol. I 2007

Abad, Gémino H. and Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo / The Likhaan Book of Poetry & Fiction 1997, 1999

Abad, Gémino H. and Yuson Alfred A. / Honoring Fathers: An International Poetry Anthology 2005

Abad, Gémino H., et al. (Editors) / The Likhaan Anthology of Philippine Literature in English from 1900 to the Present 1999


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