Two motifs run through and interweave the poems and parables. One motif has to do with the paradoxical nature of language: that is, while words already mean before one speaks, yet other shores seem within reach where the words do not break. The other motif deals with our people’s agonies and exultations through the last years of the Marcos dictatorship during which time Truth, father of language, took vengeance openly.
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 the Philippines. 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).