by John Legaspi
Virginia Moreno, noted Filipino writer and poet and sister of the late Filipino fashion designer Pitoy Moreno, passed away on the morning of Aug. 14, 2021. News about her death was announced on social media through multiple tribute posts by friends and loved ones.
Born in Tondo, Manila, Virginia was installed as the “High Priestess and The Empress Dowager of Philippine poetry” among poets, writers, and friends. Her work spanned across poetry, theater, and cinema. But it was her book “Batik Maker and Other Poems” that was among the most coveted ones. Through it, she won First Prize for the Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Poetry in 1972.
Prior to that, in 1969, she produced a play titled “The Onyx Wolf,” also known as “La Loba Negra” and “Itim Asu,” which earned her a win in the National Historical Playwriting Contest. A year later, it was turned into a ballet performance with National Artist Alice Reyes as the show’s lead.
Virginia was also among the Filipinos literary icons with a Southeast Asia Write award, which she took home in 1984. She also served as chairman of the UNESCO Culture Committee of the Philippines.
Apart from her accolades, her legacy also lives on the students she nurtured as an educator in her alma mater, the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman. There she taught lessons on Humanities and became the first executive director of UPFI Film Center.
Some sources claim that Virginia passed away at 96, while a few others say was 98. But whatever the case may be, whether she was born in 1923 or in 1925, the fact remains: Virginia Moreno, once a living legend, continues to be an iconic writer that has been revered across the ages.
Rest in power, Virginia!