Ani Almario’s love for the written word has turned into a mission: to produce quality books for children and champion literacy. Under her leadership, Adarna Books has become a byword in contemporary Philippine children’s literature with its well-told stories in English and Filipino and the superb illustrations that accompany each. Since 2000, she has been secretary-general of the Philippine Board on Books for Young People and a director of the Book Development Association of the Philippines since 2002. She held a one-year term as a regional advisor for the International Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. But she considers the founding of The Raya School, a progressive institution that aims to instill a sense of national pride and a love for science among young children, as her greatest achievement. “I’m very proud of it because every aspect of the school reflects my own educational beliefs, and my philosophy as a person,” she says.
This bookworm’s list of favorite authors are an eclectic mix—Haruki Murakami, Roald Dahl, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jane Austen and Neil Gaiman, to name some. “The excellence of their prose inspires me to read even more,” she says. “They’ve inspired me to go into different things, to like quirky characters, to think beyond the norm,” which, we might add, includes making Filipino children’s books a viable industry. But it’s to her parents that she credits her success and perseverance. “They are the reason why I consider only a few things impossible,” Ani adds. Her dedication to the cause of literacy fulfills her. “I’ve learned that I should spend my time doing things that make me happy.”
(First published in Marie Claire, November 2008, Photo by Lilen Uy)