Fernando Maramag was an excellent poet and journalist in English. He had a rich style
and deep understanding of human nature – qualities which made his poetry appealing to all
readers. On the other hand, his editorial writings “exerted great influence on the various phases
of the Filipino way of life, particularly in its government, economics, education and politics,”
according to a critic.
He was born on January 21, 1893 in Ilagan, Isabela, to Rafael Maramag and Victoria
Mamuri, a Spanish mestiza. His parents were wealthy landowners.
At age seven, he was enrolled in a public school in his hometown. He finished his high
school in 1908. He was 15 when he entered the Philippine Normal School. However, at the
insistence of his father, he transferred to the University of the Philippines.
At UP he started writing for the school organ. A brilliant student, he later became its
editor-in-chief. Among his equally brilliant classmates, were Pilar Hidalgo-Lim and Jose Hilario.
Together, they managed the school newspaper.
At age 21, he was named principal of the Instituto de Manila, a prestigious school for
gifted and well-off students. Later, he became an English professor at UP. He also taught at San
Juan de Letran. During this time, he met and married Constancia Ablaza, by whom he had six
In 1917, he became the editor of Rising Philippines, a daily read by almost every literate
Filipino because of its nationalistic contests. The Philippines Herald and the National Weekly
also benefited from his editorship.
With his credentials, he started to work in the government as chief of the publications
division of the Department of Justice. Later, he became technical assistant to then Senate
President Manuel Luis Quezon.
Maramag published countless poems which were devoured and admired by the reading
public, like “My Queen Tagala,” “The Atheist,” “A Christ Without a Cross,” “Jose Rizal,” and “The
Presentation.” He wrote about the history of the English language in the Philippines. This
enabled him to mine the secrets of English poetics, especially its techniques. Leopoldo Y. Yabes, a
noted literary historian, included seven of Maramag’s works in his book of Filipino essays in
English, which has become a standard textbook in English in Philippine schools and universities.
Maramag also wrote appraisingly of some eminent Filipinos in history like the Presidents
Manuel Quezon and Sergio Osmeña , Sr., not to mention Dr. Jose Rizal, neither understating nor
over glorifying their qualities and achievements, but treating his subjects with sincerity and
He died on October 23, 1936.
In his honor, a marker was installed in his hometown on January 21, 1983.
References: Manuel, E. Arsenio and Magdalena Averin Manuel. Dictionary of Philippine Biography Volume
3. Quezon City: Filipiniana Publications, 1995.
Mojares, Resil. Encyclopedia of Philippine Art Volume 9. Nicanor G. Tiongson. Ed. Manila:
Cultural Center of the Philippines, 1994.
Valeros, Florentino B. and Estrellita V. Gruenberg. Filipino Writers in English. Quezon City: New Day Publishers, 1987