Aida Rivera-Ford was born in Jolo, Sulu. She became the editor of the first two issues of Sands and Coral, the literary magazine of Silliman University. In 1949, she graduated with an AB degree, major in English, cum laude. In 1954, she obtained an MA in English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan and won the prestigious Jules and Avery Hopwood for fiction.
She taught at the University of Mindanao and Ateneo de Davao University where she was the Humanities Division Chairperson for 11 years. In 1980, she founded the first school of Fine Arts in Mindanao –the Learning Center of the Arts, now known as the Ford Academy of the Arts.
In 1982, the city of Davao recognized her contributions to culture and the arts through Datu Bago Award. In 1984, she was an awardee in the Phil. Government Parangal for Writers of the post-war years. In 1991, she was a Gawad CCP awardee for the essay in English. In 1993, she was the recipient of Outstanding Sillimanian Award for her contributions to literary arts and culture. In 1993, the UP ICW named her National Fellow for Fiction. She became the director of two NCCA Mindanao-wide Creative Writing Workshops and two UP National Writers Workshops. As of 1997, she was the president of the Mindanao Foundation for Culture and the Arts.