Friday, September 18, 2009

The 2009 Palanca Awards: A Persistence of Excellence











For more than half a century, the Palanca family, which is into the distillery business, has been promoting literature and excellence in writing in different fields and languages through the annual contest Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. Through the years, the contest has become a benchmark of literary achievement for any writer in the Philippines and a tradition in the Philippine literary world.
"Ang Gantimpalang Palanca ay isa nang tradisyon sa kasaysayan ng kontemporaneong panitikan ng Filipinas (The Palanca Award is already a tradition in the history of contemporary literature of the Philippines)," confirmed National Artist for literature Bienvenido Lumbera, who was the guest of honor and speaker during the Palanca awarding ceremony on Sept. 1 at the Rigodon Ballroom of the Peninsula Manila Hotel in Makati City.
A poet, literary critic and historian, professor and much respected literary figure, Lumbera was honored that night with a Gawad Dangal ng Lahi (literally, pride or honor of a race or nation), which is given to those who have prominently excelled in their fields of expertise and have become role models for the Filipinos.
"Bilang parangal, itinuturing itong katibayang 'may dangal' na ikinakapit sa isang akda ang pasya ng tatlo/limang eksperto na nagsuri at nasiyahan sa tula/kuwento/dula/nobela na kanilang binasa (As an award, it is considered a testament 'of honor' to a work given by three/five experts who judged and enjoyed the poem/story/play/novel)," he elaborated.
The Palanca Award is perhaps one of the few arenas in the country where excellence is still continually upheld, although the inclusion of komiks writer and movie director Carlo J. Caparas as one of the judges in the screenplay category this year may be considered a blemish by some. Though popular, Caparas made what many consider as the worst films in Philippine cinema history.
Currently, he is embroiled in the National Artist controversy in which his name was inserted by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo into the roster of new National Artists, along with National Commission for Culture and the Arts executive director Cecile Guidote Alvarez, architect Francisco Manosa and fashion designer Jose "Pitoy" Moreno, without going through the proper process and evaluation. Now brought to the Supreme Court and being investigated by Congress, the incident, which engendered protests, is still causing uproar and indignation.
Lumbera is one of the prominent figures in protest of what many call the "manipulation" of the National Artist awards, and his keynote speech in the Palancas showed the sentiment.
"Ang pagkapagwagi ng akda ay bunga ng matamang pagtimbang sa halaga at ganda ng likha ayon sa mga pamantayang umiiral sa akademya. May mga kritiko at awtor na nagpasubali na sa pamantayang 'Palanca,' ngunit masasabi naman na sa mahabang panahong namili ang kompetisyong Palanca ng mahuhusay na akda, matagumpay nitong nagampanan ang pagpapalanaganap ng kamalayang makasining sa hanay ng mga kabataang manunulat. Ang mga antolohiya ng nagwaging mga akda na inilabas ng Palanca ay tunay na kayamanan ng panitikan, at hindi kataka-takang ang Parangal Palanca ay patuloy na kinikilala bilang pamantayang pampanitikan na hindi matatawaran. Tunay na masasandigan ng isang manlilikha ang kanyang mga nagwaging akda bilang mga likhang nagdulot ng dangal sa kanyang pangalan (The choice of winning works is a result of conscientious evaluation of the value and beauty of craft according to the standards of the academe. There may be critics and authors who take exemptation of a 'Palanca' standard, but it can be said that in the length of time the Palanca contest has been choosing the best works it succeeds in spreading artistic consciousness among young writers. The anthology of winning works published by the Palanca is truly a literary treasure, and it is not surprising that the Palanca Awards continue to be recognized as a literary standard. The author can rely on his winning works as something that brought honor to his name)," Lumbera said.
He added that the value of an award is measured by the reputation of those who decided upon the winners, and writers are fortunate that the entity that bestows the Palancas, although a mercantile company, is not tempted to manipulate the results of its own contest.
"Ang karangalang kanilang tinatanggap mula sa La Tondena Incorporada ay walang bahid ng manipulasyong pumapabor sa isa o ilang naghahangad ng 'dangal' (The honor they receive from La Tondena is without taint of manipulation that favor one or the few that desire the 'honor')," Lumbera reiterated.
The Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature was established in 1950 to honor the Palanca patriarch as well as "to help develop Philippine literature for writers to craft their most outstanding literary work; to be a treasury of the Philippines ' literary gems from our gifted writers; and to assist in its dissemination to the public, especially the students."
Lumbera further said: "Sa ating kapitalistang lipunan, ang dangal ay kalakal na minimithing makamtan ng mga mamamayang hangad kilalaning nakaaangat ang katayuan sa lipunan. At ang parangal ay pagkakataon na nagbubukas ng daan, kaya't ang taong may ambisyong matanghal bilang 'may dangal' ay humahanap ng paraan upang magkamit ng 'dangal.' Maaaring iyon ay taong impluwensyal, maaaring serbisyo, at maaari din namang suhol kung kinakailangan. Nangyayari din ang kabaligtaran. Ginagamit din ng nagbibigay ng 'dangal' ang parangal upang pag-ibayuhin ang kanyang impluwensiya sa taong pinararangalan, upang magbayad ng utang na loob sa taong subsob sa paglilingkod sa kanya, at upang suhulan ng 'dangal' ang taong gusto niyang maging tauhan." (In our capitalist society, honor is a business, desired by people who want to be seen as above everyone else in the society. By chance, an award opens a door that people who have ambition of being proclaimed as someone 'with honor' finds ways to clinch the 'honor.' That way may be influential connection, service and also bribery if need be. The opposite also happens. Honor-giving is used to further someone's hold on the person honored, to show gratitude to the person for his loyal service, and to bribe a person to be on someone's side)
Lumbera cited the recent National Artist awards fiasco.
"Ang dangal na dulot ng parangal ay hindi laging kanais-nais. Kailangang malinis ang kamay na nag-aalay nito. At walang manipulasyong ginawa ang tatangap upang magkamit ng karangalan. Ang burak ng transaksiyong politikal ay nagpapamura sa dangal na tinatanggap at sa tumatanggap na rin. Kayong tumanggap ng dangal ngayong gabi, mapalad kayo. Ang parangal sa inyo ay walang bahid ng pamumulitika, pagkat ang tanging hinihingi nito sa pinararangalan ay magpatuloy na lumikha ng masining at makabuluhang mga akda sa mga darating pang araw (The honor brought by an award is not always desirable. The hand that bestows it must be clean. And there must be no manipulation made by the receiver. The filth of political transaction devalues the honor and the also those who received it. You who are receiving honor tonight are fortunate. Your award is without taint because it only asks for your commitment to write more artistic and meaningful works in the days to come)," Lumbera concludes.
Caparas and his wife Donna Villa arrived late and thus failed to hear Lumbera's speech. Although most of the people in the ceremony disapprove of his proclamation and behavior, he was courteously received and even welcomed by his known opponents like writer Butch Dalisay.
Aside from the regular winners, 62 percent of which are first-timers, the Palanca Awards also inducted two writers into its Hall of Fame. Hall of Fame awardees are those who have won five first prizes in the Palanca Awards, "have consistently met the critical standards of the various boards of judges, and have maintained a reputation in the literary circles worthy of recognition by his peers."
Reuel Molina Aguila and Eugene Evasco, both professors from the University of the Philippines, are this year's inductees. Aguila won his fifth first prize this year for his essay in Filipino titled "Ngunit Wala Akong Litrato Noong Nasa Kolehiyo Ako," while Evasco won his fifth children's poetry in Filipino, a newly introduced category, titled "May Tiyanak Sa Loob Ng Aking Bag."
Aguila won his first first-prize in 1992 for an essay in Filipino ("How I Spent My Summer Vacation o Kung Papaano Ko Ipinaliwanag Sa Aking Mga Anak Ang Pagkatalo Ng Aking Kandidato Sa Nakaraang Eleksyon”). He also won first prize in 1993 for an essay in Filipino ("May Katulong Sa Aking Sopas"), in 2001 for futuristic fiction in Filipino ("Ampalaya") and in 2005 for full-length play in Filipino (Baligho [Ikatlo sa Trilohiya]).
Evasco started winning first prize in 2000 with poetry in Filipino ("Ang Maisisilid Sa Pandama") and children's story in Filipino ("Hilong Talilong"). These were followed in 2001 ("Mga Pilat Sa Pilak," essay in Filipino) and 2005 ("Tag-Araw Ng Mga Ibong Hilaga," a children's story in Filipino).
The Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature once again celebrated a year of bountiful and brilliant literary harvest.


Winners of the 59th Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature

FILIPINO DIVISION
Dulang may isang yugto
: Layeta P. Bucoy for Doc Resureccion: Gagamutin ang Bayan, first; Liza C. Magtoto for Paigan, second; and Jose Dennis C. Teodosio for Asunto, third.
Dulang ganap ang haba: Rodolfo C. Vera for Ismail at Isabel, first; Reuel Molina Aguila for Sa Kanto ng Wakas at Katotohanan Ext., second; and Sir Anril P. Tiatco for Miss Dulce Extranjera, third.
Maikling kuwento: Rogelio Braga for "MGA," second; and Jimmuel C. Naval for "Ang Kamatayan ng Isang Linggo," third. No first prize winner.
Sanaysay: Reuel Molina Aguila for "Ngunit Wala Akong Litrato Noong Nasa Kolehiyo Ako," First; Jing Panganiban-Mendoza for "Kumander," second; and Domingo G. Landicho for "Kamay," third.
Kabataan essay: Axcel L. Trinidad for "Si Ate Elsa, Si Aling Carmen, at Ako Laban sa mga Nangungunang Bansa sa Mundo,” first; Johanna Rose E. Calisin for "Nagkakaisang Isip, Damdamin at Lakas," second; and Maya Victoria S. Rojas for "Humabol Ka, Pilipino!" third.
Tulang isinulat para sa mga bata: Eugene Y. Evasco for "May Tiyanak sa Loob ng Aking Bag," first; Jesus M. Santiago for "Kuwentong Matanda, Bersong Bata," second; and Michael M. Coroza for "Munting Daigdig ng Dalit at Awit," third.
Tula: Reagan R. Maiquez for "Ilang Sandali Makalipas ang Huling Araw ng Mundo," first; Alwynn C. Javier for "Yaong Pakpak na Binunot sa Akin," second; and Charles B. Tuvilla for "Sambutil na Daigdig sa Ilalim ng Pilik," third.
Maikling kuwentong pambata: Genaro R. Gojo Cruz for "Mahabang-mahabang-mahaba," first; Michael M. Coroza for "Ang mga Kahon ni Kalon," second; and Milagros B. Gonzales for "Ang Nanay Kong Lola," third.
Dulang pampelikula: Seymour Barros Sanchez and Christian M. Lacuesta for Hiwaga, first; Jerry B. Gracio for Muli, second; and Enrique Ramos for Moonlight Over Baler, third.

REGIONAL DIVISION
Short story in Cebuano: Corazon M. Almerino for "Sugmat," first; Richel G. Dorotan for "Biyahe," second; and Ferdinand L. Balino for "Mga Mananap sa Kagabhion," third.
Short story in Hiligaynon: Ferdinand L. Balino for "Kanamit Gid Sang Arroz Valenciana," first; Alice Tan Gonzales for "Baha," second; and Joselito Vladimir D. Perez for "Ang Santo Intiero," third.
Short story in Iluko: Danilo B. Antalan for "Vigan," first; Ariel S. Tabag for "Dagiti Ayup Iti Bantay Quimmallugong," second; and Reynaldo A. Duque for "Ti Kararua Ni Roman Catolico, Mannaniw, Nga Immulog Iti Impierno," third.

ENGLISH DIVISION
Full-length play: Floy C. Quintos for Fake, third. No first and second prizes.
One-act play: Violet B. Lucasi for "Balangao," third. No first and second prizes.
Kabataan essay: Cristina Gratia T. Tantengco for "The Benefits of Selflessness," first; Vincen Gregory Y. Yu for "Dreams and Pastures," second; and Angelita A. Bombarda for "On Being Filipino: A Citizen to the World," third.
Poetry: Vincenz Serrano for "The Collapse of What Separates Us," first; Eliza A. Victoria for "Reportage," second; and Mark Anthony R. Cayanan for "Placelessness: Poems from a Series," third.
Poetry written for children: Edgardo B. Maranan for "The Google Song and Other Rhymes for Children," first; Heidi Emily Eusebio Abad for "Child of Earth Poems," second; and H. Francisco V. Penones Jr. for "Turtle and Other Poems for Children," third.
Short story: Sigfredo R. I├▒igo for "Home of the Sierra Madre," first; Anne Lagamayo for "Mr. & Mrs. Reyes and the Polka-dotted Sofa," second; and Luis Katigbak for "Dear Distance," third.
Short story for children: Kathleen Aton-Osias for "Apolinario and the Name Trader," first; Edgardo B. Maranan for "The Artist of the Cave," second; and Paolo Gabriel V. Chikiamco for "Dear Mr. Supremo," third.
Essay: Edgardo B. Maranan for "A Passage Through the Storm," first; Erlinda Enriquez Panlilio for "Saying Goodbye to the House," second; and Maria Teresa P. Garcia for "Sweet of the Earth," third.

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