After a two-year break, the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature—dubbed as the Philippines’ local version of the Pulitzer Prize—held its 70th edition to honor 59 writers for 22 writing categories. Twenty-eight of them, or nearly half, were awarded for the first time.
Multi-awarded film director, musician, and poet Khavn dela Cruz and Atty. Raymundo T. Pandan, Jr. emerged as the big winners at the 70th Palanca Awards held at Marquis Events Place in Bonifacio Global City on Wednesday, Nov. 30. They were awarded the grand prizes for the Nobela and Novel categories for their novels ANTIMARCOS and Bittersweetland, respectively.
Also given special prizes were Edgar Calabia Samar, Natatanging Gantimpala, Nobela category for Teorya ng Unang Panahon; and Alvin Dela Serna Lopez, Special Prize for the Novel category for 1762. Recognition for outstanding novels are given by the award-giving body every two years.
Twelve-year-old twin sisters Glorious Zavannah Exylin C. Alesna and Glorious Zahara Exylin C. Alesna won in the essay categories in Filipino and English, respectively, for the award’s Kabataan Edition.
“All winning entries were evaluated by an elite roster of literary luminaries handpicked for their respective expertise,” according to a statement from the award-giving body.
The Palanca Awards was named after philanthropist and businessman Don Carlos Palanca, Sr. “[It] continuously seeks to cultivate Philippine Literature by providing incentives for writers and serving as a treasury of these literary gems,” the organization said. The award is also “considered the gold standard in writing excellence” and is highly coveted by Filipino writers, regardless of their age.
UP Professor Emeritus Dr. Nicanor G. Tiongson was the 70th edition’s guest of honor and speaker. He was a founding member and former chair of the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino, and was a former dean of the College of Mass Communication of UP Diliman. His fields of influence and expertise include film, media, literature, and theater.
Khavn’s ANTIMARCOS, an anti-novel
“I started writing this colossus 26 years ago [when I turned] 23,” Khavn said of his novel ANTIMARCOS during an interview with PhilSTAR L!fe. He turns 49 in a few weeks.
“ANTIMARCOS represents the fulfillment of an ambition to use the novel as a base for a comprehensive exploration of the limits of the Filipino language, employing a myriad of tones and styles towards a destructive synthesis of genres, formulas, and taboos that plays with and goes beyond spatial and temporal boundaries,” according to Douglas Candano’s synopsis of the novel.
“While these maximalist, postmodern elements result in an anti-novel, an anti-poem, and an anti-book against everything, even itself, it nevertheless channels a deep knowledge of Philippine art, literature, history, popular culture, politics, and life to express a very long scream against all the government corruption that has mired the country in deep structural poverty,” it added. The novel will be published by Ateneo de Manila University Press next year, Khavn said.
Khavn has done 33 feature films and over 100 short films. He’s been called “the father of Philippine digital filmmaking” and is the festival director of .MOV International Film, Music & Literature Festival, “the first digital film festival in the Philippines.” His 2017 film Balangiga Howling Wilderness was adjudged the Best Film of the Decade by Gawad Urian last year. He has previously won Palanca awards in the poetry and fiction categories.
Pandan’s Bittersweetland, a novel for Negros
According to the website of the University of St. La Salle, where Atty. Rayboy Pandan is a law professor and where he used to be the dean of the College of Law, “Bittersweetland was a novel for Negros, for its people, for the crop which sustains us, and which we must sustain to endure, but also to endure our bittersweet life.”
In an online post, he said that he wrote the novel in just one month. He has been a recipient of Palanca awards for poetry (2006) and children’s poetry (2012).
Here are the first-prize winners in other categories at the prestigious awards ceremony.
- Short Story: Ceferina in Apartment 2G by Ian Rosales Casocot
- Essay: Letter from Tawi-Tawi by Alfonso Tomas P. Araullo
- Poetry: Bol-anon Prodigal by Ramil Digal Gulle
- Poetry Written for Children: An Empty Chair in the Corner by Elyrah L. Salanga-Torralba
- One-Act Play: The Cave Dwellers by Ronald S. Covar
- Full-Length Play: Orgullo Compound by Layeta P. Bucoy
- Maikling Kwento: Ang Value ng X Kapag Choppy si Mam by Charmaine M. Lasar
- Maikling Kwentong Pambata: Si VeRaptor1 Laban kay Trolakuz by Mark Norman S. Boquiren
- Sanaysay: Kung Magkapalad Ka’t Mangmang by Venice Kayla Dacanay Delica
- Tula: Uyayi ng mga Patay na Buwan by Ralph Lorenz G. Fonte, M.D.
- Tula Para sa mga Bata: Tula, Tula, Paano ka Ginawa? by Christian R. Vallez
- Dulang May Isang Yugto: Punks Not Dead by Andrew Bonifacio L. Clete
- Dulang Ganap ang Haba: Mga Silid ng Unos: Tomo Uno by Joshua Lim So
- Dulang Pampelikula: Amoy Pulbos by Avelino Mark C. Balmes, Jr.
- Short Story-Cebuano: Barang by Noel P. Tuazon
- Short Story-Hiligaynon: Ang Macatol Kag Ang "Queen of Relief" by Peter Solis Nery
- Short Story-Ilokano: Ti Kimat Ken Ti Silag by Oswald Ancheta Valente
- Kabataan Essay: Home is a Bowl of Warm Soup by Glorious Zahara Exylin C. Alesna
- Kabataan Sanaysay: Pamimintana by Glorious Zavannah Exylin C. Alesna