After surviving August's five Mondays (the last of which we celebrated with the last O.M.G. Open Mic Gig after two years), five Tuesdays (in and out of Conspiwriters' Tuesdays at the Conspiracy Garden Cafe which we had been organizing since 2004), and five Sundays (with our pre- and post-Word for the World rituals with Ina and our kids Psalma, Wika, and Sulat) – September welcomed us, once more, to host the 60th Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature.
No less than National Artist for Literature, Dr. Francisco Sionil Jose, and his wife were there to grace the occasion.
On the other hand, the likes of National Artist Virgilio Almario (who was appointed Professor Emeritus last 27 August with Jasmin Acuna, Ramon Arcadio, Lourdes Cruz, Randolf David, Antonio Montalban, Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, Concepcion Lizada, Felipe Miranda, Solita Monsod, Evangel Quiwa, Rafael Rodriguez, Rosario del Rosario, Ligaya Tiamson-Rubin, Lina Valcarcel, and Basilio Esteban Villaruz) vowed to boycott this red-letter day for writers.
Until and unless the Palancas decided to scrap the Filipino and English divisions of the Kabataan Category!
On the grounds that he firmly believes that most, if not all, of these promising winners are unfulfilled, meaning, they did not actually write their entries themselves.
But their parents who, more often than not, are writers.
One high school senior at St. Scholastica's College that goes by the name -- Miro Frances D. Capili -- is out to disprove Rio Alma.
Her works The Nature of Nurture and Vinyl both placed first in the Kabataan and the regular Essay categories, respectively.
And her genes contain more visual arts' codes than literature's -- her dad Ross is a photographer and her mom Ellen isan interior designer -- who named her after the great Spanish artist Joan Miro.
She is a painter herself like her Ate Kristen who won a top prize in the Northwest Orient Airlines-sponsored art competition.
This multi-talented 14 year-old artist succeeds in justifying the reason why the Palancas ought to keep its mission and vision to encourage writing among our youth when they opened it in 1998.
In fact, that was Miro's second, or rather third, first.
Last year, her essay Rated X also topped the Kabataan Essay.
As if to prove her point, Anton Raphael S. Cabalza, followed her lead.
Literally, since Anton is this year's second-placer.
A seventh grader from Ateneo de Manila University, he won for his five-page essay on the environment which is actually a summer project -- A Shot at Perfection – which he wrote only in two weeks.
Thus, Anton becomes the youngest Palanca awardee ever at 12.
For his part, his DNA art is more alive with the sound of music.
His dad Arnold is the long-distance running and scuba-diving keyboardist of Wency Cornejo's band Afterimage.
Yet, aside from being behind such 90s hits as Habang May Buhay, Next In Line, and Mangarap Ka, Anton's father is a gifted soul in his own right, being an actuarial consultant who is a member of the largest and oldest high-IQ society or Mensa.
Well, Miro and Anton, together with their parents, should be invited to share their secrets before the Philippine Center for Gifted Education, Inc. where we were asked last month to be an Advisory Board member by its Executive Director, Dr. Leticia Peňano-Ho.
They are but two of the 868 dreamers who tried their luck for the Year of the Tiger!
These two new names on the block can now be found in one sentence with, say, Dr. Isagani Cruz who gathered together in a book -- The Palanca Hall of Fame Anthology – the collected works of Reuel Molina Aguila, Roberto Aňonuevo, Cirilo Bautista, Manuel Buising, Elsa Martinez Coscullela, Jose Dalisay Jr., Leoncio Deriada, Reynaldo Duque, Eugene Evasco, Luis Gatmaitan, Luisa Aguilar Igloria, Rodolfo Lana Jr., Ruth Elynia Mabanglo, Edgardo Maranan, Buenaventura S. Medina Jr., Jesus Peralta, Nicolas Pichay, Rolando Tinio, Rene Villanueva, and Alfred Yuson.
With them in that very limited edition is Gregorio Brillantes, the Guest of Honor and Speaker, who has raised some eyebrows when he said that there are only two literatures in the Philippines -- Tagalog and English: “Over the last 60 years of the Palanca Memorial Awards and probably farther back in the past, these literatures have been quarreling if not competing, fighting --- their forces and frontlines are, of course, vision, idea, symbol and metaphor. Generally, regionally, genderly, for the most part abstract, walang personalan, but with one seeming to campaign continuously against the other, to weaken or supplant or even abolish the other, and allowing itself only rare, counter moves. Both Filipino in provenence and personnel, and sharing one and the same milieu and audience, yet they are yet different in almost conceivable way and never more so than in their differences.”
Brilliant writers from the regions blamed him for the sudden brownout.
Lights turned bright again with Brillantes!
Finding him with The Gawad Dangal ng Lahi honoring him who prominently excelled in his field of expertise and has aptly become a role model for the Filipino citizenry.
Mrs. Sylvia Palanca-Quirino, the Director General of the Carlos Palanca Foundation, then delivered her message on behalf of her grandfather, Carlos Palanca Sr. as well as her father, Carlos Palanca Jr. and his siblings, who institutionalized what was initially a tribute that had transformed into a tradition in the hands of the present chairman, Carlos Palanca III.
When she speaks of we, she means not only her family but also the community of Filipino writers who feel incomplete without a Palanca: “We have stood together for 60 years now. We have celebrated this awards night together since that first historic affair held on September 1, 1951, when we initially honored the best among our writers.”
Today that includes Miro and Anton.
The day after the 60thCarlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, our six-year old bunso, Sulat, came up to us with a “card” she made herself full of her drawings of us and for us with WELLCAM HOWM AMA.
We had been away before, during, and after Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL) Congress last August 28 when Abdon Balde Jr. took over us as its Chair.
After a Chinese lunch last Sunday, we accompanied our son Wika to the barbershop and to buy books for his pal Robbie who eventually fell ill during his birthday.
Then, August 30 saw us pay tribute to Mag:Net Gallery and its former owner, Rock Drilon, with the performance poets of Gunglo dagiti Mannurat nga Ilokano (GUMIL).
Our better half was supposed to be with us, being a G.I. or Genuine Ilocano, but she opted to serve as our reliever in watching over our sick 81 year-old Mama at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (where our wife herself had her partial nephrectomy under Dr. Nelson Patron's knife last March 16, six days after Sulat's birthday)!
That would explain why our youngest, like her Ate Psalma and Kuya Wika, failed to see us frequently at home. However, Sulat was the only one who had the guts, and glory too, to welcome us like a prodigal father! In return, we gave her a gift in the form of 60 Years of Palanca Awards: Directory of Winners 1951-2010!
Men can read smaller print than women can; women can hear better.
The way others treat you when you're there is something to be considered. But the way they respect you when you're not around is much more important.