VN: Why did he start with a contest for short story? Why not poetry or play or essay?
SPQ: The Palanca Awards started out with a single category – the Short Story – during the time when fiction was popular among writers, though the incentive to write was lacking.
Through the years, as the awards elicited overwhelming response and strong clamor to include other forms of literature, new categories were added: One-act Play in 1953, Poetry in 1963, Full-length Play in 1975, Essay in 1979, Novel in 1980, Short Story for Children in 1989, Teleplay in 1990, and Screenplay in 1994. In 1997, the regional languages division was opened – Short Story in Iluko, Cebuano and Hiligaynon. In 1998, Kabataan Division was open to the youth 18 years old and below, Futuristic Fiction in 2000 and Poetry for Children and Tulang Pambata in 2009.
VN: Who is responsible for it becoming one of the country’s longest-running and most prestigious literary contests?
SPQ: The tradition has been carried on through the third generation of the heirs of Don Carlos Palanca Sr, and is now handled by the Carlos Palanca Foundation.
VN: When did you take over? What changes did you initiate?
SPQ: I have been the foundation’s Director General since the year 1985. We continue to help and support the growth of Philippine literature by assessing the categories that are relevant and add new ones over the years. As the Palanca Awards are enriched by the contributions of its writers and the inputs of its judges, we ensure that our process - from the selection of judges to the conduct of the contest – is beyond question.
Among the categories that we have added over the years include Short Story for Children in 1989, Teleplay in 1990, and Screenplay in 1994. In 1997, the regional languages division was opened – Short Story in Iluko, Cebuano and Hiligaynon. In 1998, the Kabataan Division to encourage writing by our youth, particularly essay; in 2000, Futuristic Fiction was added, a separate genre of the short story that involves a looking beyond into the future to transcend the boundaries of the present; in 2009, two new categories were added – Poetry for Children and Tulang Pambata – to encourage both aspiring and veteran Filipino writers to craft poetry masterpieces that will be understood and appreciated within the grade-school reading level of children.
The Palanca Hall of Fame was established in 1995 and is presented to a Palanca awardeee who has achieved the distinction of winning five first prizes. There are now 22 Hall of Fame awardees.
We also instituted the Dangal ng Lahi recognition to our guest speakers – those who prominently excelled in their field of expertise and have aptly become role models for the Filipino citizenry.
In 2006, we opened the official Palanca Awards website to provide a venue for accessing Palanca winning works, facilitate the submission of entries and offer information about the Awards.
VN: What problems did you encounter? How did you solve them?
SPQ: We thank God that we had no major problems as the judges and winners have been most cooperative.
Any issues in the judging process, which is completely handled by the judges, are being carefully handled among themselves during the deliberation.