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Newcomers make up half of this year’s Palanca winners

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A TELEVISION reporter, a father and daughter, and a former entertainment reporter were among the winners in this year’s Palanca Awards, the annual award that recognizes outstanding Filipino literary writers.

College professor and first-time winner Dulce Maria V. Deriada bagged third place for her short story in Hiligaynon, “Candelaria,” while her father Leonico P. Deriada — a Palanca hall of fame recipient in 2001 — also received the third prize for his short story in Cebuano, “Dili Baya ko Bugoy.”

Ms. Deriada told BusinessWorld at the sidelines of the awarding ceremony on Oct. 5 that she usually writes in English and “it’s ironic” not to write in the Hiligaynon language, which she knows by heart. So she entered “Candelaria” in the competition and was surprised to win — especially since her father criticized her piece prior to her submitting it to the literary competition and said he didn’t like it.

“Do not be afraid to take risks and learn how to accept criticism because otherwise you will not improve and grow as a writer, as a person,” is her advice to writers, young and old, who may want to join competitions like the Palancas.

Ms. Deriada was among the 28 first-time awardees this year, from the total 54 winning writers.

Other first-timers were ABS-CBN reporter Jefry Canoy who wrote the essay “Buhay Pa Kami: Dispatches from Marawi” which won first prize in the Essay — English category. His essay is about the siege of Marawi which he covered for his network. Also a winner in the same category is former Philippine Star entertainment reporter Chuck D. Smith who bagged third prize for “Origin Story,” which is about his childhood experiences and memories believing that he was Pepsi Paloma’s son.

Meanwhile, this year’s Gawad Dangal ng Lahi was Alfred “Krip” Yuson who was recognized for his contributions to the Philippine literary scene, which include novels, poetry, short fiction, essays, and children’s stories. The prolific writer has received 13 Palanca Awards and was elevated to the Palanca Hall of Fame in 2001. He received his first Palanca at the age of 23, and his second seven years later. As he accepted the lifetime achievement award, he told the audience not to be disheartened and instead continue writing.

Writing is also about chronicling the truth. In a speech by Criselda Cecilio-Palanca, she said the challenge of the writers is “to write, not just the truth but the enlightened, ultimate purpose of truth. To put forth words, not just to enter another provocative idea or opinion in the social media superhighway.”

She said the most notable purpose of a wordsmith “is to positively transform, transcend, liberate. To pierce through the darkness, noise and confusion of our times with a shaft of light that leads to the greater light.

“You have been gifted with great power, which you have to wield with great responsibility. You have to honor the great truths that teach us important lessons to help make it a better world. I congratulate you all, while expressing the certainty that you will not shirk the responsibility of manifesting the unique varieties of your powerful imagination in offering all generations what is undeniably real,” she added.

Now on its 68th year, the Palanca has been conferred to 2,441 works, composed of 625 short stories, 408 poetry collections, 250 essays, 383 one-act plays, 213 full-length plays, 60 teleplays, 74 screenplays, 181 childrens stories, 34 pieces of futuristic fiction, 116 student essays, 42 novels, and 55 poetry collections for children in English, Filipino, and regional languages. — Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman