THOMASIAN author Eros Atalia won the grand prize again in the Nobela Category of the 67th Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature.
His winning entry, titled “Ang Ikatlong Anti-Kristo,” revolves around the story of Marcus, an orphan who was raised by Fr. Domeng, when his entire family died from an earthquake.
Like Fr. Domeng who also happens to be his godfather, Marcus became a priest and is idolized and sought after by the majority for his ideal and desirable traits.
“Maraming humahanga kay Fr. Marcus […] dahil sa taglay nyang karismatikong pagkatao, gandang lalake, lambing ng boses, talino, halos saulado ang Bibliya at nakakaintindi ng mga wika[.] Kinakaibigan na rin sya ng mga makakapangyarihang tao sa lipunan, naging paborito ng mga may katungkulan sa simbahan,” the novel’s synopsis reads.
But, little did Marcus know that he possesses traits which seemingly make him godly because he is the third anti-Christ, a prophecy from 16th century writer Nostradamus about the return of a false Jesus Christ on earth. And that is when the story unfolds.
“Yung premise ng nobela, naisip ko mga 10 years ago. Pinaglalaruan ko yung ideya na ‘What if sa Pilipinas galing ang ikatlong anti-Kristo?’” he said in an interview with the Varsitarian.
Atalia said he wrote his novel without any intention to attack Catholic beliefs.
“Gusto ko lang talagang magkuwento tungkol sa konsepto ng pagdududa,” he explained.
Atalia first won grand prize in the same category in 2015 for his “Tatlong Gabi, Tatlong Araw.” His first Palanca award came in 2006, for his entry in the Maikling Kuwento category, titled “Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino,” which was adapted into film and became an official entry in the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival in 2012.
Atalia became part of the Palanca jury last year, where he served as the chairperson in the Maikling Kuwento category.
Atalia is also known for his “Peksman (Mamatay Ka Man) Nagsisinungaling Ako” and “Ligo na U, Lapit na me,” published in 2007 and 2009 by Visprint respectively. The latter was adapted into a film in 2011.
Aside from producing critically acclaimed works of fiction, Atalia was also a fellow in the prestigious International Writing Program of Iowa University in the United States last year.
Meanwhile, Jade Mark Capiñanes, UST National Writers’ Workshop 2017 fellow, placed third in the Essay category for his entry titled “A Portrait of a Young Man as a Banak.”
Capiñanes’s piece, a personal essay, discussed his notion of home as someone coming from a broken family.
Throughout the essay, Capiñanes recalled his stay with his mother and father in Panacan and Sto. Rosario in Davao respectively, and his grandparents in Polomok in South Cotabato.
The Panacan-endemic school of “banak” or grey mullet, which appears in the place was cited intermittently in the essay, as a metaphor to describe Capiñanes himself who pays his family visits as he tries to find where home is.
“Nobody was ever prepared for their swift, unannounced appearance,” he writes. “Those peculiar banak were also on their own odyssey, still uncaptured, constantly looking for their home, but found it important to visit the place from time to time.”
Capiñanes said his essay is a homage to Irish writer James Joyce, hence the essay’s title serving as a reference to the latter’s novel “A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man.”
In terms of structure however, the essay is more of Joyce’s novel “Ulysses,” as it is divided into “episodes.”
Capiñanes is one of the new winners for this year’s Palanca.
A total of 954 entries were submitted, 55 of which are winning works coming from 51 authors, 23 of whom are first-time winners while 28 have already won before.
Thomasians in this year’s panel of judges include Vim Nadera, former Varsitarian editor in chief; Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies Director; Joselito Zulueta, Varsitarian’s publications adviser; Michael Coroza, former Varsitarian Filipino editor; Jose Wendell Capili, former Varsitarian staff member; Joel Pablo Salud; J. Neil Garcia; and Segundo “Jun” Matias, Jr..
This year’s guest of honor was author Jose “Butch” Dalisay, Jr., a 16-time Palanca winner and hall of famer himself, who was also the recipient of the Gawad Dangal ng Lahi.
The Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, funded by the Carlos Palanca Foundation Inc., recognizes distinguished literary works in the country.
Awarding ceremonies were held at The Peninsula Manila in Makati last Sept. 1.