JOURNALISM junior Khristine Joy Pulumbarit not only broke the two-year no-grand-prize drought in the Sanaysay category; she also won the Rector’s Literary Award of the 23rd Ustetika, held in splendid ceremonies amid the dancing fountain and bright Christmas lights of the UST Quadricentennial Park last Dec. 15.

Pulumbarit won the first prize in the essay-in-Filipino category with her entry, Sasampalin Kita ng Flip-flops e!, which scrutinizes how people’s attitudes are shaped by the nonsensical veneration of what’s “uso” or trendy. The category had no first prize for the last two years. For winning first prize, she was proclaimed Sanaysayista ng Taon.

Palumbarit’s entry was also given the penultimate prize, the Rector’s Literary Award, which is given to any of the first-prize winning works that best reflects the “Catholic vision” of UST. Acting UST Rector Fr. Rolando V. de la Rosa, OP, a former editor of the Varsitarian, personally selected the winner.

“I owe a great part of my thanks to my mother, who has always believed that I could do it,” said Pulumbarit.

Completing the list of sanaysay winners were AB-BSE seniors Melanie Magpantay and Gerardine Paguibitan, whose entries, Mga Balikbayan and Matahimik na Repleksyong… placed second and third, respectively. Journalism senior John Lorenz Poquiz got an honorable mention for his piece, Lula.

Meanwhile, AB-BSE senior Paul A. Castillo was proclaimed as Makata ng Taon for his collection, Imahen at Iba pang Maikling Tula, which deals with socio-political issues such as poverty and pork-barrel hoarding by lawmakers. Placing second in the Tula category was Darren Rodriguez (AB Journalism) for Produkto ng Pagmumuni-muni.” Daniel Vincent L. Catabay (AB Literature) placed third with Mga Alaala sa Probinsya.

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Meanwhile, Magpantay, a fellow from this year’s Varsitarian Fiction Workshop (V-Fic), was named as Kuwentista ng Taon for her entry, Kaaway?, about a group of UST students doing a research on the military.

Ana Grace Garcia (AB-BSE), also a V-Fic fellow, placed second in the Katha category with her entry Perstaym while Prinz P. Magtulis (AB Journalism) placed third for Francis.

There was no first prize winner in the Essay category. But Joanna Parungao (AB Literature) placed second with On Spatial Discrimination and the Emaciation of Women while Jan Kevin Rivera, a High School senior, was third for A Fast Food Friendship.

There was also no first placer in the Poetry division. But Gisela A. Marcelang (AB Communication Arts) placed second for Amateur Musings while Jacob W. Dominguez (AB Journalism) was third for Emotional Clutter.

Honorable mention citations were also given to Alexie Renz M. Cruz (AB Journalism) and Poquiz for their entries, Enlightenment of an Ink Artist and other Poems and Untitled, respectively.

Additionally, Parungao was proclaimed Thomasian Fictionist of the Year. Her entry, Piecing Together a Whole, is a story about a betrothed wife who realizes the true meaning of love and life upon leaving her womanizing husband.

Placing second in the Fiction category was Lettre Bleue De Lune by Karl Van Dan V. Orit (AB Communication Arts). Pulumbarit placed third with A Wish on Three Decembers. An honorable mention was given to Cruz’s Not All Souls Go to Heaven, as well as to Code Blue by Kathleen T. Manarang (BS Nursing), also a V-Fic fellow.

Judges this year were Lourd Ernest de Veyra, Jose Neil Garcia, and Ralph Semino Galan (Poetry); Ferdinand Lopez, Jose Wendell Capili, and Ma. Francezca Therese Kwe (Fiction); Jose Victor Torres, Oscar Campomanes, and Marra Lanot (Essay); Virgilio Almario, Victor Emmanuel Carmelo Nadera, Jr., and Michael Coroza (Tula); Efren Abueg, Manolito Sulit, and Genevieve Asenjo (Kuwento); Imelda De Castro, Gary Devilles, and Florentino Hornedo (Sanaysay).

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All the winners received certificates and cash prizes. Trophies were handed to first placers while medals were given to second and third placers.

Parangal Hagbong

The highlight of the night was the Parangal Hagbong, which was given to two Varsitarian alumni, Bella Angeles-Abangan and Cirilo Bautista. The Hagbong (which means a laurel crown in the old Tagalog of Quezon province) is given to UST alumni-writers for lifetime achievement in letters.

Abangan, who took up her BSE, MA, Ph.D, in UST, was cited for her long-running inspirational column in Tagalog, Lakbay Diwa, in Tempo newspaper. She was also cited for her other writings which have made her the foremost inspirational writer in Filipino in the country today. The Tagalog section editor of the Varsitarian during her college days in the 1950’s, Abangan also became the division of city schools superintendent of Manila in the 1980’s and founded an orphanage, which is named after her famous column.

Meanwhile, Bautista was honored for his epic work, The Trilogy of St. Lazarus, and his multifaceted works in poetry, fiction, and criticism. A literary editor of the Varsitarian in the 1960’s, Bautista is currently senior associate of the UST Center for Creative Writing and Studies.

“When I became part of the Varsitarian, I still joined the USTetika (which was named then as the Rector’s Literary Contest) by placing my entry under the name of one of my classmates,” Bautista said in his acceptance speech. “And our agreement was that we would split the prize money between us if it won. We won a lot of USTetika’s that way”

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He added, “Writers, you know, are a bit of shady characters themselves.” The remark drew laughter from the audience.

Bautista and Abangan join the prestigious roster of Hagbong laureates, which includes National Artists J. Elizalde Navarro (1999; for art criticism), Bienvenido Lumbera (2002), Nick Joaquin (2004), and F. Sionil Jose (2005.) Both received the Hagbong trophy, a molave sculpture on a Mabolo or Kamagong base, designed by the late artist Romeo Forbes and cast in a new mold by sculptor Frederick Caedo.

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