FOURTH-YEAR Literature student Raymond Gold Padao from the Faculty of Arts and Letters (Artlets) won the much-coveted Rector’s Literary Award (RLA) during the Varsitarian-organized 32nd Gawad Ustetika, the biggest and longest-running campus literary derby in the Philippines.

Padao had earlier won first prize for the essay for “Trinkets, Tools, and Toys” to qualify him for the RLA, given to any first-prize Ustetika winner. Chosen by the incumbent rector himself (in this case Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P.), the RLA is given to the work that best reflects “the University’s Catholic vision of grace and redemption.”

Padao’s essay talks about the challenges and hardships he has gone through with his family and then girlfriend during his previous adolescent years.

Inasmuch as he deals with them, he collects what he refers to as “pistangs,” a set of graspable small objects he accumulates throughout his life, ranging from a limited edition two-peso coin, bottle caps, toy car, butterfly knife, inter alia, which serve as mementos or lessons from such life experiences.

Padao had also placed second in Tula for his suite “Sirang Orasan at iba pang Tula.”

However, the biggest winner in cash terms of the awarding night held March 9 at the George Ty Hall of the Buenaventura Garcia Paredes, O.P. Building was Padao’s fellow senior student George Deoso, who won first prize in the Fiction and Tula for “The Interrogation” and “Mga Mumunting Dagundong,” respectively; as well second prize in Katha for “Rebelyon” and third prize in Poetry for “The Voyeurs of Doom: Poems.”

Because he participated in practically every category and won prizes therefrom, Deoso brought home a whopping P37,000.

Ustetika has had a history of granting very generous prizes. At present, first prize is P10,000, second P7,000, and third P5,000. Honorable mentions or special citations also have cash components.

Ustetika juror and former Varsitarian editor in chief Victor Emmanuel Carmelo “Vim” Nadera, who spearheaded the first Ustetika in 1985, noted the high number of quality entries this year so that all prizes were awarded. In previous installments, he said, some of the prizes were withheld because the jurors felt no entry deserved them.

Nadera, one of the country’s foremost poets in Filipino and the head of the Philippine High School for the Arts in Mt. Makiling, Laguna, added that there were numerous high-quality entries that in many categories, jurors had to name first, second and third honorable mentions.

Kapansin-pansing wala masyadong hurado na nagbigay ng karangalang banggit [lang]. Ibig sabihin, nakita nila na mas karapat-dapat maging una, ikalawa, at ikatlong karangalan,” said Nadera, who was also one of the judges in the Tula category.

Kumbaga, mas magagaling ang mga lumahok ngayon,” he said.

Nadera however suggested that the winners should still pay heed to writing workshops as essential to their craft.

Diretso na sila (sa mga palihan) kasi nanalo na naman at hindi na nila kailangang dumaan sa proseso. Sana matupad na itong hiling ko,” he said.


Complete list of winners

Poetry: Jan Dennis Destajo (Architecture), “Consolations in Between,” first place; Irish Foja (Artlets), “Gravity is Female,” second; Deoso, “The Voyeurs of Doom: Poems,” third; Marian Karen Cabalona (Accountancy) “The Erratum Effect,” Ma. Doreen Evita Garcia (Artlets), “Undocumented” and Harvey Castillo (Artlets), “The Ghosts of Lotteries Lost,” honorable mentions.

Fiction: Deoso, “The Interrogation,” first; Leanne Claire Bellen (Artlets), “Si Magayon,” second; Marianne Freya Nono (Graduate School), “TXT,” third; Lloyd Opalec (Artlets), “When Monsters Love,” Janelle Dino (Artlets), “Hail Goretti, Full of Grace” and Castillo, “The Ugliest Drowned Man in the World,” honorable mentions.

Essay: Padao, “Trinkets, Tools, and Toys,” first; Castillo, “Cataract Clouds and Turning Tables,” second;  Noreen Miano (Artlets), “A Trail Runner,” third; Bellen, “A Wooden Consolation” and Aaron Philip Dela Cruz (Artlets), “Getting Used To,” honorable mentions.

Katha: Christian Mendoza (Accountancy), “Tatlong Mga Daliri, Kamay at Paa,” first; Deoso, “Rebelyon,” second; Patrick Ernest Celso (Education), “Ang Hindi Matapos-tapos na Pagtatapos,” third; Samantha Manalansan (Education), “Boda de Oro,” honorable mention.

Tula: Deoso, “Mga Mumunting Dagundong,” first; Padao, “Sirang Orasan at iba pang Tula,” second; Joshua Russel Iringan (Artlets), “At Nakipanahan sa Gitna Natin: Mga Tula sa Panahong Gaya ng Amin,” third; Julius Villavieja (Artlets), “Patay Mali Siya… Patay Malisya: Isang Pahayagan,” honorable mention.

Sanaysay:  Mendoza, C., “Bakit ang Cool Kapag Americans ang Nagsasabi ng ‘You’re Driving Me Nuts’,” first; Jann Kyla Mendoza (Artlets), “Biyaheng Fairview sa UV Express,” second; Deoso, “Isang Lihim Para Kay H.,” third; Marianne Joy Ligan (Artlets), “Soria, Soria, Soria,” Celso, “Ang Tunay na Calling Ko” and Patrick John Danque (Artlets), “Ang Pinag-uusapan ng mga Filipino pag Nakikita ng Ibang Filipino Abroad,” honorable mentions.

One-Act Play/Dulang Isang Yugto: No winner, first; Opalec, “Bulong ng Hangin,” second; Mendoza, J., “Paper Cranes,” third; Rani Mae Aberin (Artlets), “Forever Young” and John Michael Peña (Artlets), “Writer’s Block,” honorable mentions.


Complete list of jurors

Poetry: Carlomar Daoana, Mariano Kilates and Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta

Fiction: Chuckberry Pascual, Sarge Lacuesta and Augusto Antonio Aguila

Tula: Vim Nadera, Joselito Delos Reyes and Rebecca Añonuevo

Essay: John Jack Wigley, Jose Wendell Capili and Shirley Lua

Katha: Edgar Samar, Eros Atalia and Jun Cruz Reyes

Sanaysay: Gary Devilles, Oscar Campomanes and Beverly Siy

One-Act Play/Dulang Isang Yugto: Jose Victor Torres, Jerry Gracio and Ralph Galan

A total of 146 entries were submitted.


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