Hidalgo lauded in 69th Palanca Awards; 2 Thomasian writers win prizes

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Prof. Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo, director of the UST Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies (CCWLS), received the Gawad Dangal ng Lahi, one of Philippine literature’s highest awards, during the 69th Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature last Nov. 8.

“This is a very exciting time for writers,” she said in her speech during the awarding ceremony at the Peninsula Hotel in Makati.

The celebrated writer lamented how some publishing houses look down on pop fiction, preferring to publish hard literature, which is viewed as more serious.

“Pop fiction and the world of hard literature are not mutually exclusive,” she said.

Hidalgo emphasized that writers’ choices on what kind of literature they produce are dependent on what they believe is the purpose of literature during their time.

“Recognizing and expanding the market of books is important because more educated citizens make more mature citizens – an indispensable element in democracy,” she said.

Thomasian author Eros Atalia won first prize in the Maikling Kwento category with his entry “Si Etot,” a tale about extrajudicial killings enveloped in a love story.

Atalia said his piece was not meant to be pleasing, as it was inspired by “EJK” victims whose stories were unknown.

Ustetika Rector’s Literary Awardee Benjamin Joshua Gutierrez won second prize for Maikling Kwento.

Gutierrez’s winning piece “Dahil Wala Kaming Tubig” was inspired by the water shortage in his village of Hagonoy in Taguig.

He said he hoped to make his village believe in success through perseverance and to encourage children to create a writing community.

This year’s roster of Palanca judges included Assoc. Prof. John Jack Wigley, chairman of UST’s Department of Literature, UST CCWLS Assistant Director Ralph Galan, Creative Writing coordinator Joselito Delos Reyes, UST Publishing House author Sarge Lacuesta; and poet J. Neil Garcia.

The Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature is an annual literary event funded by the Carlos Palaca Foundation Inc.

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