The Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature holds its 71st awarding ceremony on Monday, Nov. 27, at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay.

THREE Thomasian writers earned prizes in the 71st edition of the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, the longest-running literary contest in the Philippines.

Former literature student Patricia Shishikura (1st prize, Poetry) and UST alumni Iza Maria Reyes (3rd prize, Maikling Kuwentong Pambata) and Mike Maniquiz (3rd prize, Poetry) received the prestigious Palanca award in a ceremony on Nov. 27 at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay. 

Shishikura, a former Ophelia Alcantara-Dimalanta Awardee in the Varsitarian’s 2011 Gawad Ustetika, won her first Palanca award for her work, “Translating Wildfires.”

According to Shishikura, her winning piece drew inspiration from her growing up in the diaspora as a Filipino-Japanese writer and the grief she experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“This entire collection is really a culmination of all the grief that I’ve incurred in the past couple of years,” she said. “The thing about grief is it will stay with you forever. But being an artist, my duty, I think, is to be able to translate that into art.”

Meanwhile, journalism alumna Reyes won her second Palanca award for her “Babasagin, Babasagin!” a story about a child who woke up with porcelain skin. 

“My work focuses on topics that are not often talked about at home, like emotional or verbal abuse,” Reyes told the Varsitarian

The Thomasian writer added that winning the Palanca should just be the beginning for writers.  

“I’m happy that there are these kinds of avenues for writers because stories can make great things,” Reyes said. “For me, it should just be the start and not the sole reason why we write.” 

Maniquiz, also a journalism graduate, bagged his second Palanca award with his winning piece titled “Lou Reed Meets Delmore Schwartz at a Bar.” 

In an interview with the Varsitarian, he said that joining the competition again after 20 years was him “trying to find [his] way back.”

Apart from Thomasian writers, former fellows of the UST National Writers’ Workshop of the UST Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies also won in the Palanca awards.

Former workshop fellows Kimberly Pillo (1st prize, Sanaysay), Vince Agcaoili (2nd prize, Poetry), Ralph Fonte (1st prize, Tula), and Genaro Cruz (2nd prize, Tula Para sa mga Bata) reaped prizes in the 71st Palanca awards.  

Jay Quintos, a fellow of the Varsitarian’s 2015 UST J. Elizalde Navarro National Workshop on Critical and Cultural Heritage Studies, won second prize for Maikling Kuwento.

The 2023 Palanca awards recognized 54 writers, poets, and playwrights chosen from a total of 1,405 submissions, the highest number since the inception of the awards in 1950. 

The Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Award is the most prestigious literary honor given to writers in the Philippines. With reports from Sofiah Shelimae J. Aldovino and Michelle A. Agustin


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