A COLLEGE of Commerce freshman broke the reign of Faculty of Arts and Letters students in the Rector’s Literary Award (RLA) of the 20th Annual Ustetika Awards for Literature last December 11.

Ferdinand Sarael, a Pre-Commerce student won the RLA for his entry, “Washing Machine,” which won the first prize in the Sanaysay category. The RLA is given to any Ustetika first prizewinner in any category whose winning work best exemplifies the Catholic vision of grace and human redemption. The winning work was personally picked by UST Rector Fr. Tamerlane Lana, O.P., who gave Sarael a medal with the UST insignia and a copy of his book, “Just From the Heart.”

“Karangalan ‘yun para sa isang mag-aaral ng Kolehiyo ng Komersiyo. Pinatutunayan nito na ang talented writers wala sa gulang at wala rin sa pinanggalingan,” Sarael told the Varsitarian, which organizes the Ustetika Awards.

Aside from becoming the first Commerce student to win the RLA, Sarael also achieved other firsts: as the first freshman and the first essayist to win the award. Previous RLA recipients won either for poetry or fiction.

Meanwhile, 2003 RLA Joseph Saguid, a third-year Communication Arts student, scored double first prizes in the Tula and Poetry categories with his collection of poems, “Dapitan: Ang Elektromagnetikong Lansangan at mga Larawan ng Pag-ibig at iba pang tula” and “The Best of Teenage Drama and other poems.”

Third-year Journalism student Benedict Parfan won the first prize in the Katha category for “Bazooka Joke” and finished second in the Fiction category with “The Visitor.” No one placed first in Fiction.

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The Essay category did not yield a winner except for an honorable mention that went to Rosita Alyssa Baua, a third-year Medicine student who was last year’s Thomasian Essayist of the Year.

Other recipients: Journalism junior Ericka Lynn Emas and Medical Technology junior Sonny Sendon, both honorable mention (Tula); Journalism junior Czeriza Shenille Valencia, second prize (Poetry); Journalism senior Glenn Vincent Atanacio, third prize (Poetry); Communication Arts junior Karen Capco, honorable mention (Poetry); Journalism juniors Joyce Macatuno and Elizabeth Marcelo, honorable mention and third prize, (Katha); Communication Arts freshman April Camille Banzon, second prize (Katha), Journalism senior J. Pocholo Martin Goitia, third prize (Fiction); first year Pre-Commerce student Mary Grace Baldelomar; third prize (Sanaysay); and Law senior Cesar Agor, second prize (Sanaysay).

The major winners received the traditional Ustetika glass trophy designed by Prof. Rolando Alib of the College of Fine Arts and Design. The other winners received plaques. All winners received cash prizes.

This year’s judges were: Roberto Añonuevo and Michael Coroza (Tula); Oscar Campomanes, Nerisa del Carmen Guevara, and Ferdinand Lopez (Poetry); Rebecca Añonuevo, Jun Cruz Reyes, and Jose Victor Torres (Katha); Ramil Digal Gulle and Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo (Fiction); Reynaldo Candido, Victor Emmanuel Carmelo Nadera, and Danton Remoto (Sanaysay); and Ralph Semino Galan, Florentino Hornedo, and Lourd Ernest De Veyra (Essay).

Parangal Hagbong

On the same night, the Varsitarian paid tribute to the late National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin, late fictionist Wilfrido Nolledo, and expatriate poet Ben Villar Condino with the Parangal Hagbong, an award given to Thomasians who have made valuable contributions to the development of Philippine Literature.

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The three honorees received trophies sculpted by award-winning young artists Romeo Forbes and Frederick Caedo of the Artery visual arts group.

Joaquin is the most distinguished and honored Filipino writer in English of his generation. The University gave him an Associate in Arts certificate after his essay, “La Naval de Manila,” won in a contest sponsored by the Dominicans.

His journalistic career started in 1935, when he published his first poem in the Tribune (pre-war Manila Times) at the age of 17. Joaquin wrote and edited for the Philippines Free Press before moving to the Asia-Philippine Leader in 1971. He also wrote a column, “Small Beer,” for the Philippine Daily Inquirer. For his excellent work in both of literature and journalism, he was conferred the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1996.

Joaquin was the editor in chief of the Philippine Graphic and publisher of the Mirror Weekly when he died of cardiac arrest last April 29 at the age of 86. His most faithful companion was Prof. Elena Roco, a retired mathematics teacher of the Faculty of Arts and Letters.

Opposite Joaquin’s boisterous character was Nolledo’s reticence. Joaquin dubbed him “the Humble Magus.”

Nolledo was a prolific essayist, fictionist, playwright, and film scenarist. He was the literary editor of the Varsitarian in 1957 when he was taking up Litt. B. in Journalism at the old Faculty of Philosophy and Letters. His novel, “But for the Lovers,” was published to much critical acclaim in the United States. He received the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines award for Literature in 1963.

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Nolledo was the most influential prose stylist in English of his generation. He died of pancreatic cancer in Panorama City, California last March. He was 71. Last August, the UST Publishing House published his posthumous collection of short stories, “Cadena de Amor and Other Stories.”

Tina Joaquin-Erum, a niece of Joaquin, received the Parangal Hagbong for her late uncle, while former Varsitarian editor in chief Julio Macaranas accepted the award for Nolledo.

Erum said that UST always had a special place in her uncle’s heart, and the family would donate the late National Artist’s library to the Pontifical University.

Hailing from Camarines Norte, Ben “Paracale Boy” Villar Condino was the first Bicolano to be awarded Poet of the Year in 1951 and 1967 by the Surian ng Wika. A Litt. B in Journalism degree holder, Condino later became a reporter for Bagong Buhay (Taliba). In 1972, he became editor in chief of Mabuhay, but the stint was short-lived as he had to flee the country a week before Martial Law was declared because he had opposed Marcos. He and his family stayed in Canada for 27 years.

When he finally returned the Philippines in 1999, Condino came out with his first book, “Puera Biro at Iba Pang Paksa,” a collection of comic and satirical poems. His poetry has been highly praised by Efren Abueg and Bienvenido Lumbera.


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