AN ALMOST forgotten Palanca award-winning fictionist was last year’s Parangal Hagbong honoree in the Varsitarian-sponsored 17th Ustetika Annual Literary Awards last Dec. 15 at the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex Auditorium.

The Ustetika recognized Lilia Pablo Amansec for her valuable contributions to Philippine literature. Some of her most memorable literary worksinclude her Palanca award-winning pieces “Lilies of Yesterday” (2nd place, 1957), “Dream Tiger” (2nd place, 1963), and “Loverboy” (1st place, 1964).

Previous winners of the Parangal Hagbong, an award given by the Varsitarian to the UST alumni who have made signifant contributions to the growth and development of Philippine Literature, include National Artist for Theater Rolando Tinio; National Artist for Visual Arts J. Elizalde Navarro; Tagalog fictionist Genoveva Matute, Cebuana fictionist Erma Cuizon, Philippine Centennial Literary prize winner Reynaldo Duque, Tagalog social realist Rogelio Sicat, and linguist and fictionist Ponciano Pineda.

Amansec graduated as class valedictorian of the UST High School and summa cum laude of the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters (now Faculty of Arts and Letters). She earned her Masters degree in the English Language and Literature from the University of Michigan in 1950. Ironically, however, her impressive academic performance wasn’t of much use to her in the long run since Amansec now ekes out a living as a fortune teller in Antipolo.

Recently, however, Amansec has started to enjoy the reknown she rightly deserves. Writer-critic Isagani Cruz included her masterpiece “Loverboy” in the best-selling anthology, “100 Filipino Short Stories in English,” which compiled the best short fiction in the 20th century. AB Journalism students, doing a research work in their Literary Criticism class, retrieved her stories and essays in various periodicals and even tracked her down in Antipolo. They submitted a profile of her and a folio of her works. The folio is now being used in graduate classes in Literature, especially at De La Salle University.

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“If it weren’t for the Journalism students who found her and if we did not recognize the gift of Lilia Pablo Amansec we could have lost her talent forever,” said Louie Jon Sanchez, 17th Ustetika Awards chairperson and Varsitarian associate editor.

Meanwhile, two Rector’s Literary Awards were given in this year’s Ustetika. Faculty of Arts and Letters Literature freshman Angelo Suarez and College of Rehabilitation Science Physical Therapy senior, Randell Suba shared the award.

Suarez’s entry, “Great Philippine Jungle Poetry Café,” won first place in the Poetry category, while Suba’s, “Atbp.”, placed first in the Tula category.

On the other hand, Suba also received the first Ustetika Hall of Fame Award for consistently winning in the Tula category since 1997. He first joined the Ustetika in 1997 and won third place in the Tula category while his succeeding entries in the same category became first placers.

Only three winners from last year’s batch repeated their success. Along with Suba, the other two were College of Education student Christine Marie Magpile and AB student Joseph Rosmon Tuazon.

Magpile’s entry in the Children’s Fiction category, entitled “Pasta,” was given an honorable mention, while her entries, “Miyawaah” in the Kathang Pambata category, and “Metamorphosis” in the Sanaysay category both won third place. While her entry in the Tula category, “Lipon Ng Mga Tula,” was given an honorable mention.

Tuazon won in three categories. Two of his entries, “Southbound and Other Poems” and “Binubulabog ng Pagtataka ang mga Santo” won second place in the Poetry and Tula category. While his other entry “Mga Payaso” in the Katha category was given third prize.

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The other winners were Faculty of Engineering student Allan Jay Jasa who won first prize for his fiction entry “Numbness,” and AB Journalism freshman Maria Karmina de Ungria, who won second prize for her entry “Balcony.”

AB sophomore Natasha Gamalinda won third place for her fiction entry “Shedding Off the Membrane” in addition to her honorable mention award in the Essay category for her piece “Pop Blew the Mind to Pieces.”

Aside from Tuazon, the other winners in the Katha category were Artlets Nathaniel Arciaga, who won first place for his work “Pormalin,” and Princess Daisy Ominga, who won second place for “Tulala.”

The other first time winners were Artlets Juan Pocholo Martin Goitia, (third place, Poetry for “Bathing Dugongs,”) and Julius Villanera from the College of Commerce, (third place, Tula, “Linang”).

No winners were declared for the second consecutive year in the One-Act Play and Dulang May-Isang Yugto categories.

Last year’s panel of judges were Dr. Ophelia Dimalanta, Marjorie Evasco, and Christine Ortega (Poetry); Benilda Santos, Bienvenido Lumbera, and Danton Remoto (Tula); Francisco Sionil Jose and Jaime An Lim (Fiction); Jun Cruz Reyes, Cirilo Bautista, and Ferdinand Lopez (Katha); Danilo Reyes, Jose Wendell Capili, and J. Neil Garcia (Essay); Virgilio Almario, Michael Coroza, and Marra Lanot (Sanaysay); Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo and Ramil Digal Gulle (Children’s Fiction); Rebecca Añonuevo and Raymund Garlitos (Maikling Kathang Pambata); and Jose Victor Torres and Rustica Carpio (One-Act Play and Dulang May-Isang Yugto).

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