ILONGGO writer-filmmaker-artist Peter Solis Nery was inducted September 1 into the elite circle of the Palanca Hall of Fame joining the country’s most brilliant names in Philippine literature.
Considered as the Philippine version of the Pulitzer Prize, the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature remains as the gold standard for writing excellence.
At least eight National Artists for Literature, including Francisco Arcellana, NVM Gonzalez, F. Sionel Jose, Nick Joaquin, Bienvenido Lumbera, are previous Palanca winners, none, however, are hall of famers.
The Palanca Hall of Fame Award is a coveted distinction presented to a writer who has won five first place prizes in the regular categories of the annual writing competition. Nery is the 23rd Hall of Famer in the Palanca Awards’ 62-year history, and the fourth Ilonggo after Elsa Coscoluella (1999), Jose Dalisay, Jr. (2000) and Leoncio Deriada (2001).
Nery has won a total of 11 Palanca honors since 1998 for his works in Hiligaynon fiction, one-act and full-length plays in English, and poetry for children in English and Filipino.
Journey to five golds
When Nery won his first Palanca gold medal for his short story in Hiligaynon in 1998, he was delirious because every writer worth his title covets a Palanca Award, the longest-running and most prestigious literary award in the country that is often called “the Pulitzer Prize of the Philippines.”
Did he ever see himself winning five golds to join the elite circle of Filipino writers in the Palanca Hall of Fame at that time?
“No.” His philosophy has always been, “If the Palanca is so prestigious, why does anyone need more than one?” but it surely did encourage him to write more. In recent years, he has always lamented that “in a country where writers are often poor, and people do not really buy books, the Palanca Awards was [his] only great incentive to write creatively.”
Fourteen years later, and after winning a total of 11 Palanca awards, including a fifth first prize this year for poetry written for children in English, Nery is still wildly ecstatic.
“I never imagined I would be inducted to the Hall of Fame with a win in poetry, and in English, too. Believe it or not, I joined the Palanca contests only because, and only after, they had opened a category in Hiligaynon. I only wanted to be recognized as a great writer in Hiligaynon, but I guess it pays to be bilingual, or trilingual, or multilingual, in my case.”
Nery’s first four Palanca awards were for short stories in Hiligaynon, two of which were first prize winners for “Lirio” (1998) and “Candido” (2007).
In 2008, he won a gold medal for full-length play in English for his “The Passion of Jovita Fuentes.” His other wins in English include awards for his one-act play “The Wide Ionian Sea” (2010), and poetry written for children—last year’s “The Shape of Happiness,” and this year’s gold medalist “Punctuation.”
In addition to the first prize for “Punctuation,” Nery also won second prize for the category tulang pambata in Filipino this year.
© The Daily Guardian: September 4, 2012