US-based Filipino nurse joins Palanca Hall of Fame

Peter Solis Nery becomes the 23rd inductee into the 2012 Palanca Hall of Fame—an exclusive and much-sought after honor given those who have received five first prizes in the contest’s many categories. Nery is very special honoree on these three counts:

First, he is the first nurse to receive the award—although only second to 2005’s Luis P Gatmaitan, MD, to come from the medical profession;

Second, he is the first Visayan writer to receive the award for winning three golds in the Short Story in Hiligaynon category—although only second to 2003’s Reynaldo A Duque, who did the same feat for Maikling Kuwento in Iluko; and,

Third, he is the first US-based Filipino multi-book author to have received the award—although only third to 1995’s Ruth Elynia S Mabanglo, who is Manoa, HI-based; 1996’s Ma Luisa A Igloria, who is Norfolk, VI-based; and, 2000’s Edgardo B Maranan, who was London-based from 1993 to 2006.

Thus, right after having registered at the anteroom, I immediately asked around for the night’s special honoree and  there he was,  Peter, in bright electric pink outfit nobody could miss—hurried and harried for three quick answers. Here are Peter’s revelations:


“I worked hard for it!’’ 

And if that answer seemed like just any other OFW who had to earn green bucks overseas for one’s family, something short of melodramatic then I have to prick your bubble—because it turned out to be an understatement! Peter fielded 15 entries to this year’s contest and was able to clinch  two: one second prize for “Sa Mundo ng mga Kulisap’’ in Tulang Pambata,  and one first prize for “Punctuation’’ in Poetry for Children, which elevated him to the 2012 Hall of Fame.

“I started joining the contest in 1997, when the Hiligaynon Short Story category was opened. And it was in 2008 when I started joining the English categories.’’

Just as an aside, hearing the poem set read by poet Marjorie Evasco, I wouldn’t want to have Punctuation end at all—if I were a child and if black weren’t my favorite color—and wished the poem set be available as on CD or as an audiobook, if not online!


“Getting second seems not like winning at all!’’

The statement may not come as a surprise for someone who says he isn’t very confident about his English but is definitely bent on winning.  In 2008, Nery won gold for the full-length play “The Passion of Jovita Fuentes’’ in the English division.

“If I were to leave Filipinos a legacy, I’d like to think it would be Five Men and Imelda Marcos… Because it adds to the rich lore that surrounds the Madame.’’

“If the Shoe Fits, or The Five Men Imelda Marcos Meets in Heaven,’’ which won first prize in the Full-Length Play category in the 2011 Palanca, is now available as an 8.5×5.5 paperback from CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Born and raised in Dumangas, Iloilo,  Nery has 11 Palancas to date and 15 books—including, among many others, 100 Erotic Sonnets from the Hiligaynon, The Passion of Jovita Fuentes, The Prince of Ngoyngoy, Rain as Gentle as Tears, Fantasia, and A Loneliness Greater than Love.

For one so prolific and—I’d assume—already widely read having been published many times over, why would one wish to err, limit one’s market to a few but discerning readers and to students of literature? Many would safely take just one and relax.

“Books are meant for communicating. They’re much simpler compared to writing contest pieces. Writing is more elaborate and artistic.’’

His Hall of Fame brief concluded with the following description: “Multidisciplined Nery currently works as an orthopedics staff nurse/safety champion at the White Memorial Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA, where he was honored with the Daisy Award for Extraordinary Nurses.

“After all, the Palanca is the standard by which Filipino writers are measured…. This is where you get peer approval and recognition.’’

Explore the peer-approved, world-renowned Nery—who has degrees in Biology, Nursing, Education, and Philosophy—more at!


© Camilo M. Villanueva, Jr. & Manila Bulletin: September 7, 2012