A CALIFORNIA-based Filipino orthopedic nurse emerged as the big winner at this year’s Palanca Awards, garnering three prizes in different categories in rites held at the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati City (Metro Manila) on Thursday night.
The thrice-blessed winner, 42-year-old Peter Solis Nery—who came to the ceremony wearing a fedora and all-white suit—clinched first prize for his Hiligaynon short story Donato Bugtot.
He also earned second prize in two other categories: poetry for children for his collection The Shape of Happiness, and English full-length play for If the Shoe Fits (Or, The Five Men Imelda Marcos Meets in Heaven).
The Iloilo province-born Nery, who first won in the prestigious literary competition in 1998, is poised for induction into the Palanca Hall of Fame, an honor that a creative writer can earn once he or she scores five first-place wins.
Before winning for Donato Bugtot, the nurse previously garnered first prize for his Hiligaynon short stories Lirio (1998) and Candido (2007), as well as his English full-length play The Passion of Jovita Fuentes (2008).
Twenty-two writers have been elevated to the Hall of Fame, including The Manila Times College president Dr. Isagani R. Cruz.
Other major winners on Thursday were playwright Joshua Lim So, who earned first prize for his English full-length play A Return Home and third prize for his Filipino full-length play Panahon ng Sampung Libong Ilong (A Season of Ten Thousand Noses); Ateneo de Manila University professor Allan Derain for his Filipino novel Ang Banal na Aklat ng mga Kumag (The Holy Book of Lazy Idiots) and US-based Marivi Soliven for her English novel In the Service of Secrets.
Highlights of the awarding ceremony include a staging of Remi Velasco’s winning one-act play Ondoy, a comedy about a married couple bickering on a rooftop at the height of the devastating September 26, 2009 tropical storm; and the presence of National Artist for Literature F. Sionil José, who graced the event as guest of honor.
In a speech he delivered before fellow wordsmiths and heirs of the late La Tondeña Distillery founder Carlos Palanca Sr., José lamented over the continued underappreciation of Filipino writers, whom he described as “the Chaucers, the Cervanteses and the Shakespeares of our country.”
He briefly turned political at one point, however, when he called many of those in power today as “nincompoops.”
© Alvin I. Dacanay & The Manila Times: September 3, 2011