pop goes the world: literary musings

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 10 March 2011, Thursday

Literary Musings

As a writer, things literary catch my attention and that’s what has been on my mind lately, starting with the annual Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature.

The CPMA was established by businessman Don Carlos Palanca Sr. in 1950 to encourage the development of literature in the Philippines. In the local literary world it is considered the most prestigious prize for writing. From only a few categories at the inception of the program, the CPMA now has quite a lot and in several different languages – English, Filipino, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, and Iluko.

This year is a “novel” year, meaning entries in the Novel category are being accepted. This happens only every three years.

One innovative development that fosters creative writing among the youth aged 17 and below is the Kabataan Essay/Sanaysay category. This year’s theme is “What valuable lesson have I learned from the Internet?” The work should be from four to five typewritten pages.

Among the members of the CPMA Hall of Fame are the following celebrated writers: Isagani R. Cruz (2004), Krip Yuson and Leoncio Deriada (2001), Jose Dalisay Jr., Ed Maranan, and Roberto Añonuevo (2000), and Cirilo Bautista and Greg Brillantes (1995). Hall of Famers are writers who have won at least five first prizes in the regular categories.

The deadline of submission of this year’s entries is April 30. The website (palancaawards.com.ph) carries a countdown clock on the homepage – there are as of today only 51 days left to go!


My deepest thanks go to writer Rose Lamb Sobrepeña who sent me with a copy of her book “Fragments of Memory” with a warm dedication inscribed on the flyleaf. It was a pleasure indeed to receive the slim package she sent to me care of the MST office. I recognized her name on the book cover immediately, having read some of her columns before.

I have not had the honor of meeting Mrs. Sobrepeña, but I hope to someday, and to visit the Silliman University Rose Lamb Sobrepeña Writer’s Village, the permanent home of the Edilberto K. Tiempo and Dr. Edith L. Tiempo Creative Writing Center. The Writers’ Village was inaugurated last summer, and was the venue for the 49th Silliman National Writer’s Workshop.

One of the cottages at the Rose Lamb Sobrepeña Writers Village, Camp Lookout, Valencia. Image here.


Speaking of workshops, I’m looking forward to attending the 50th University of the Philippines National Writers’ Workshop on April 10 to 17 at Camp John Hay in Baguio City. I remember being too chicken to apply for the workshop when I was an undergraduate in UP-Diliman some twenty years ago. The truth is I had nothing worth submitting then. But it was something that was on my bucket list, a wish that I hoped would be fulfilled someday, and now that day has come. Dreams do come true, and I’m a walking talking testimony to that.

The UP Institute of Creative Writing, which administers the workshop, recently announced the twelve fellows chosen to attend: Ronald Baytan, Clarissa Militante, Allan Pastrana, Nerissa Del Carmen Guevara, Yvette Tan, and myself for English, and John Torres, German Gervacio, Genevieve L. Asenjo, Axel Alejandro A. Pinpin, Khavn dela Cruz, and John Iremil Teodoro for Filipino.

The panelists are ICW advisers, fellows, and associates: Jun Cruz Reyes (workshop director), Jose Dalisay Jr. (ICW director), Gemino Abad, Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, J. Neil Garcia, Charlson Ong, Conchitina Cruz, Rolando Tolentino, Victor Carmelo Nadera, Mario Miclat, and Romulo Baquiran Jr.

Most national writing workshops are open to beginning writers, as was the UP National until it changed its format. It is currently the only workshop for “writers in mid-career”, and aims to provide a venue where advanced writers may meet to discuss their craft, give and receive feedback on their works-in-progress, and get to know each other and the panelists as well.  ***

Palanca Awards logo here. UP Workshop logo here.

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1 Comment on pop goes the world: literary musings

  1. Gq
    12 March 2011 at 4:27 am (3402 days ago)

    In the late ’70s, Focus magazine, under the helm of Kerima Polotan-Tuvera, was one of the very few lights struggling to shine for artists/writers under the scourge of the Marcos martial law. Getting a piece published in that magazine, fiction or non-fiction, was like getting short-listed for a Palanca Award. We were a nation bereft of any creative-inducing juices but the Palancas beckoned, unadulterated by politics and greed. As a young man back then, I did manage to get a couple of short stories published in Focus. Although I didn’t win, I’m proud to have been on a short list considered for a Palanca Award.

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