Thursday, September 02, 2004

palanca awards 2004

It was a different kind of awards night at the Manila Peninsula. I didn't know half the people there - and it turned out to be because around half the winning authors were first-time awardees. I was very happy to know this, because it means that a lot of young people are taking up the pen and writing in Filipino, English, Cebuano, Hiligaynon and Iluko, contributing to the growing corpus of Philippine Literature.

I finally got to meet Glenn Sevilla Mas, my co-playwright:

ME: Hi Glenn, I'm Dean. I've been wanting to meet you. Last year, I thought it was you I was talking to, but it turned out to be your brother.

GLENN: Oh! You're Dean! I wanted to meet you too, because you beat me last year. I wanted to read your play - I did and I said "Maganda naman pala".

(We laugh.)

ME: Well, you beat me this year. So in a way, it's fair.

We promised to exchange copies of our plays. This delighted me because there are very few people who can offer critique in this mode. Having a fellow young playwright read my stuff can only be a good thing.

I also made friends with a new playwright, a first-time winner named Arlo de Guzman, and felt like an elder statesman.

prepare for name-dropping

I chatted with Socorro Villanueva (a cool lady from UP Diliman) as Nikki and I shared ciggies and small talk. When I realized later that she was the author of that great short story I loved last year, I asked her to send me a copy of her latest work. In a bit of artistic worship, I told Naya Valdellon (Poetry - English) how I enjoyed her verses. Luna Sicat Cleto (English - Essay), Eugene Evasco (Short Story for Children - Filipino), Willy Pascual (Essat - English) and I exchanged info on our works (because none of us have read each other's current work). Luna wrote about bicycles, Eugene about a mouse, and Willy on Nora Aunor. I was stunned when Luna confessed to reading this blog and recommending it to others, and when Willy asked why my hair was not a different color (because he saw my xanthian blog pic). I guess I have more lurkers than I thought.

We sat with Joey Alarilla (Essay - English) and some of the playwrights and suffered through a speeches and a play that had me tsk-tsking in impatience.

But one of the highlights was touching base with Judges Mike Coroza (Futuristic Fiction - Filipino), Jing Hidalgo (Short Story - English), Krip Yuson (Short Story for Children - English), Tim Montes (Short Story - Cebuano) and Ruey de Vera (Essay -English). I promised Mike I'd keep in touch (we were last writing fellows together at the UP Diliman Workshop in 1992), and found out from Tim that my beloved Edith Tiempo was okay.

once a year

Once a year, I get to spend some time with the best writers in the country, exchange gossip and reaffirm the camaraderie and brotherhood of writers.

The guy I look up to the most, Butch Dalisay, offered a handshake,

BUTCH: Congratulations, Dean. This makes how many?

ME: Nowhere near yours, Butch.

We both laughed as I confessed "7".

Once a year, if I'm lucky, I get a fantastic recharge of energy. The variety of writing sensibilities, ranging from conservative to edgy and everything in-between and beyond, is encouragement enough for me to push at the boundaries of my ability.

Once a year, I can revel in the part of my life that celebrates art and words with abandon. With no fear of alienating the good people who populate my daily life, or seeming so profound or jaded or all ivory-towery.

Once a year, I can take unabashed pride in writing. In the company of fellow writers, we celebrate past work, live in the fleeting present moment of peer accolades, and plan for tomorrow's new manuscript.

Just this once a year, we party in style.

Because in a few hours, it's back to business.


Blogger daniel john said...

I was stunned when Luna confessed to reading this blog and recommending it to others, and when Willy asked why my hair was not a different color (because he saw my xanthian blog pic).
Term Paper

2:09 PM  

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