Monday, September 03, 2007

palanca 2007 - the wowowee edition

Now this year's Palanca Awards night was truly different. Truly, truly different.

(Susan Lara)

(Marge Evasco)
It began innocently enough. Nikki and I arrived, and after linking up with Marge Evasco, Susan Lara and Mookie Katigbak (who was the absent Sarge Lacuesta's proxy eros), signed in the reception area and proceeded to search for the "best table". The "best table" is all about location, with particular emphasis on two things: proximity to food and quick access to the smoking area.

(Glen Mas and Ian Casocot)

We were later joined by Ian Casocot and Glen Mas, before table hopping to say hello to friends, new and old.

Dinner was announced and I found myself second only to Hall of Fame inductee Nicholas Pichay at the buffet (we shared a conspiratorial wink before breezing through the appetizers - shameless, yes, but effective, considering the loooong line of hungry writers LOL).

(Nikki & Dean Alfar, photo by Lilit Reyes)

Outside in the smoking area, I teased Butch Dalisay, asking him to show me his new iPhone - which I did not think he already had. With a small smile, he reached into his coat pocket and produced The Redeemer, and my jaw dropped. It is (insert superlatives here)! I considered savagely attacking him then and there and running away with the iPhone but the awards had yet to be given away and they would notice his absence. Anyway, he told me he'd blog about it (the iPhone, not my death threat).

As the awards were announced and the prizes given, there was a lot of rubbernecking to see just what faces matched the new names. Every year there are a lot of first time winners, which is just wonderful. I like meeting new writers - like Crystal Koo, who flew in to claim her prize (her megawatt smile was infectious) and Sheila Dela Cuesta (who also flew in from Singapore).

(Isagani Cruz, Butch Dalisay, me, Carla Pacis, Nemie Bermejo)

Chris Martinez's winning play was the performance highlight of the evening - but as it turns out, the evening had more surprises in store.

Out of the blue, special prizes - multiple P100,000 prizes - were raffled off to winners and judges by the Palanca Foundation and other generous people (I think the Palancas gave away P700k). We were transformed into a happy and anticipating Wowowee crowd, secretly hoping and praying that our names would be called. Danton Remoto, Glen Mas and I were happily kibitzing when Ian's name was called out. Fantastic! He got P50k! I was holding out for a car or for a ref or a TV when the last cash prize was called - and went home empty handed (well, apart from the check for the winning story, of course). But still, for that span of time, it was like a Christmas party for the Palancas - crazy and very different from the usual affair.

(Danton Remoto and Isagani Cruz)

Sana maulit muli.

We had a wonderful time, being able to chat with Jing and Tony Hidalgo, Bing Sitoy, Vim Nadera, Mike Coroza, Jimmy Abad (hey Cyan, hope to see you sometime soon), and many other happy folk.

Thanks to the Palancas for a great night.

(Photo by Lilit Reyes)

List of winners of the 2007 Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature here.

Read the winning pieces at Literatura.

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