Awards for Writing

The 56th Palanca Awards is now open to entries. For the longest time, I wanted to submit something — anything — to this prestigious Philippine literary competition but I always fail to send over a submission.

During my years in university, I entered a phase where I wanted to be a writer, even though I was actually there studying to be an engineer. And so, I joined the Writers’ Guild and wrote for Ang Pahayagang Plaridel, the university’s Filipino-language newspaper. I also befriended the staff of the university’s Malate literary folio whom we, the Plaridel staff, shared our office space with. It was through my association with these organisations that I learned about the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature or simply known as the Palanca Awards.

Winning an award in that competition will not only make the writer a few thousand pesos richer, but it will also gain the writer the much sought after recognition of being part of the Philippine literary elite. However, before I could ever hope to win such an award, I first needed to work on my writing.

Since I’m not really a Liberal Arts major in university, I had to read various books on writing just to get a better handle on this whole writing business. But I can only learn so much from reading. I had to actually write.

Back then, I was more comfortable writing in American English than in Tagalog. I saw it as a tremendous challenge to write in my own native language. So I was very pleased when I won an Efren Abueg Award for my Tagalog news writing for Ang Pahayagang Plaridel, and an award for third best short story in Filipino in the De La Salle University Annual Awards for Literature.

The awards should have encouraged me to ultimately write something — a poem, a short story, a children’s story, or an essay — to the Palanca Awards competition, but twelve years later, I have yet to write anything in English or Tagalog worthy of a submission. The biggest problem was that by the time I remember submitting something for the Palanca Awards, there’s only a month left. Not a lot of time to produce quality work in my opinion.

So now, like then, I remembered about the awards with only over a month left to write something to submit to the competition. Should I even try?

Then Raquel reminded me of something. Back in university, she also won something like a total of four awards in the DLSU Annual Awards for Literature for two years running. Her achievement was awesome, I thought then. But she told me that the only reason she probably won was because she had at least submitted something and not a lot of others did. “Half of it is writing and passing the work,” she said.

Or to put it another way, I couldn’t win a game if I never was in the game. Maybe I should just write what first comes to mind and submit that. Who knows? I might win something without even trying too hard. And if not, then there’s another whole year to prepare for the next annual Palanca Awards.

And in between that, maybe I could also write something for the writing competitions right here in Australia. I remembered missing out on last year’s The Age Short Story Competition mainly because I found out about it too late. I also thought that I couldn’t convincingly write a short story that has an Australian feel to it. In retrospect, maybe I didn’t have to. Maybe I could’ve written something in a way most natural to me and then afterwards I should’ve just replaced the Z’s with S’s in words like realize and authorize, and added a U in words color and favor.

And if I submitted something to The Age competition, I should probably also try writing something for the annual national The Australian / Vogel Literary Award.

Of course, to be able to submit something for any competition, I should actually be writing. We’ll see. Maybe I could squeeze that activity in between my household chores, my guitar practice and my other artistic pursuits.

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Published in: on March 7, 2006 at 12:01 pm  Comments (4)