November 20, 2007
Call it literary ESP. I knew I would surely have a poem published in the November issue of HomeLife Magazine, so there I was buying two copies from St. Paul’s Bookshop. And indeed a work of mine was there, conveniently printed in the poetry page. As usual, I had a short chat with the Sisters and they were egging me to contribute for the Paulines Magazine. ‘Why not Sistah,’ I replied.
I have written about this before, my mild clairvoyance of anything literary. Like seeing Hotel Veneracion in a dream before I actually got to attend the UST National Writers Workshop; or having a sort of an ‘advance proofreader’s copy’ of my work, seeing the page in a dream before it reaches the stands. This time, I saw this plaque. Nothing else more, just a plaque.
So when I texted Dulce Deriada saying ‘hi and ‘thanks’ to his father for using ‘Elehiya’ this month, HomeLife’s poetry editor, Dr. Leoncio Deriada could only blurt out: ‘May ESP ka ano? You had an inkling that you won?’ It turned out that my poem in Tagalog/Filipino ‘Isang Gabing Ganito’, yes, that one with a typo when it got printed, won first place in this year’s contest. I thought I was dreaming, like the clairvoyance thing again, but this time I did not have to wake up.
Maybe five months of isolation and concentrated literary thought when I was in Imus, Cavite back in 2000 (just finishing off my ROTC) developed this ‘clairvoyance thing’ in me. It was the time when I could sit the whole day just thinking of my literary plans. I loved those moments as flavored by my endless readings and writers’ dates. It was just me and God signing a contract.
Now Home Life Magazine’s poetry contest just like when it started in 1992, considers as entries only those poems that got printed in its poetry page for the year. Dr. Leoncio Deriada serves as its editor and at the same time ex-officio judge during deliberations in November. Judges would come from different parts of the country, and thankfully, I am in no way connected to this year’s judges (except Dr. Deriada who was a panelist during the Iyas and 12th Iligan National Writers Workshop). This makes a clear-cut win, methinks, considering that my co-winners are good company (Kristian Cordero of Iriga City-2nd and Estelito Jacob of Camaligan-3rd prize). Also, New York-based poet Luis Cabalquinto of Magarao won first place for the English Division.
But not without heavy competition. According to Dr. Deriada, it was the Filipino Division that gave the judges a hard time. Poets from the NCR, Central and Northern Luzon also contended for the top spot against their Bikolnon opponents. But not much luck this time, for even the fourth place was occupied by another Bikol poet, Carlo Arejola, almost displacing Esting Jacob by an inch. A Bicol sweep indeed.
Here’s the complete list of winners and judges as sent via SMS by Dulce Deriada on November 20, 2007:
Filipino Category—1st Prize: “Isang Gabing Ganito” by Jose Jason L. Chancoco of Iriga City; 2nd Prize: “Sa Paglubog ng Araw” by Kristian S. Cordero of Iriga City; and 3rd Prize: “Sa Muling Pagputok ng Mayon” by Estelito B. Jacob of Camaligan, Camarines Sur.
English Category—1st Prize: “Quotidian” by Luis Cabalquinto of Magarao, Camarines
Sur (now based in New York); 2nd Prize: “Confrontation at the Café” by Michael U. Obenieta of Cebu City; and 3rd Prize: “A House Full of a Keeper’s Absence” by Tem M. Adlawan of Naga, Cebu.
Members of the Board of Judges are: Dr. Leoncio P. Deriada (ex-officio chairperson and poetry editor of Home Life), Prof. Jonathan P. Jurilla and Prof. John E. Barrios.