January 15, 2008

2008 starts rather fast for this blogger. First, my poem ‘Pagsilung’ appears in the December 30 2007-January 5, 2008 issue of Bikol Reporter. Its Tagalog/Filipino version ‘Panonood’ had an earlier peek at daylight in the pages of Philippine Panorama in November 2006. Second, my by-line came out as one of those featured by master poet Cirilo F. Bautista last January 6 for his ‘Breaking Signs’ column, also in the Philippine Panorama entitled ‘Winning Writers’. Third, another poem of mine in English, one I call ‘In the Green of Marahan’ gets printed in the January 2008 issue of Homelife magazine. It’s such a bonus because in the same issue, poetry editor Dr. Leoncio P. Deriada discusses the results of the 2007 poetry competition.

Iriga City once again proves to be the undisputed home of Bikolnon contemporary writers. Deriada writes: ‘Among the cities, Iriga and Quezon were topnotchers with four poems each.’

Now Quezon City is home to UP-Diliman and Ateneo de Manila. It is a place teeming with writers. Now Iriga City is in the Bicol region’s Rinconada area and one writer even said that Rinconada means ‘sa tabi-tabi’. Oh my! We are not living up to our name.

Deriada also reports on the contenders for the Filipino category. Noted names include Ariel S. Tabag, Alex C. de los Santos, Isidoro M. Cruz, Carlo A. Arejola, Genaro Gojo Cruz, German V. Gervacio and Genevieve L. Asenjo.

In any deliberations, the judges’ level of expertise on craft will define the results. And here is Deriada’s report: ‘Of the nine, five merited our lengthy discussion: “Mayon (by Jacob),” “Imnas (by Tabag),” “Ille de Tulle (by Arejola),” “Paglubog (by Cordero)” and “Gabing Ganito (by Chancoco).” Even if we discussed “Ille de Tulle” very extensively, we finally removed it from the winning list. So was “Imnas.” We found the remaining poems very good and so we discussed them further. We could not fault Chancoco’s craftmanship. It deserved the first prize. Cordero’s technique of imaging was practically faultless until the less-than-skilled poster-like last lines. Even then, we found “Sa Paglubog ng Araw” superior to Jacob’s “Sa Muling Pagputok ng Mayon.”‘

Needless to say, I am happy that the judges were privy to the techniques I employed. Otherwise, they would not have appreciated my entry. But then again, this is all just a game (as all contests are), and should not be taken seriously. A writer must serve his art and not the judges of any literary contest.

Right now, I am also giving a lecture-workshop series to 16 young writers all from a nearby exclusive school. It’s theory and practice, lectures then poetry clinic. Of course, I don’t claim to know everything so it is also a way for me to learn new things with them. The teacher-student relationship has always been a dialectics.

By the way, this blog would like to congratulate Mr. Marcel L. Milliam a First Place Co-winner in the 2007 Meritage Holiday Poetry Contest as adjudged by Eric Gamalinda. Marcel was my co-fellow during the 12th Iligan National Writers Workshop. Sharp and outspoken, our sessions were always lively because of him. He would always visit our room and bug us to come out and have some beer. And I am sure he will treat us some more when we both get to visit Manila. Congrats again, Marcel!



Man Asian Prize Exec Director to Meet with
Local Writers Jan. 24

Peter Gordon, Executive Director of the Man Asian Literary Prize, will be in Manila on Thursday, January 24, to promote the prize among Filipino writers and to speak on “International Opportunities for Filipino Writers.” The UP Institute of Creative Writing is hosting his talk, which will be held that day at 2:30 pm at the AVR Room, 2nd floor, Rizal Hall (Faculty Center), UP Diliman.

The Man Asian—informally known as the “Asian Booker”—was established in 2006 and made its first award in 2007 for the best unpublished novel in English or English translation by an Asian. Filipino fictionist and UP professor Jose Dalisay Jr.’s novel Soledad’s Sister made the shortlist of the inaugural prize, which drew 243 entries from all over Asia. The deadline for the 2008 Man Asian is March 31.

Gordon will speak about the prize and on literary publishing in Asia in general. The UPICW is inviting all interested writers, translators, publishers, teachers, and students to attend the lecture-discussion, which will also feature Dr. Dalisay and fellow novelist and columnist Alfred “Krip” Yuson.

Peter Gordon is also a founder and former Director of the Man Hong Kong International Literary Festival (held each March in Hong Kong), founder and editor of the Asian Review of Books, and publisher at Chameleon Press. He writes a weekly op-ed column in the Hong Kong daily The Standard and is chairman of the Russian Interest Group at the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce.

(From Vim Nadera)

2007 Meritage Holiday Poetry Contest

Meritage Press is delighted to announce the results of the 2007 Meritage Press Holiday Poetry Contest, judged by Eric Gamalinda. The results include this contest’s second time for a tie for “First Place”, and also the first repeater for “First Place”:

First Place, Co-Winner: “First Winter Passing” by Naya S. Valdellon
First Place, Co-Winner: “O.N.S.” by Marcel L. Milliam
Honorable Mention: “AN EXPLANATION” by R. Torres Pandan

Naya S. Valdellon is this contest’s first poet to receive “First Place” twice, the prior time occurring in 2002 when she tied with Michella Rivera-Gravage in the contest judged by Oliver de la Paz. The 2007 results also feature our first non-English language poet winner. Unfortunately, Eric Gamalinda felt he was only able to assess the Tagalog entries, and so entries in other Filipino languages were not included in the judging.

Judge Eric Gamalinda says about the winning entries:

“First Winter Passing” is a lovely poem about how language connects and disconnects, and how it is nearly impossible for many of us to bridge this solitude except perhaps through poetry and its spectral silences. “O.N.S.” is deceptively old-fashioned like a kundiman, but fused with a naughty, graphic eroticism and a verbal precision that no translation can do justice-by lines 7-9, I was captivated by its masterful lyricism. “An Explanation” is a quiet, elegant little poem that feels like an iceberg: beautiful, mysterious, larger than it seems. I apologize to those who sent poems in other Filipino languages that I couldn’t read; I had to exclude them from the competition, and thus only judged the Tagalog-language poems.

Here are some information about the winning poets:

Naya S. Valdellon is currently finishing her M.A. in English major in Creative Writing at the University of Toronto. Her chapbook of poems, The Reluctant Firewalker, was published by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts as part of its UBOD New Authors Series in 2005. Her poetry has received the Hart House Poetry Prize, the Maningning Miclat Award, and the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature.

Marcel L. Milliam is Ilonggo by birth but Capiznon by association. He is the founding Chairman of “Yanggaw”, The Capiz Writer’s Circle, and a member of the “Dagyang Pulong” Iloilo Writers Group. He works for GMA TV6 in Iloilo as a talent under the ETV Department. He writes poetry mainly in Hiligaynon, but produces pieces in English and Filipino as well. After receiving fellowships from the 1st Fray Luis De Leon Creative Writing Desk of the University of San Agustin, Iloilo, “2nd Panagsugat” Writers workshop of UP Vis-Min, 12th Iligan National Writers Workshop of the MSU-IIT, and the 7th Iyas National Writers Workshop for his Hiligaynon poems, he has now “crossed-over” into fiction. He has won twice the NCLA-VI “Paktakontxt” of the NCLA-VI, consecutive wins in the UPV SWF Bigkas Binalaybay sponsored by the NCCA from 2003-2007, both in the Pagbigkas at Pagsulat Categories. His works have been published in four issues of SanAg, the official literary Journal of the Fray Luis De Leon Creative Writing Desk of the USA-Iloilo as well as in the 33rd ANI of the CCP and numerous other local and national publications. At present he is a 3rd Year student in the Bachelor of Laws Program (Llb.) of the University of Iloilo College of Law and is actively involved in the works of the Alternative Law Groups Inc. (ALG) and was a paralegal intern of the Children’s Legal Bureau (CLB), Cebu. When he miraculously has free time, he is also involved with the Iloilo theater scene as a stage actor.

R. Torres Pandan has been a law school dean for ten years and a partner in the biggest law firm in Bacolod City, Philippines for 16 years. He has won the Palanca Awards for poetry and his first book of poetry was short-listed for the 2005 National Book Awards. He is also the Research Director of the Philippine Supreme Court‘s JURIS project on mediation.

The winning poems can be seen at the Meritage Press “Babaylan Speaks” link at
http://meritagepres /babaylan/

Be ONE of the 15 FELLOWS with multi-awarded writers!

IYAS Writing Worshop

  • Aplicants should submit original work: either 6 poems, 2 short stories, or 2 one- act plays using pseudonym, in five (5) computer-encoded hard copies of entries, font size 12, bound or fastened, in separated folders with a diskette (MSWord).
  • These are to be accompanied by a sealed size 10 business envelope with the author’s real name and pseudonym, a 2×2 ID photo, and a short resume, which must be mailed on or before March 14, 2008.
  • Entries in Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Tagalog or Filipino may be submitted. Fellowships are awarded by genre and by language.
  • Grant will cover board and lodging and a partial transportation subsidy.


Dr. Cirilo F. Bautista

Ms. Genevieve Asenjo

Dr. Marjorie Evasco

Prof. Danny Reyes

Dr. Elsie Coscolluela

Dr. Antonio Tan

Wokshop is on April 20-26, 2008 at the Balay Kalinungan Complex, University of St. La Salle , Bacolod City .

Sponsored by:
University of St. La Salle, NCCA, Benvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center , De La Salle University, and Negrence Studies Development Center


Dr. Gloria Fuentes
Asst. Vice President for Academic Affairs Office
University of St. La Salle
La Salle Avenue , Bacolod City


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