NASAGANG NA SUMAGANG
August 19, 2009
August 15 at the Avenue Square was my first ever book launch but I was not nervous at all. I had company, a woman of course (can’t live without them), and the other seven writers and two visual artists who participated. Surely, it was a feast of the written word.
Actually, the “Pagbungsod” was just a part of “Gira nin Panahon”, an arts and culture project of Development Institute of Bicolano Artists Foundation, Inc. (DIBA). It features not only literary arts, but also the visual arts. In fact during the launch, there was an art exhibit at the second level of the venue.
The “Pagbungsod” will also be brought to other areas in the region. In fact, an Iriga leg is already being cooked up by poet Frank Penones, who by the way, announced during the launch that this writer will be conferred the Sumagang Award (for literary arts). The said distinction is the highest that the City of Iriga could ever give to Iriguenos who made a great mark in their chosen field of endeavor. With due respect to Manoy Frank, my nominator, I really had the gut feel as early as early, from the time he texted me a congratulatory message, that the award will not really be given to me. Of course the mere fact that he announced it at the Avenue Square before Naga City public officials, educators, media, writers and artists; he must have been assured by the Sumagang committee of my winning. Being a writer of great repute, he must have had verifiable basis.
Alas! My ‘literary clairvoyance’ did not fail me. It was just a foul-up after all, in other words ‘kuryente’. Manoy Frank sent me an email saying he was not sure if the Sumagang committee was not able to defend their recommendation of me or if it was the committee itself that changed its mind and scrapped my name off the list before sending it to Mayor Madel for approval. According to the rules set by the Sumagang Awards, only nominees screened by the committee will be sent to the Mayor for approval. This way, we could prevent the Caparas-Alvarez Case of inserting a “nominee” at the approval level of the contest while the same “nominee” did not undergo the screening process set by the committee. In essence, a shortcut.
The Sumagang committee has the discretion as to who it will recommend for the award. Heck, it even has the power to change its mind to the detriment of those who construed its decision as final. The Mayor also has the power to reject a recommended nominee. The trick is the formal letter because it contains the official information (but lest we forget that Manoy Frank is the PIO of Iriga City Hall). Also, I think, nominees and nominators have no cause of action against the committee and the Mayor, hence they cannot complain, protest or even file suit in a quo warranto proceeding since they are just that, nominees and nominators (Cuyegkeng vs. Cruz, July 26, 1960) and I think, the same rule applies even to the National Artist Awards.
I am not bent on discussing this issue here by virtue of delicadeza. I am the nominee after-all. But surely, I did not nominate myself, this I can say. Manoy Frank, in his own volition took up the initiative and asked for my writer’s archive. But since the “Pagbungsod” crowd of civil and intelligent citizens were duly informed of my supposed conferment of the Sumagang, I see it fit that things be clarified here. But surely, I hold that Manoy Frank was in good faith on account of his eagerness to congratulate a bard-brother.
It is painful for us Iriguenos of course. This could be construed as something similar to the dagdag-bawas National Artist. Frank Penones will not make those pronouncements in public if he were not sure of it. Anyway, I am not so keen on awards. Specially those tainted with irregularities. As writers, we all work hard to build a good by-line. I for one, will not allow mine to be besmirched just because of the Sumagang. Also, I maintain that poets are immortal, superior to politicians and more sublime than human accolade. In such that awards don’t honor us, we are the ones who give prestige to the awards.
Bikol literature is arguably populated by Irigueno writers and poets. This is something that Iriga-LGU must learn to recognize and accept, lest they only expose their ignorance.