67th Palanca Awards: On trolls, fake news, and the role of writers today

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Nicko M. De Guzman (second from left) receives his Palanca award for winning third prize in the literary awards’ Short Story category (Filipino division). Joining him during the awards night held September 1, 2017, were (from left) Criselda Cecilio-Palanca and Carl Anthony Palanca of the Carlos Palanca Foundation; and the category’s judges Marco A.V. Lopez, Patrocinio Villafuerte, and Victor Emmanuel Nadera. Photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon.

Some are romantic, while others showed patriotism—this was how multi-awarded literary artist Prof. Vim Nadera, one of the judges of the 67th Palanca Awards, described this year’s entries to the prestigious literary contest.

Nicko M. De Guzman’s “Troll” (Third Prize) for example was noted by Nadera as a piece with social relevance.

A timely topic, De Guzman’s “Troll” is about the story of an unemployed millennial who tried to apply at an outsourcing company. However, the latter turns out to be a company that hires trolls on the internet–leaving the millennial with the struggle on whether he would push for the job.

“What inspired me siguro is yung mga nangyayari sa paligid natin kasi, for me, doon naman tayo humuhgot ng sinusulat para sa mga tao–yung mga nangyayari sa lipunan,” noted De Guzman, a 21-year-old Malikhaing Pagsualt sa Filipino student at University of the Philippines-Diliman.

He also told reporters that he always sees these trolls on social media. “Sobrang dami nila na nakakasira na sila ng part of history,” he shared.

With such emerging issues, some young and prolific Filipino writers believe that telling stories reflective of these topics are more relevant than ever.

De Guzman noted that we are in a time when there is a big need for writers to write about and for the nation. He said, “‘Yun na talaga yung dapat na ginagawa ng manunulat—magexpose at magmulat ng mga tao tungkol sa mga nangyayari sa lipunan.

Nadera banks on the same belief, and underscored, “Sa tingin ko napakahalaga natin kasi somebody has to articulate what is happening, at writers ‘yun.

Gawad Dangal ng Lahi Awardee Jose “Butch” Dalisay Jr. gives a speech at the 67th Palanca Awards. Photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon.

This year’s Gawad Dangal ng Lahi Awardee Jose “Butch” Dalisay Jr. also noted in his speech that the remedy to fake news is true fiction. He noted, “The best antidote to fake news is true fiction.”

“You and I have much to write about,” he said, addressing the crowd full of authors, poets, academics, and other literary personalities.

Dalisay also mentioned how literature can reaffirm our humanity, and how important it is during these dark times.

“It is both literature’s virtue and responsibility to reaffirm our fundamental humanity, and the unity of our interests and aspirations as a people. Every act of writing re-humanizes us, both writer and reader,” he said, citing a speech he wrote for former President Fidel V. Ramos.

“This is especially important in these darkening times, when megalomaniacal and murderous despotism threatens societies across the ocean, debases the truth, and cheapens human life,” he added.