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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Young poet overwhelmed with Palanca win

While it takes most artists and writers years of heartbreaks and disappointments before making it big in the literary circle, the road to success is relatively shorter and easier for Carlos Piocos, the first place awardee for the Tula (Poetry in Filipino) category of the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature 2007, outperforming writers his senior both in age and experience.

And he is just warming up.

At only 23 years old, Piocos, a Masters student at the University of the Philippines Diliman, is one of the youngest winners in the major categories of this year’s Palanca Awards. He now joins the field of veteran poets, who have received recognition from the same institution and other credible literary bodies here and abroad.

Piocos’ collection of poems “Corpus,” which delves into the lives of a historian, an undertaker and a poet won critical acclaim among the Palanca judges.

“I really feel privileged, honored (about the award) but it was really unexpected. I never expected to win this early,” Piocos admitted.

“Being in the same level as my senior counterparts is such an honor,” he noted.


Piocos would not have joined the Palanca awards if not for the prodding of family and friends.

For him, writing poetry is more about self-expression rather than an attempt for recognition.

“Poetry is an attempt to find a language, to put feelings into words during a vulnerable moment of a poet,” Piocos stressed, admitting however that winning a Palanca gives him a sense of affirmation as an artist.

“All writers are seeking some degree of affirmation and Palanca gives you that. It is not about the prize or the compensation,” Piocos added.


Although shorter, the road to success for Piocos was not without setbacks.

Piocos recalls feeling down and depressed when, as a young writer, he failed to qualify in several fellowships for literature. He also tried his luck in English essay writing but failed to make the cut.

He also attempted to express his artistry through plays, but this too was not a bed of roses for Piocos. Last year, his entries in the “Tula” category of the Palanca Awards did not make it to the winners list.

“I was really humbled by my earlier experiences. All along, I thought my creations were good enough but then I realized that there are still areas I should work on,” Piocos added.

It was only after he shifted to the Filipino medium that Piocos felt comfortable with his writing, effectively translating his feelings to words.

“Writing in our language worked better for me. I think that my works in Filipino were more heartfelt and really mirrored my emotions,” he said.


With his success early on, Piocos intends to pick up where he left off. Piocos is now writing several poetry pieces in Filipino, which he intends to compile into a book.

Piocos is cognizant of the fact that his peers in the literary world will scrutinize his works after his Palanca win; but, just like before, he said competing shall not be his main intention for writing.

After all, for Piocos, writing poetry is not meant to impress but rather to deliver the utmost desires and feelings of a poet.

“Writing is not for any kind of recognition. It is an abstraction of ideas and self expression,” he said.

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A Tao 道 Sign

Le poèt de Pangasinan

Santiago B. Villafania, a bilingual Filipino poet who writes in English and in his native language of Pangasinan, is the author of poetry collections Bonsaic Verses (2012), Pinabli and Other Poems (2012), Malagilion: Sonnets tan Villanelles (2007), and Balikas na Caboloan (Voices from Caboloan, 2005) published by the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts (NCCA) under its UBOD New Authors Series. He has been published in several countries and translated into several languages. Villafania is one of the 11 Outstanding Pangasinan conferred with the 2010 ASNA Award for the Arts and Culture (literature) during the first Agew na Pangasinan and also the 430th Foundation Day of the province on April 2010. He is a member of Philippine PEN writes a regular weekly column for the Sunday Punch.



A collection of ghazals in Pangasinan language. Order now at Amazon.com

A collection of haiku, senryu, tanka, haiga, and other poems in English and Pangasinan language. Order now at Amazon.com

“Santiago Villafania is a searcher with a seemingly insatiable curiosity and endurance. His quest has brought him to explore world poetry from points East and West. He is no stranger to sophisticated verse forms such the Sapphic strophe nor to the diverse permutations of the Japanese haiku. But he is not a formalist, he has daringly explored Asian and Western cultures in a very personal way and writes his mind with a daring, invigorating, aesthetically pleasing ease. In his poetry Villafania displays not only a breadth, but it feels very much like a breath of fresh air.” – Ute Margaret Saine, poet, critic, translator, past president of PEN Orange County and the former editor of the California Poetry Quarterly

“Villafania’s emergence as a poet is a fine moment to celebrate. Another voice from the regions augurs a richer body of writing that Filipinos can hold up as a mirror of our native culture.” – Bienvenido Lumbera, National Artist for Literature

The Beloved Idiom | A Reading of Villafania’s ‘Pinabli & other poems’ by Dennis Andrew S. Aguinaldo

LCCN.: 2010338612

Order your copy now at CreateSpace or Amazon.com :)

"The publication of Malagilion: Sonnets tan Villanelles by Santiago B. Villafania should be a source of rejoicing for readers of regional literatures. This second book by Pangasinan's leading poet today is impressive in both form and substance. Villafania has created 300 sonnets and 50 villanelles in his own language that attempt to reflect the primacy of native culture and return the poet to the central stage of social life."A Boost to Pangasinan Literature from Breaking Signs by Cirilo F. Bautista (Philippine Panorama, 16 Dec. 2007, pp.25-26)

"Villafania is not only a visionary poet, he is a linguistic philosopher who codifies the origin of language and culture, dissects the myths and the common beliefs of the people against the urban legends, juxtaposes the literary tradition against the modern influences by dialectically infusing them in his poetic revelation of truth."Poetic Revelation in Language and Culture by Danny C. Sillada (Manila Bulletin, 12 May 2008, pp. F1-F2)

Photos: Book Launching at the Pearl Manila Hotel, 5 Feb. 2008

"Santiago Villafania's Balikas ed Caboloan certainly has reinvigorated the anlong tradition of Pangasinan that for a long period of time suffered silence from the hands of writers more attuned to English writing. Characteristically anacbanua, Villafania's poetry echoes his predecessors and presages a promising era for young writers in Pangasinan." – Dr. Marot Nelmida-Flores

Thesis: Bilay ed Caboloan - Reconfiguration of Space using a New Historicist Lens by Ayesah Tecson

from Pangasinan 'Anlong': Oral tradition into the 21st century published in Manila Times / Sunday Magazine, March 13 & 20, 2011.

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