Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature

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The Palanca Awards or Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature is the Philippines' most prestigious and most enduring literary awards and is dubbed as the "Pulitzer Prize" of the Philippines. Most, if not all, important or major Philippine authors have one or more Palancas in their belts. For some, especially to a young fictionist or poet, winning a Palanca is a sort of a "baptism of fire" denoting or announcing that one has arrived in Philippine literary circles.



Don Carlos Palanca Sr. was a man who by the sheer dint of hard work, self-study, and integrity rose to become a successful businessman. He was a patron of educational institutions and instilled in his children the value of education. His heirs decided it fitting that his name be commemorated in an endeavor that would help enrich the country's cultural heritage. Thus, the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature was established in 1950.

The aims of the awards have been to help develop Philippine literature by providing incentives for writers to craft their most outstanding literary work; and to be a treasury of the Philippines' literary gems from Filipino writers and to assist in its eventual dissemination to the people, particularly the students.

The awards started with the Short Story category in English and Filipino (Tagalog).

Through the years, as the awards elicited overwhelming response, new categories were added: One-Act Play in 1953, Poetry in 1963, Full-Length Play in 1975, Essay in 1979, Novel in 1980, Short Story for Children in 1989, Teleplay in 1990, and Screenplay in 1994.

In 1997, three new divisions were opened. These were the Iloko, Cebuano and Hiligaynon Short Story. To encourage writing by our youth, the Kabataan (Youth) Essay for high school students was opened in 1998. And in 2000, a new category was added: Future Fiction, a separate genre of the short story that involves a looking beyond into the future to transcend the boundaries of the present.

The harvest of literary works is just as impressive. As of year 2000, it has a collection of 28 novels, 12 in English and 16 in Filipino; 128 three-act plays, 54 in English and 74 in Filipino; 289 one-act plays, 131 in English and 158 in Filipino; 300 groups of poems, 162 in English and 138 in Filipino; 142 essays, 70 in English and 72 in Filipino; 367 Short Stories, 167 in English, 164 in Filipino, 12 in Cebuano, 12 in Iloko, and 12 in Hiligaynon; 85 short stories for children, 43 in English and 42 in Filipino; 42 Teleplays, 5 in English and 37 in Filipino; 22 Screenplays all in Filipino; 18 Kabataan Essays, 9 in English and 9 in Filipino; 6 Future Fiction, 3 in English and 3 in Filipino.

The Carlos Palanca Foundation regularly publishes anthologies of winning works, with each anthology covering all winning literary pieces of a certain category (e.g. Short Story in English) in a decade (e.g. the 1980s).

As of 2000, the Director General of the Awards is Sylvia Palanca-Quirino.

Contest rules

The contest is open from January to April 30 of the year. It is open to all Filipino citizens, or former Filipino citizens, of all ages except current officers and employees of the Carlos Palanca Foundation, Inc., the sponsor.

Divisions and categories

There are five divisions in the awards: English, Filipino, Hiligaynon, Iluko and Cebuano. The contest has ten regular categories: literary novel (open only every three years), Futuristic Fiction, Short story, Short Story for Children, Essay, Poetry, One-act Play, Full-length Play, Teleplay, and Screenplay. The Kabataan Essay is a special category open to persons below 18 years of age.

The categories are open both in the English and Filipino divisions except the Teleplay and Screenplay categories which are open only in the Filipino division. The Hiligaynon, Iluko and Cebuano divisions are open only in the Short Story category. A translation of an entry submitted in one division shall not be eligible in any other division.

Authors may submit only one entry per category. A work which has been awarded a prize in another contest is not qualified for the awards. Published/produced works which were first published or first produced between May 1 of the previous year and April 30 of the current year and/or unpublished/unproduced works may be entered in the contest except in the Screenplay category where only unproduced works may be entered.

The entry

In the Novel category, the theme is open and free. There is no limit as to the number of pages of the entry.

In the Short Story category, an entry must be at least ten but not more than 25 typewritten pages. In the Short Story for Children category, an entry must be not more than 10 typewritten pages. It may deal with any subject, provided it is directed principally to promote appreciation of Filipino literature or culture by children in the grade school level, ages 7 to 12. In the Futuristic Fiction category, an entry must consist of at least 10 but not more than 25 typewritten pages and should present a scenario of the future Filipino and the country.

In the Poetry category, an entry must consist of a collection of at least 10 but not more than 15 poems.

In the Essay category, an entry should be at least 10 but not more than 25 typewritten pages. The category is open only to informal (personal) essays.

In the One-Act Play category, an entry must be of sufficient length to approximate a performing time of 45 minutes. In the Full-Length Play category, an entry must consist of 2 or more acts.

In the Teleplay category, an entry when produced for television presentation, must have a maximum running time of 1 hour. Sitcoms and dramas depicting socially relevant themes are preferred. In the Screenplay category, the entry must be a script for a full-length film with a running time of approximately 2 hours. The theme is open, but should inspire the viewer with moral values.

The Kabataan Essay category is open only to informal (personal) essays. The Essay must develop the given theme for the year for the English and Filipino divisions. An entry must be at least 4 but not more than 5 typewritten pages, and must carry an original title.

All entries shall consist of an original and three copies. Each entry must be typewritten or computerized, double-spaced on 8 ½" X 11" bond paper, with approximately one-inch margin on all sides. The page number must be typed consecutively e.g. 1 of 30, 2 of 30 and so on at the center of the bottom margin of each page. If computerized, the font should be Arial, Times New Roman or Book Antiqua and the font size should be 12. A soft copy (diskette copy or e-mail) of computer-generated entries is also required. The author’s real name, and address must not appear on the entry. The duly accomplished Official Entry Form and notarized Authorization Form together with the author’s full resumé should be sealed inside a legal size letter envelope. The title of the entry, category, and division should be written or typed on the envelope, and the envelope attached to an original copy of the entry. In case an entry from abroad wins, an authenticated copy of the Authorization Form by the Philippine Embassy or Consulate will be required.

All copies should be legible and neat. Entries must be addressed to the Board of Judges, Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, which shall be the sole body to evaluate the literary merits of the works. Entries should be submitted to the Carlos Palanca Foundation, Inc. office at Ground Floor, CPJ Building, 105 C. Palanca Jr. St., Legaspi Village, Makati City, Philippines not later than 12:00 m.n. of April 30 of the year. Entries sent by mail or courier should be postmarked/invoiced not later than April 15 of the year.

Entries submitted via e-mail should be in Rich Text Format (.rtf) or in a Microsoft Word document file and should be sent as an attachment together with the author’s bio-data or resumé, and a scanned copy of the accomplished and notarized Authorization Form. The original copy of the notarized Authorization Form should then be sent to the Carlos Palanca Foundation, Inc. by mail or courier not later than April 30 of the year.

Entries submitted via e-mail should be transmitted not later than 12:00 m.n. of April 30 of the year. Submitted copies of winning entries shall remain with, and become the property of, the Carlos Palanca Foundation, Inc. Submitted copies of non-winning entries may be claimed by the authors not later than six months from the date of announcement of winners.

Entries submitted must comply with government policies on printed matters.

Judging of the entries

The Board of Judges shall have the discretion not to award any prize if, in its judgment, no meritorious entry has been submitted. The Sponsor has the sole right to designate the persons who shall constitute the Board of Judges in each of the contest categories.

Announcement of winners

The names of the winners and the members of the Board of Judges shall be announced on September 1 of the year.


The prizes for each contest category are the following:


  • Grand prize - P30,000

Short Story, Futuristic Fiction, Poetry, Essay, One–act Play and Short Story for Children, and Teleplay:

  • First prize - P12,000
  • Second prize - P9,000
  • Third prize - P7,000

Full-length Play:

  • First prize - P17,000
  • Second prize - P10,000
  • Third prize - P7,000


  • First prize - P27,000
  • Second prize - P12,000
  • Third prize - P10,000

Kabataan Essay:

  • First prize - P8,000
  • Second prize - P5,000
  • Third prize - P3,000

(Based on the 2005 Rules of the Contest. The rules may vary every year. For the latest and complete contest rules, contact the Palanca Foundation.)


Palanca Awards winners by year:

Palanca Awards winners

2007 - 2006 - 2005 - 2004 - 2003 - 2002 - 2001 - 2000
1999 - 1998 - 1997 - 1996 - 1995 - 1994 - 1993 - 1992 - 1991 - 1990
1989 - 1988 - 1987 - 1986 - 1985 - 1984 - 1983 - 1982 - 1981 - 1980
1979 - 1978 - 1977 - 1976 - 1975 - 1974 - 1973 - 1972 - 1971 - 1970
1969 - 1968 - 1967 - 1966 - 1965 - 1964 - 1963 - 1962 - 1961 - 1960
1959 - 1958 - 1957 - 1956 - 1955 - 1954 - 1953 - 1952 - 1951

Palanca Hall of Fame

The Palanca Hall of Fame was established in 1995 and is presented to a Palanca awardee who already won five first prizes in the regular categories.

The current Palanca Hall of Fame awardees are:

  • 2009
Reuel Molina Aguila
Eugene Evasco
  • 2007
Nicolas B. Pichay
  • 2006
Rodolfo Lana Jr.
  • 2005
Luis P. Gatmaitan, M.D.
Manuel Buising
  • 2004
Isagani R. Cruz
  • 2003
Reynaldo A. Duque
  • 2001
Leoncio P. Deriada
Alfred A. Yuson
  • 2000
Roberto T. Añonuevo
Jose Y. Dalisay Jr.
Edgardo B. Maranan
  • 1999
Elsa Martinez Coscolluela
  • 1996
Ma. Luisa Aguilar Igloria
  • 1995
Cirilo Bautista
Gregorio C. Brillantes
Ruth Elynia S. Mabanglo
Buenaventura S. Medina Jr.
Jesus T. Peralta
Rolando Tinio
Rene O. Villanueva
Grace Alfon


Original Source

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