by Arvin Abejo Mangohig

Writers Night 2013, the annual gathering of writers and literature lovers at the UP Diliman, began with the announcement of the winner for the 13th Madrigal-Gonzalez Best First Book Award at the Claro M. Recto Hall, Bulwagang Rizal, on December 6. Poet Allan Pastrana won for Body Haul. Four other UST Publishing House authors were included as finalists out of a total of six: Silver Fish, Hook of Moon by Neal Imperial; After the Body Displaces Water by Daryll Delgado; Agueda: A Ballad of Stone and Wind by Anna Maria L. Harper; and, Falling Into the Manhole: A Memoir by John Jack Wigley. Have by poet Marc Gaba was also nominated. Pastrana is also an alumnus of the UST’s Conservatory of Music, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Music Literature.

On hand to award Pastrana (pictured above, right) the winner’s check worth P50,000 were writers Erlinda Panlilio (center), representative for the Madrigal-Gonzalez family, and Jose “Butch” Dalisay (left), UP ICW director. Award-winning fictionist Charlson Ong, award-winning poet Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta, and Prof. Shirley O. Lua, director of the Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center of De La Salle University, made up this year’s panel of judges.

Likhaan Journal 7 was launched right after the awarding. Issue editor National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera and associate editors Charlson Ong and Jun Cruz Reyes were present at the ceremony honoring this year’s contributors and to give out the complimentary copies. Literary stalwarts J. Neil Garcia and Joey Baquiran, both UP ICW fellows, were joined by a new generation of writers in the issue’s lineup. Lumbera was very happy with the new cream of the crop of writers, and Dalisay assured everyone that the entries to Likhaan went through the most rigorous process of selection.  Some of the writers in this issue are E. San Juan Jr., Mark Angeles, Genaro Gojo Cruz, and more. The UP ICW will soon be uploading the Likhaan Journal 7 issue online for free.

Vim Nadera, creator and ICW fellow, played auctioneer for the Writers Auction, a fundraising event for the benefit of writers based in the Visayas affected by Typhoon Yolanda. Dalisay reminisced about the first Writers Night when memorabilia from renowned writers were also auctioned off. Among the items on the auction block were his own Parker Vacumatic; precious manuscripts from Cirilo Bautista and Gemino Abad; signed copies of books by National Artists for Literature Lumbera and Virgilio Almario, and a typewriter on which Jolography poet Paolo Manalo wrote his thesis. Overall, around P 30,000 was raised, with Dalisay’s fountain pen proving to be much coveted, going, going, gone at P 18,000. Musical performances from Flying Ipis, Khavn de la Cruz, and more; a balagtasan on the pork barrel; and free food and free-flowing drinks contributed to the night’s merriment.

Tradition, some say, gives structure to our somehow harried and harassed lives. Writers Night, sometimes too loud, sometimes chaotic, but now an enduring tradition for the literary community on the first Friday of December, put the fun in fundraising–and just a little bit more. Just enough to make students, teachers, readers, and writers look forward to next year’s Writers Night.