I met Professor Butch Dalisay in Seoul last year. Professor Butch is a literary giant with a truckload of award-winning works to his name. He's a professor at the University of the Philippines and is a Carlos Palanca award hall-of-famer, having won it 16 times. The Carlos Palanca Awards for Literature are the Philippine version of the Pulitzer Prize.
(Ambassador Raul Hernandez
welcomes Professor Dalisay)
I'm a big fan of award-winning writers. Such creativity! And their solid grasp of the English language and writing styles! Perhaps, if only I were an English major, I would have felt more confident with my writing. But I majored in Economics and Accounting. So, instead, throw me your billions, and I will count them for you with my eyes closed. Ha-ha-ha!
I also remember my English teacher in college at La Salle, Dr. Elsie Coscolluela, who also has several Palancas to her name.
(Professor Butch being presented
with a gift by Ambassador Hernandez)
But during Professor Dalisay's talk with us Pinoys in Seoul, he told us that the best Filipino novel won't be written in English, but in Pilipino.
The Professor's right. The great novels of the world were originally written in the native tongue of the writer. So, perhaps, the Filipino writer who will eventually write this great Filipino novel is not an English major, but a Filipino major? Hmm. Does this give me a chance? Ha-ha-ha!
(Ambassador Hernandez with
Professor and Mrs. Dalisay)
And as Professor Butch told us that Hiligaynon, or commonly known as Ilonggo, the dialect spoken in our region, is actually classified as a language, this gave me an idea.
Maybe I should write one short story in Hiligaynon. Who knows? This could win me a Palanca some day. Naks! It doesn't hurt to dream, does it?
That day, I asked Professor Butch to autograph my copy of his short story Heartland, that won first prize in the 1982 Carlos Palanca Awards.
I hope with his autograph, Professor Butch brushed his good luck on my future Hiligaynon attempt at a Palanca.
Suguran tá karon magsulat.:-)