That time of year has come again, and the panel of judges convenes to pick the winners of the 2018 Nick Joaquin Literary Awards. The best fiction and poetry to appear in the pages of the Philippines Graphic magazine will be given due recognition.
Beyond honoring the winners, the Graphic maintains a literary section to provide the country’s writers with opportunities for publication. We seek to provide our readers with the best possible new works of fiction and poetry by writers across the archipelago. We’ve been doing this under the aegis of the ALC Group of Companies for the last 28 years.
Over the last decade, the Nick Joaquin Literary Awards that grew out of the Philippines Graphic Literary awards has evolved from a “highlight event” embedded in most of the Graphic’s events (usually the company Christmas party) into an awards night in its own right. Now we have an annual event that is much-anticipated, its mark on the literary calendar deep and visible.
What we have been doing with the literary section of the Philippines Graphic could be called “wish fulfillment” by the writers we have published, as well as the winners of NJLAs past. Our commitment to this literary section is that, perhaps, though it would be immodest to claim that and leave it at that.
The fiction and poetry published in the Graphic literary section spans the country’s thousands of islands. Our pages carry works from established writers known locally and internationally, as well as writers who are just starting to etch their bylines.
Age is no barrier to publication for us: Our oldest contributor is now 91 years old. Our youngest contributor’s work saw print in our pages when she was 13. We welcome all voices and, during the national celebration of Buwan ng Wika, we publish the works of writers in their native tongues—though these works in the vernacular are not included in the NJLA contest.
Many of the winners of the Philippines Graphic Literary Awards and the NJLA have gone on to win awards and recognition in other contests here and overseas.
Here at the Graphic, we are proud to showcase the talent and skill of our nation’s wealth of literary writers (yes, that includes people of other ethnic or geographical origins who choose to call the Philippines home). The short fiction and poetry we carry in the literary section is our weekly tithe to the treasury of Philippine Literature.
In one NJLA night years ago, one of the winners spoke a wish, that more people and, if possible, corporate sponsors, support Filipino writers and their efforts. That year, we at the Graphic were pleased to surprise the NJLA winners with laptops from Acer Philippines, anti-virus software from Kaspersky Lab, and software from Microsoft Philippines, all of whom very generously sponsored these prizes to show their support for the NJLA, its winners, and for the efforts of the Graphic to provide a space where the voices of our writers could hold center stage each week.
From there, the NJLA and the weekly literary output published in the Graphic have been fortunate enough to receive support from many good, like-minded friends—including airlines, beverage-makers, food producers, insurance giants and public relations companies. Good literature is also good for business, ours and theirs.
There was a time when many periodicals with literary sections shut these literary sections down. One periodical shut down, taking its revered literary section with it.
During those years, the Graphic kept on going. We kept our torch alight and continued to publish short fiction and poetry. A couple of years after this, the literary sections of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Panorama magazine and the Sunday Times magazine all bloomed anew. Our wait was rewarded with good company.
In an age when information and entertainment make prime content, in a world where content is king, we at the Graphic have the perfect vantage point. We have grown our NJLA—and the process at which we arrive at the awards night—into something that people enjoy and that sponsors and advertisers are happy to support.
The late National Artist and Graphic editor in chief Nick Joaquin had envisioned a literary section where the Graphic’s readers could find the best stories and poetry from Filipino writers. That tradition continues and, with each piece the Literary Editor selects for publication, the Graphic does its best to live up to the legacy Joaquin left, one where kindness is as much a part of a discerning eye when reading the contents of the literary inbox each week.
Welcome to the Nick Joaquin Literary Awards 2018. Celebrate another year of literature as it unfolds with us. G