The Palanca Award was established in the year 1950. The Palanca Award was established in memory of Don Carlos Palanca Sr. a Filipino-Chinese businessman who is also known as one of the prominent philanthropist during the American era on the Philippines. His original name was Quin Lay and was given the Christian name of “Carlos Palanca”. He started as an apprentice in a hardware store before he opened his own business in 1890. He was also engage in different business endeavor where he venture in tectile trading and a small liquor distillery named – La Tondeña. And to keep hislegacy, his family founded the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature in 1950.
The award was given to Filipinos who have written literary works either in English or in Filipino Language. This longest running award is one of the highest awards given to a Filipino citizen which can be called as the Philippine’s “Pulitzer Award”.
One year after the Palanca Award was established, the first grand prize winner was awarded to a Filipina writer named Genoveva “Aling Bebang” Edroza Matute. She had written the Filipino short story entitled “Kuwento ni Mabuti”.
Genoveva was born of January 0f 1951 in Tondo, Manila. She finishes her college source in the Philippine Normal University. And she took up her Master’s Degree at the University of Sto. Tomas.
The story of “Kuwento ni Mabuti” is about a teacher who is honest and dedicated to his profession as taken in the eyes of a student. Many people say that this award winning masterpiece of “Aleng Bebang” was considered as her life’s own true story. Geneveva is in fact a real teacher for 46 years. She becomes the Headof the Filipino Department and later on the Dean of Instruction at the Philippine Normal University.
Not only did “Aleng Bebang” won the first Palanca Award, but also won another 4 grand prize winner namely “Paglalayag sa Puso ng Isang Bata"; "Parusa”; “Maganda Ang Ninang Ko" ; and “Pagbabalik."
And in 2005, “Aleng Bebang” was awarded by the former President Gloria Arroyo the highest government award being the “Lifetime Achievement Award”. Aside from this, there were also several awards given to “Aleng Bebang” by different award-giving bodies in the country such as the Republic Literary Awards; Gawad Cultural Center of the Philippines; Kapisanan ng mga Propesor sa Filipino and others.
At the age of 94 and possibly due to old age, Aleng Bebang passed away while on her sleep in March of 2009. She left her husband Epifanio Gar. Matute who is also a writer who created the “Kwentong Kutsero” a popular radio and TV program in the 50s and 60s.
Author’s note: Another compiling story and history of my motherland and its citizens.