How to Win the Palanca Without Even Writing Part II
So you want to WIN the Palanca and not just be one of the more than 1,000 Filipinos and Fil-Ams who join the contest every year? Let us say there would be winners in all 20 or so categories of the Palanca, that means 60 winners out of the 1,000 entries or a winning chance of six percent. Bar examinees have three to four times more chances than a Palanca winner. And it is a rare year when all 60 winner slots are filled in. Theater judges are notorious on this; sometimes there is only one third place winner and none in the 1st and 2nd. Or only a 2nd place winner. Or no winners at all. Sometimes, however, the poetry judges would have two 3rd place winners. Rarer still are two 1st place winners in one category.
So that is your chance: six percent or less.
But wait, most of the entries fall on only eight of the 20 categories. These are poetry, short stories and essay in English and Filipino and the Kabataan essay. It is safe to say that these categories get 75 to 85 percent of all the 1,000+ entries.
When I judged for the Tula category, I brought home about 120 manuscripts. That meant reading 1,200 poems!
So if your objective is to WIN the Palanca. Try to avoid these categories.
If you are still in your teens, your best chance, unless you are a prodigy, is to join the Kabataan essay.
If you can write in Cebuano or Hiligaynon, join the short story in Cebuano or Hiligaynon categories. But your best bet is the short story in Iluko since you are from here. I heard that they receive only ten to 20 entries a year.
If you are dramatically inclined, join the Dulang May Isang Yugto (One-act Play in Filipino), Dulang Ganap ang Haba (Full-length Play in Filipino) and the Dulang Pampelikula (Screenplay in Filipino).
But your best bets are the One-Act Play and Three-Act Play in English. Only a few join these categories which are going the way of Wilfredo Guerrero.
Newer categories are the Children Literature category like the Short Story and Poetry (English and Filipino) for Children. I knew some people who ventured in Poetry for Children after difficulty placing in Poetry apparently for Adults. Since the judges in these children categories are adults, I think the children writers would have a slim chance here as well.
So without lifting a pen, winning the Palanca is greater if you join Short Story in Iluko, Three Act Play in English and Poetry for Children in English.
OK OK, you don’t want to compromise. You are, after all, a writer. You want to join the poetry, short story or essay, come rain or come shine. Good luck then and wait for my next installment.