MSU-Gensan stud is Palanca awardee

Jade Mark Capiñanes himself was stunned after learning Tuesday, August 9, 2017, he won the prestigious Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature this year. It took him quite a while to share the good news to everybody.


“When I received the e-mail, I freaked out and cried,” Jade Mark said. He said he then posted the news in his facebook account. Just moments later, his post flooded with comments and congratulations.


On the same day, he paid a courtesy call to Chancellor Atty. Abdurrahman T. Canacan to inform the Chancellor of the news and also to personally thank him.


Capiñanes is a fresh graduate from Mindanao State University-General Santos with the degree of Bachelor of Arts in English. A shifter from a business course, he finally found his way to his craft while still in college.


Jade revealed his piece, “A Portrait of a Young Man as a Banak”, which won third place in the English- essay category, is an essay of his family and his childhood place, and played around connotations of the word “home”, adding an interesting effect of irony to his nostalgic memories as a boy and that gave it its winning savor.


Jade recalled his writing professor in the university Russtum Pelima three years ago who envisioned this day will come to pass. In a text message, he told his professor, “Sir, ikaw ang una nag-ingon sa akoa nga mudaog kog Palanca. Salamat jud kayo. Nidaug ko.” (Sir, you were the one who told me first that I will win the Palanca. Thank you very much. I won.)


“I always have the impression that this Jade will make it because of his passion to write. Now he is there and I hope it will inspire other students to follow their own craft,” Professor Pelima said.

The word “banak” comes from Cebuano word which means Gray Mullet – an important fish species and a fish family of bangus. It is found in coastal tropical and subtropical waters worldwide.  Jade grew up in Panacan, a coastal community in Davao. It was fondly called banakan because there are lots of banak fish along its coast years back, which later was changed into Panacan when the banak strayed to other places and the sales trimmed down.


Jade likened himself to a banak. He also went to many places, like leaving his hometown in Davao for his studies in General Santos during college. When he was third year high school, he moved to Polomolok, South Cotabato.


He spent the first three years in college as an accounting student, but he realized his passion in writing and shifted to AB English. He then signed up for the students’ publication and was chosen to be the associate editor of the student paper Bagwis for three years.


In August 2016, he attended The Philippine Center of International PEN (Poets & Playwrights, Essayists, Novelists) and Ateneo de Davao University’s Samahan ng mga Guro ng Panitikan sa Dabaw (SAGUP) workshop in Ateneo de Davao University, Davao City. After many years, he happened to visit his childhood place onceagain.


“That was the time when I had a realization, was inspired, and started to write the essay,” Jade recalled.


He submitted his piece to Cotabato Literary Journal and was published in January this year. With the support of his friends and colleagues, he was convinced to submit his essay to Palanca under the category Essay English through e-mail in April.


The Palanca Awards is the Philippines‘ most prestigious and most enduring literary awards and is sometimes called the “Pulitzer Prize” of the Philippines. It was established in 1950. Most, if not all, important or major Philippine authors have one or more Palancas in their career.

For some, especially to young fictionists or poets, winning a Palanca is a sort of a “baptism of fire” denoting or announcing that one has arrived in the Philippine literary circle.


Jade was invited to be present during the awarding on September 1, 2017,which will be held in Manila. MSU-General Santos has provided him with a round trip plane ticket for the event.


Jade Mark has gained praises and positive feedbacks which opened him to more opportunities. More importantly, he now has more confidence to write and has earned respect in his passion and a promising career. (Donna Millevo Mahusay)