The Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL) granted veteran filmmaker Jose Javier “Joey” Reyes with the 2020 Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas Award in Screenplay, a lifetime achievement award for a Filipino writer.
UMPIL or Writers Union of the Philippines is the largest organization of Filipino writers in the country.
Reyes, currently shares his expertise as the Chairperson of the Digital Filmmaking (DFilm) Program of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) School of Design and Arts (SDA).
Other literary giants who earned the recognition this year include Fray Paolo Diosdado Casurao (Play in Waray), Crisanta Nelmida Flores (Literary Criticism in Filipino), Eric Gamalinda (Poetry and Fiction in English), Marra PL. Lanot (Poetry and Essay in English), Priscelina Legasto (Literary Criticism in English), Glenn Sevilla Mas (Play in English), Augie Rivera (Children’s Literature in English), Aida Santos (Poetry in Filipino), and Hope Sabanpan Yu (Fiction, Essay, and Translation in Cebuano).
Meanwhile, UMPIL likewise granted Lourdes H. Vidal with the Gawad Paz Marquez Benitez, a lifetime achievement award for Filipino teachers of literature and creative writing.
“After almost two months of self-isolation, the announcement that I was chosen for this year's Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas for Screenwriting was a most pleasant and life-affirming surprise,” he shared. “Considering the roster of other writer-awardees this year, I have all the reasons to be pleasantly overwhelmed.”
UMPIL launched the Gawad Balagtas in 1988 and granted Philippine literature’s most remarkable talents with a citation and a sculpted hardwood trophy by internationally-acclaimed Filipino artist Manuel Baldemor.