TAIPEI, TAIWAN – Three Filipinos received special category prizes from the 2018 Taiwan Literature Award for Migrants (TLAM) at the National Taiwan Museum last September 30, 2018.
Being migrant workers for more than a decade in Taiwan, the three Filipino recipients took advantage of the competition to showcase their literary writing skills by submitting their fictional short stories.
Louie Jean Decena, a factory worker based in Hsinchu, received both the Teen Choice Award and Jury Award for her entry entitled, Ang Mahiwagang Kahon ni Itay (My Father’s Magical Box). The story is about a daughter’s wish to meet her father working abroad but got the opportunity only when her father’s dead body was delivered to their home.
“When I was a child, I usually hear stories about parents going abroad to work at the expense of their health to provide a better standard of living for their families. This serves as the inspiration of my story,” said Decena in her acceptance message.
On the other hand, Melinda Babaran, a factory worker based in Taoyuan, also received the Jury Award for her piece, Latay sa Laman (Pain in the Flesh). Her piece is a monologue of a woman who hesitates to return home because of her memories of abuse from her father and her fear to see her father’s dying state.
The Choice Award was given to a Filipino convicted of murder in 2008 and currently serving a life sentence in Taoyuan Women’s Prison. Her story Nabigong Mga Pangarap at Pader sa Paligid (Failed Aspirations and Surrounding Walls) featured a woman named who was framed in a murder scheme and later imprisoned. Similar to the first two stories, the piece also tragically ended as the woman received a letter informing her of her boyfriend’s apparent suicide.
TLAM is an annual competition which views literature as a potential channel for mutual understanding between the Taiwanese and Southeast Asian people. Last year, TLAM also recognized the literary skills of Filipinos as the organization awarded the First Prize Award and Teen Choice Award to Knezzar Lactaoen and Joseph Christian Aranas, respectively.