Luisa Igloria is 2021 Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas
Dr. Luisa A. Igloria is the 2021 Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas for Poetry in English awarded by the Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL).
Launched in 1988, the Gawad Balagtas is a lifetime achievement award given to living Filipino writers by UMPIL, the country’s largest organization of Filipino writers. It is a recognition of the success and excellence of writers who have contributed outstanding works in any language in the Philippines.
Dr. Igloria graduated with a B.A. in Humanities, cum laude, major in Comparative Literature, minor in English, and cognate in Philosophy, from the then University of the Philippines College Baguio (UPCB) where she also taught and served in leadership positions. She is currently based in the USA where she is a professor at the Old Dominion University and was recently named as Poet Laureate of Virginia. Her first full-length collection, Cartography (Anvil, 1992), comprises her poems on Baguio.
The virtual awarding ceremonies were held last April 30, 2021, online, on the Facebook page of UMPIL. During the program, Dr. Igloria delivered her words of gratitude and read one of her poems titled “I come from.” In her message, she shared that her first 3 decades of formation which she spent growing up in Baguio City have influenced her art and her writing in a deep and lasting way. “I would like to think of this award as not only bringing honor to me and my family but also to Baguio which I consider my hometown,” Igloria said. Watch the recording of the awarding here:
Dr. Igloria, in the UMPIL virtual program, also expressed: “In my poems, I have always written about place and history, which is to say, our relationship with time. And I have come to the conclusion that poetry is one of the ways through which we are able to more clearly see how history is not over because we are constantly adjusting what we know of ourselves in the present from studying and writing about the past.”