HAU alumnus wins National Book Award

Oscar Balajadia, who graduated AB English from Holy Angel University in 1992, won this year’s National Book Award (Language Studies category) for his book Capampangan Roots: Primitive Words and Syllables from Polynesian-Austronesian, Sanskrit, Chinese and Bahasa Languages as Roots of the Capampangan Language (Vol. 1).

Balajadia, a native of Magalang, Pampanga, was represented by cousin Bernadeth B. Manio at the awards ceremonies held at the National Museum last December 2. Ms. Manio was accompanied by Robby Tantingco, Director of the University’s Center for Kapampangan Studies, which published Balajadia’s book.

The recognition is the University’s tenth National Book Award since it started publishing, through the Center for Kapampangan Studies, in 2002. Previously, it won in categories as diverse as biography/autobiography, translation, science, professions, food and leisure, poetry and nonfiction prose, aside from being a finalist in history, autobiography, short fiction, and leisure categories.

Balajadia, who is also known as Papa Osmubal, graduated MA in English Studies (major in Literature-Linguistics) with the highest honor “Excellent” from the Universidade de Macau in 2008 and acquired a Post-Graduate Diploma in Primary Education with the highest distinction “Excellent” from the Universidade de Sao Jose in 2013.\

A poet, artist, calligrapher and researcher, Balajadia recently held his solo art exhibit “Voice in the Murk” sponsored by the Macau Center for Creative Industries. His most recent book of poems in English, “The Only True Eye,” was published by the Association of Stories in Macau and sponsored by the Macau Foundation.

He wrote his first book of poems, “Parnaso,” while still an HAU student in 1991. It was published by the University’s College of Arts and Sciences whose Dean at the time, Robby Tantingco, also served as the book’s editor. He was named Poet of the Year and was a finalist in the Best Kapampangan Writer category of the University’s 4th Literary Awards in 1990-91.

The National Book Awards are given by the Manila Critics Circle and the National Book Development Board. Balajadia’s category of Language Studies was sponsored by the country’s Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino (KWF) headed by National Artist Virgilio Almario . The KWF cited Balajadia’s work as “a continuation of an important task, a deepening of knowledge, and an opening of new avenues for the study at promotion of Filipino culture and language.”

In his acceptance speech read by Ms. Manio, Balajadia expressed hope that the recognition would provide a boost to the beleaguered Kapampangan language. He dedicated his award to “the people of Magalang, the community of Holy Angel, and the Kapampangan people as a whole.”