“To be forgotten is to die twice.”—French philosopher Paul Ricoeur
TO COMMEMORATE the 91st birthday of the late Robert Coyiuto Sr., founder and president of Prudential Guarantee & Assurance and PGA Cars, two organizations have partnered to create the “Coyiuto Prize for Biography.”
On September 30 at the Coyiuto House in Makati City, arts and culture proponents Coyiuto Foundation and Manila Critics Circle (MCC) officially launched the First Coyiuto Prize, which will recognize biographical or autobiographical books written in English about an inspirational Filipino individual or family.
Once concluded, it will become the biggest book awards in the country because the winning author will receive a cash prize of P100,000, as well as a bust of Robert Coyiuto created by artist Rafael del Casal.
According to Coyiuto Foundation president James Coyiuto, he was inspired by the biography of his father written by Charles Ong. This in mind, the prize was established to to encourage more Filipino non-fiction writers to record important people and events in history.
“My father died at the age of 58, and it is through his biography ‘Filipino Mandarin’ that the next generation would know of his history—that he was among one of the Chinese people in the last century who ventured in the country to find a new life. I have always been fascinated by the stories of people, especially successful individuals in which people can learn from,” Coyiuto told The Sunday Times Magazine.
“When I go to bookstores in the United States, there is a wide selection of biographies coming out, but here, there isn’t a lot of that. This award will encourage writers to tell stories of inspirational Filipinos, and at the same token, when readers find that such book is recognized by an award, they will be encouraged to read their stories,” the foundation’s president added.
Meanwhile, MCC, led by Dr. Isagani Cruz, has offered a helping hand because it supports the literary awareness advocacy of Coyiuto Foundation. As the organizer of the National Book Awards for 32 years, it decided to include the first Coyiuto Prize for Biography in this year’s awards.
“We would like to discover more great people and, more important, to remember them, to immortalize them by reading their stories in books. We believe that the Coyiuto Prize for Biography will inspire writers, old writers and new writers, to write biographies and autobiographies,” said Dr. Cruz, who is also The Manila Times College president.
The MCC head also shared the mechanics of the book awards noting that the prize will be given every other year for the next 10 years.
Also, books published within the last two years before an award are eligible. For 2012 to 2013, books published in these years are now considered for the Coyiuto Prize. The National Book Awards 2014 ceremony is slated in November at the National Museum.