The City of Sto. Tomas, Batangas is the first local government partner of the Nick Joaquin Literary Awards (NJLA)-Local Government Unit (LGU) Advocacy for English Proficiency through Literature project.

The NJLA-LGU project is the brainchild of Philippines Graphic, initiator of the NJLA and the Philippines Graphic Reader, the only monthly magazine completely devoted to publishing the short stories and poems written in English by budding and veteran Filipino writers and poets.  

At the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement here between City of Sto. Tomas, Batangas Mayor Arth Jhun A. Marasigan and Philippines Graphic Executive Vice President-General Manager Loida S. Virtudazo, city officials said that the project will benefit Grade 9 and Grade 10 students in the city’s five public high schools.

“Introducing to Grades 9 and 10 students the short stories and poems written in English by Filipino writers and poets can be a highly enriching experience,” Mayor Marasigan said.

He added that “reading the works of Filipino fictionists and poets can inspire Tomasino students to explore their own creativity and express themselves through writing. It can spark their imagination, encourage them to experiment with different writing styles, and instill a love for literature and the arts.”

Vice Mayor Catherine Jaurigue-Perez said that the City of Sto.Tomas, Batangas has five public high schools and 24 private high schools. “There are a total of 3,189 Grade 9 students and 3,103 Grade 10 students,” she added.

For her part, Virtudazo said that through the Student’s Corner section of the Philippines Graphic Reader, students will be able to study and appreciate the published works of Filipino short story writers and poets, while learning good English.

“This is the beginning of a long-range NJLA-LGU-public high schools project to promote English proficiency and Literature Appreciation through the Philippines Graphic Reader. And it starts with popularizing the works of Filipino poets and writers in the hearts and minds of young readers,” she said.

Named after the late National Artist and former Philippines Graphic editor-in-chief Nick Joaquin, the NJLA is the jewel event of the Graphic, where the best short fictionists and poet of the year are feted and awarded cash prizes ranging from P15,000 to P50,000.

This year, NJLA 2024 will expand the reach of Filipino short story writers and poets by putting their works in schools.

NJLA 2024 will be held on May 7 at the 6th floor, SM Aura Premier, 26th Street corner McKinley Pkwy, Taguig, Metro Manila.

“We and our LGU partners will be announcing the schools where the featured short stories and poems in the Graphic Reader will be studied and appreciated,” Virtudazo said.

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