For its 66th year, the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature ceremony showcased an excerpt from the grand prize-winning full-length play “The Floret Road” by seven-time Palanca awardee Dr. Joachim Emilio B. Antonio.
“The Floret Road” is set in the 19th century, a time when long-distance communication relied heavily on letter exchanges, the pace of which is nothing millennials could probably ever comprehend or believe. This understandably put strain on relationships, including that of national hero Jose Rizal and his then ladylove, Leonor Rivera. Adding to that was the opposition of Leonor’s mother to this romance. Told in reverse chronology, the play begins with Rizal’s deep grief at the end of their relationship before going back in history to explore the nature of his attachment to Leonor.
Dr. Antonio revealed that he found the inspiration to write “The Floret Road” when he stumbled upon a letter Rizal wrote to his sister Soledad. In this letter, Rizal was advising her to conduct her relationships honorably, instead of keeping it secret.
“It’s in this letter where I found my seed of inspiration: ‘Though I do not set myself as a model, all my relationships with women have been acted upon honorably.’ This struck me, as this went contrary to the popular Rizal playboy image,” Dr. Antonio said.
“The Floret Road” is Dr. Antonio’s second historical play, following the 2014 Palanca Award-winning piece, “The Last Filipino.” As of press time, there are plans to stage an abridged version of “The Floret Road” next year at the University of Asia and the Pacific, where Dr. Antonio is currently teaching Literature. He also hopes to be able to tour performances in schools and museums given the play’s mobile design.
Read the full story via the Philippine Information Agency. Watch a recent interview with Dr. Antonio by The Bosun below: