Lunchtime, 1994, UP Diliman in CASAA, a popular cafeteria in campus, was as always, so packed that you would have to share your table with people you didn’t know.

I was sitting with my Singing Ambassadors choirmate Pearl, who was sitting with a soft-spoken girl who looked no more than 12. She looked so small and fragile and her eyes were distant even then. She reminded me of a delicate bird. Pearl introduced her to me as Maningning.

Maningning had a sketchpad with her. She looked at me intensely and remarked that my eyes were beautiful. Then, she started sketching on her pad. When she was done, she signed and handed me the sketch.

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I kept the artwork, and this is how it looks like, 22 years later. It’s pockmarked and aged, but I’m so glad it’s still here. She really was able to capture my eyes back then, and how my hair fell across my face. Eventhough we’d just met when she drew me, I thought she already knew me well because of how I looked so much like her sketch. What a talented artist she was!

Later on, I would meet her again, and again. My close artist friends knew her. She was a multi-faceted artist, but despite her gigantic talents, she remained quiet and humble. I would later learn that she wrote the poem “Dumaan Ako,” which Joey Ayala turned into a song, and is one of my favorite songs ever.

Unfortunately for all of us, Maningning went away too soon. But her parents, Alma and Mario Miclat, and many friends in the art and literary circles have made sure that her memory lives on through an annual trilingual (Filipino, English and Chinese) poetry writing competition in her honor.

On September 28, 2017, the Maningning Miclat Foundation will be awarding the winners of the competition in a ceremony at the Abelardo Hall Auditorium, College of Music, UP Diliman. Maningning’s younger sister, UP Professor Banaue Miclat-Janssen, soprano, will perform with Kammerchor Manila (KM) in a concert back to back with the awarding of this year’s poetry winners.

Highlight of the concert is “Ginugunita Kita,” the signature song of a highly acclaimed music and poetry performance of the same title staged at the Cultural Center of the Philippines a couple of years back. That production, which also saw the release of a CD of the same title, featured Miclat-Janssen performing poems by her sister, set to music by acclaimed composer Jesse Lucas. For the Abelardo event, “Ginugunita Kita” is arranged by Villanueva for choral rendition by KM and Miclat-Janssen.

On its 15th year, the Maningning Awards’ grand winners for poetry in Filipino, English and Chinese shall receive a trophy by sculptor Julie Lluch plus a P28,000.00 check. They will also receive choice books from the Miclat family collection. Excerpts from the winning poems will be read by no less than the poets Gémino H. Abad, Michael Coroza, Alice Chang Chi and Grace Hsieh Hsing Lee.

The event is open to the public for free. However, the Maningning Miclat Art Foundation, a non-stock, non-profit organization, welcomes your support and contributions to help carry on its mission of encouraging creativity among the youth and recognizing and nurturing their talents in poetry and the arts For particulars, contact 0918-9057311. Email