Multitalented Creative Kate Torralba Wins A Palanca Award For Her First Short Story

Kate Torralba Wins a Palanca Award for Her First Short Story

Kate Torralba: a fashion designer, musician, filmmaker, and now an award-winning writer. Photographs by Joseph Pascual courtesy of Kate Torralba

The multitalented creative Kate Torralba, known to many as a fashion designer, an international touring musician, and more recently, an emerging filmmaker, has now added another feather in her cap: award-winning writer. “Amadito and Amanda,” a story about an awkward first date set up by the titular characters’ well-intended but meddling mothers, took home the third place prize for short story at the 71st Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature.

Kate says that the short story, which she wrote for a workshop she took with Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo in 2021, is loosely based on all her own dating and blind dating experiences.  “I think the story just wrote itself. I had a deadline that day and I was cooking breakfast for my dad at the same time. And then the story just took its own shape and form.” 

The same story—which is also the first piece of fiction she’s ever written—got her accepted as a fellow to the UP National Writers Workshop this year. When her co-fellows started sending in multiple entries for the Palancas, she intended on submitting something a bit more “Palanca-worthy” that she was working on, but didn’t get to finish. “Amadito and Amanda” was her backup entry.

Kate Torralba: a fashion designer, musician, filmmaker, and now an award-winning writer. Photographs by Joseph Pascual courtesy of Kate Torralba

“I didn’t think it would win, I just wanted to throw my hat in the ring. It’s a major thing that something like a rom com story could win,” Torralba says. Butch Dalisay, who chaired the English short story category, expressed that the Palancas should be about the encouragement of writing talent across the board. While many of the awards that evening were handed out to seasoned Palanca winners, Kate’s was a fresh voice.

Torralba’s dad passed away a month before, making this recognition especially poignant. At the awards ceremony, Kate was accompanied by her mother, and in spirit and bone fragments, her father.

“I’ve had such a rough year. I was in a funk because I had a freak accident with my hand and had to stop playing the piano since May. And then I lost my father,” she tells Vogue Philippines. “I guess it’s one of those years where you’re like, what am I doing with my life? I’m a middle-aged woman. I’m still single. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do next, and then I win this thing. And now I’m like, okay, I guess I’m a writer now!” Torralba plans to use her winning story as the opening of a collection of short stories she’s working on. Whether it will be a continuing series inspired by her wacky dating life remains to be seen, but readers can count on them being humorous slices of life, full of the quirkiness that Kate is known and loved for.

 “My life has gone from condolences to congratulations in the past few weeks,” she says. “I’d like to commend whoever wrote this story for the most unexpected plot twist.”

Photographs by Joseph Pascual provided by Kate Torralba. Makeup by Thea Dionisio. Hair by Jim Ryan Ros of Culture Salon assisted by Cathy Sta. Ana

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