PORT MORESBY – On behalf of the Ples Singsing Blog, and having cast our tired but sparkling eyes over the organisation of the Tingting Bilong Mi essay contest, we are ready to announce the winners of this inaugural competition.
And they are all women.
We were invited to undertake this important task of oversight to ensure contestants and the public that fairness and justice had been delivered at every stage of the competition.
We are happy to advise that they were.
Late last year, people under the age of 35 were asked to compose an essay on the general subject of whether the Papua New Guinea government should provide local authors with greater recognition and support.
After initial expressions of interest from more than 300 people, a final field of 24 entries was submitted.
From these, the team of judges, minus organiser Dr Michael Dom, selected the nine best essays to move to a second round of judging.
Michael disqualified himself from further participation after an unexpected entry arrived from his niece.
The final three prize winners were to be determined by two guest judges, Dr Fiona Hukula of the National Research Institute, and author and commentator Philip Fitzpatrick.
After reading searchingly through the finalist long list, Fiona and Phil found it impossible to choose a winner from the top two entries.
As a result of the vote, the narrow winner was Illeana Dom, who wrote ‘Local authors need recognition & support’ as she was completing Year 12 at the Port Moresby International School. Illeana wins a prize of K500.
The runner up was Mathisha Turi, a young writer in Grade 8.2 at Kopkop College, also in Port Moresby.
Her essay was titled ‘Why the PNG Government should buy PNG authored books’, which wins her a prize of K300.
In third place, with an essay of the same name, was Issabelle Vilau, a fourth year student in the School of Business at the University of PNG. Issabelle’s prize money is K200.
There are also book awards for the three finalists donated by Arnold Mundua, Michael Dom and Keith Jackson.
The judges said they were looking for work that offered interesting reading, good arguments and well expressed opinions.
It is intended that all 24 essays will be professionally edited and published as a collection of contemporary essays.
The book will be published by Jordan Dean, an independent Papua New Guinean author, poet and publisher.
This essay competition was privately funded by contributions from wantoks including Fiona Hukula, Ed Brumby, Phil Fitzpatrick, Keith Jackson and others.
The Ples Singsing Blog said is proud to have hosted the essay contest as this form of writing essays is important for developing critical thinking
You can find much more about all the entries on the Ples Singing Facebook page here.
Illeana Maldowa Dom
Illeana, who recently turned 19, has a Simbu and Eastern Highlands heritage but was born and raised in Port Moresby. She is currently in her first year of university. Illeana’s previous writing experience was limited to producing work for school assignments and she had never written competitively.
Mathisah is 15 and was born in Victoria, Australia, of East Sepik and New Ireland heritage but grew up in Port Moresby and likes to say she’s from Gerehu. Mathisah is currently in Grade 9 at Kopkop College. “I’m that kid in class who talks about books just as excitedly as anyone would talk about their favourite rugby player,” Mathisah says. But she has never read a PNG-authored book.
Issabelle is 23 and comes from a mixed parentage of East New Britain, Eastern Highlands, Morobe and Jiwaka. She has an identical twin sister. She expects to graduate from UPNG in April as a Bachelor of Business Management. Her specific area of interest is public health but she is currently, unemployed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Issabelle has enjoyed writing since primary school and says the skills she has acquired have proven beneficial in her educational career and other formal and informal settings.
Other short-listed writers
Nathan Kilali, second year law student, UPNG - ‘PNG-authored books: A masterpiece in disguise’
Esther Tuweyo, postgraduate MPhil Applied Sciences student, UNITECH – ‘Why I think the PNG government SHOULD buy PNG-authored books’
Jamila Kawas, first year business studies student – ‘Untold Tales, the new world and beyond’
Sherbuel Sanduhu, second year surveying and land studies student, UNITECH – ‘What about our local authors’
Vilousa Hahembe, first 1st year business student, UPNG – ‘The Papua New Guinea government should purchase books’
Latasha Akane, third year law student, UPNG – ‘The purchasing of PNG authored book, by the government is a patriotic initiative’
Fiona Hukula is a researcher and advocate against violence. She enjoys reading PNG literature and believes that reading is an excellent way to help think about the world around us. Fiona believes that all children should be given the opportunity to read books. She is a volunteer with the Rainbow Project, a reading group for children of West Papua refugees.
Philip Fitzpatrick is an author who worked for many years in PNG as a kiap and then social mapper. He has written numerous novels, including the Inspector Metau series, as well as non-fiction books. He was a co-founder of the Crocodile Prize literary awards and director of Pukpuk Publications, which published works by Papua New Guinean writers. He lives in Tumby Bay, South Australia, a short walk from the beach.
Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin was born in the Galkope area of Simbu Province. He began studying for the priesthood in the Catholic Church but quit to attend UPNG and then Australian National University where he completed a Master’s degree in Public Policy. His first book was published by Crawford House in Adelaide and he won the Award for Essays and Journalism in the Crocodile Prize. Sil’s job with USAID ended in November 2020 and he says he is now scavenging the streets of Port Moresby.
Caroline Evari works as a World Bank team assistant and began writing aged six. She is the author of 28 children’s books and has published her own book of poetry, ‘Nanu Sina: My Words’, all while supporting the World Bank and its nine projects in Papua New Guinea and raising two sons.
Betty Gabriel Wakia is a writer, blogger and women’s advocate with qualifications in education from the University of South Wales and Tianjin University of Technology and Education in China. Along with Caroline, contributed to the milestone book by PNG wopmen, ‘My Walk to Equality’. Betty is a volunteer assistant teacher at New Erima Primary School where she has launched a student writing program also promoted by Ples Singsing.
Ed Brumby spent nearly 10 years in PNG as a teacher in the East Sepik and then editor of the School Papers. He graduated from UPNG in 1972 with a BA in linguistics and literature. He then produced educational materials for Aboriginal and immigrant children in Western Australia, at the Hong Kong Polytechnic and Shiga University and in Japan. For 10 years, Ed was director of educational services at Deakin University and CEO of Deakin University Press. He now mentors several PNG writers and plays classic guitar.