The awards started in 1951 with the Short Story Category in English and Filipino.

Through the years, as the awards elicited overwhelming response, new categories were added: One-act Play in 1953, Poetry in 1963, Full-length Play in 1975, Essay in 1979, Novel in 1980, Short Story for Children in 1989, Teleplay in 1990 and Screenplay in 1994. In 1997, three new divisions in the Short Story category were opened. These are the Iluko, Cebuano and Hiligaynon divisions, three of the Philippines’ local dialects.

To encourage writing by our youth, the special Kabataan Division for high school students, made up of the essay category in English and Filipino, was opened in 1998. And in 2000 a new category was added -- Futuristic Fiction, a separate, genre of the short story that involves a looking beyond into the future to transcend the boundaries of the present. This category, however, will be discontinued, starting in 2007.

Aside from printing award-winning works into books, the Carlos Palanca Foundation began conducting in 1996 Creative Writing Workshops in the Foundation Seminar Room as well as in the provincial areas. Dramatic Readings of award-winning works have also been conducted in colleges and universities.

The writings are available in the Foundation Library and in schools all over the country. These works stand out in literary form, style and message. Students researching Palanca Awards winners as part of their class requirements learn not only the correct forms of writing but also, glean from these works the moods and aspirations of our country and our people.

The Hall of Fame Award was established in 1995 and is awarded to a Palanca awardee who has achieved the distinction of winning five first prizes in the regular categories. The Kabataan Award of Distinction gives recognition to a high school Palanca awardee who wins four first prizes in this division.

Citations and recognitions conferred on the Palanca Awards include the “Tanging Parangal” in the Gawad CCP Para sa Sining (1992), “Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas” by the Unyon ng Manunulat sa Pilipinas (1993), the CCP Centennial Honors for the Arts (1999), the “Gawad Tanglaw ng Lahi” by the Ateneo de Manila University (2001), a Special Citation for the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards Anthologies by the Manila Critics Circle (2001), and an appreciation to the Carlos Palanca Foundation for its Scholarship Grant in Creative Writing by the University of the Philippines (2002). The UNESCO, in the celebration of its 50th year in 1995, also included the Palanca Family and the Palanca Awards in the UNESCO List of Living Human Treasures of Artists, Writers and Artisans.

Born from the simple dream in 1951 to develop literature, the foundation holds steadfast to the mission of providing nourishment for the growth of Philippine letters.