The greatest and brightest names in Philippine Cinema were acclaimed at the 37th Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) Luna Awards Night held on November 30.
The biggest winner of the night was “Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral” of TBA Studios, which won Best Motion Picture, Best Sound Design for Albert Michael Idioma and Alex Tomboc, and Best Musical Score for its director, screenwriter, editor, and musical scorer, Jerrold Tarog.
“The competition was tough and I admire all the films this year so, while I’m surprised, I’m also very humbled and very proud of this award,” said TBA Studios President Vincent “Ting” Nebrida. He went on to thank the team behind the second installment in the trilogy composed of “Heneral Luna,” “Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral,” and the upcoming film on the late President Manuel Quezon. “Ako’y hindi po makapaniwala na sa amin itong award na ito. Pero thank you po. We very much appreciate it. And patuloy kami sa TBA Studios sa pag-appreciate ng mga biyayang ito… More power to this entire industry and let’s move forward to the next hundred years of Philippine Cinema.”
“Liway” also won three trophies: Best Editing for Chuck Gutierrez, Best Screenplay for Zig Dulay and director Kip Oebanda, and Best Actress for Glaiza de Castro. Oebanda thanked the victims of Martial Law who shared their stories, as well as his cast and crew who accepted the project despite their low talent fees. “Dahil ang pelikula hindi naman palagi about making money. It’s not always about getting commercial success. Sometimes, it’s also to make a point. In the 100th year of Philippine Cinema, what I hope is we will have more films that go back a little bit in our history and tell stories that are either forgotten or are purposely getting deleted.”
He also praised de Castro for being selfless and dedicated. “She was doing a teleserye that required her to do kickboxing on heels and do stunts. And so, dumarating siya sa set namin wala siyang tulog. Blonde ‘yung buhok niya, kukulayan namin ng isang oras. Pero despite that, naglakad siya sa putik, sa bundok. Dumating sa point by the end of ‘Liway’ na hindi na siya makabigay ng emosyon kasi ubos na ubos siya sa role. At ginamit namin ‘yun sa cut. Ganung klaseng aktres si Glaiza de Castro and she deserves this.”
Meanwhile, “Signal Rock” by Chito Roño and “Gusto Kita With All My Hypothalamus” by Dwein Baltazar won two trophies each. The Best Director Award went to Roño while the Best Supporting Actress trophy was bagged by Daria Ramirez of “Signal Rock.” Best Cinematography (Neil Daza) and Best Production Design (Maolen Fadul) went to “Gusto Kita With All My Hypothalamus.” Arjo Atayde of Erik Matti’s “Buy Bust” won Best Supporting Actor and Daniel Padilla of Cathy Garcia-Molina’s “The Hows of Us” emerged as the Best Actor.
The 37th FAP Luna Awards Night did not just pay tribute to the nominees and awardees. It also lauded Special Awardees, celebrated the ongoing Philippine Cinema Centennial, and recognized the Sine Sandaan Luminaries: Production Companies of the Philippines. The momentous event was a gathering of Philippine Cinema greats, with the attendance of the country’s Superstar, Ms. Nora Aunor. The 2019 FAP Luna Awards was made possible by the partnership of FAP and Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP).
Dashes of comic relief in the elegant Awards Night
The 37th FAP Luna Awards Night at the Maybank Performing Arts Theater in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City started off with the Red Carpet Ceremonies and Cocktail Reception. The Awards Ceremony was presided by Jon Santos who brought the house down with his competent hosting and impeccable comedic timing. An example of his witty remark was addressed to international community members in the audience: “Sometimes I will speak in Tagalog noh, which I hope is okay with you. It’s not all in English. Tagalog is our local um… binocular. So, just clap when the Filipinos are clapping or you laugh when the Filipinos are laughing so you will not feel so out of… town.”
Among the guests of honor were Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, Undersecretary Rowel S. Barba and Assistant Director Anthony Rivera of Department of Trade and Industry, Undersecretary Martin Diño of Department of Interior and Local Government, Hungarian Ambassador to the Philippines József Bencze, Director Lee Jincheol of Korean Cultural Center, Minister Atsushi Kuwabara of the Embassy of Japan, Counsellor and Mrs. Victor and Lidia Balashov of the Embassy of the Russian Federation, Juan Gabriel Espejo Ceballos of the Embassy of Mexico, other members of the diplomatic corps, FAP members and guilds, and members of the FDCP Board of Trustees, including Movie Workers Welfare Foundation (Mowelfund) President Boots Anson-Rodrigo, who gave the Opening Remarks.
Ramirez also caused the Maybank Theater to roar with laughter during her acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress. “Oh my God, I’m so surprised! Thank you so much. Hindi ko po ine-expect ito tonight, really. Suwerte pala ang paglabas ulit ng cleavage ko in a very long, long time after 1978. Yes, in ‘Agila.’” Best Supporting Actress Nominee Nova Villa, who received the Manuel de Leon Award for Exemplary Achievement, shared, “Talagang bata pa ako, I really wanted to be an actress. Talagang nasa harap ako ng salamin, iyak ako nang iyak, nagbabasa ako ng komiks. Lahat ng role, pati sa lalaki, ako pa rin ‘yun. Gustung-gusto ko. So I think it was passion. Pero nung bandang huli, hindi na passion. Mission. Ganda noh? Kaya if this is a mission, hintayin niyo ‘yung 100 years ko.”
Fernando Poe, Jr. (FPJ) Lifetime Achievement Awardee Lily Monteverde of Regal Entertainment, Inc. also added some humor in her heartfelt speech: “In Regal’s half a century of producing movies, it has never been work for me. This has become and will always be my life. I guess I’m being honored because I lasted this long.” The Regal matriarch continued, “It was never just because of the box office. It has always been the joy of discovery. It is about finding the next-generation writers, directors, actors, and all the artists who make entertaining movies and create great films. I look around this room and realize I must have worked with almost all of you.”
Miriam Deramas, sister of the late director Wenn V. Deramas, remarked, “We didn’t expect this po. It’s been almost four years. And we are so thankful to the members of the FAP and FDCP. Thank you po ulit at pasasalamatan niya daw kayo mamayang gabi isa-isa.” Deramas and fellow late director Soxie Topacio were recipients of the posthumous Lamberto Avellana Memorial Award. Lastly, “Liway” producer Alemberg Ang made a plea that also drew cheers. “Mananawagan po ako sa mga mainstream talent agencies na sana po huwag niyo kaming masyadong pahirapan ‘pag kailangan namin ng artista niyo sa mga indie namin kasi kahit paano naman, nabibigyan namin ng recognition,” said Ang as he accompanied Oebanda to receive the Best Actress Award for de Castro.
Stellar lineup of nominees, presenters, and awardees
FDCP Chairperson and CEO Liza Diño explained the FAP Luna Awards voting process that took place this year. The FAP Luna Awards Electoral College is composed of Citers, Nominators, and Voters who went through deliberations, with FDCP as the FAP Luna Awards Secretariat and SGV & Co. Philippines as the official tabulator. All Citers, Nominators, and Voters per category are esteemed industry practitioners in their respective categories. In addition, all of the Voters this year are winners or nominees of the FAP Luna Awards or other prestigious award-giving bodies.
Because of the intensive peer voting process of the FAP Luna Awards, being nominated is already considered as an honor and recognition in showbiz circles. Best Actor Nominee Christian Bables was elated about the wins of his “Signal Rock” co-star Ramirez and director Roño. He said, “Direk, deserve na deserve mo ‘to. Sobrang tuwang-tuwa ako nakuha mo ‘to, Direk!” Best Actor Nominee Nicco Manalo was happy about the two victories of “Gusto Kita With All My Hypothalamus” while Best Supporting Actor Nominees Soliman Cruz (Liway) and Mon Confiado (Signal Rock) also celebrated the wins other their other films, “Gusto Kita With All My Hypothalamus” and “Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral,” respectively.
FAP and FDCP leveled up not just the credentials of its Electoral College members, but also that of its presenters who were all awardees or nominees of the FAP Luna Awards or other esteemed award-giving bodies. The presenters of the Best Director trophy elicited the most oohs, aahs, and wows: Jose Javier Reyes, Elwood Perez, and FAP Luna Awards Hall of Famer Joel Lamangan. It was also a sight to behold to have award-winning relatives as presenters for Best Actress: FAP Luna Awards Best Supporting Actress Cherie Gil and her niece, 2019 Asia Pacific Screen Awards Best Actress Max Eigenmann.
The other Philippine Cinema icons and legends who went onstage to present were Romy Vitug (FAP Luna Awards Hall of Famer and recipient of Manuel de Leon Award for Exemplary Achievement), Lee Briones-Meily, and Marissa Floirendo for Best Cinematography; Jesse Lucas and Nonong Buencamino for Best Musical Score; Manet Dayrit and Jess Navarro for Best Editing; Edgar Martin Littaua for Best Production Design; Ditoy Aguila for Best Sound; Lilit Reyes, Senedy Que, and Roy Iglesias for Best Screenplay; Yayo Aguila and Liza Lorena for Best Supporting Actress; Raymond Bagatsing, Ronnie Lazaro, and Tommy Abuel for Best Supporting Actor; and Ricky Davao and Bembol Roco for Best Actor.
Best Screenplay victor Oebanda remarked that Iglesias was his teacher, while Best Editing winner Gutierrez opened his speech by paying tribute to presenters Dayrit and Navarro: “So humbled, mga idols ko po sila. I’m hoping that for the next year, mag-shoot pa tayo ng mga angas na sine.” Meanwhile, the Lamberto Avellana Memorial Awards were bestowed by Ana Caranina Cosio, the granddaughter of National Artist Lamberto Avellana. The Manuel de Leon Award for Exemplary Achievement was given by Carlos de Leon, grandson of Manuel de Leon, while the FPJ Lifetime Achievement Award was presented by Jeffrey Sonora and Quezon City Mayor Belmonte.
The Sine Sandaan Luminaries were no less than representatives of the top Philippine production companies. Among those who received the commemorative Sine Sandaan Trophies were Nedith Nepomuceno and Maria Lopez Nepomuceno Angeles (Malayan Movies), de Leon (LVN Pictures, Inc.), Alexander Vera-Perez (Sampaguita Pictures), Roselle Monteverde (Regal Entertainment, Inc.), Ivan Cruz (Viva Entertainment, Inc.), Mico del Rosario (Star Cinema – ABS-CBN Films), and Joey Abacan (GMA Films).
Representing the independent companies were Sonora (FPJ Productions, Inc.), Carlitos Siguion-Reyna (Reyna Films), Ronnie Quizon and Sandro Quizon (RVQ Productions, Inc.), Pat Sumagui (Quantum Films), Camille Montano (APT Entertainment, Inc.), Tony Gloria and Madonna Tarrayo (Unitel Productions, Inc.), Nebrida (TBA Studios), Perci Intalan (The IdeaFirst Company), Stacey Bascon (Reality Entertainment), Rene Durian (Center Stage Productions, Inc.), Paul Soriano (Ten17P Productions), Marlon Bautista (Imus Productions), and Ruth Racela (M-ZET Productions, Inc.). The other Sine Sandaan Luminaries are Lebran Productions, Seiko Films, Inc., Premiere Productions, Inc., Lea Productions, Inc., Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions, OctoArts Films International, Spring Films, JE Productions, and NV Productions.
Truly a Philippine Cinema extravaganza
The celebration of the One Hundred Years of Philippine Cinema was continued at the 2019 FAP Luna Awards Night. Renowned vocal group The Company took the audience down memory lane with songs from iconic films like “Lo’ Waist Gang,” “Maalaala Mo Kaya,” “Kakabakaba Ka Ba?,” “Tukso, Layuan Mo Ako,” “Blue Jeans,” “Annie Batungbakal,” “Bagets,” “Imagine You and Me,” “Kailangan Kita,” “John en Marsha,” and the first Filipino-produced film, “Dalagang Bukid.”
Lara Maigue and Shiela Valderrama opened the show with “Sangandaan,” “Kahit Na,” “Tanging Yaman,” and “Kay Sarap ng Buhay Nu’ng Araw,” with Kristel de Catalina showcasing an aerial dance routine. Frenchie Dy and Gian Magdangal performed songs from “Sinasamba Kita,” “Bituing Walang Ningning,” “Hihintayin Kita sa Langit,” and “Sana’y Wala ng Wakas” in a tribute to FAP Luna Awards Hall of Famers George Canseco and Willy Cruz. The moves and grooves in the production numbers were courtesy of the Dance Royalties with choreography by Dan Cabrera. The traditional annual singing of “Handog” was led by singer-songwriter Ice Seguerra, who served as the director of the FAP Luna Awards Night.
During the special “Handog” number, the 13 professional guilds of FAP, through their current guild presidents and representatives, were recognized for their efforts in strengthening the Philippine film industry. These are Paolo Villaluna of Directors’ Guild of the Philippines (DGPI), William Mayo of Philippine Motion Picture Directors Association (PMPDA), Benjamin Corpuz of Screenwriters Guild of the Philippines (SGP), Carlo Maceda and Rez Cortez of Katipunan ng mga Artistang Pilipino sa Pelikula at Telebisyon (KAPPT), Aped Santos of Production Designers Guild of the Philippines (PDGP), George Toralba of Filipino Society of Cinematographers (FSC), Mar Lopez of Katipunan ng mga Direktor sa Musika ng Pilipinas (KDMP), Albert Rima of Motion Picture Audio Society of the Philippines (MPASPI), Edgardo Vinarao of United Film Editors Guild of the Philippines (UFEG), Bobby Benitez of Assistant Director and Production Managers Association for Motion Pictures, Inc. (ADPM-AMPI), Wilson Tieng of Movie Producers and Distributors Association of the Philippines (MPDAP), Malou Santos and Orlando Ilacad of the Philippine Motion Picture Producers Association (PMPPA), and Boots Anson-Rodrigo of Mowelfund.
After which, all winners and nominees were called onstage to symbolize unity in the industry. They all stayed onstage as Diño presented the final award of the night, Best Motion Picture. It was a vision of camaraderie and cooperation as all of them awaited the announcement of the winner, and collectively congratulated Nebrida of TBA Studios for the win of “Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral.” This took place amidst the spectacular stage designed by Ottobots Hernandez that had multiple screens which displayed the names, photos, and videos of nominees and awardees. LED visuals and video design were done by GA Fallarme and lighting design was courtesy of John Batalla.
Diño made sure to express her utmost gratitude to all supporters and attendees of the 37th FAP Luna Awards. “This is how we envision Philippine Cinema to be—united and working together. Thank you. In the last one hundred years, we have been very resilient. We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs. Marami po tayong kinakaharap na challenges, from the different sectors, all of which are valid. FDCP is here to really work with you on how we can move forward in the next hundred years, knowing and being optimistic that the next hundred years is not just going to be another time of not knowing what the future holds for us. We want to set standards. We want to create a system. We want to create a framework by which we can all work together, regardless of network, regardless of sector, regardless of industry—indie, mainstream, arthouse, commercial—we are all one industry.” She conveyed that she is hopeful that the next hundred years of Philippine Cinema will be about inclusivity and collaboration, with the aim of Philippine Cinema being not just locally relevant, but also globally pertinent.