At seven o’clock on a Wednesday evening on April 27, 1983, the Film Academy of the Philippines held its first ever awards night for distinguished works and performances in films exhibited in 1982. The venue was the Manila Film Center—one of the cultural edifices that were constructed under the auspices of then First Lady (and now congresswoman) Madame Imelda Romualdez-Marcos.
We relied on a photo album and that first ever FAP awards souvenir program to reconstruct what actually transpired that Wednesday night of April 27, 1983.
The first photo in the album is a foursome of then FAP Director-General Manny de Leon, then San Juan (now Manila) Mayor Joseph Estrada, Ms. Maria Azucena Victoria Vera Perez-Maceda (more popularly known as Manay Ichu) and Atty. Espiridion Laxa.
There are also photos of the late King of Philippine Movies Fernando Poe Jr. (or FPJ) and Deputy Director-General Jesse Ejercito. Succeeding pages carry photos of National Artist for Film Eddie Romero, Ms. Susan Roces, Armida Siguion-Reyna, Philip Salvador, Rudy Fernandez, Lorna Tolentino, Gina Alajar, Chanda Romero, Anna Marin, William Martinez, Nestor Torre, Maning Borlaza and then Board of Review for Motion Picture and Television Chairman Maria Kalaw Katigbak.
The next photos document the arrival of the then First Lady and Metro Manila Governor Imelda Marcos until she is led to a front row seat before the stage of the Manila Film Center.
The other photos cover the proceedings of the first ever awards night of the Academy. Let us now refer to that first souvenir program for a blow-by-blow account of that memorable and historic night.
After the singing of the national anthem and a musical overture to open the program, Director General De Leon delivered the welcome speech. This was followed by a musical production titled Ang Buhay ay Parang Pelikula which was performed by Verni Varga, Something Special, the UP Concert Chorus and the Julie Borromeo dancers.
Mayor Erap then introduced the guest of honor, Mrs. Marcos, who delivered a speech.
Then Ms. Susan Roces and Ms. Gloria Romero explained the voting procedure followed by the academy members in selecting the first winners of the Academy awards. (It would only be called the Luna Awards in 2005).
Then the awarding began.
The first ever to receive the Academy Award trophy was the late Rodolfo ‘Boy’ Garcia who was adjudged the best supporting actor for his role in Ito Ba ang Ating mga Anak? The other nominees were Paquito Diaz (In This Corner), Mark Gil (Palipat-Lipat, Papalit-Palit), Ronnie Lazaro (Oro, Plata, Mata) and Juan Rodrigo (Moral).
Liza Lorena was best supporting actress for her role in Oro, Plata, Mata, winning over Sandy Andolong (Moral), Cecille Castillo (Cain at Abel), Rio Locsin (Haplos) and Anna Marin (Moral).
Movie Queens, another musical number, provided a break in the proceedings. Performers included the Bad Bananas of Johnny Delgado, Christopher de Leon, Edgar Mortiz and Jay Ilagan. The movie queens who paraded on stage included Josephine Bautista, Joyce Ann Burton, Dang Cecilio, Anne Lorraine Kier, Maricar Mendoza, Suzette Nicolas, Peachie Sacasas, Rosemarie de Vera and Desiree Verdadero.
The late Vic Macamay won the best sound award for Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan? over Rodolfo Baldovino (Cain at Abel), Bimbo Chong (Sgt. Pork and Corporal Beans), Ramon Reyes (Oro, Plata, Mata) and Rolly Ruta (Haplos)
Edgardo ‘Boy’ Vinarao was best editing winner for Pedring Taruc over Enrique ‘Ike’ Jarlego (Sinasamba Kita), Jess Navarro (Batch ’81) and Augusto Salvador (Relasyon).
The third musical number, Tribute to the Filipino Comedians, was performed by Sharon Cuneta, backed up by the UP Concert Chorus and the Julie Borromeo dancers.
Then it was the awarding of the best production design which on record was the first double-winner when Don Escudero and Rodell Cruz won for Oro, Plata, Mata, besting the other nominees, namely, Peque Gallaga (Ito Bang Ating mga Anak?), Cesar Hernando (Batch ’81), Raquel Villavicencio (Himala) and Fiel Zabat (Moral).
The best cinematography award was won by Romy Vitug for Sinasamba Kita over Felizardo Bailen (Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan), Freddie Conde (Peping Taruc), Loreto Isleta (Hindi Kita Malimot) and Sergio Lobo (Himala).
After these two awards, Nonoy Zuniga, Pops Fernandez and Ivy Violan performed a medley of the five nominated theme songs.
Sinasamba Kita by the late George Canseco was voted the best original song, winning over Willy Cruz’s Never Ever Say Goodbye, Marita Manuel’s Puppy Love, Rey Ramos” Paalam (from Get MySon, Dead or Alive) and Pablo Vergara’s Katumbas ay Buhay (from Vendetta).
The late Ernani Cuenco won the best musical score award for Pedring Taruc. The other nominees were Ryan Cayabyab (Kamakalawa), Willy Cruz (Never Ever Say Goodbye), Lorrie Ilustre (Batch ’81) and Marita Manuel (Puppy Love).
Raquel Villavicencio, who missed out on the best production design award, came back to win the best original screenplay award with Clodualdo del Mundo Jr. for Batch ’81. They bested Tom Adrales (Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan?) Ishmael Bernal, Raquel Villavicencio and Ricky Lee (Relasyon), Ricky Lee (Moral) and Jose Javier Reyes (Oro, Plata, Mata).
The late Orlando Nadres won the best screenplay adaptation for Sinasamba Kita over Fed Navarro (Ang Panday 3), Bibith Orteza (Palipat-Lipat, Papalit-Palit), Edgardo M. Reyes (Uod at Rosas) and Humilde Meek Roxas (Waywaya).
Noel Trinidad, Subas Herrero, Maya Valdez and Tessie Thomas then performed the Filipino Movie Themes number with the Julie Borromeo dancers.
Then it was time for the best director and best picture awards.
Romy Suzara won as best director for Uod at Rosas. The other nominees were Marilou Diaz-Abaya (Moral), Peque Gallaga (Oro, Plata, Mata), Mike de Leon (Batch ’81) and Ronwaldo Reyes (Panday 3).
Manay Ichu’s MVP Pictures’ Batch ‘81 was voted the first best picture of the academy awards. It won over Viva Films’ Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan, Mirick Films’ Haplos, Seven Star Productions’ Moral and Regal Films’ Relasyon. It will be easily noted that three out of the five contenders were Vilma Santos starrers.
The finale musical number brought back Verni Varga, the UP Concert Chorus, the Julie Borromeo dancers and the entire cast plus the winners.
With the stage overflowing with showbiz people, the best actor and best actress awards were announced.
Philip Salvador (for Cain at Abel) was declared best actor over Robert Arevalo (Santa Claus is Coming to Town), Mark Gil (Batch ’81), Christopher de Leon (Relasyon) and Joel Torre (Oro, Plata, Mata).
The last winner of the night turned out to be Vilma Santos who was best actress for her performance in Relasyon. The other aspirants were Gina Alajar (Moral), Nora Aunor (Himala), Coney Reyes-Mumar (Pedring Taruc) and Lorna Tolentino (Moral).
Then everything was history. After 30 years, we remember and we must recommit. The Film Academy of the Philippines and its Luna Awards live on.
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