(Reprinted from the 25th Luna Awards souvenir program)
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, Madame Imelda Romualdez-Marcos.
That was the first FAP awards (called the Luna Awards since 2005) and we will stage the silver anniversary version of the awards close to this year’s end, officially within the Yuletide season.
The FAP awards, thus, hit silver this time around. A quarter of a century has been reached and through all those years, we never missed coming up with our peers-judge-their-peers awards-giving task.
How can we look back to that first ever awards night? What are the memorabilia we can dust off and put back on the conference table to reminisce on that fateful night? We still have the video footages. And the photo album. And the souvenir program.
But because we still need to transfer the video footages to a VCD, we relied on the photo album and the souvenir program to reconstruct what actually transpired that Wednesday night of April 27, 1983.
First…the photo album (we are actually reprinting some of the memorable photos in this souvenir program). The first photo in the album is a foursome of then FAP Director-General Manny de Leon, then San Juan Mayor Joseph Estrada, Ms. Maria Azucena Victoria Vera Perez-Maceda (more popularly known as Manay Ichu) and Atty. Espiridion Laxa.
In this first page, we also have 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 Director 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 pages document the arrival of the then First Lady and Metro Manila Governor Imelda Romualdez-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. And we now refer to our souvenir program for a blow-by-blow account of that memorable and historic night.
There are actually only two messages printed in the souvenir program—one from Mrs. Marcos and the other from Director-General Manny de Leon.
The Madame’s message reads in part:
“Film is one of the most pervasive and potent media of communication that has influenced our civilization and has left a legacy that has enriched our minds, our hearts and our spirit. This is why we have repeatedly addressed a challenge to Filipino filmmakers to produce movies that will uplift the spirit of our people and inspire pride in the nobility of our race.”
Director-General De Leon recaps the fledgling academy’s first two years:
“On June 14, 1981 the movie community found itself together for the first time in the halls of Malacañang Palace. We uttered a pledge of unity and commitment to a brotherhood under the Film Academy of the Philippines. I know that in your minds, that day held no promises for they were mere words on a piece of paper. After that ritual, the Academy was further enmeshed in storms of inner conflicts and controversies that almost became fatal.”
“That storm is over, and for nearly two years we have managed not only to survive but to grow stronger, more cohesive, more mature.”
“Today, April 27 is the final test of this strength and our force. I urge every-one to share his whole self towards the success of our First Academy Awards. This is OUR Academy…this is YOUR Academy.”
The souvenir program runs just one solitary article, written by the late Rolfie Velasco. (This is reprinted as well in this 25th edition of our souvenir program).
Let us now go to the various numbers of the awards ceremonies in chronological order.
After the singing of the national anthem and a musical overture to open the program, Director-General Manny 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 explain 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, on its 23rd year of existence).
Then the awarding began.
The first ever Academy award winner 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 the late Jay Ilagan. The movie queens who paraded on stage included Josephine Bautista, Joyce Ann Burton, Dang Cecilio, Anna 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 & 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). Boy, Ike and Augie eventually became directors too.
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 & Rodell Cruz won for Oro, Plata, Mata, besting the other nominees, namely, Peque Gallaga (Ito Ba ang Ating mga Anak?), Cesar Hernando (Batch ’81), Raquel N. 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?), Fredy Conde (Pedring Taruc), Loreto Isleta (Hindi Kita Malimot) and Sergio Lobo (Himala).
After these two awards, Nonoy Zuñiga, 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’ Never Ever Say Goodbye, Marita A. Manuel’s Puppy Love, Rey Ramos’ Paalam (from Get My Son, 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 A. 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 & 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 Fred Navarro (Ang Panday 3), Bibeth 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 (FPJ’s directorial alias) for Ang 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 Tolention (Moral).
Then everything was history. After 25 years, we remember and we celebrate and we recommit ourselves for another quarter of a century. The Film Academy of the Philippines and its Luna Awards live on.—Jose N. Carreon