There were nine first-time winners in this year’s silver anniversary Luna Awards of the Film Academy of the Philippines—an event that shed off the usual glamor and fanfare and instead focused on the real intent of award-giving by paying tribute and recognition to the best craftsmen of the film industry last year.
Nine of of twelve categories meant a 75 percent domination of first time awardees in this annual derby.
The story behind the event was far more dramatic and nail-biting. At stake was the possibility that the Academy might fore go giving out the awards—its primary mandate according to the executive order that created it—this year. And to think that it was the silver anniversary of the FAP awards.
Nobody wanted it to come to this sorry state—not holding an awards night for the first time after successfully staging it for 24 consecutive years- Luckily, it turned out that everybody was prepared to make sure that the Academy awards, in spite of the hassles and financial straits the FAP found itself in last year, will push through.
And pushed through, it did. On December 27—barely a week after the original date of staging it at the SM Mall of Asia was unceremoniously canceled because the producer contracted to produce and stage the awards night fell ill and everything seemed to have collapsed with him—the simple 25th Luna Awards was held at the Club Filipino in San Juan City.
As Ms. Gina Alajar with Rez Cortez as the emergency emcees for the night—summed it all up at the end of the awarding ceremonies: “Hindi po bongga. Hindi po magarbo na inaasahan ng karamihan sa atin. Pero simple at makahulugan.”
The whole program took just an hour and a half after a sumptuous dinner hosted by Ms. Chet Sianghio of Keyser Mercantile-Fuji Films. One other company, Tanduay Rhum, came up as last-minute sponsors.
All these came to past because FAP Director General Leo G. Martinez whipped up a task force of guild officers and members to salvage the affair. PDGP President Manny Morfe, also FAP treasurer, set up the small stage and drag a giant Luna statuette to the venue on the morning of the awards night itself.
PMPDA William Mayo transported some lights and other event paraphernalia to Club Filipino. Filipino Society of Cinematographers President Isagani Sioson reported with the cameras and accessories needed for the event’s coverage.
At least the line held and the Academy was able to stage its silver anniversary version of its Luna Awards with flying colors to cap its first ever quarter century which means 25 unbroken years.
Exigency was the main reason to steer the awards night into an event that will fittingly emphasize the winners and nominees and nothing or nobody else. Nine of the 12 winners attended the event. Those who missed out were first-time winner John Lloyd Cruz (best actor) who could not leave a taping, Vito Cajili (best editing) who was out of town when he won his second trophy, and first-time winner Angie Reyes (best sound) who signified her intention to attend but did not make it.
All the other winners were there and were fittingly recognized and given their Luna statuettes, as well as certificates.
–Director/Scripwriter Jose Javier Reyes who bagged two trophies for best direction and best screenplay (with co-writer Mary Ann Bautista) for Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo of ABS-CBN Star Cinema Films which garnered 6 awards all in all, including best picture.
–Best actress Judy Ann Santos (also for Kasal…) who was radiantly smiling as she received her first-ever Luna statuette.
–Best Supporting Actor Johnny Delgado (for Ligalig) who finally showed up to receive his trophy (unlike last year when he failed to make it to the PAGCOR theater in NAIA to get his award for the same category for his performance in La Visa Loca.
–Best Supporting Actress Gina Pareño (again for Kasal…) who was also nominated as best actress for her stirring performance as a jueteng bet collector in Jeffrey Jeturian’s Kubrador.
–Best cinematographer Jay Linao who finally bagged the trophy for Eternity.
–Best production designer Chito Sumera who also made it for Eternity.
–Best musical scorer Vincent de Jesus who earned the voters’ nod for his work in Zsa Zsa Saturnnah.
The best picture trophy for Kasal…was received by Tess Fuentes of Star Cinema.
Sad to say, only two nominees came to the Club Filipino. Some critics reasoned out that announcing the winners beforehand was the culprit for this turn of events. But what FAP officials wanted to emphasize is that being nominated is in a sense being a winner too. Being listed as among the four or five best of the year and being recognized is enough. There is such a thing as sportsmanship in award-giving events too.
We hold our hats off to Achie Adamos, a best supporting actor nominee for Raket ni Nanay, and Gina Pareño, a best actress nominee for Kubrador.
Equally emotionally-stirring was the giving of the Lamberto Avellana Memorial Award (posthumous award) to Manuel Conde and Vic Silayan.
Mrs. Julita Salazar-Urbano, the widow of Actor-Director Conde received the award and profusely thanked the academy for not totally forgetting Manoling, stressing that her husband had been gone for 23 years.
The award for Vic Silayan was received by his daughter Chelo Silayan-Hofileña but two sisters and two brothers of Vic attended the awards rites. They were Aurora Silayan-Go and Teresita Silayan-Rosales and his brothers Bart and Ren.
Mr. Wilson Y. Tieng of Solar Entertainment Corporation personally received his award but Ms. Charo Santos-Concio was out of the country. Tess Fuentes also received the award in her behalf.
One came and the other was represented by his youngest son for this year’s FPJ Lifetime Achievement Awardees.
Director Celso Ad. Castillo received his trophy and got the good news that the Academy has already nominated him as candidate for another National Artist for Film. If things pushed through, Celso Kid will become the seventh National Artist for Film after Directors Gerardo de Leon, Lamberto Avellana, Lino Brocka, Ishmael Bernal, Eddie Romero and Fernando Poe Jr.
Renz Fernandez received the award in behalf of his father, Rudy Fernandez.
After the hour and a half proceedings, there was a general sigh of relief. Academy people shook hands. The common words for the night were: “Na-iraos din.”
It is really a funny thing that on the 25th anniversary of the FAP awards, dun pa para tayong nanganay. Anyway, all as well that ends well. We are ready for the next quarter century and this time it will not end in silver but in gold.