The early bird catches the worm!
In the latter part of February, Direk Jose N. Carreon whom I fondly call Jocar, told me that he will need my assistance for a project and I readily agreed. He did not elaborate on the project and just told me he will give me the details the next time I come to the FAP. When I returned on March 8, he told me to come back the next day at three in the afternoon, a Friday. Still there was no detail about the project. Intriguing! Suspense! What could it be?
So I came back the following day, thirty minutes before the appointed time at three o’clock. Still there was no clear detail of the assignment, instead he handed me a blue T-shirt (my favorite color) and told me to change into it. At past half four, I was told to board a maroon van together with two guys. We were on our way to Wack Wack Golf and Country Club.
The travel was rather long but I did not complain, pointing out along the way familiar places and streets until we reached the destination. At Wack Wack Golf and Country Club, we waited at the lobby of the big building for about half an hour and a stick of cigarette. The building was huge. It looked like a mansion to me or a hotel lobby. Then we were led into a wide room where I discovered what it was all about. The joint launching of the 33rd MMFF 2007 and 2006 MMFFP Appreciation Program at Banquet hall B.
At the center of the hall was a makeshift stage, the cyclorama announcing what the occasion is all about. So that’s it. Surprisingly, I thought it was yet too early but on second thought I realized it pays to start work earlier on a big important occasion as the Metro Manila Film Festival for 2007. Perhaps the tremendous success of the last MMFFP 2006 inspired the bigwigs of the MMDA to approach it with excitement and readiness. I was impressed!
The big hall was empty except for the eight round tables arranged neatly on both sides of the stage with 10 goblets on each table whi ch I presume will accommodate 10 people each, complete with a marker that says who the people will occupy each table like the VIP’s, the MMDA officials, the EXECOM, PAST MMFFP WINNERS, etc etc and a bouquet of flowers on each table. Impressive!
I anticipated it will be a great night! The program I was told will start at 8 in the evening. Mr. Nuque and MMDA chairman Bayani Fernando were seated at the table by the door talking.
In a few minutes, Mr. Leo Martinez, the FAP Executive Director and the main emcee arrived and latter Atty. Esperidion Laxa. When people began to gather inside the banquet hall, Joecar waved at me to join him at the table next to the stage. He told me I will do some writing, gave me the typewritten program and asked me to read it. I immediately understood what my main job was.
Director Eddie Romero arrived and Director Cirio Santiago joined him at the table. From where I was seated facing the entrance door, I could easily see who the people are coming. Johnny Delgado arrived with Laurice Guillen followed by Elwood Perez and company. Joey Javier Reyes joined Gina Pareño in the table by the stage next to the Tiongco Brothers, Jun, Emil and Arthur.
The Tiongco Brothers of Laguna were a big hit in the mid 70’s who sang and sounded like the Four Aces with their Three Coins in the Fountain, Love Is A Many Splendored Thing and other big hits. They are now based in the U.S. Boots Anson Roa of the Mowelfund came in a little later after, followed by Regal Films Lily Monteverde and Cecille Guidote Alvarez of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts who together occupied one table.
Grace Cardeño, the co-emcee, joined us at the table near the stage. Mr. Leo Martinez then encouraged the audience to partake of the food prepared for the occasion.The main program was started a little after eight with the singing of the National Anthem followed by the invocation led by Mr. Ric Camaligan, vice president for leisure and entertainment, SM properties incorporated and president of the movie industry anti-piracy organization.
As the audience settled down after the invocation, Leo Martinez called on his co-emcee Grace to join him. Direk Leo mentioned that they have agreed to have a fast pacing program for the evening, after which MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando was called for his opening remarks and officially launched the 2007 MMFFP on its 33rd year also called as the Double Three Filmfest. Officials of the MMDA and the Pilipino film industry joined Chairman Bayani on stage. It is really great starting things early as it will assure a bigger and better films entertainment wise and quality wise.
Direk Leo urged film producers to jumpstart their projects early inasmuch as scripts for the filmfest should be submitted to the screenplay contest where 10 entries will be selected by May 18. There are only 298 days remaining before the start of the double three film festival, Direk Leo reminded the film producers.
Singer Eric Santos was the first entertainer of the evening. After his song, the emcees announced the 32nd MMFFP Appreciation night to honor the Metro Mayors and the awarding of incentives and cash prizes.
Inspite of the controversies that marred the 2006 film festival, still it was considered a resounding success at the tills with some hundred millions in gross receipt. According to the emcee, the festival will not register neatly in the minds of the public if there will be no controversies sacrificing free promotion and advertisements for the festival. And no controversy can pull down the festival. Come to think of it, for the first time in its history, the total gross of the festival was a shocking specific of over P414, 506, 358. Three entries got an A rating from the Cinema Evaluation Board and three others were rated with a B.
For the appreciation purposes, the Metro Mayors were called and their representatives rose to ac knowledge everyting. Chairman Fernando distributed the shares to the six beneficiaries of the amusement taxes donated by the 13 cities and 4 towns comprising Metro Manila. The beneficiaries are the Mowelfund, the Presidential Social Fund, the Film Academy of the Philippines, the Movie Industry Anti-piracy Organization, the Film Development Council of the Philippines and the Optical Media Board.
After the distribution of the beneficiaries’ shares, the next entertainment number was The Tiongco Brothers who sang several of their memorable hits, after which the cash incentives were distributed to the producers of the nine film entries shown during the festival 2006. The cash awards were distributed by Chairman Fernando with the help of some officials of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.
Cash awards were given to producers of Matakot Ka sa Karma, Super Noypi, Enteng Kabisote 3, Shake Rattle and Roll 8. At Joecar’s cue, I requested Eric Santos for another song which he delightedly performed. After his song, the awarding of incentives continued for the producers of Ligalig which also won Best Actor for Cesar Montano, Best Supporting Actor for Johnny Delgado and Best Editor for Jason Cahapay.
At the lobby, I bumped into Ihman Esturco, the new director of Troika together with five good looking young men who appeared in the film. I had the chance to talk with Troika star Jamil Basa who impressed me with his effortless and natural acting. Ihman told me Will Sandejas is rendering a song with Bianca Elizalde. The duo will sing at the close of the program. On cue, Will Sandejas took hold of the microphone and positioned himself at the center stage but alas the tape was not cooperating and the guy decided not to sing any more.
Alyssa Alano came too late for her number and was so apologetic for the failure. I gathered Alyssa was at Lipa City in Batangas since the morning of Friday for the ribbon cutting and blessing of Forever Flawless at SM Lipa together with Lorna Tolentino, Butch Francisco, Pauleen Luna and Jasmin Kurdi. Lipa City Mayor Vilma Santos was supposed to also grace the occasion but begged off two days before.
The whole program was an evening of delight, flowing smoothly despite some failures on the part of the invited guests and few technicalities. The food was sumptuous and great, And plenty. I have never experienced any program as smooth flowing as the 33rd MMFFP Launching Program and the 2006 MMFFP Appreciation party. Whoever was behind the whole program deserved esteemed accolade. I may even consider it a perfect preparation where the whole program ran smoothly in exactly 45 minutes flat without hitches. How I wish I can once again be involved in another program like this. Congratulation to the able emceeing of Direk Leo Martinez and Grace Cardeño plus the efficient handling of Joecar.