Judy Ann Santos accepted her “A-Listers” trophy at the 4th Ambassadors Night of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) last Sunday in a black dress with a thigh-high front slit. Fellow actor Ina Raymundo had no slit her outfit but its bodice showed off her ample breasts.
Maja Salvador, whose pictorials are usually breathtaking in their sexiness, turned up in a definitely conservative gown. She, too, was an honoree.
Seductive as Judy Ann and Ina were that night at the main hall of Maybank Performing Arts Theater at Bonifacio Global City last Sunday, there’s no doubt they are well-accomplished women. Ditto for Maja despite her unusual decision to show up fully covered.
Judy Ann’s A-Lister status is propped up by her best actress win at the 2019 Cairo International Film Festival, an A-Lister, too, in the plethora of such film events. She won for her delineation of the mother of a daughter whom she keeps carrying bodily to a hospital despite her knowledge that her daughter is already in the terminal stage of cancer. This was in the film Mindanao which was also an A-Lister honoree. The FDCP has honored the filmmaker in a previous Ambassadors’ Night, so it’s his film that is honored this time around. Mindanao was given the distinction “Best Artistic Contribution” in Cairo.
The other A-Lister honorees were: Jun Robles Lana for his best-director win for Kalel, 15 at the 2019 Tallinn Blacknights International Film Festival in Estonia; Alyx Ayn Arumpac documentary Aswang, which won the Fipresci Prize at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, the most prestigious film festival for documentaries, according to the FDCP; young Raymund Ribay Guttierez’s Verdict, which bagged the Special Jury Prize in the Orizzonti section of the 2019 Venice International Film Festival.
Ina was leading lady of sort in Kuya Wes which had Ogie Alcasid in the title role. Ina triumphed as best actress at the 39th Fantasporto-Oporto International Film Festival in Porto, Portugal. Ina portrayed the secret love of the old and shy bachelor portrayed by Ogie, who was a no-show honoree that night. He was named best actor at the 2019 International Film Festival Manhattan in New York, USA.
Maja earned the status of being “Film Ambassador” for her performance in the ABS-CBN series Wild Flower, which garnered for her a best actress recognition at the Asian Content Awards in Busan, South Korea.
The FDCP has (wisely) decided to include TV soaps and documentaries that triumphed in international TV festivals; after all, those are also films. And many movie stars also work on TV.
That explains why the one-time-only actor Atom Araullo was honored for two documentaries he made for GMA 7, each of which copped a Gold Camera award at the US International Film and Video Festival in Chicago, Illinois. The suave Atom turned up at the Ambassador’s Night in a serious-looking all-black suit.
Two other Kapuso documentaries were also honored, including one by Howie Severino. Only one Kapamilya documentary was endowed with the distinction of Film Ambassador: Karne Norte, which brought home the Silver Dolphin in the Lifestyle, Art, Music and Culture Category Cannes Corporate Media and TV Awards held in Cannes, France and the Bronze World Medal from the 2019 New York Festivals “World’s Best TV and Films” held in New York, USA.
Many actors, not counting the A-Listers, were named “Film Ambassadors,” including those posthumously awarded to Eddie Garcia and Tony Mabesa, both lead actors of the film Rainbow Sunset.
Eddie’s longtime partner Lilybeth Romero accepted his trophy and tearfully read a speech summarizing Eddie’s greatness as an actor and his untimely passing due to an accident in the taping of a GMA 7 series which has been aborted due to that truly regrettable mishap. She stressed that it’s Eddie’s passing that inspired her congressman party lister son Mark Romero to file a bill to ensure safety working conditions for TV and film workers.
Chairperson Liza Diño-Seguerra of FDCP also tearfully revealed it was that bill that inspired her office to renew their representations with the Department of Labor and Employment to come up with a memorandum that makes it mandatory for employers of film and TV and audio-visual production workers (including actors) to implement safety measures, humane working hours and working conditions and just payment schemes for all, including utility workers.
“Our workers are the heart of filmmaking. Of what use is it for us to be gaining recognition abroad if our workers are suffering almost every hour they devote to their craft?” intoned Liza, who revealed that a memorandum of agreement has been signed between the FDCP and DoLE for the implementation of the standards both government agencies have established during many hours of consultation and dialogs with film and TV producers in the country.
The night had other surprises, such as having presidential spokesman Sal Panelo as guest speaker and award presenter. Liza’s dad, Local Government Undersecretary Martin Diño, made his literal and figurative towering presence in the event. He presented some of the awards with Liza.
Panelo cheerily declared that his presence in that event indicates that Liza has the full support of Malacañang. He also revealed that he and Liza are longtime friends and he wouldn’t think of not showing up that night even if he had just undergone laser eye surgery a few days ago which was why his eyes were even chunkier than usual.
That night, we discovered that Liza now has the rank of “Undersecretary” as FDCP chair and CEO. Host Kaki Teodoro (the stage actress) and the voice-over announcer kept addressing her “Undersecretary Liza Dino,” and even the visual board every time she went up the stage says “Undersecretary Liza Diño.”
The honorees were tagged “Ambassadors” because they represent the Philippines in international festivals. But there were real ambassadors, charge’ d’ affaires and consuls who graced the event and took turns presenting the trophies to the honorees. Among them were those from Hungary, Germany and the European Community Delegation to the Philippines.
A total of 63 audio-visual artists, writers, technicians, producers, audio-visual outputs was honored that night. These were divided into seven categories, namely: short films, TV awards, technical and creative awards, actors, full-length films, special citations and A-Listers.
And, oh, our makers of short films are impressive. Although only nine were honored, one of them — Arjan Rebeta — has won in 12 festivals for his short films.
Three more film stalwarts were honored not as “Ambassadors” but as recipients of the FDCP Camera Obscura Award which “recognizes outstanding representatives of the film industry whose works brought further recognition and appreciation for Philippine cinema, particularly in the international arena, and have inspired the national film industry into reaching greater heights.”
The award is traditionally presented at the final section of The Ambassadors’ Night. Winners receive a P50,000 cash prize, aside from a trophy each. This year’s awardees were top-grossing film director Cathy Garcia-Molina, film historian Nick Deocampo and scriptwriter Ricky Lee. All three were happily present to be celebrated by the loving audience.
Long live the film and TV arts and industries of the country. Let’s hope and pray that the network that is both into film and broadcast does not get disenfranchised after next month.