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Urian at 35: Still seeks to Survive and Thrive

Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (L-R): Tito Valiente, Dr. Grace Javier-Alfonso, Dr. Bien Lumbera, and Dr. Nicanor Tiongson. Photo by Allan Sancon.

QUEZON CITY, Philippines — Amidst the many award-giving bodies that honor excellent works in Philippine film industry, the 35th Gawad Urian in cooperation with Cinema One, the country’s number one cable channel will soon hold its awards night on June 14 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ (CCP) Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo and will be aired on June 16 via ABS-CBN.

“We are pleased to collaborate with Cinema One once again, a pioneer in digital cinema that retains the free spirit and cutting edge in today’s national cinema,” says Grace Javier-Alfonso, chair of the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (MPP), as she revealed the list of this year’s set of nominees during the press launch held at 9501 Resto, 14th Floor Bohol Chronicle Lounge of ELJ Building.

Present during the launch were: MPP member Tito Valiente, MPP president Dr. Grace Javier-Alfonso, MPP member Dr. Bien Lumbera, and MPP member Dr. Nicanor Tiongson.

Urian is known to be giving awards to films and its workers with artistic vision without any compromise.

National Artist, Prof. Bien Lumbera sees positive indications regarding the movies they are giving recognitions each year. He breaks the good news of, “The movies are allowing the Filipinos widen the appreciation of geography. The settings are no longer limited to the city and its outskirts, but the entire nation.”

Prof. Lumbera also stresses that his taste in films is no special since it’s been a long time that he has embraced the reality of films as popular form of entertainment. He is standing side by side along with the changes that are occurring.

Gawad Urian lists its nominees:

Best Sound: Albert Michael Idioma and Addiss Tabong (‘Amok’ and ‘Ang Babae sa Septic Tank’); Albert Michael Idioma (‘Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story’); Albert Michael Idioma and Alex Tomboc (‘Bisperas’); Raffy Magsaysay (‘Boundary’); and Aguila, Junel Valencia, and Mark Locsin (Liberacion).

Best Screenplay: Antoinette Jadaone (‘Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay’); Charliebebs Gohetia (The Natural Phenomenon of Madness’); John Bedia (‘Amok’); Bonifacio P. Ilagan (‘Deadline’); Paul Sta. Ana (‘Bisperas’); Rody Vera (‘Niño’); Sari Lluch Dalena and Keith Sicat (‘Ka Oryang’); Alvin Yapan (‘Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa’); and Chris Martinez (‘Ang Babae sa Septic Tank’).

Best Editing: Keith Sicat (‘Ka Oryang’); Danny Añonuevo (‘Niño’); Ike Veneracion (‘Ang Babae sa Septic Tank’); Mai Dionisio (‘Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa’); Lawrence Fajardo (‘Amok’); Chuck Gutierrez (‘Busong’); and Leo Valencia and Glenn Ituriaga (‘Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay’).

Best Music: Jerrold Tarog (‘Niño’); Waway Linsahay Saway (‘Sakay sa Hangin’); Teresa Barrozo (‘Ka Oryang’); Von de Guzman (‘Amok’); Diwa de Leon (‘Busong’); Christine Muyco and Jema Pamintuan (‘Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa’).

Best Cinematography: Neil Daza and Kiri Dalena (‘Ka Oryang’); Albert Banzon (‘Liberacion’); Arvin Viola (‘Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa’); Robert Yniguez (“Bisperas’); Louie Quirino (‘Amok’); Regiben Romana (“Sakay sa Hangin’); Carlo Mendoza (‘Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story’); and Louie Quirino (‘Busong’).

Best in Production Design: Maulen Fadul (‘The Natural Phenomenon of Madness’); Rodrigo Ricio (Bisperas); Regiben Romana (‘Sakay sa Hangin’); Reji Regalado (‘Ang Babae sa Septic Tank ‘); Lawrence Fajardo (‘Amok’); Laida Lim (‘Niño’); Fritz Silorio (‘Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story’); and Rodrigo Ricio (‘Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay’).

Best Supporting Actress: Angeli Bayani (‘Ka Oryang’); Julia Clarete (‘Bisperas’); Jean Garcia (‘Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa’); Shamaine Buencamino (‘Niño’); and Solenn Husef (‘Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow’).

Best Supporting Actor: Bembol Rocco (‘Isda’); Jojit Lorenzo (‘Anatomiya ng Korupsyon’); Marvin Agustin (‘Patikul’); Mark Gil (‘Amok’); John Regala (’Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story’); Dido dela Paz (‘Amok’); Art Acuña (’Niño’); Joem Bascom (’Ka Oryang’); Jake Cuenca ‘In The Name of Love’); Garry Lim ‘Amok”); and Ronnie Lazaro (‘Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story’).

Best Actress: Lilia Cuntapay (’Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay’); Raquel Villavicencio (‘Bisperas’); Eugene Domingo (‘Ang Babae sa Septic Tank’); Maja Salvador (‘Thelma’); Opaline Santos (‘The Natural Phenomenon of Madness’); Isabel Lopez (‘Cuchera’); Alessandra de Rossi (‘Ka Oryang’); Fides Cuyugan (‘Niño’); Cherie Pie Picache (‘Isda’); and Diana Zubiri (‘Bahay Bata’).

Best Actor: Bong Cabrera (‘Sa Ilalim ng Tulay’); Tirso Cruz III (‘Bisperas’); Paulo Avelino (‘Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa’); Alfred Vargas (‘Teoriya’); Ronnie Lazaro (‘Boundary’); Raymond Bagatsing (‘Boundary’); TJ Trinidad (‘Deadline’); Martin Escudero (‘Zombadings’); JM de Guzman (‘Ang Babae sa Septic Tank’); Kean Cipriano (‘Ang Babae sa Septic Tank’); and Jess Mendoza (‘The Natural Phenomenon of Madness’).

Best Film: The Natural Phenomenon of Madness (The Grit Project and Outpost Visual Frontier in cooperation with Noel D. Ferrer Production); Ang Babae sa Septic Tank (Cinemalaya, Martinez Rivera Films, Quantum Films and Straight Shooters Media); Busong (Solito Arts Production); Bisperas (Cinemalaya Foundation, Quantum Films and HongKong-Asia Films Financing Forum); Amok (Cinemalaya Foundation, Pelikulaw and Wild Coyote Pictures); Ka Oryang (Cinema One Originals, Kino Arts Production in association with Optima Digital); Niño (Cinemalaya Foundation in cooperation with Handurawan Films); Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa (Vim Yapan/Alem Chua Production in cooperation with Big Top Media Productions, Inc., SQ Film Laboratories, Inc., Optima Digital and Far Eastern University); Boundary (Bigtop, Optima Digital, Voyage Studios and Wanderlustproject Films); and Six degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay (Cinema One Originals and Post Manila).

Best Director: Sari Lluch Dalena (‘Ka Oryang’); Lawrence Fajardo (‘Amok’); Benito Bautista (‘Boudary’); Loy Arcenas (‘Niño’); Marlon Rivera (‘Ang Babae sa Septic Tank’); Alvin Yapan (‘Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa’); Jeffrey Jeturian (‘Bisperas’); Antoinette Jadaone (‘Six degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay’); and Auraeus Solito (‘Busong’).

Theater thespians dominate the nominees in the 35th Gawad Urian.

Most of the nominated actors, actresses, even directors as well as other production people came from theater practitioners like Eugene Domingo, JM de Guzman, Kean Cipriano, Angeli Bayani, Shamaine Buencamino, and Auraeus Solito who crossed-over to making independent films and according to Dr. Nicanor Tiongson—these artists have made great impact in the film industry because they have the ‘discipline’ and are already adjusted. He cited the film ‘Amok’ which comprised mostly theater people has a great ensemble acting.

Other expected highlights

This year’s Gawad Urian promises to be another celebration of regional, multicultural, multilingual cinema that highlighted Philippine Cinema last year. This is a cutting-edge attempt to encourage and support the indie spirit. Also this year’s Natatanging Gawad Urian will be given to an artist in the film industry for his/her exemplary contribution to the country’s development of filmmaking. National Artists Fernando Poe, Jr., Gerardo de Leon, Lamberto Avellana, and Eddie Romero, Anita Linda, Rosa Rosal, Gloria Romero, Nida Blanca, Dolphy, Eddie Garcia, Pancho Magalona, Mona Lisa, and creative artists like cinematographers, editors, and scriptwriters were the previous recipients of this special award.

Last year, the Urian’s Natatanging Aktor ng Dekada Award has also been given to the paramount actors of every decade. Gina Pareño, Cherry Pie Picache and Coco Martin were honored with the Dekada award for their accomplishments in the first decade of the century. Vilma Santos, Nora Aunor, Gina Alajar and Philip Salvador took the award in the ‘80s, and Nora and Vilma again received the award in the ‘90s with Richard Gomez.

Also, this year’s venue—the CCP main theatre or Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo—is most appropriate for the prestigious and historic Gawad Urian show. The CCP was built in 1966 to promote and preserve Filipino arts and culture. The main theater is the largest performance venue inside the CCP and can accommodate up to 1,853 people. The hall was built to meet sound requirements of various types of presentations like opera and orchestra performances without further amplification.

The Gawad Urian is given annually since 1977. Its objectives are to examine Filipino films, bolster the interest of the masses and the Philippine film industry, study and celebrate the achievement that will help define the good Filipino film, and cultivate the knowledge and skills that the film medium was designed for, which is to be a medium of communication and expression of our culture according to the standards and conditions of filmmaking in our country.

Funny, Fantastic Four’s Shows

Chocoleit and K Brosas posed before the Bloggers right after the Q&A portion. Photography by Dale Bacar.

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – In today’s stressful day-to-day life, a good laugh is one medicine to go through everything and make man feel better; that’s what the ‘fantastic funny four’ of Pokwang, Pooh, Chokoleit and K Brosas will provide in their upcoming show titled ‘4 Da Best: The Repeat’ as revealed at the Bloggers conference held Packo’s Grill along Sgt. Esguerra on Tuesday, April 24, 3pm.

Only Chokoleit and K Brosas arrived at the venue to promote their concert on May 4 and 11 (Friday) and May 12 (Saturday), 8:30pm at Music Museum.

If the four comedians’ show in March was a hit, they will quadruple the fun with their brand of antics. Audience should brace themselves with tons of jokes from the wacky foursome.

The official poster of the concert: '4 Da Best: The Repeat'.

Over the years, the four of them have come together and learned to accept their individualities and complement with each other by not overshadowing each of them during their shows. All of them simply want to provide one great entertainment for their fans and supporters who come to watch their shows. They pretty much know their craft and are careful in their timing to make people laugh.

“To crack a joke is no big deal. One has to have the timing. Comedic skills can’t be learned, but it will just come out naturally,” K Brosas puts it.

Even in their series of shows abroad—what motivates them as a foursome is their appreciative audiences—the Filipino community. Pokwang, Pooh, Chokoleit and K Brosas make sure that they won’t shortchange their audiences (especially their Filipino community) as they deliver their punch lines. Due to it, they’ve earned more projects and have now confirmed upcoming shows in the US and Canada.

Chocoleit, known for his being ‘underdog-type-of-image’ as a standup comedian, he admires Ellen DeGeneres’s approach in cracking jokes, “I find her witty, funny, and she doesn’t offend her subjects.”

“To crack a joke is no big deal. One has to have the timing. Comedic skills can’t be learned, but it will just come out naturally,” K Brosas puts it. Photograph by Dale Bacar.

On the other hand, K Brosas was quick to answer that at this point in her life, she still remains because, “If it will come, it will just happen.”

‘4 Da Best is produced by Amine Entertainment and is directed by the veteran comedy concert director Andrew de Real.

For ticket inquiries contact SM Tickets at (632) 4702222 or Ticketworld at (632) 8919999. Tickets are sold at Php2,750, Php1,980, and Php1,100, respectively.

‘Pitik Surplus’ contrasts with ‘Stars’

(Both Plays compete with Six Other Entries at PSF’s Annual Drama Fest)

In the previous Saturdays, I had the opportunity to witness five competing plays at Philippine Stagers Foundation’s annual Thumbs-up Theater Fest, but on April 21—two of the eight best plays have continually surprised us—the ‘Pitik Surplus’ by JM Encinas and ‘Stars’ by JP Lopez.

On the first Saturday, I thought that Alex Dorola’s play was already heavy in its theme, but served as a wakeup call for all of us when he presented ‘Kung Hei Batsoy’ which I think is kind of taking the same route of George Orwell’s allegorical novel titled ‘Animal Farm’ published in England on August 17, 1945, which reflected on the Stalin era prior to the World War II. Dorola’s play was one of the plays with the three heaviest in terms of emotions. It tackles about the Philippines having been abused, exploited and savaged by foreign conquests. However, let me focus on ‘Pitik Surplus’ since it was worth the wait.

'Pitik Surplus' features Aliw awardee for Best Child Actor Gabby Bautista and PSF's John San Antonio who won Best Choreography for 'Cory ng EDSA: A Filipino Musicale' in BroadwayWorld.com Philippines Awards are featured in this JM Encinas's opus. Photograph by Ely Valendez.

JM Encinas’s first time to make it to the eight competing plays this year made him quite ‘emotional’ after the presentation of his written play. With the acting of three regular Stagers—Patricia Lopez, John San Antonio and Gabby Bautista, everyone were treated to a disturbing but reality-check of what probably drive the people who rob houses and all. What is notable about the play is that—it tackles and spotlights the BAD and not the GOOD as the main theme of JM’s written piece. Gabby Bautista, an Aliw awardee for Best Child Actor has proven once again his knack for acting.

Bautista reminded me of Macaulay Culkin, but rather his attack is of less evil, but innocent and more practical in thinking at his age. His acting and his lines were not treated like a mature being, which made the role more endearing and memorable at the same time. Kudos also to John San Antonio and Patricia Lopez—they didn’t lag behind in terms of their acting. Their respective interpretations of their roles were superbly done. All the time, watching the play was breaking my heart. There is no doubt that ‘Pitik Surplus’ may just run with awards.

The other play that evening was JP Lopez’s fan fiction-take on the lives of two warring fans of the rival celebrities Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos. The two fans—named Norma and Wilma mimicked their respective idols and gave the audience a hilarious treat with their spoofs of Nora and Vilma as portrayed by two equally talented regular Stagers—Glory Ann Nacional and Cindy Maree Liper. Putting these two senior actors that were also recognized by Aliw Awards proved that both can also tackle comedic roles. And with their performances, they debunk the idea that only male Stagers are the strongest in terms of pulling a crowd.

'Stars' is a comedy play that features PSF's strongest female talents--Glory Ann Nacional and Cindy Maree Liper as Norma Aunor and Wilma Santos, respectively. Also in the photograph are JM Encinas and Kenneth Sadsad. Photograph by Ely Valendez.

With Lopez’s script, it shows his familiarity of the topic and the incorporation of the past memorable scenes of the two popular stars—it added much flavor to the play. It was also brilliant that the funny way of singing the Christmas song ‘I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus’ was included seamlessly. The play is just timely since a resolution was filed by Bacolod Representative Anthony Golez Jr., urging His Excellency President Benigno Aquino III, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts to confer to Nora Aunor the honor of being named as a National Artist of the Philippines for her immense contribution to Philippine arts.

And in response to Golez’s move, House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo ‘Erin’ Tanada III on April 18, contended that “If ‘Superstar’ Nora Aunor is to be nominated for National Artist, then so should her career rival, ‘Star for All Seasons’ and current Batangas governor Vilma Santos.” Given this scenario—the rivalry between Nora and Vilma didn’t stop at all.

Yes, with the two latest shown entries—I predict it will also pit against the five competing plays: ‘Kung Hei Batsoy’ (which Art Gabrentina shown an unthinkable brand of acting), ‘Spirits’ (who frightened its audience), ‘Papeng ni Kiko’ (an attempt to combined the past and the present struggle of an artist—using Franciso Baltazar as its main character), and ‘Pitik Surplus’ (a heavy-drama on the plight of robbers).

All of the plays are equally great, but let me be straight about this—I am not being biased and this is my personal opinion. If I find this and that play—great—it doesn’t mean—another play is not great. We all have different tastes and opinions on things. In fact, I may have seen probable nominees for actors, best actresses and all, but it’s just me. In fact, after watching the rest of the plays—some of my choices were changed and one still remained. I just have to keep it to myself instead.

However, this coming Saturday, April 28—three of the remaining plays also excite me since these promise to delight its audience with its comedic themes. The three plays are: Jomar Bautista’s ‘Dilaw o Pula’, Jordan Ladra’s ‘I Heart Me’, and Genesis Ukol & Rachel Gianan’s ‘Ms. Gay Pulang Hangin’.