2004 Stars Awards

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Trouble in the Stars – “Former Philippine Movie Press Club (PMPC) President Ernie Pecho is convinced that the media group’s incumbent head, Joe Barameda, was “not aware” of the alleged vote-buying during the recent 21st Star Awards ceremony. The very first Star Awards for movies were given out during Pecho’s term. “I know Joebar (Barrameda’s nickname). He’s a good person,” Pecho told Inquirer Entertainment in a phone interview on Wednesday. “Had he known, I’m sure he would have done something about it. He’s not like some of our colleagues na matindi ang pangangailangan (who are desperate). He would never accept money and ruin his image.” Quoting reports in the tabloids Pecho said 13 PMPC members, all part of the 24-man voting committee, received P5,000 each from “a woman from ABS-CBN.” This waa to ensure that the Best Actor award would go to Piolo Pascual (for “Milan”) and the Best Actress award to Kris Aquino (for “Feng Shui”). “They claimed Joebar was behind the “switching” of the awards,”said Pecho. The payoff might have happened, in fact, he said, but he reiterated his comfidence in Barrameda. Star Cinema, movie arm of ABS-CBN, produced both “Milan” and “Feng Shui.” “One story even said writer Allan Diones has admitted receiving money from the woman,” Pecho noted. Rumors that Kris and Piolo would win the top acting awards has started circulating days before the awards rites last Saturday.

Several people who turned up for the program at the Cinema 5 of the Gateway Mall in Cubao, Quezon City and sported the two nominees commented: “They probably know that they would win. Why else would they be here?” But it was, Vilma Santos who took the Best Actres trophy for “Mano Po 3: My Love,” and Dennis Trillo was named Best Actor and Best New Movie Actor for “Aishite Imasu 1941.” Inquirer Entertainement called Barrameda also on Wednesday, but he would not pick up. Instead, he sent this text message: “The PMPC will issue an official statement hopefully tomorrow.” Several write-ups identified the “woman” as Star Magic PR head Rikka Dylim, who denied the accusation. In a statement sent to Inquirer, Dylim said she had “nothing to do with the alleged vote-buying for (ABS-CBN Star Magic) contract artist Mr. Piolo Pascual.” Dylim added: “The network accepts the fact that another actor won the Best Actor award. We never question or protest the decision of the club.” Pecho said there could be several reasons that Kris and Piolo did not win, “despite all the efforts experted by ABS-CBN.” “Some members could have taken the money but felt guilty and voted for other nominees,” Pecho said. “Or maybe these members got somethng bigger from someone else.” Of the controversy, he could only say: “This is really humiliating. The PMPC used to pride itself in its integrity and unquestioned choices. It used to be the most credible awards-giving body.

Now, can we say the same?” In October 2003, Pecho and two other former PMPC presidents questioned the process of selecting the winners for the 17th Star Awards for Television, citing “glaring disparities.” Pecho said some artists who won could “hardly carry a tune,” and shows that bagged the trophies in spite of “consistently poor production quality.” Billy Balbastro, 1984 PMPC president, complained about the alleged of winners during that awards show. He said he received text messages the day before, saying ABS-CBN would win by a lanslide. Of the same ceremony, Veronica Samio, PMPC president from 1991 to 1993, said she heard talk that certain individuals had paid several club offiicials to win certain awards. Pecho, PMPC president from 1985 to 1987, saidl all past PMPC presidents should meet to discuss the situation. “I think there should be a “general cleaning” within the PMPC.” Saturday’s ceremony was well attended by both celebrities and fans. This could explain why the 700 seater venue looked so chaotic. Before entering the theater, Inquirer Entertainement encountered a throng of fans screamign to catch their idols attntion. A group of ushers refused to let in guests – not even those with invitations – who were not in formal attire. Inside, people kept walking around even as the cameras rolled. These people included cameramen and guests in blue jeans and casual shirts.

In one corner, performers Sandara Park, Hero Angeles and the Speed Dancers rehearsed their dance steps while the program was ongoing and presenters like Ciara Sotto, Anna Larucea and Baron Geisler took last-minute instructions from the stage manager. Vilmanians and Noranians, as well as fans of young stars Sandara, Hero, Jennylyn Mercado and Mark Herras, screamed at every mention of their idols’ name and movies. What supposed to be a “formal” ceremony instead looked and sounded like any noontime program, with spectator’s hollering, “Laban!” or “Bawi!” at the top of their lungs. Kris arrived at about the same time as Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, who accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award for his father, former president Joseph Estrada. A swarm of photographers jostled for the best shots. Kris is the daughter of another former president, Corazon Aquino. Only SVP for Drama Production and Star Cinema Malou Santos was around to accept the Best Picture award for “Milan.” One member of the audience noted that Charo Santos-Concio, ABS-CBN’s EVP for Entertainment, was conspicuosly absent, fuelling rumors that she had quit working for the network on account of differences with its chair, Gabby Lopez. Pops Fernandez shared hosting chores with Vilma, and Martin Nievera was anchor man. The Golden Screen Awards show on March 5 had only two production numbers; Star Awards had four. Pops and The CompanY did the opening number. Star Circle questors Sandara and Hero performed in a “dance showdowns” with Starstruck ultimate survivors Jennylyn and Mark Young performers Mark Bautista, Erik Santos and Rachelle Ann Go did a medley of Filipino songs hafway into the program. Karylle, Keempe de Leon, Jamie Rivera and Franco Laurel sang Broadway tunes in the latter part. The Speed Dancers worked the hardest, performing in all the production numbers.” – Marinel R. Cruz, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Mar 18, 2005 (READ MORE)

Star Awards to be probed – “Officers of the Philippine Movie Press Club will form a committee to investigate the alleged vote-buying during the recent 21st Star Awards, according to Veronica Samio, head of the club’s grievance committee. “A deceitful act like this should not go unpunished,” said Samio, who was president of the PMPC from 1991 to 1993. “Its not right to cheat. We will see to it that PMPC members involved in this will be expelled. Post-show reports alleged that 13 PMPC members, all part of the 24-man voting committee, received money from ABS-CBN Star Magic PR head Rikka Dylim several days before the ceremony. This was to ensure that Piolo Pascual would be named Best Actor for “Milan” and the Best Actress award would go to Kris Aquino for “Feng Shui.” The accused members included writer Allan Diones, who admitted to received P5,000 from Dyllim, Samio also identified former PMPC president Julie Bonifacio-Gaspar, incumbent vice president Jimi Escala and member Ador Saluta as among thosed involved. Star Cinema, movie arm of ABS-CBN, produced both “Milan” and “Feng Shui.” But Vilma Santos (“Mano Po 3: My Love”) took home the Best Actress trophy and Dennis Trillo (“Aishite Imasu 1941”) was named Best Actress and Best New Movie Actor. Samio said Diones confessed to the vote-buying on the day the committee members were to cast their vote. “The first reaction of our president (Joe Barrameda) was to strike Piolo’s name from the list of nominees.

But we dissuaded him because it would not be fair to Piolo, who actually did well in “Milan,” Samio told Inquirer Entertainment last Friday. “Piolo probably didn’t even know what these people did for him.” According to Samio, writer-TV host Cristy Fermin was also seen reportedly handing out P3,000 to 12 PMPC members a few days before the PMPC was to announce the winners at the Cinema 5 of the Gateway Mall in Quezon City last March 12. Fermin had been campaigning for Piolo and Kris – praising them in her columns in the tabloids Bandera, Pilipino Star Ngayon and Bulgar, and on her radio program on dzMM. But Samio said only eight members actually voted for Piolo. “I know, because I’ve seen the summary of votes that the PMPC submitted to the show’s producer, Airtime Marketing,” she pointed out. “This means some of the members who accepted the bribe did not vote for Piolo.” PMPC chair Fernand de Guzman, Barrameda and two accountants signed the summary of votes handed to Airtime Marketing, said Samio. “You see, walang dayaaan sa PMPC,” she declared. “People tried to cheat but they did not succeed.” Asked for her reaction, Fermin said: “I do not wish to comment to anyone about the issue because what I think and feel about it are all written in my colums.”

In her “Most Wanted” column in Bulgar last Friday, Fermin referred to the controversy as “Isang bangungot para sa ilan at masamang panaginip para sa iba, hindi naman lahat ng panaginip ay maganda (a nightmare to some and a bad dream to others – not all dreams are good).” ABS-CBN’s Dylim also denied having anything to do with the alleged vote-buying. In a statement sent to Inquirer Entertainment Wednesday Dylim said: “The network accepts the fact that another actor won the Best Actor Award. We never question or protest the decision of the club.” In anotehr statement, ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation said it was “saddened” by the alleged “vote-buying scam” and annouced that it “has not tolerated and will not tolerate such practice.” The statement added: “The network has always espoused the principles of professinalism and integrity and this extends to playing fair in any industry-related activity, including the PMPC’s Star Awards. “It is unfortunate that such allegation routinely surfaces after every awards ceremony regardless of parties, to the detriment of the industry.” PMPC officials and some members met last Thursday to discuss the controversy, said Samio. “It was during the meeting that we decided to expel members who would be proven guilty of accepting bribes,” added the former PMPC president. “How can the PMPC cleanse itself if it does not get rid of these people?” Incumbent president Barrameda said the PMPC “stands by the veracity of all of its winners” and “fins no errors in its tabulations.” – Marinel R. Cruz, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Mar 20, 2005 (READ MORE)