Novel to Film “…”Dekada ’70,” the eagerly awaited filmization of Lualhati Bautista’s seminal novel in the explosive ’80s, has eight nominations. Best director nominee Chito Rono successfully focuses the novel’s many-sided dimensions on a mother’s stirring from domestic conventions and sensibilities as her family copes with the changes wrought by a collapsing order. The movie, written by Bautista herself and nominated for best screenplay, manages to provides viewers, particularly the young, with the feel of the Marcos years, reacquainting them with a particularly sordid passage in history when innocence was ravaged and continuity was ruptured. The wonder is that the movie did not get the lion’s share of the technical design (Manny Morfe), and sound (Albert Michael Idioma and Alex Tomboc) – should at least suggest its achievement. Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon are strong contenders for best actor and best actress, while yound actor Piolo Pascual is nominated for best supporting actor. The 26th Gawad Urian of the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino, the society of respected film critics, will be held on May 17 at the AFP Theater…” – Lito B. Zulueta, Philippine Daily Inquirer, April 28, 2003 (READ MORE)
The Light “…Topping the Urian for surprise value was the join award for Best Picture to “Dekada ’70” and “Mga Munting Tinig,” This was unexpected because “Dekada” was a major production that took many months to make, while “Munting Tinig” was a small low-budget film that was shot in only a few weeks. Despite this, both films were cited as the best local movies for 2002. A possible interpretation of the twin awards could be “Dekada” is cited for tackling asn important period in the country;s political life with extensive resources of a major studio, while “Munting Tinig” is honored for its ability to dramatize a simple, heartwarming tale that provides much-needed inspiration, despite its limited budget. In other words, the two films’ contrasting approaches are both needed by local movies today, hence the decision for them to share the Urian’s Best Picture award…The Best Actress trophy that Vilma Santos won for her performance in “Dekada ’70” is another noteworthy decision because, when the film was first shown, even veteran observers rapped Vilma for her relatively “passive,” “colorless” and “undramatic” portrayal in the movie. This was because her character, the wife and mother in the movie’s central Bartolome family, spent most of the film’s running time meekly following her husband’s dictates, like most women in the ’70s. Some people took this as a weak thespic stance, and we had to point out in some articles taht his wasn’t true at all. In fact, given the convention of the movie’s time frame, this “passivity” was an astute artistic decision on Vilma’s part, and thoroughly merited by her character and the period in which she lived. In fact, what Vilma did in “Dekada” was more difficult because it was so controlled and subtle, it would have been far easier for her to melodramatically tear up the scenery and act up a storm. Gratifyingly, by the time the film awards season came around, enough people has seen the light, and Vilma went on to win a phalanx of Best Actress trophies, now including the Urian…” – Nestor U. Torre, Philippine Daily Inquirer – May 24, 2003 (READ MORE)
Anak natin si Piolo? “…Gawad Urian best supporting actor Piolo Pascual (“Dekada ’70”) arrived early at the awards ceremony Saturday night and reserve a seat for “Dekada ’70” costar Vilma Santos, who would later be declared best actress. Vilma and Piolo played mother and son in the moving Chito Rono movie based on the screenplay by Lualhati Bautista, who won for best screenplay. Piolo was very affectionate to “mom” Vilma, hugging and kissing her when she arrived. He was seen clasping her hands moments before his name was announced as best supporting actor at theTeatro Arturo Enrile in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City…The movie critics’ group paid tribute to writer Ricardo “Ricky” Lee by naming him the recipient of the Natatnging Gawad for lifetime achievement for his invaluable contributions to the film industry for more than three decades. The award was handed to him by three of the many actresses who breathed life to his creations – Vilma (“Relasyon”), Dina Bonnevie (“Gumapang Ka Sa Lusak”) and Gina Alajar (“Salome”). Lee has so far written about 120 screenplays and won some 50 awards. His most recent work, Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s “Bagong Buwan,” was honored by many local and international award-giving bodies…Edu Manzano was very effective as the show’s only host. He kept the audience awake and laughing with his witty remarks, delivered with his trademark deadpan expression. Even Piolo and Vilma were not spared from Edu’s jokes. he imitated Piolo after the young actor delivered a very emotional acceptance speech. When Vilma said she was sharing her award with her costars in “Dekada ’70,” particularly to her “eldest son” Piolo, the camera caught Edu having his own dramatic highlights.” “What?” he asked his ex-wife in mock surprise, “Anak natin si Piolo?…” – Marinel R. Cruz, Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 20, 2003 (READ MORE)
For the first time in the history of the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino’s Gawad Urian Awards and probably in any national award giving ceremony, for that matter a tie was announced in the Best Film category. Star Cinema’s Dekada ’70 and Gil Portes and Ray Cuerdo’s Munting Tinig were declared as the best of the 2002 produced films. The Urian is known as the award-giving body that has most often declared ties. Allow me to explain why. A certain standard of excellence in every category has been set by the critics. In the case of the best film, it has to be one that is technically proficient in all aspects such as sound, music, production design, editing and cinematography. Beyond technical excellence and artistic sense in storytelling, it must always have a theme that is not pretentious. The film should successfully capture that “truth” grounded on the Filipino experience. Based on these, it is, thus, possible to have more than two films hitting the grade. Declaring ties, therefore, is only tantamount to saying that there may be more than one film which deserved to be called excellent.
It certainly happened this year for Dekada ’70 and Mga Munting Tinig. Both hit that mark of excellence. Congratulations to all those who contributed to the creation of these two momentous films. The Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino has always dedicated itself to selecting and recognizing the best films. When the group was created in May 1, 1976, it declared itself as an alliance of consumer activists who write articles, not for PR, but as independent reviews that give citations and awards. The present group has never deviated from the same objectives and values as that of the first group. Three members who were part of the original one are still with the present crop of critics. They aim to continue awarding the best works and performances; encouraging continuous dialogue on film; and exploring and redefining the responsibilities of the industry practitioners and filmmakers to the public. The Gawad Urian recently held at the AFP theater started with a production number featuring Regine Velasquez, who was draped with filmstrips. She changed into two elegant gowns during the opening salvo.
The other artists who participated in the production were Janno Gibbs, Anna Fegi, JR, Jose Illana, Arni Hidalgo, Rufa Mae Quinto, Marissa Sanchez with the Sex Bomb dancers, and video assists by Michael V and Ogie Alcasid. Capping the evening was a musical number by Aiza Seguerra, 1728, 604 and Ciara Sotto. The presentors were Richard Gomez, Lucy Torres, Assunta de Rossi, Cherrie Gil, Rudy Fernanadez, Dingdong Dantes, Tanya Garcia, Jeffrey Quizon, Giselle Tongi, Judy Ann Santos, Maricel Soriano, Danica Sotto, James Blanco, Angelu de Leon, Vhong Navarro and Butch Francisco. Memorable “thank you” speeches started with Ricky Lee’s, who praised film artists and producers with whom he has worked. He also expressed his appreciation to the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino for finally recognizing and presenting a Natatanging Gawad Urian to a scriptwriter. Piolo Pascual was in tears and had a litany of names to thank as he completed his grand slam for the Best Supporting Actor category with his Urian award. Elizabeth Oropesa earned a good round of applause as she thanked her “Honey” when she received her Best Supporting Actress award.
Jay Manalo seemed rather touched by the Best Actor Award and thanked all his children quite a number, which did not escape the audience’s interest. Gil Portes was in high spirits when he finally bagged the Best Director award, after numerous nominations from the Manunuri. Vilma, who won the Best Actress Award, thanked the special people in her life, including host, Edu Manzano, who was miming on the side, hoping Vilma would include him in her speech. He certainly got the crowd in the theater roaring with his antics when he embraced Piolo and declared that he was a long lost son…The special award, Natatanging Gawad Urian, was presented to Ricky Lee for his numerous outstanding screenplays. A special reading was performed by Gina Alajar and Dina Bonnevie. Vilma Santos read the citation for the Ricky Lee’s recognition. The Gawad Urian Night was not too overwhelming, but friendly and exciting. It was not glittering, but it was colorful. It was not ostentatious, but it was substantial. It was not huge, but it was meaningful. Also contributing significantly to the successful presentation this year was the masterful and witty hosting by Edu Manzano. – Sol Jose Vanzi, May 20, 2003 (READ MORE)
A few days before the Urian Awards last Saturday, some movie writers attending the presscon of Jose Llana said they already know the winners in the acting categories. Vilma Santos as best actress for “Dekada ’70,” Jay Manalo as best actor for “Prosti,” Beth Oropesa as best supporting actress for “Laman,” and Piolo Pascual as best supporting actor for “Dekada.” They claim to have heard this from some Urian members. The day before the awards night, we attended the presscon of “Huling Birhen sa Lupa” at Viva and Director Joel Lamangan told us he already knew Beth and Jay, who are shooting the film with him on location in Batangas, would win because he was requested to let them leave the set to attend the awards night. True enough, when awards night came at the AFP Theater, these are really those who won. Maybe the Manunuri should be more discreet next time to prevent such leakage. But the show itself is indeed smooth and slick, starting with the great opening number by Regine Velasquez. The tribute to Ricky Lee, who won the Natatanging Gawad Urian for his work as a scriptwiter, is particularly good. Singers Michael Santana, Ana Fegi and Janno Gibbs sang songs from Ricky’s films, Gina Alajar and Dina Bonnevie read excerpts from his scripts, Nora Aunor, Sharon Cuneta and Beth O. sang hosannahs to him, then Vilma Santos handed him the actual trophy.
Ricky, a founding member of the Urian himself (we left it at the same time in 1980), deserves the award because he is really the first scriptwriter to become a household name. We just wish he delivered a shorter acceptance speech since there’s beauty in brevity. Another winner who rumbled on and on is Piolo Pascual, who really put on an act along with Judy Ann Santos, who presented him his award. He’s the only one who scored a grand slam this year, so we can understand why he is a tad too emotional for comfort. Jay Manalo was more coherent and even managed to make a roll call of all his kids with various women, including his current wife, Raiza. Beth O., in turn, looked like a blushing bride as she received her award (her second best supporting actress plum from the Urian after “Milagros”), thanking her much younger husband, Joel Valdez, so sweetly. Mercifully, she gave a very short speech. Another winner who is obviously so overwhelmed is Gil Portes, best director for “Munting Tinig,” as he kept on giggling while delivering his acceptance speech. As for Ate Vi, this is her eighth Urian best actress trophy after “Relasyon,” “Broken Marriage,” “Sister Stella L,” “Pahiram ng Isang Umaga,” “Ipagpatawad Mo,” “Dahil Mahal Kita (Dolzura Cortez Story),” and “Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa.” This makes her the winningest actress ever and her Vilmanians have reason to gloat.
The concept of singing the songs from the nominated best films (by Tex Ordonez, Jose Llana, Jay Ar and Arnee Hidalgo) is good, along with the idea of lining up all the winners on stage for a final tribute before they announced the last awardee, Vilma Santos. Ate Vi was inexplicably already on stage but without a trophy, so you already know she’d be handed the award for the last category, which is the best actress award. But the production number involving Rufa Mae Quinto, the Sex Bomb, Marissa Sanchez, Michael V. and Ogie Alcasid was a dud. They tried to be funny spoofing Katya Santos and Mother Lily but only ended up being silly and corny. Host Edu Manzano did a fairly good job and even stole the scene when he too cried as ex-wife Ate Vi delivered her acceptance speech. In fairness, the Urian had a good roster of presentors like Rudy Fernandez, Maricel Soriano, Richard Gomez, Lucy Torres, Cherie Gil, etc. Unlike other award-giving bodies who just call on stage whoever is available inside the theater to act as presentors. As Rudy Fernandez himself pointed out, “Ang Urian talaga, mahilig sa tie,” so this year, the tie is in the best picture category, with Star Cinema’s “Dekada” and Teamwork Productions’ “Mga Munting Tinig” sharing the honor. – Sol Jose Vanzi, Malaya, May 23, 2003 (READ MORE)