John Lloyd Cruz and LJ Reyes emerged as the big winners of the 39th Gawad Urian Awards held Wednesday night at Araneta Center’s Kia Theater in Cubao, Quezon City.
Thunderous applause and deafening cheers exploded when the winner of the Best Actor was announced. Cruz bagged the award for the drama-thriller Honor Thy Father, directed by Erik Matti. He was also nominated for the same category for Star Cinema’s blockbuster love story A Second Chance with Bea Alonzo.
“This film [Honor Thy Father] gave me the opportunity to be enlightened by my own choices. This film taught me how to better understand and embrace my desire as an actor.
This film taught me that it’s OK to be different. My deepest, deepest thanks to my mom for raising and embracing me for who I truly am. I came here as an actor to give honor and celebrate my pure love for cinema,” Cruz said in his acceptance speech.
The actor bested other equally worthy nominees such as John Arcilla for Heneral Luna, Ricky Davao of Dayang Asu, Jericho Rosales of Walang Forever, Dennis Trillo of Felix Manalo, Sid Lucero of Apocalypse Child, Jun Jun Quintana of Water Lemon, Luis Alandy and Anthony Falcon of Anino sa Likod ng Buwan, Francisco Guinto of ARI: My Life with a King, and Lou Veloso of Da Dog Show.
Meanwhile, Reyes won for her critically acclaimed performance in Jun Lana’s Anino sa Likod ng Buwan (Shadow Behind the Moon). It was her second Best Actress Award for the same role, bagging the trophy for the Philippines at the 13th Pacific Meridian Film Festival in Vladivostok, Russia in 2015.
Anino sa Likod ng Buwan revolves around the story of a husband and wife who were “internal refugees” in Marag Valley in the 1990s. During that time, the Philippine government launched several military operations in the area which was believed to be the seat of the communist government.
“Sobra-sobrang daming hirap po ang dinaanan namin sa pelikulang ito; hindi po biro yung ginawa namin. Sobrang nananaba po yung puso ko sa tuwa na nare-recognize po ako at ang buong team namin. Hindi lang po ito para sa akin pero sa buong Anino sa Likod ng Buwan production at gusto ko pong magpasalamat sa lahat po ng naniwala sa akin. Sa buong pamilya ko, sa lahat ng taong nagmamahal sa akin, sa lahat ng mahal ang kanilang ginagawa hanggang sine, para po ito sa inyong lahat (The trials we had to go through to do this film was no joke. Thus it is indeed heart warming to be recognized along with our team. This is not just for me, this is for the entire film production and I would like to thank all those people who believe in me. To my family, to all those who love what they do including the cinema, this is for you,)” an overwhelmed Reyes said.
She added that her win was made more special by the fact that she was unable to attend the Russian film awards. “Ito talaga yung unang akyat ko ng stage so medyo pinagpapawisan yung kamay ko kanina habang nagsasalita ako. Unexpected talaga (This is the first time for me to go up the stage so my hands were sweaty. This is really unexpected),” she told reporters after the ceremony.
Brillante Mendoza did not bag the Best Director Award but his film Taklub was named Best Picture. The award did not come as a surprise to most as Taklub had already been screened at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and given an Ecumenical Jury commendation.
Taklub documents the lives of Filipinos who survived the devastating Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
The award for Best Director went to Jerrold Tarog for the historical biopic Heneral Luna. Despite the movie’s meager marketing budget, Heneral Luna went past the P160-million mark to become the highest grossing Filipino historical film of all time, all by the power of social media.
“The people I worked with know how much I value collaboration so all these trophies just mean I have the best team working with me. This award I accept in behalf of the entire team of Heneral Luna, the actors and of course the producers,” Tarog said.
Meanwhile, cinematographer Romy Vitug was given the Natatanging Gawad Urian Award also known as the Lifetime Achievement Award. Maricel Soriano, whom he had worked with in several films like Ikaw Pa Lang Ang Minahal (1992), was given the honor of presenting Vitug the award.
Vitug has won every major award in his field including the first FAMAS Hall of Fame and the Parangal Patnubay sa Kalinangan for Cinematography by the City of Manila.
Bernardo Bernardo and Ana Abad Santos took home the awards for their supporting roles in Imbisibol and Apocalypse Child, respectively.
“I’m so honored just to be nominated with such great actors. Maliit lang po siya na pelikula but we’re so honored that it’s getting so much attention,” Santos said.
“Thirty-six years na akong naghintay. Ibig sabihin lang, never too old, never too late, may priority lane ang mga senior,” Bernardo joked. “Maraming salamat sa Urian sa patuloy na pagbibigay ng puna at parangal sa makabuluhang pelikulang Pilipino na nagpapakita ng pagkakataon para magbago an gating bansa at mga mamamayan.
“Iniaalay ko din ito sa mga OFW. Ang pelikulang ito ay para sa mga bagong bayani na patuloy na nagsusumikap, nagsasakripsyo upang bagandahin ang buhay ng kanilang mga pamilya,” he added.
The other winners were Mikko Quizon who took home the Best Sound award for Heneral Luna; Pong Ignacio for the same film for Best Cinematography; and Tarog for Best Editing.
The Best Screenplay award went to Robby Tantingco for Ari: My Life with a King; and for the same film, Jake Abella bagged the Best Music trophy.
Ben Payumo, who has been nominated three times for an Urian, finally won Best Costume Design for the indie movie Water Lemon.
Wawa by Angelie Mae Macalanda bagged the Best Short Film award; and Sheron Dayoc’s The Crescent Rising was chosen as Best Documentary.
The 39th Gawad Urian was hosted by Iza Calzado, Zoren Legaspi and Butch Francisco, while performers Jonah Viray and Morissette Amon, Sheryn Regis and Daryl Ong were among the evening’s entertainers.