Once again, the Philippines proved to be a rich source of talent in this part of the world as several denizens were accorded accolades in the international arena in 2016.
Let’s take a look at the sterling triumphs of Filipino celebrities in various fronts as we bid the year goodbye.
Heading the list is Jaclyn Jose who won the Best Actress award at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival for Ma’ Rosa as the titular character who sells drugs for her family to survive. Directed by award-winning filmmaker Brillante Mendoza, the movie was chosen as the official Philippine entry to the Best Foreign Language Film in the 2017 Oscars.
John Lloyd Cruz, who won the Gawad Urian for Best Actor, was awarded the Star Asia Award at the 15th New York Asian Film Festival. JLC is the first Southeast Asian to receive the said award.
Barbie Forteza, who appeared in several teen shows and indie films, won the Best Actress award at the 36th Fantasporto International Film Festival in Oporto, Portugal for the film Laut. The film tells the story of the ethnic group Sama d’Laut that makes it an eye-opener for the community’s culture.
Award-winning actor Sid Lucero was named Best Actor at the 19th Los Angeles Comedy Festival Awards for the film Toto, which also took home the Best Foreign Film. In the movie, Lucero is a room service attendant wanting to achieve the American dream.
Paolo Ballesteros won the Best Actor award at the Tokyo International Film Festival for his work in the Jun Lana film Die Beautiful where he plays the transgender character named Trisha. The film also won the Audience Choice Award. In another film festival, where no acting award was up for grabs, an acting citation was created and given to Paolo because the jurors were impressed with his performance.
Ang Babaeng Humayo by Lav Diaz won the top prize at the 73rd Venice Film Festival.
Louie Ignacio’s Area, starring Ai Ai delas Alas, won the Special Jury Prize at the Eurasia International Film Festival held in Kazakhstan.
Area competed in several categories, including Best Picture, Best Director, Special Jury Prize, Best Actress for Ai Ai and Best Actor for leading man Allen Dizon. His lead stars may have not won acting honors but it was enough to warm Direk Louie’s heart that the movie was well received by the audience.
On the beauty front, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach wins the country’s third Miss Universe title at the close of 2015. It was a controversial win after host Steve Harvey mistakenly proclaimed Miss Colombia as winner. Pia thereafter proved to be one of the best goodwill ambassadors of country during her reign as Miss Universe, working so hard so that Philippines will host the international pageant’s next edition.
Kylie Verzosa won the title of Miss International 2016 in Japan. Verzosa, who is a pre-school teacher with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from the Ateneo De Manila University, is the sixth Filipina to win the Miss International crown.
Aside from advocating mental health awareness, Versoza instantly championed single girls when she corrected a TV host who remarked that having no boyfriend seemed sad. “It’s not sad. No, of course not. A crown is only once in a lifetime,” Verzosa quipped. As such, she put forth the image of an empowered single woman who doesn’t require a man to complete her life.
In the world of sports, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, a 25-year-old native of Zamboanga City, won Philippines’ first Olympic medal in 20 years. Lifting a total of 200 kilograms to finish, Diaz’s silver was also the first ever Olympic medal won by a Filipina weightlifter.
In the world of politics, Camarines Sur 3rd District Representative Leni Robredo was the lone female candidate for vice president in the May polls. In the only televised debate featuring Vice Presidential candidates, Robredo uttered her now famous quote, “Itaga niyo sa bato: the last man standing is a woman.” That was, indeed, what happened.