Manila, Jan. 7, 2002 - Former Miss Universe (1973) Margie Moran-Floirendo and her good friend, Niña Romualdez, are happy that their entry in this year's Metro Manila Filmfest, "Bagong Buwan," was adjudged this year's top grosser. Their outfit, Bagong-Hari Productions, co-produced the blockbuster with Star Cinema.

The film, judged the MMFF second best picture award (the best picture trophy went to "Yamashita"), grossed a cool P38,115,631.00 during its nine-day run. Its gross is expected to mount as its exhibition has been extended to several more days and in many more theaters.

The other grosses of the other entries are "Bahay ni Lola" (Regal Entertainment), P36,830,052.00; "Yamashita" (MAQ Productions), P23,840,110.00; "Hubog" (Golden Harvest), P13,768,880.00; "Tatarin" (Viva Films), P12,961,774.00; "Four Fathers" (Maverick Films), P1,872,713.00 and "Di Kita Ma-Reach" (starring First Son Mikey Arroyo), P779,042.00.

"Bagong Buwan" created a controversy because of the speech which its lead actor, Cesar Montano, delivered when he received his trophy for best actor. He said that in his opinion his movie, "Bagong Buwan," was more deserving of the best picture trophy.

It looks like the controversy which Cesar created added to the curiosity of the moviegoers, which led them to watch the movie, helping it to become number one among all the MMFF entries.

"Bagong Buwan" may not have garnered the best picture award and the best director trophy for its director, Marilou Diaz Abaya, but the fact that it was able to relay the message of peace which it wished to convey to as many people is enough achievement for the people behind it. "Bagong Buwan" tackles the ongoing war in Mindanao (between the military and the Muslims, specifically MILF members) which, as everybody knows, has been the subject of peace talks.

In "Bagong Buwan," Cesar plays a Muslim doctor forced by circumstances to drop his stethoscope in favor of a gun in defense of his family and his people. His was a moving performance, equalled only by the other members of the cast, which included Amy Austria, Caridad Sanchez, Jiro Manio, Jericho Rosales, Carlo Aquino and Ronnie Lazaro, among others.

Besides Cesar, two other members of the cast who won awards were Ronnie (best supporting actor) and Jiro (best child performer).

Said Margie: "We decided to do this film, because despite the fact that there is a large percentage of Muslims in Mindanao, not many people really know about them. The stories of the Filipino Muslim community and their culture have not really been sufficiently told. We knew very well that it was going to be an expensive project. But it did not deter us from pushing through with the project. We are so proud of 'Bagong Buwan'."

"Bagong Buwan" was conceived early last year by no less than Margie herself, and scripted by Direk Marilou in cooperation with Ricky Lee and Jun Lana, who also co-wrote with her the screenplays of "Rizal" and "Muro Ami."

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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