Quezon City, May11, 2002 (STAR) by Butch Francisco - When the first Gawad Urian was staged in late February 1977, the awards presentation was held at the CCP Little Theater which has a seating capacity of about 700 people (if I’m not mistaken). The awards show had no TV coverage and the first time a television producer dared to touch it was only in 1980 – when Armida Siguion Reyna bought the TV rights for P25,000 (quite a sum in those days). Armida – I’d like to say again – was one of the few producers who did not rip off the Manunuri members (who all have a bad business sense) when it came to financial dealings.

In 1983, the Gawad Urian was moved to the Manila Film Center (a mild earthquake shook the city as Best Actress winner, Vilma Santos, walked into the venue). The awards show was produced by a civic organization and I was told (I was not a member yet that time) that this group didn’t bother to pay the Manunuri members for the TV coverage.

The following year, the awards presentation was moved to the Rizal Theater, but I’m not sure if that was ever televised. The late Pio de Castro’s wife, the former Joy Soler (the Manunuri First Lady) supposedly stopped the TV coverage because the producer had not given any downpayment minutes before showtime.

The awards night returned to the CCP Little Theater in 1985 despite the then oppositions’ call to boycott the Imelda Marcos venues.

On the Manunuri’s 10th year in 1986, the awards show was held at the Philamlife Theater because – for the first time – it was held on the month of May and CCP is always closed for renovation during this month. (The awards presentation was delayed because of the events before and after EDSA.)

It was back to the CCP Little Theater the following year, but the year after that, there was no Urian because some (only some) members of the group didn’t think there was any film worthy of an award. The Catholic Mass Media Awards held its own awards night, but did not name a Best Picture that year.

After a year’s absence, the Urian returned in 1989 and the show was produced by Dr. Grace Javier Alfonso, who – two years later – would join the group as a member. (Starting with her, the Manunuri never had problems anymore collecting payments for TV rights.)

In 1990, the group took a deep breath and staged the awards presentation at the CCP main theater. To the surprise of even the members, the venue was filled to capacity. The producer that year was Tessie Celestino Howard and she would produce it for the next 12 years. During those 12 years, I have to say that Tessie (with the help of director Al Quinn) did a wonderful job producing the Urian awards night.

Upon the suggestion of the Manunuri members in 1994, Tessie dared open the UP Theater to awards presentations – starting with the Gawad Urian. The first time the Manunuri used the UP Theater, I remember we had to provide maps for the participants and guests because nobody knew where it was. Now, everybody is using the UP Theater for awards presentations.

But this year – on the Manunuri’s silver anniversary presentation today – the Gawad Urian will be held for the first time in (gulp!) the Araneta Coliseum.

Producer of the Urian is Antonio Tuviera’s APT Productions (with ever reliable Malou Choa Fagar sitting on top of production). Directing the show is Poochie Rivera, one of the youngest directors on TV.

Master of ceremonies in tonight‘s show is Edu Manzano. Lorna Tolentino and Phillip Salvador are in charge of the awarding of the 10 best films in the past 30 years. Best Actor of the ’90s, Richard Gomez, will have a special segment as he leads the reunion of the past Urian acting winners. Gelli de Belen and Ryan Agoncillo serve as anchors.

For the first time (again, if I’m not mistaken), a live band will be used in a local awards presentation. The show will thus feature only performers who can really sing live and the list includes Janno Gibbs, Aiza Seguerra, Sunshine Cruz, Ciara Sotto, Cris Villonco, Geneva Cruz, Dulce, Allan K., Francis Magalona, Joey Ayala, Grace Nono, Carol Banawa, Bituin Escalante, Diane de la Fuente, Jamie Rivera and the UP Concert Chorus. Providing the dance numbers are Jolina Magdangal, Regine Tolentino and the Streetboys with Spencer Reyes, Jhong Hilario and Vhong Navarro.

This year’s recipient of the Natatanging Gawad Urian is the King of Philippine Movies himself, Fernando Poe, Jr.

And with your kind indulgence, the Gawad Urian and the APT Productions would like to acknowledge some establishments that are helping put up tonight’s 25th Gawad Urian: Sunsilk, Tide, Touch Mobile, Enervon Prime, U-Care Milk, Chowking, Likas Papaya and Disudrin.

Admission is free, so everyone is invited to attend tonight’s 25th Gawad Urian.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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