ARMIDA SPILLS THE BEANS ON FAP AWARDS

Manila, April 1, 2003 (Tribune)  --  Before I proceed, here are the winners 
of last Saturday evening's Film Academy Awards for 2003: Best Theme Song 
(Coritha for Lapu-lapu), Best Music (Blitz Padua for Lapu-lapu), Best Sound 
(Danny Lorilla for Lapu-lapu), Best Production Design (Manny Morfe for 
Dekada '70), Best Editing (Francis Vinarao for Diskarte), Best 
Cinematography (Shane Clemente for Kailangan Kita), Best Story (Lualhati 
Bautista for Dekada '70), Best Screenplay (Jerry Tirazona for Lapu-lapu), 
Best Supporting Actor (Piolo Pascual for Dekada '70), Best Supporting 
Actress (Cherry Pie Picache for American Adobo), Best Actor (Lito Lapid for 
Lapu-lapu), Best Actress (Vilma Santos for Dekada '70), Best Director 
(Willy Mayo for Lapu-lapu) and Best Picture (Lapu-lapu).

None of the actors was on hand to receive his/her trophy.

The course of the Hollywood debate whether or not to go on with the Oscars 
because of the US war of aggression against Iraq revealed the event had 
only been cancelled thrice in its 75-year history. The first was in March 
of 1938 when massive floods in LA drowned 49 and destroyed all 
communication, the second after the assassination of Martin Luther King in 
April 4, 1968, and the third following John Hinckley's attempted slay of 
American President Ronald Reagan in March 30, 1981.

The FAP awards, our Oscar equivalent, has never had a cancellation since it 
was put up in 1981. The results of the most recent one, however, push the 
organizers to scrap it altogether, or come up with a completely new and 
foolproof electoral college system of choosing nominees and victors on the 
basis of genuine accomplishment and craftsmanship and not pakikisama. 
Otherwise, it gets to be from hereon known as "The Joke of the Year Award," 
or "The Walang Sisipot sa Winners Awards," and, worse: "Kinilaw na 
Lapu-Lapu Awards."

Don't get me wrong. I've defined awards on this same space as judgment 
calls usually based on an award-giving body's ideals, pretensions, taste or 
lack of it. I've also maintained it's not for us to question whatever 
decisions award-giving bodies make, although we're uniformly free to accept 
or reject what they bestow. But I am a member of the FAP, albeit inactive, 
so here in this particular award-giver's case, I pretty much know what I'm 
talking about.

Pakikisama had already threatened to rear its ugly head in the first FAP 
awards. But even the late Rodolfo "Boy" Garcia, who went as far as hiring 
legmen to stamp his name on all call slips ("Vote Rodolfo "Boy" Garcia for 
Best Supporting Actor!") and the most criticized open campaigner for his 
nomination in Ishmael Bernal's Ito Ba ang Ating Mga Anak, was at least 
nominated for the same portrayal in the Urian and praised by critics the 
likes of Pio de Castro III and Hammy Sotto, both deceased. Sa 
madaling-sabi, hindi lang FAP ang nagkagusto sa trabaho niya. Sa 
madaling-sabi, there was positive consensus outside of the FAP with regards 
to his performance.

Sadly, such is not the case with surprise nominee and near-runaway (seven 
out of the 14 trophies at stake) FAP winner Lapu-lapu, and the point is not 
immediately whether may karapatan itong humakot ng panalo, o wala, but most 
notably kung paano itong na-nominate sa FAP gayung box-office kulelat sa 
nakaraang Metro-Manila Film Festival, walang nakuhang kahit anong award sa 
nasabing MMFF, walang lumabas na magagandang film reviews outside of press 
releases, at hindi rin nanombrahan sa alinmang kategorya sa Star Awards, 
Urian at Young Critics' Circle.

In the FAP, the whole thing starts way before awards' season, with 
electoral colleges from each of the member guilds watching films exhibited 
from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 of the previous year. The actors' electoral college 
comes up with the acting nominees (actor, actress, supporting actor and 
supporting actress), the directors for the directors, screenwriters for the 
screenplays and so on and so forth. The guilds are supposed to function as 
expert screeners for the individual categories they represent, and everyone 
nominates for the best picture.

As a former and several times member of the actors' guild electoral 
college, I used to be startled by the rigidity with which my companions 
rated acting in the films we were watching. Some of them, including newly 
appointed FAP Director-General Leo Martinez, voted zero for those they 
deemed unworthy, shocking the others who'd say: "Bigyan n'yo naman ng kahit 
one point, for the effort!" There was also a year we put in a median, where 
actors who ranked below the median were not nominated even if it meant not 
completing the usual list of five nominees for each of the acting 
categories. We did this because an actor who ranked last in the previous 
year won, kahit na sa aming opinyon, siya ang pinakamahina sa lahat ng 
nominado.

We were chided for being strict and before we knew it, isa-isa na kaming 
inalis na magkakagrupo at pinalitan sa electoral college.

In 1999, I was part of a group that questioned what we felt as an unfair 
lock-out of the film Jose Rizal from the FAP awards. We did it not so much 
for love of the film itself but because we saw great need to re-examine and 
overhaul the process of selection and final voting.

Caridad Sanchez at the time adamantly declared there was no lock-out and 
scolded us for our inability to accept the results. Now one of the actors' 
guild leaders, she exhorts director Gil Portes to stop complaining about 
his film Munting Tinig's non-best picture nomination and "tanggapin na lang 
ang desisyon ng FAP."

I agree with Gil and, like him, think it strange that the FAP, through its 
Oscar selection committee, found Munting Tinig good enough to nominate to 
the American Academy's Best Foreign Film category, but not good enough to 
get into the FAP short list of best films.

Nonetheless, the greater part of my incredulity still goes to Madame 
Sanchez, who easily advises others to accept without complaint like she's 
forgotten that only after the 2001 MMFF, she was the one all over media 
angrily and tearfully berating that MMFF's batch of judges over the loss of 
Amy Austria to Assunta de Rossi in the best actress race: "Paano namang 
tatalunin ng isang Assunta de Rossi para sa pelikulang gaya ng Hubog ang 
isang Amy Austria ng Bagong Buwan?"

The greater task that faces Leo Martinez in his first year as head of the 
FAP is to institute drastic changes as far as the awards are concerned. 
Heaven knows this isn't the more important part of his assignment, but the 
FAP awards have unfortunately become the organization's window-dressing. 
Martinez must first successfully restructure the matter of the awards, for 
only then will the industry realize he seriously wants to succeed where 
others have been complacent.

When Coritha, Best Theme Song composer and singer, went up on stage FAP 
night to receive her trophy, she said: "Matapos kaming tadyak-tadyakan at 
sampal-sampalin sa nakaraang film festival, 'eto na aming vindication."

Sorry, hija. Hindi kayo na-vindicate. Sa tutoo lang, lalo kayong 
napagtawanan. (By Armida Siguion-Reyna)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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