MANILA, Philippines – Nora Aunor and Jericho Rosales won the top acting prizes in the 36th Gawad Urian, besting a diverse lineup of acting nominees that included Aunor’s fellow veteran actors, some seasoned thespians and the critically acclaimed among today’s top celebrities.
Gawad Urian was launched in the mid-1970s by a group of committed cineastes who organized themselves as the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino. The Urian immediately gained renown for its creative mission to uphold Philippine cinema.
Aunor, 60, was named Best Actress for her role as a Badjao midwife troubled by failure and infertility in Brillante Ma. Mendoza’s “Thy Womb,” the same role for which she took home the Best Actress prize from the 7th Asian Film Awards last March.
This is Aunor’s 7th Urian award, one trophy shy of matching Vilma Santos, the most awarded performer thus far in the Urian’s history.
Aunor first won this prize in 1976, the Urian’s first year as an award-giving body, for her performance in Mario O’Hara’s “Tatlong Taong Walang Dios.”
She was welcomed with a standing ovation as she accepted her award. “Napakasarap po ng pakiramdam na ang ginagawa ninyong proyekto ay kinikilala sa ibang bansa. Pero mas masarap po sa pakiramdam na ang iyong mga kababayan ay kinikilala ka,” she said.
Rosales, 33, won for his role in Ian Loreños’ “Alagwa,” as a single parent caught in the web of human trafficking as he searches frantically for his missing son. This performance had already won for Rosales his second Best Actor prize at the Newport Beach Film Festival last April.
He joins a distinguished roster that includes Vic Silayan, Christopher de Leon and Phillip Salvador, as well as Daniel Fernando for his committed performance in the highly controversial “Macho Dancer”; Joel Torre as the torturer on the run in “Batang West Side”; Robin Padilla for his change of pace in comedy in “La Visa Loca”; and Rustom Padilla for “Zsazsa Zaturnnah.”
Rosales’ acceptance speech affirmed the distinction that the Urian continues to enjoy even long after its heyday during the reign of Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal in the 1970s and ‘80s.
“First time ko po sa Urian Awards,” Rosales said. “Isa pong napakalaking karangalan. Ikinagagalak ko po dahil lahat ng lungkot ng paglabas namin ng bansa, nabawi dahil sa Urian.”
Rosales also made a pitch for Filipino pride in the country’s cinema: “Naniniwala po ako na balang araw, magniningning muli ang pelikulang Pilipino.”
Like Aunor and Rosales, Alessandra de Rossi had won an acting prize in a foreign festival before her Best Supporting Actress win in this year’s Urian — for her role in “Sta. Niña,” as a young mother confronted by miraculous manifestations from her child’s corpse.
This role had won for de Rossi the Best Actress prize in the 1st ASEAN International Film Festival and Awards (AIFFA) last March.
Like her sister Assunta de Rossi, Alessandra was also nominated in the Best Actress category, but for another project — Auraeus Solito’s “Baybayin,” which she co-starred with Assunta, her fellow nominee.
Moreover, Alessandra was nominated for yet another project in the Best Supporting Actress category, Adolfo Alix Jr’s “Mater Dolorosa.” But the Manunuri selected her performance in “Sta. Niña.” Like Assunta, the Best Actress in 2001 (for her performance in “Hubog”), Alessandra de Rossi now has an Urian in her resume.
Art Acuña has gained critical attention for his own eclectic resume, covering the indies, teleserye and even some foreign productions. In this year’s Urian, he won his second Best Supporting Actor for his darkly elegant turn as a corrupt policeman in Lawrence Fajardo’s “Posas.”
Jun Robles Lana and 3-time Best Director awardee Brillante Ma. Mendoza were widely anticipated as the leading contenders in the Best Director and Best Picture categories. But the Best Director prize went to Adolfo Alix Jr for his goth-toned crime drama, “Mater Dolorosa,” even as Mendoza was awarded another Urian but this time for his production design in his own film, “Thy Womb.”
The Best Picture prize went to Arnel Mardoquio’s “Ang Paglalakbay ng mga Bituin sa Gabing Madilim,” his finely nuanced drama set against the intermittent conflict in Mindanao.
This year’s ceremony was hosted by Cherie Gil, Iza Calzado, Xian Lim and 3-time Urian Best Actor Richard Gomez.
Here is the complete list of winners:
- BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Alessandra de Rossi, “Sta Niña”
- BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Art Acuña, “Posas“
- BEST DOCUMENTARY: “Harana” by Benito Bautista
- BEST SOUND: Willy Fernandez, Bong Sungcang, Ferdinand Marcos Sabarongis, “Florentina Hubaldo”
- BEST SHORT FILM: “Ritmo” by Remton Siega Zuasola
- BEST MUSIC: Diwa de Leon, “Baybayin”
- BEST EDITING: Aleks Castaneda, “Kalayaan“
- BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: Brillante Mendoza, “Thy Womb”
- SPECIAL AWARD FOR FILM – NATATANGING GAWAD URIAN: Mila del Sol
- BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Whammy Alcazaren, “Colossal”
- BEST SCREENPLAY: Mes de Guzman, “Diablo”
- BEST DIRECTOR: Adolfo Alix Jr, “Mater Dolorosa”
- BEST ACTOR: Jericho Rosales, “Alagwa“
- BEST ACTRESS: Nora Aunor, “Thy Womb”
- BEST FILM: “Ang Paglalakbay ng mga Bituin sa Gabing Madilim” by Arnel Mardoquio
Here are more of Rappler’s exclusive photos: