Transgender wins best actor at Cinemalaya indie awards


MANILA, Philippines—The Best Actor wore a stunning violet gown.

True to its maverick spirit, the 9th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival gave the best actor trophy to a transgender, Mimi Juareza, for his acting debut in Eduardo Roy Jr.’s “Quick Change.”

Asked if he had wanted to win best actress instead, Juareza told the Inquirer: “Best actor, best actress … whatever, for as long as they show their appreciation for my work, I don’t mind.”

The jury cited Juarez for “his bold take on a gender-bending role.”

Roy said that for a first-timer, Juareza was a “natural.”

“Luckily, he was a good actor to begin with. We only had a two-day workshop before the shoot,” Roy told the Inquirer.

Another gender-bending role won for theater thespian Joey Paras the best supporting actor award for his work in “Babagwa” in the New Breed section.

Veterans and newcomers alike won big in the indie fest, held at the Main Theater of the Cultural Center of the Philippines on Sunday night.

Two films clearly led the pack: Hannah Espia’s “Transit” and Jerrold Tarog’s “Sana Dati.”

Debuting filmmaker Espia’s “Transit” brought home 10 Balanghai trophies in the New Breed section—including best film, director, actress for theater stalwart Irma Adlawan and supporting actress for show-biz neophyte Jasmine Curtis-Smith.

“Transit” tells the story of Israel-based overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) whose children face deportation.

In the Directors’ Showcase, Tarog’s “Sana Dati” won eight awards—including best film, sound, music, editing and direction (for Tarog) and production design (Ericson Navarro) and cinematography (Mackie Galvez).

Described by Tarog as the antithesis of a romantic-comedy date movie, “Sana Dati” follows a bride on her wedding day as it is disrupted by a mysterious videographer.

In the New Breed section, “Transit” won the Netpac prize and audience choice honor, best music score (Mon Espia), cinematography (Ber Cruz, Lyle Sacris) and editing (Benjamin Tolentino and Hannah Espia). The entire “Transit” cast also won a special citation for ensemble acting.

The two other films that figured prominently in the awards derby were Roy’s “Quick Change” in the New Breed and Jeffrey Jeturian’s “Ekstra” in the Directors’ Showcase.

“Quick Change” also won special jury prize, best sound (Michael Idioma) and screenplay (Roy) in the New Breed category.

“Ekstra” won six trophies—including best actress for Vilma Santos, supporting actress for Ruby Ruiz, screenplay (for Zig Dulay, Antoinette Jadaone and Jeturian), special jury prize, Netpac prize and audience choice in the Directors’ Showcase.

Santos failed to attend the awards ceremony. Her loyal fans, known as Vilmanians, came in full force, however.

In a text message, Santos told the Inquirer that winning feels like “heaven… it was exciting. It was my first try in the indie scene and I was nervous. But I am happy that people appreciated it.”

In the Directors’ Showcase, TJ Trinidad won best supporting actor for “Sana Dati.”

No best actor award was given in the Directors’ Showcase section.

Jury member and filmmaker Peque Gallaga told the Inquirer that no best actor award was handed out in that section because “the bar was set high this year.”

Other jury members were filmmakers Ditsi Carolino and Carlitos Siguion-Reyna and foreign critics and fest programmers Maggie Lee (of the Tokyo International Film Festival) and Bastian Meiresonne (of the Vesoul International Film Festival).

In the Shorts section: Paolo O’Hara’s “The Houseband’s Wife” won best film and screenplay; JE Tiglao’s “Onang,” best director; Adi Bontuyan’s “Taya,” special jury prize and audience choice; and Nica Santiago’s “Sa Wakas,” special citation.

In the New Breed, Roy Red (for Mikhail Red’s “Rekorder”) won best production design.

Cinemalaya’s audience is growing, in terms of audience share, according to organizers.

Cinemalaya Foundation head Nes Jardin said Cinemalaya’s audience increased by 13 percent from last year’s 66,910 to 75,776 this year.

Festival director Chris Millado told the Inquirer that the fest’s earnings at one venue alone (CCP) surpassed last year’s record of P3 million. (The fest had three satellite venues: Greenbelt, TriNoma and Alabang Town Center.)

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  • macobex

    TO INQUIRER.NET: If the winner is indeed a transgender as you claim, then it would be very rude to be referring to this person as a “he”. If he self-identifies as male, please refer to him as a gay man, and not as a transgender. Male-to-Female (MtF) Transgenders identify with their expressed gender identities (“she”, NOT “he”), and have to be appropriately referred to as such.

    Source: http : // transwhat . org / confused /
    (remove the spaces)

    • GKLer

      The DNA would still be male (a he), no matter what he/she claims to be. Also a female (a she) can produce eggs. Are the facts incorrect?

      • macobex

        If you visited the source above (there’s a “Misconceptions debunked” link), then you would have a starting primer on how the DNA makeup and anatomy has nothing to do with the gender identity of a person.

        Here’s another source that I firmly hope you would take time to open-mindedly educate yourself with:

        http : // www . gires . org . uk / dysphoria . php

      • GKLer

        I went to your link, I quote: “Transsexual men genuinely are men, no less so than any other man”. This would indicate INQUIRER was correct to call him a HE.

        But it doesn’t mention anything specific on DNA and female eggs. So if the facts I stated are wrong, just tell me straight.

        All I know is that “God made them male and female” – very simple to understand even if I don’t have a PhD on the subject.

      • macobex

        You misunderstood the quote. By “Transgender men”, it’s referring to FtM (Female to Male) transgenders. These are those who were assigned as female at birth but who identifies as men (what we would normally refer here in the Philippines as “tomboy”). As such, these MEN are NO LESS than those who were both born and identify as men.

        As for Inquirer’s case, Mimi Juarez would be a TRANSGENDER WOMAN if SHE were indeed transgender. Again, you refer to the transgender as the gender expressed by the person, not by the DNA or genitalia this person was born with.

        I won’t be here all day spoon-feeding you on the facts. Please, be open-minded for once. You don’t have to lose your religion for it. :)

      • Nina_W

        Simple lang din naman intindihin ang respect. If a transsexual person lives as a woman and wants to be treated as one, then do so, the same way you want others to respect your wishes. A little bit of understanding would go a long way.

    • airvengeance

      So I can express myself as a male today and maybe a female tomorrow and a male the next, and it will be all o.k.? Wow, time to visit the female bathrooms then.

      • Nina_W

        No, you would have to live your life in accordance with your gender identity. An MTF transsexual typically lives full time as a woman though she was born male.

      • airvengeance

        Does that mean that it is a one time deal? What if he/she changes he/her mind? After all the concept of being transgender revolves around the idea of “what you feel/think” your gender is, and feeling/thinking change, they are not constant indicators.

      • Nina_W

        In the case of most transsexuals (note that there is a difference between transsexual and transgender though), it is. It’s not a simple choice since most transsexuals feel this way from a very young age. Studies are now emerging pointing to an actual physical difference in the brains of transsexuals. If the transsexual woman (M->F) or man (F->M) undergoes hormone therapy and surgery, then the changes are irreversible too. In other countries, approval from a licensed psychiatrist is required to go through these changes, so it’s a full time commitment. It’s good that you’re asking these questions. It shows that you are willing to try to understand.

    • Nina_W

      Well, you can’t expect much from a backwards publication like the Inquirer. In more progressive societies, publications respect a person by using pronouns aligned with their social gender identity, regardless of their birth sex.

  • tarikan

    Ano itong transgenders X-Men, ex-Men, dating men? Ito ba yung na-operahan, tinaggalan ng stick? Trans-sexual yata yun. Anyways, this gives high hopes to aspiring transmen. Last survey two years ago 20% ng PH population was trans/gay/lesb/bayot/tibo. NaHin…DoT na talaga ang Pinas. Good for pro-RH Law.

  • tarikan

    Now, if everybody would laugh…hehehe/shesheshe! It would be politically correct.

  • Jun Manacsa

    Pag pwede ipagyabang, kahit he/she/actor/actress pwede na? Pero pagdating sa choice, babae na daw sya… make up your mind, woman… este man… ano nga ba?

  • Yahoogle

    Congratulations, Mimi! And well done Cinemalaya for showcasing Filipino talent. At least Filipino moviegoers are not just confined to Hollywood and Star Cinema romcom films.

  • fuctore

    Funny, how people reacted on the issue of Juareza’s gender more than the “PERSON’S” acting performance.
    Very comfortable indeed to ridicule, deride and ostracize another human being instead of looking at your own flaws.
    Crabs everywhere…

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