LOS ANGELES—Philippine Daily Inquirer Entertainment columnist Ruben V. Nepales won third place in two categories at the 2012 National Entertainment Journalism (NEJ) Awards held on Sunday at LA’s historic Biltmore Hotel.
Nepales won in the best column category for his “Only In Hollywood” in PDI Entertainment; and in the best book category for his first book, “My Filipino Connection: The Philippines in Hollywood”—a collection of his columns that appeared in this section.
“I am humbled and honored to win in both categories, especially since I was competing against writers from mostly large mainstream American publications,” Nepales said in a statement. “To win third prize for best column in a tie with someone from a giant Tinseltown paper like The Hollywood Reporter is a privilege.”
The LA correspondent of PDI, Nepales was the only winner from the Philippines in these two categories. The rest came from such US publications as The Hollywood Reporter and LA Weekly.
Actress Jane Fonda won a special award, which was presented by actor Robert Redford. Actor Jeff Daniels composed and sang a song as a tribute to Fonda.
The NEJ Awards, a prestigious US competition, is presented annually by the Los Angeles Press Club.
Nepales dedicated the awards to his wife Janet, and their two daughters, Nikki and Ella, “for their love, support and understanding through all the hectic and demanding times while I wrote the book and continued writing my PDI column.”
He added: “I was especially inspired to write about Martin Scorsese in my PDI column titled, ‘Childhood Isolation Inspired His Passion,’ because it was moving and inspiring to hear him talk about how being an asthmatic child nurtured his passion for cinema.”
“Winning third prize for best book… is especially sweet because it is, in a way, a recognition of my passion and commitment to spotlight the Filipino talent excelling on the world stage,” Nepales said.
His winning book, “My Filipino Connection: The Philippines in Hollywood,” published by Anvil Publishing Inc., was released last April and is now on its second printing. He thanked his friends who “volunteered” to help launch the book in LA, New York, San Francisco and Vancouver after the Manila launch.
He said: “I share the prize with all the Filipino personalities I featured who gave interesting interviews, my PDI entertainment editor Emmie G. Velarde who also edited the book, Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc and Prosy de la Cruz for their blurbs and the good folks at Anvil.”
In his book review for the Philippine News, Lorenzo Paran III pointed out: “…Over the years his (Nepales’) column has provided his readers with a Hollywood insider’s perspective with a focus on, and from the angle of, the Pinoy. This, along with Nepales’ fine journalism skills, makes ‘The Philippines in Hollywood’ a source of solid reportage that Filipino readers, whether in the Philippines, the United States or other parts of the world, will not find anywhere else.”
In June, Nepales won third prize, best columnist in the international journalism category, at the 54th Southern California Journalism Awards—one of the oldest and largest journalism competitions in the United States.
Nepales is the first Filipino member in the 70-plus year history of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), which votes on and presents the coveted Golden Globe Awards. HFPA is also active in philanthropy.
He has served several times on the board of directors of the HFPA, which has donated nearly $15 million to charities, foundations, scholarships and aid relief to international disasters in the past 18 years. Early this year, the HFPA membership voted to help in the Tropical Storm “Sendong” relief efforts, resulting in the association’s $25,000 donation to Unicef Philippines. The donation is being used by Unicef Philippines for its long-term programs to aid children and families affected by the devastating storm.
Last June, Nepales was elected chair of HFPA’s board of directors, becoming the first Filipino to assume the position.
The journalist also serves on the board of directors of Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (Sipa), a nonprofit organization in LA’s Historic Filipino Town that serves Filipino-Americans and other communities through youth development, health, economic and social services.