After clearing airport security, before boarding a flight to Dubai Tuesday afternoon, United States-based filmmaker Benito Bautista sent Inquirer yet another text message of thanks for his citation from the 3rd Inquirer Indie Bravo! Tribute on Monday night.
Bautista had painstakingly rearranged elaborate travel plans to attend the PDI event. This meant missing the opening rites of the Dubai International Film Festival, where his documentary, “Harana,” has been invited to compete.
Another honoree, Ron Morales, director of “Graceland,” flew back to New Jersey Tuesday morning. He had flown in the day before, just for Monday’s event.
A third US-based honoree, Will Fredo for “The Caregiver,” is staying for the holidays, to promote his latest movie “In Nomine Matris,” an entry to the New Wave section of this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival.
“My goal is to get my own Guyito,” said indie director Sigfreid Barros Sanchez, one of almost 200 guests.
Guyito is the Inquirer’s carabao (water buffalo) mascot. A small stuffed toy version comes with the trophy that the PDI gives the honorees. “It would be great to bring one home to my youngest child,” Sanchez said on Facebook.
Filmmaker Emman de la Cruz and Venice fest consultant Paolo Bertolin also said at the event that they wanted their own Guyitos.
This year’s recipients of the Indie Bravo! awards are Auraeus Solito, Adolfo Alix Jr., Brillante Ma. Mendoza, Jun Robles Lana, Will Fredo, Jet Leyco, Vincent Sandoval, Ron Morales, Benito Bautista and Chris Martinez.
Actors Eddie Garcia, Fides Cuyugan-Asensio, Anita Linda, Rustica Carpio, Gina Pareño, Nora Aunor, Jaclyn Jose, Cherry Pie Picache, Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino and Eugene Domingo were honored, too.
Honorees and guests started arriving at 5 p.m. Among the early birds were actors Buencamino, Madeleine Nicolas and Ronnie Lazaro. Aunor’s arrival before 6, scheduled start of the program, caused quite a stir, to put it mildly. She was followed by Garcia who gave her a hug, to the delight of star-struck witnesses.
The program began with a performance by composer/film scorer Diwa de Leon. During the awarding of trophies, Solito jokingly warned the program emcees not to give his mom Leonarda the microphone. “She may upstage me,” he quipped.
Asensio, a mezzo soprano, sang “Nature Boy” a cappella. Violinist Julian Duque closed the two-hour show with a medley of Antonio Vivaldi’s “Summer” and Antonio Molina’s “Hating Gabi.”
Duque played the lead role in Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil’s “Boses” when he was 8. Now 12, he invited everyone to watch his debut movie, which will be shown in 16 theaters in February.
It was a night of reunions and pleasant surprises.
Introducing Asensio as special honoree, Nestor U. Torre—Inquirer columnist, Saturday Special editor and one of the emcees—revealed that she used to be his voice teacher. “He had a beautiful baritone voice,” Asensio butted in from where she sat in the audience. Torre retorted, “I still do.”
Rito Asilo, who directed the proceedings, said, “It’s great to see Nestor relaxed and joking around.”
Again ad-libbing as he introduced the second special honoree, Torre said: “The New York Times called him ‘Clint Eastwood of the Philippines.’ For us, he is Eddie Garcia of the world.”
Aunor caught up not only with past costars, but also with a former director—Garcia who directed her starrer, “Atsay,” in 1978—and Digna Santiago, who produced “Fe, Esperanza, Caridad” and “Minsa’y Isang Gamu-gamo.”
During the video tribute for the departed artists, Aunor shed tears for her friend, director Mario O’ Hara.
A seatmate called her attention to the song that accompanied the video. She said she didn’t recognize the voice at first. “Then it hit me. It was Boyet (ex- husband Christopher de Leon)!”
Italian documentarian Leonardo Cinieri Lombroso attended the event with Filipino filmmaker Sigrid Andrea Bernardo, to interview the honorees.
Had there been an award for Gentleman of the Night, it would have gone to the consistently dapper Garcia, who, Entertainment editor Emmie Velarde said, made her feel like the only woman in the hall when she presented him with his trophy and Guyito onstage.