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‘Heneral Luna’ sweeps Luna Awards

/ 12:20 AM September 23, 2016

Quite aptly, Jerrold Tarog’s historical epic, “Heneral Luna,” swept the Luna Awards, handed out by the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) at the Quezon City Sports Club on Sunday.

Dubbed the country’s Oscars, the Luna Awards, now on its 34th year, was named after world-renowned painter Juan Luna, brother of revolutionary hero Antonio Luna, whose life story was chronicled in Tarog’s film.

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“Heneral Luna” brought home 10 of the 12 trophies—including best film, director (Tarog), actor (John Arcilla), supporting actor (Nonie Buencamino), screenplay (Henry Francia, EA Rocha and Tarog), cinematography (Pong Ignacio), production design (Benjamin Padero, Carlo Tabije), editing (Tarog), musical scoring (Tarog) and sound (MikkoQuizon and Kokoy Amante of Hit Productions).

Tarog related: “I am grateful … but it was a surprise, too. Nobody comes to these things expecting a sweep.”

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Producer Fernando Ortigas said: “The Luna is the only award voted by all the guilds. For us to win 10 out of the 12 … I’m still in a daze.” Coproducer Rocha agreed: “It was surreal … What’s important is that we’ve made a film that has touched hearts and inspired not just industry people, but the public as well. That to us is an award in itself.”

Buencamino, who won for his portrayal of much-reviled ancestor Felipe Buencamino, told the Inquirer: “I didn’t expect to win, but I’m happy for the award! I’m also glad that many of the  ‘Heneral Luna’ staffers and the producers attended the event with me.”

In a message sent via Facebook Messenger, Arcilla remarked: “I am honored and humbled. This award is important to me. For one thing, it was given by coworkers. They know the industry well—the work condition, the nature of the job.” He pointed out that it was his first time to bag a Luna trophy.

He shared the recognition with “everyone who supported our film, which eventually became the movie with the longest theatrical run last year.”

“Heneral Luna” was shown for nine weeks in local theaters, a record in the movie industry, according to its producers, Artikulo Uno, Tuko and Buchi Boy.

Arcilla related that it was heartwarming to see “stars from different networks” championing the film. “They spread the word, telling people how entertaining and educational the film was.”

Best actress went to Bea Alonzo (“The Love Affair”) and supporting actress to Ana Abad Santos (“Apocalypse Child”).

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Alonzo told the Inquirer: “It feels great to be validated. It makes me feel like I’m doing something right. Not that winning awards is my goal, but it’s great to inspire the younger ones and show them that when you love your job, it will love you back.”

Abad Santos said: “I am super happy. After the Urian, I won the Luna. I am ecstatic! It was also extra special because my son accompanied me that night.”

Rep. Vilma Santos received a special honor, the Golden Reel award.

“Heaven,” Santos described to the Inquirer how she felt upon scoring yet another award from her peers. “It’s good to see old friends from the industry again. Even though I now work in a different field as a public servant, I still feel I’m part of the industry. How I miss making movies!”

Leo Martinez, FAP head, explained that the Golden Reel is the “highest honor” given by the academy. “There have been only five recipients so far: former presidents Cory Aquino and Joseph Estrada, National Artist for film Fernando Poe Jr., former first lady Imelda Marcos and Rep. Santos. The honor is not given every year.”

Other special honors were given to director Emmanuel H. Borlaza (Fernando Poe Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award), actor-director Herminio “Butch” Bautista (Manuel de Leon Award for Exemplary Achievements) and the late Sampaguita Pictures matriarch Azucena Vera-Perez (Lamberto Avellana Memorial Award).

A special plaque of recognition was given to Jaclyn Jose, who won best actress at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for Brillante Ma. Mendoza’s “Ma’ Rosa.”

“This recognition is different,” Jose told the Inquirer. “I was moved by Leo’s speech that night. It’s also exciting because “Ma’ Rosa” is the country’s entry in the Oscars. It’s a privilege to be chosen by FAP. I hope we get in!”

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