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Drama, comedy, suspense at the Inquirer Indie Bravo!

Honorees, guests and the Inquirer Entertainment staff celebrate the country’s “winningest” year in international film festivals.

Honorees, guests and the Inquirer Entertainment staff celebrate the country’s “winningest” year in international film festivals.

Like a riveting, star-studded film, the Inquirer Indie Bravo! Awards had all the ingredients of a heady brew: drama, comedy, suspense and a bit of romance.

Cannes best actress Jaclyn Jose kept the crowd in suspense—as she had motored all the way from Quezon City and arrived at almost 9 p.m., just as her name was about to be called as the night’s last honoree.

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She headed straight for the buffet table as she hadn’t eaten since breakfast.

Her head was spinning; her stomach aching. But she would not dare miss the event. “I could have gone to a drive-thru to pick up some food, but I would have missed the event!” Jaclyn said, eliciting laughter from a room full of talented filmmakers and actors, and staunch movie producers.

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“I needed to be here, because the Inquirer is a paper I admire and respect,” said the veteran artist, who accepted her second Indie Bravo! trophy—this time, for being hailed best actress at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, for her performance in the movie, “Ma’ Rosa.”

“For me, winning is different from getting recognition. So I make sure to be present at such events,” Jaclyn said of the annual Indie Bravo! celebrations.

Some expected Paolo Ballesteros, who won the best actor plum at this year’s Tokyo Film Festival for the movie “Die Beautiful,” to make a show-stopping entrance as one of the many Hollywood stars he impersonates through his fabulous makeup transformations.

But as much as he wanted to, Paolo explained he had to drive himself to the Inquirer. “E, baka matunaw ang makeup at gown!” quipped Paolo, who nonetheless looked dashing in a dark blazer and a plain white shirt. “I now have three acting trophies. Back then, I used to win only titles like ‘Binibining Palaro’ or ‘Miss Cabanatuan!’”

Inquirer’s Marixi Prieto and Sid Lucero

Inquirer’s Marixi Prieto and Sid Lucero

Lotlot de Leon gave a heartwarming speech, paying tribute to the veteran directors on the roster: Mel Chionglo, Joel Lamangan and Elwood Perez. “I grew up watching their movies. It’s inspiring to be in the company of greatness.”

Guyito plush toy

It was Lotlot’s first time to get a Guyito—and she was nervous. Lotlot received a special acting citation at the All Lights India fest in Hyderabad.

Perez told the Inquirer: “How wonderful to have lived long enough to witness Inquirer’s seventh night of nights!”

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“Patuloy tayong gumawa ng pelikula—para sa bayan at para sa Guyito!” jested director Jun Robles Lana, whose recognition this year for “Die Beautiful” and “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan,” earned him his fifth Guyito.

Ferdinand Lapuz and Sue Prado

Ferdinand Lapuz and Sue Prado

Many of this year’s honorees appeared to be more excited about the Guyito plush toy—Inquirer’s carabao mascot—than the trophy itself. It didn’t matter whether it was their first time to get one, or if they already have enough to make a family.

Producer-professor Rene Durian, who accepted the Indie Bravo! prize on behalf of “Taklub” director Brillante Ma Mendoza—another perennial honoree—said: “Direk can now build a carabao farm!”

Character actress Cherry Malvar related that, when her daughter, child star Therese Malvar, found out that she had won the best actress award at the Moscow Film Festival for the film “Hamog,” the 15-year-old’s immediate reaction was, “Mommy, I will now get to have a Guyito!”

“Therese was already thinking about Indie Bravo!, even before she saw her trophy from Moscow,” Cherry said.

Paolo Ballesteros photos by Alec Corpuz and Arnold Almacen

Paolo Ballesteros Photos by Alec Corpuz and Arnold Almacen

“1st Sem” directors Allan Ibañez and Dexter Hemedez jestingly recalled how they almost ended up in jail because of debts incurred while making the film. But their struggles were rendered insignificant by the sweetness of success, they insisted.

Unforgettable night

“The night was unforgettable. Indie Bravo! made us feel special,” Allan said.

Repeat awardee Sid Lucero said he would never get tired of bringing home a Guyito. He related that he gave his first to his daughter, and his second to his mom. “Maybe I can keep this third one,” he said.

Another returning honoree, Allen Dizon, likewise shared his award (and his third Guyito) with his families—at home and on the set.

Producers Fernando Ortigas and EA Rocha, who accepted the award of Mikhail Red for “Birdshot,” expressed the hope that, after the international acclaim, their film will be as well-received by the local audience when it opens next year.

Jaclyn Jose

Jaclyn Jose

The sentiment was echoed by most of the awardees, whose films will face an uphill climb in local cinemas.

Inquirer had a home-grown honoree this year: Radyo Inquirer news director Arlyn dela Cruz, who was dubbed by Jaclyn as the “night’s most controversial winner.” (Arlyn recently figured in a scandal involving actor Baron Geisler, who urinated on costar Ping Medina on the set of her latest film, “Bubog.”)

Liza Diño (left) and Aiza Seguerra

Liza Diño (left) and Aiza Seguerra

The honorees also made time to talk about important social issues.

Honoree Ralston Jover, whose film, “Hamog,” tackles the plight of street children, mentioned the distressing move to “lower the age of criminal liability” in Congress.

Ara Belleng of Amin Anak Mindanao, who represented documentarian Sheron Dayoc, reiterated the message of their Busan-winning film, “The Crescent Rising.” “We wish that our film will start a dialogue on the issues confronting Southern Philippines.”

Arlyn dela Cruz

Arlyn dela Cruz

Film Development Council of the Philippines chair Liza Diño rearranged her calendar, so she could attend the Indie Bravo! Awards with her spouse, singer Aiza Seguerra, who is chair of the National Youth Commission.

The pioneering celebrity same-sex couple celebrated their second wedding anniversary on the same day as the Indie Bravo! Awards.
There was also music, provided by singers Mitch Valdes and Ronnie Liang.

Mitch, who has also appeared in indie films, sang “Balut,” which was dedicated to Inquirer Entertainment columnist Nestor U. Torre. (“Balut” was part of the stage musical, “Katy,” which was directed by Torre and featured Valdes in the title role.) Mitch said the last time she listened to the song’s minus one was 20 years ago.

Now, for the romance part.

Joel Lamangan

Joel Lamangan

Liang, who topbilled Elwood’s “Esoterika: Maynila,” performed “Ngiti”—made popular by the AlDub kalyeserye phenomenon.

The honorees, who braved the holiday traffic rush to make it in time for the annual festivities held in the paper’s Makati office, truly deserved their trophies and Guyito stuffed toy for the patience and commitment they have shown—all for the love of cinema and the independent film movement.

Now on its seventh edition, the Inquirer Indie Bravo! Awards honors filmmakers, actors and other movie industry professionals who have won in international film festivals.

To celebrate the Inquirer’s 31st anniversary, the Indie Bravo! Awards feted 31 honorees this year—including top winners from A-list festivals like Berlin, Cannes, Shanghai, Moscow, Venice and Tokyo.

This year, the Inquirer Indie Bravo! Awards was a multimedia event, covered by Next Video/Inquirer.Net, Inquirer Social (FB Live, Periscope, Twitter and Viber) and Bandera.

Ralston Jover

Ralston Jover

Madonna Tarrayo

Madonna Tarrayo

Mel Chionglo

Mel Chionglo

Elwood Perez

Elwood Perez

Ronnie Liang

Ronnie Liang

Mitch Valdes sings “Balut.”

Mitch Valdes sings “Balut.”

Micko Laurente

Micko Laurente

Lotlot de Leon

Lotlot de Leon

Carlo Francisco Manatad

Carlo Francisco Manatad

Paul Soriano

Paul Soriano

Rafa Siguion-Reyna

Rafa Siguion-Reyna

Marco Felipe Villas Lopez

Marco Felipe Villas Lopez

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TAGS: Comedy, Drama, Filipino indie film, Film, Inquirer Indie Bravo, suspense
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