A roomful of awards
Many multiawarded actors tend to be self-effacing when it comes to their wins, preferring to let their new work speak for themselves. They subscribe to the adage, “You’re only as good as your last performance.”
Oscar winner Kate Winslet (“The Reader”) famously keeps hers in the bathroom so guests can pose with it in the mirror. Gwyneth Paltrow hides her statuette in the back of a bookshelf because she’s weirded out by it. In an interview with Contact Music, Gwyneth said she had conflicted feelings about her best actress Oscar for “Shakespeare in Love.” “I just feel sort of embarrassed, and it brings up weird, traumatic feelings. It’s associated with a tough time in my life.”
There’s none of that uneasiness when it comes to accolades for actor John Arcilla who first caught the public’s attention for a 1994 bacon ad where he says the line, “Coffee na lang, dear.” The Purefoods commercial went on to win awards at the Ad Congress and opened “millions of doors and windows” for John, who was then a company actor of the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Pilipino. In a Facebook post, he recalled how he was chosen to play the brother of actor Richard Gomez in the movie “Sa ‘Yo Lamang” after the ad came out. “I was nominated for best supporting actor for that first movie of mine.”
Since then, John has acted in and won for movies like Gil Portes’ “Mulanay,” Carlitos Siguion Reyna’s “Ligaya ang Itawag Mo sa Akin” and Jerrold Tarog’s “Heneral Luna.”
Where does he keep his awards, all of which he considers his favorite things? He keeps them in a special room because “they symbolize me and my essence … what I have done in my life, what I have contributed to my community and country.”
All his awards are special, but the first ones hold additional significance like the one he received for “Mulanay” at the 1996 Manila Film Festival. “I remember memorizing my speech as if I had already won as soon as I was notified about my nomination. It was the sweetest win because the awards were held on June 23, 1996, the eve of Araw ng Maynila, which is also my birthdate. I received the award at almost midnight just in time for my birthday on June 24. The awards night that year lasted past 12 midnight. It was my first major award and the best birthday gift I have received so far.”
John also singled out his Urian award for “Ligaya ang Itawag Mo sa Akin” because at the time, “Reyna Films of Tita Midz Siguion Reyna was the biggest deal. The likes of Richard Gomez, Dawn Zulueta, Maricel Soriano and Snooky Serna prayed to be part of a Reyna Films production. That iconic stature of a film outfit was made possible by Tita Midz’s tandem with her son Direk Carlitos. I was a theater actor then and just new to the mainstream, thanks to my TV ad.”
It was his stirring role as Antonio Luna in “Heneral Luna” in 2015, however, where John received the most awards: four major awards including ones from regional award-giving bodies, and 18 recognitions from different universities, press, private and government organizations.
‘Cup of Life’
John went on to bag the Volpi Cup at the 78th Venice Film Festival in 2021 for his work on Erik Matti’s “On the Job: The Missing 8.” It was his first big international award, but he considers it “one of the sweetest and most painful.”
“I received it in the middle of the pandemic when a lot of friends and family members were leaving us. That’s why I call it my cup of life.”
John currently stars in “Ten Little Mistresses,” now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.