Re-acceptance of returned trophies by Sampaguita
winners reflects renewed confidence in the academy.
By KITCH ORTEGO
THE FAMAS season was ushered
in recently with a monumental event – the re-presentation of 29 awards which
were returned to the academy in anger in 1959.
The body’s gesture was an earnest reaffirmation of its recognition of true
excellence, while the recipients’ re-acceptance of the awards was a hearty
demonstration of their unruffled respect for the organization.
Some Famas officers saw this a
re-emergence of confidence in the academy
The awardees, on the other hand, felt that they were just retrieving
what had belonged to them all along.
True. And Famas president Ramon
Lopez corroborated this when he told the awardees, “We are returning to you
your statuettes which we just held for safe-keeping.”
In fact when the awardees returned
their trophies six years ago they had not actually lost confidence in the
Famas, except that the studio under whose sway they were was piqued by some
ill-timed academy whim and thereby lost its temper. That the wounds have healed was explained by
the presence of Pepito Vera Perez who represented Sampaguita Pictures at the
“return” of the awards. He even received
all the statuettes of the awardees who could not come.
Thus, everybody was happy
again. Rita Gomez expressed her
jubilation in tears. Rosa Mia could only
manage to whisper, “Thank you, thank you…,” as she gulped down her emotion and
kissed her statuette.
Fred Montilla grinned from ear to
ear and exclaimed, “My award and I were just separated for a while, we belonged
to each other all the time!” Marlene
Dauden controlled her feelings, received her statuette solemnly as though she
was getting it for the first time.
A Quiet Affair
Carmen Rosales was indisposed at the time. She sent a handsome son to receive the award
and express her gratitude. Another
awardee represented by proxy was Katy de la Cruz whose daughter Angie was
surprised to find out that her Mommie had already got her trophy sometime
before in order to be sure about it.
Lolita Rodriguez couldn’t have been
more touched. She was overjoyed at
having back her award, saying, “This is my only genuine evidence of success
which I can show my children and tell them that once I was up there – and a
good one too!”
Child star Boy Alvarez was also
there, not to reclaim a returned award but to collect a debt. Through a oversight last year, the Famas had
no statuette for him as best child star of 1964.
The ceremonies didn’t last long and
were not pompous. With only the officers
of the academy and executive of Kodak Philippines Inc., donor of the statuettes,
witnessing the re-turn-over, the affair was not so formal. Lopez had intended it so in order not to
arouse so much publicity and provoke comments.
The small VIP Room of the National Press Club was a perfect setting for
such a delicate event.
Ad so an old sore in the Famas has
been relieved. Credit for the
achievement goes to Lopez who had approached Dr. Jose R. Perez of Sampaguita to
clear out all misunderstandings between the studio and the academy. Dr. Perez’s response was so illustrative of
unshaken confidence that he has decided to submit entries for VP Pictures and
United Brothers Productions for this year’s awards.
With the row with Sampaguita
settled, the Famas has a few more internal ruffles to smooth up. Its constitution needs some revisions in some
portions in order to meet the facts of current trends in the motion picture
business. Its provision on the
qualification of entries for awards, for instance, cites “…any full-length
feature film produced and exhibited in the Philippines,” which includes
Hollywood movies shot in the country, but which isn’t the case.
Membership is still a pain in the
neck for the academy. The membership
committee is aching to weed out members with dubious qualifications and those
who are serving as PROs for local movie companies or stars. For the presence of undesirable members
discourages qualified prospective members whom the committee yearns to take in.
A reorganization, the most practical
solution to the membership problem, wouldn’t be a convenient action since this
would prick personalities. It would also
tend to be misconstrued by outsiders as a confession of weakness within the
body, as Sampaguita did during the first reorganizational ripple in 1959. A complete revamp should only be a last
Meanwhile, the Famas has to content
itself with what it is – an earnest effort to promote artistic and technical
excellence in the Filipino film industry, whose better judgment has generally
And despite its inherent
shortcomings, the academy has steadily advanced from a small guild riven by
conflicting ambitions to an institution of around 50 members who support the
common cause of upgrading standards in local films. To broaden the members’ knowledge of motion picture
arts and sciences, the academy holds annual symposia on direction, acting,
cinematography, sound recording, editing, script-writing, and other pertinent
aspects of moviemaking.
This year’s program of learning
included showings of artistic foreign pictures, a project made possible by
Lopez. There could have been more
educational activities but for the lack of time. Actually not much intellectual pursuit is
still needed by the academy since its members are generally already capable
examiner of films.
What the Famas has yet to attain is
financial foundation. It’s so humble as
to cash position that it cannot even afford to rent a permanent office or pay a
full-time executive secretary. The gala
premiere of The Sandpiper it sponsored last summer hardly met the goal. The scarcity of funds is the only blotch on
the academy’s prestige.
New Groups Opposed
With its prestige an established
fact, the Famas has become an envied organization. A certain group dominated by women, which has
had a strong hand in the affairs of the board of censors, is reported by a
famous director to have planned giving its own award to deserving Tagalog films
and talents. The director, who had been
invited by the group to air his views, opposed the plan for the reason that
“the Famas is already doing it and has been doing it excellently.”
This is not the first time that
other groups have tried to rival the Famas.
There was the Manila Film Reviewers’ Guild which fizzled out without
having reviewed a picture. Then there was
the Film Society of the Philippines which was the result of a defection from
the Famas, and didn’t go far either.
Even if other groups succeed in
putting up competition against the Famas, the academy has nothing to worry
about since any beginner in its kind of undertaking would have a long way to go
before it could understand the esoteric arts and techniques behind the
film. The reason the Famas didn’t have
to undergo a process of absorbing this knowledge was because it started with
members who were directly connected with the moviemaking craft, or writers who
had covered the movie beat for some time.
The present Famas is far way up from
the dissent-ridden association that it was in the beginning. Its members are now solidly united toward the
goal of bringing out greatness in the Filipino moviemaker. In this status it has attained its own
measure of greatness. Despite
complications, which is natural to an endeavor engaged in a complicated
pursuit, the academy has become more and more effective as a conferor of merit
in the local film industry.
That the Famas can be great again is
plain play of words. The correct thing
to say for the academy would be, “The Famas can even be greater.”