At the Gawad Urian

I fondly remember the first time I attended the Gawad Urian awards nights. This was when I was a freshman covering the lifestyle/entertainment beat. My editor sent me to write about the winners, give my thoughts, the angle being that I was somebody young who knew nothing of these awards. That night I wondered if I would one day be honored with an invitation to attend.

More than a decade since that night, I did receive my invitation. Since that trip as a freshman, I haven’t attended the Urian. And it was something for this to happen, that I would find myself no longer doing coverage of the event (though when I was the Chair of the Manunuri Roland Tolentino he asked me why I was there, to write about it in my blog or something, I said yeah, sort of. then he remembered I was a nominee and we laughed about it and I chided him for forgetting a couple times that night) but walking down the red carpet wearing a gold ribbon to let the heavies know they had to let me in, because I was a nominee.

So what does a nominee get? First off a plus one, and that was of course Kash. She and I headed over early because I as usual was frantic about being punctual. We arrived a few minutes before six, and as a result wound up waiting more than two hours for the thing to start. But that’s cool, it is how it is. We got our ribbons and I got a nifty certificate. It’s funny, when some people attend conferences just for the sake of raising their rankings in the next pay cycle, they take the certificate and leave without actually attending the conference. I was tempted to just run back to QC, the awards happening in Marriott way out in Pasay and ensuring a hefty cab bill home if were stayed out longer than the MRTs would run. But we stayed and we got ourselves some drinks and snacks before starting. Also made a quick trip to McDonald’s in Resorts World to tide our bellies over for the duration of the awarding.

I was supposed to get primo seats too, but when we arrived we were told that no one was following the seating arrangement. Hey what’s new right?

And I have to admit, the presentation videos and the whole thing was pretty classy. There was some awkward talk as Butch Francisco demanded that Cesar Montano call him Master and Commander, and there were some jokes that were probably better targeted to a more masa crowd than the Urian had drawn. The performances too, except for Lea Salonga’s number, seemed better fit for screaming teens than the staid movie crew people there. I guess we can chalk those up to the fact that the awards night will be on Cinema One. In any case though, the whole event was snazzy, and if the intention, as I think it is, was to give attention and give honor to people who attempted to make contributions to filmmaking, then I have to commend the Manunuri for doing an amazing job. Obviously I just felt blessed to be there.

There’s something about reading your name in the list of nominees. It’s an amazing thing. And then you see all those people who are nominated and you think, i’ll never win this. I found though that the best way to think about it was that it was just so great that I was even included. Just to be recognized, to be considered among the writers worthy to win best screenplay was something.

Have to thank my co-conspirator and cool director Khavn dela Cruz for trusting me and making my work worth watching. If anything, our film Maynila sa mga Pangil ng Dilim is the epitome of my belief in the remix. It just brings together so many elements. I wrote it sort of like a piece of fanfic, taking the ending of Maynila sa Kuko ng Liwanag and imaging what it would be like if I made a sequel of it. Then Khavn asked me to throw in elements from Bembol Roco’s other films. I imposed the narrative structure of Dante’s Inferno. And Khavn cut footage in from Roco’s other films. It was an original work whose ideas were a pastiche of all old work. If anything I am so grateful that the Manunuri saw the value in this remix that I was making, and gave it the attention that it did. It’s a flattering thing and it just floors me still to think that I was even nominated.

I wish I could have given a winner’s speech, just like everyone does when they are nominated. When I went into the awards, I knew I wasn’t going to win. But as people climbed onstage to receive awards, I started imaging what I would say, who I would thank.

In the end though, I came away with just this great feeling of pride and appreciation. I never expected to be nominated, never expected any kind of attention for the film that I wrote. And I couldn’t help but feel this sense of being appreciated beyond anything I expected. It was a great experience.

I don’t know how many more movies I have in me. Heck I don’t even know if I have another movie in me at all. And as of this moment, I’m taking being nominated as one of the highlights of my writing career. Khavn’s been asking me for a script that I pitched to him years ago. It was supposed to be my riff on Scarface. I still have yet to write it, and it’s hard to sneak in when you’re doing publishing work and writing books (two are in progress, a novel that’s been in my head a while but hasn’t made it to the page, as well as a book on urban planning and design). We shall see then. One day I’ll have time to write (haha, yeah right, who am i kidding?) and maybe I’ll have another shot at those beautiful trophies.

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