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Kathryn Bernardo wins 1st FAMAS Best Actress award; Piolo Pascual, Alfred Vargas named Best Actors

by Joanna Deala

KATHRYN Bernardo, Piolo Pascual and Alfred Vargas shone the brightest on Sunday, May 26, when they bagged the top acting awards at the 72nd Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS) awards, held at the Manila Hotel. 

Established in 1952, FAMAS is the oldest existing film industry award-giving body in the country, recognizing achievements in Philippine cinema for a calendar year.

The night became extra special for Bernardo as she achieved another milestone after winning her first FAMAS Best Actress award for her performance in the 2023 dark comedy thriller movie, “A Very Good Girl.”

She was up against Maricel Soriano for “In His Mother’s Eyes,” Charlie Dizon for “Third World Romance,” Marian Rivera for “Rewind,” Sharon Cuneta for “Family of Two,” and Eugene Domingo for “Becky & Badette.”

Helmed by Petersen Vargas, “A Very Good Girl” showed another side of Bernardo as an assistant who plots revenge against her tyrannical employer (portrayed by Dolly de Leon) who fired her from her job.

In her acceptance speech, the Kapamilya actress shared that she was not expecting any award or nomination when she accepted the offer to star in the movie.

“Tinanggap ko ang proyektong ito dahil naniwala po ako sa materyal at nagtiwala ako sa mga kasama ko. Siguro umaapaw lang po yung saya kasi nabigyan ako ng pagkakataon na gumawa ng ganitong klaseng pelikula na minahal at sinuportahan siya ng mga tao,” said Bernardo.

She then expressed her heartfelt gratitude to those who supported the film, which she described as a “product of hard work, love, and passion.” She also shared her award with her co-star De Leon and their director.

“Sana sa lahat ng Mercy at Philo sa mundo, sana nabigyan ko kayo lahat ng boses,” Bernardo said, referring to her characters in the movie. “Your ‘very good girl’ is a ‘very happy girl’ tonight.”

On Instagram, Min Bernardo, Bernardo’s mom, couldn’t be prouder of her daughter as she reflected on the Kapamilya star’s acting journey–from dreaming to be an actress, venturing into acting, facing challenges, to earning such a prestigious recognition.

“Watching you overcome everything and grow into an amazing person you are, has been one of our greatest blessings. I never knew how strong you are until I saw your determination and how you bounce back every after fall. You remained positive and kind to the world no matter what,” wrote Min.

She also assured her daughter that her family will always be there to support her.

“If you have a dream, never let go of it, don’t give up till the end. Make yourself your own competition. Always keep that spirit that brought you this far! Andito lang kami para sayo. You have earned every bit of this success!!” Min said.

Best actors

Meanwhile, Pascual and Vargas shared the Best Actor award for their performances in the film “Mallari” and “Pieta,” respectively.

Directed by Roderick Cabrido, “Mallari,” one of the 10 official entries in the 2023 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), narrated the story of Fr. Juan Severino Mallari, a Filipino Catholic priest who was behind a series of murders of 57 individuals in Magalang, Pampanga. He was the first documented serial killer in the Philippines.

In “Mallari,” Pascual portrayed three different characters from three different centuries, including the titular character.

“Pieta,” on the other hand,” featured Vargas giving life to an ex-convict who reunited with his mother (played by superstar and National Artist for Film and Broadcast Nora Aunor) after he was granted pardon. But his mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease, barely recognizes her son. The film was helmed by Adolfo Alix, Jr. 

Pascual and Vargas bested other nominees including Cedrick Juan for “GomBurZa,” Ken Chan for “Papa Mascot,” Dingdong Dantes for “Rewind,” and Alden Richards for “Family of Two.”

In his speech, Vargas shared his triumph with his family and the Lord, and gave thanks to the “Pieta’s” director and his co-stars Aunor, Gina Alajar, and Jaclyn Jose. For the actor, it was a “dream come true” to collaborate with the three seasoned actresses for “Pieta.” This was one of the last movies that Jose, whose real name is Mary Jane Guck, did before she passed away in March 2024.

“Doon po sa big scene namin na magkakasama po kami ni Nora Aunor, Jaclyn Jose, and Gina Alajar, nag-uusap po kami ni Miss Jane sa tabi tapos doon niya ako—ang dami ko pong natutunan sa kanya. Miss Jane, para rin po sa inyo ito,” said Vargas.

Pascual also thanked the people behind the 2023 horror flick, including its director and producer Mentorque Productions.

“Pinaghirapan po namin yung pelikulang ito. At lahat po ng artista, pinaghirapan po nila yung trabaho nila. So, maraming, maraming salamat po. Hindi ko po ipagkakait ito sa sarili ko kasi para sa pelikulang Pilipino ito,” said Pascual, raising his Best Actor trophy.

‘Mallari’ wins big

“Mallari” had the greatest number of recognitions at the star-studded awarding ceremony, taking home seven awards including Best Picture.

The film also won the Best Supporting Actress for Gloria Diaz, Best Screenplay award for Enrico Santos, Best Production Design for Marielle Hizon, Best Sound for Immanuel Verona and Nerrika Salim, and Best Visual Effects for Gaspar Mangarin.

Other winners

Best Director: Louie Ignacio (“Papa Mascot”)

Best Supporting Actor: L.A. Santos (“In His Mother’s Eyes”)

Best Child Actor: E:uwenn Mikaell (“Firefly”)

Best Child Actress: Elia Ilano (“Ghost Tales”)

Best Documentary: She Andes (“Maria”)

Best Cinematography: Carlo Mendoza (“GomBurZa”)

Best Editing: Benjamin Gonzales (“Iti Mapukpukaw”)

Best Musical Score: Teresa Barrozo (“GomBurZa”)

Best Short Film: “Huling Sayaw ni Erlinda” by Gabby Ramos

Best Original Song: “Finggah Lickin” (“Becky & Badette”)

Meanwhile, real-life couple Rivera and Dantes won the Bida sa Takilya award for their performance in “Rewind.” The 2023 MMFF entry became the country’s highest grossing film, surpassing Bernardo and Richards’ 2019 romance film “Hello, Love, Goodbye.”

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