And the best statuette is . . . - STAR BYTES by Butch Francisco
() - April 29, 2001 - 12:00am
Last Tuesday, I wrote about the Oscar and Emmy Awards statuettes that are so coveted by the members of the movie and TV industries in the United States.

Here in the Philippines, the trophies handed out by the various award-giving bodies like the Star, Urian, FAP and FAMAS awards also come in different shapes and sizes.

However, I have to point out that the most telegenic among these trophies are those that are given out during the Gawad Urian. And I’m not saying this just because I am a member of the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino.

The Urian trophy may not be the most beautiful, but it is the one that registers best on television. You see, every time the trophy is hit by TV lights, a certain kind of gleam bounces off its metal shaft.

The features of the Urian trophy – like the metal shaft and the piece of stone mounted on its wooden base – unfortunately, opens it to a lot of ridicule. In May 1989, Best Supporting Actor awardee Lito Pimentel (who won for Kapag Napagod ang Puso) brought his Urian trophy to his former noontime program, the now-defunct Lunch Date, for a mini-tribute given to him by the show. Co-host Randy Santiago couldn’t help but refer to the Urian trophy as "parang pang-takal ng bigas"– which is actually true… I don’t deny that. Even I had a good laugh over that wisecrack from Randy Santiago.

The stone with the letter M (for Manunuri) painted on it, on the other hand, is often called "batong pang-hilod" (pumice stone) even by some of the winners themselves.

Laugh all you want, but that stone signifies something serious and important. The souvenir program of the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino, in fact, explains in the vernacular the significance of this stone on the Urian trophy. Here is the beautiful explanation that was written a long time ago by Manunuri member and Ramon Magsaysay awardee Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera: Noong una, at hanggang sa ating panahon, inuuri ng platero ang ginto sa pamamagitan ng isang pirasong batong-buhay. Ikinikiskis dito ang anumang bagay na yari sa ginto, at ang bahid na naiiwan ay nagiging batayan sa pagtiyak sa halaga niyon. Ang batong ginagamit sa ganitong pagsukat sa halaga ng ginto ay ang tinatawag na urian.

That piece of stone, unfortunately, poses one problem: It always falls off its base – and to this day, the Manunuri members have yet to find a solution to this problem.

The Film Academy of the Philippines also has one problem with its trophy. The arms of its statuette – the figure of a woman holding a wreath – often fall off with the passage of time.

Made of aluminum cast, the FAP trophy is quite heavy at four kilos. It was designed by production designer Ulay Tantoco in 1982.

The figure of the long-haired woman in a flowing dress is supposed to be the muse of the arts. She’s standing on a base with 12 circular steps that represents the Film Academy’s 12 original guilds.

A few years ago, the Film Academy launched a name-the-trophy contest among its members. Among the names suggested were Doña Sisang (after LVN matriach Narcisa de Leon) and Doña Emilia (after the co-founder of Lea Productions). Not one of the suggestions was approved by the FAP board of governors and – to this day – the trophy remains without a nickname.

When I was still working with the Film Academy many years ago (one of my earliest jobs), the office staff often jokingly referred to this trophy as Kulasa (coined by then FAP staffer Jo-Ann Banaga). Ask anyone from the FAP office and they know this.

I doubt, however, if this name would be approved by the FAP officials. For who would be flattered to accept a recognition from the Kulasa Awards?

The Philippine Movie Press Club (PMPC) has aptly called its award-giving body the Star Awards. It’s very appropriate and easy on the tongue.

The Star Awards trophy was designed by Ernie Pecho. It is a great concept: A pair of hands holding a star. This signifies the support given by the movie press to our local stars.

Unfortunately, the PMPC members failed so many times in the past in their search for the most appropriate material for their trophy. They began with fiberglass that eventually cracked in time. It also produced bubbles that made the trophy look cloudy inside.

Later, they also tried wood – but this is bad for the environment.

Today, they seem to be happy with their glass trophy which of course breaks when not handled properly. But then, that’s already the problem of the recipient.

The Metro Manila Film Festival also gives out glass trophies during its annual awards night. The trophy’s present design is an improvement over the original which – frankly – looks like a thermos bottle.

In my personal opinion, the FAMAS statuette stands out as the most beautiful and graceful – compared to the trophies given out by other award-giving bodies.

Said to have been designed by Guillermo Tolentino (who also did the Rizal Monument at the Rizal Park, the Bonifacio Monument in Monumento and the UP Oblation), most of us are familiar with the FAMAS statuette: A lady in baro’t saya hoisting a film reel.

The FAMAS statuette is also the most expensive – followed by (in this order) FAP, Urian, Metro Filmfest and Star awards trophies.

But it’s not really the cost of the trophy that we should consider when gauging the credibility of an award-giving body. (In this awards season, the winners selected by the various award-giving bodies – I have to say – are all credible and acceptable).

An awards body may hand out empty bottles of Nescafe to its winners for all I care.

What’s important is that these trophies are not being sold to the highest bidder.

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