No role too small for Cebuano FAMAS 2019 nominee
Karla Rule (The Freeman) - March 23, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — After 12 years, Cebuano actor Publio J. Briones III earned his second FAMAS Awards nomination for his work on the film “A Short History of a Few Bad Things,” directed by Cebuano filmmaker Keith Deligero.

Briones’ portrayal of Chief Ouano landed him a nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role. He is up against Levi Ignacio and Arjo Atayde of “BuyBust,” Teroy Guzman and Gabby Eigenmann of “Citizen Jake,” Joem Bascon of “Double Twisting, Double Back,” Soliman Cruz of “Gusto Kita With All My Hypothalamus,” Menggie Cobarrubias of “Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon,” Richard “Ebong” Joson of “Liway,” Arron Villaflor of “Mamu, And a Mother Too” and Nanding Josef of “Signal Rock.”

A native of Cebu City (he left around fifth grade and returned to the Queen City of the South at 24 years old), Briones began acting in elementary school. He said it was in 10th grade when he started getting meatier roles.

By college, he hadn’t done much acting and it wasn’t until the mid-2000s where he finally made his way back to the stage, performing in Lorenzo Niñal’s 15-minute play “Ang Terminal.” In 2006, he took a one-year filmmaking immersion course at the International Academy of Film and Television in Mactan.

Since then, Briones has been featured on several films. He starred in Jerrold Tarog and Ruel Antipuesto’s “Confessional,” where his portrayal of corrupt politician Lito Caliso won him Best Supporting Actor in the 2007 Cinema One Originals Digital Film Festival. The same role also earned him Best Supporting Actor nominations in the 2007 FAMAS Awards, 2007 Gawad Urian Awards, 2008 Golden Screen Awards and 2008 Star Awards for Movies.

“Confessional,” which will be streaming on Cinema One’s YouTube channel starting March 28, features fictional character and filmmaker Ryan Pastor who meets former mayor Lito Caliso while on his way to Cebu to document the Sinulog Festival. Lito then confesses—in front of Ryan’s camera—all the crimes he committed while in office.

The mockumentary bagged the Best Film nod in the First Features Section of the 10th Osian’s Cinefan Festival of Asian and Arab Cinema in New Delhi, India, as well as the Best Southeast Asian Film in the 10th Cinemanila International Film Festival.

Briones was also in Victor Villanueva’s 2011 film “My Paranormal Romance” for which he was nominated Best Actor at Cinema One Originals for his dual role of twins Edgar and Edwina.

Last year, he was seen on Neil Angelo Briones’ short film, “Wala’y Humayan sa Tanglad.”

Then Deligero approached him if he would like to appear in his short film “Babylon.” After that, Deligero gave him a major role in “A Short History of a Few Bad Things.”

“Since I already worked with Keith, he knew I was a low-maintenance actor. The only thing I require is a ‘lapad’ of Tanduay 5 Years on the set in case the shoot extends beyond 8 p.m. It helped that I got along with Victor [Neri] and Jay [Gonzales]. Victor understood Bisaya fluently while Jay spoke it fluently since he originally hailed from Butuan,” Briones began.

While he’s not a method actor, Briones said that his background in theatre definitely came handy. In fact, he didn’t have much time to prepare here in Cebu, only practicing and reading his lines plopped on a cool lounging chair bought specially for him.

Filming and practicallly living in Deligero’s apartment in Rizal, Briones was able to build Chief Ouano next to award-winning director Remton Zuasola and his two assistants, who were staying at the same apartment, making prosthetic heads for a horror film right next to him.

“To be honest, I was happy to be nominated. Then again, having only won once after receiving several nominations, I wasn’t and I’m not very optimistic about my chances of winning. Many of you here don’t even know I’m an actor. If I’m known at all in Cebu, it’s for being a newspaper columnist and for appearing in a feeds commercial a long time ago,” he said with a laugh.

He found out about his nomination on the evening of the announcement. He had just arrived home, ready to spend the night in and watch Netflix when he decided to check his Facebook notifications.

Briones is well aware of his limitations, especially with the roles that get offered to him. So he makes it a point to do his best, regardless if it’s a starring role in a high-budget film, a cameo or thesis film. He is also thankful to have met directors, filmmakers and storytellers who believe in him.

“As for going up against actors from Manila, well, I’m sure they’re also good. But I’m just doing what I love to do. So I don’t really think about it much. But I know, that in every role, I give it my all. I don’t want to disappoint my director for choosing me and the other cast members. So during the shoot, I get very focused. At my age, good roles are few and far between. So when I find something that fits me, I cherish and nurture it. I bring it to life.”

Still, being nominated for one of the country’s highest acting honors twice should not be shrugged off, having been selected by a jury headed by multi-awarded screenwriter Ricky Lee. His attendance on April 28 at the Meralco Theater for the 67th FAMAS Awards Night is already a victory in itself.

Briones advises aspiring actors to find a style that works for them best.

“Sure, technique helps, but if the talent is not there, trust me, it will show. I act because I enjoy it. Plus, I get to meet people who share the same passion. I don’t think about awards or nominations when I act. I just want to prove to myself and the director that he made the right choice in picking me. You see, actors are an insecure lot. They need constant validation.”

FAMAS 201
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