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5 Memorable Moments at the Summer MMFF 2023 Awards

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A few days ago, the Summer MMFF Awards was held at the New Frontier Theater located in Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City. The Jun Lana two-person thriller About Us But Not About Us bagged most of the awards, followed by Here Comes the Groom, which was directed by Chris Martinez.

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

Beyond the awards, there are those unique moments that stick with us long after the awards ceremony is over. Here are they:

1. Dolly de Leon declared her fondness for Kathryn Bernardo and announced that she doesn’t want to be labelled a “star”

Dolly, the Summer MMFF 2023 Head of the Jury, was asked by influencer and theater colleague Trixie Dauz regarding her upcoming Star Cinema project with Kathryn. “I am a huge Kathryn Bernardo fan. She’s a lovely person as well…Nagkaw-work [din]  kami sa isang teleserye. Di ko makakalimutan yun kasi she’s very professional, very sweet, very kind, and I could not forget her,” she shared. 

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

When asked her regarding her status as a “Hollywood actress”, she was quick to clarify things. “Actor po ako. I’m not very comfortable with the term. First of all, I’m not comfortable with the term star. I don’t consider myself a star. I’m just a working actress…that’s what I think I am,” said Dolly. When pressed further, she stated that she thinks that she is an actor who “works everywhere.”

The portion of the abovementioned red carpet interview is available to view via the Tiktok account of Buzz Beat Media. A good number cheered Dolly on, saying that she “mothered” the interviewer and it was definitely a “slay.”

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

2. Xilhouete shouting how she is proud of Kaladkaren as they left in a van

After the awards ceremony was over, it is quite normal for non-winners to go home, so the Here Comes the Groom team, except for one left Kaladkaren, who’s still entertaining interviews post-awards. The one person who stayed was Xilhouete, who this writer overhead was being teased by her friend to leave her friend [Kaladkaren] already, since the interviews might take a long time. However, she chose to wait for Kaladkaren outside the theater and when she’d done, Xilhouete even shouted how proud she is of her best friend.

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

Xilhouete was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor category, as well as two other actors from Here Comes the Groom, Nico Antonio and Keempee de Leon. The latter won the said award. 

Xilhouete shot to national fame after her stint in the first season of Drag Race Philippines. Prior to this, she’s already popular in the drag community for being a drag mother, someone who has mentored many drag queens. Most of those she trained are currently working in Nectar.

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

3. Romnick Sarmenta wins his first acting award in a long time

There’s a certain disadvantage when you’re known as the handsome dude from That’s Entertainment who eventually gets paired with Jennifer Sevilla and Sheryl Cruz onscreen. People forget that before you were a heartthrob, you were actually a talented actor even as young as 5 years old.

This is the case with Romnick, who was child actor best remembered as Gulong ng Palad’s Peping in the late 70s. He then went on to do theatrical performances, mostly under Dulaang UP and directed by the late Tony Mabesa. His most popular work was Rama at Sita.

However, About Us But not About Us got people around the country to notice his acting chops. No longer playing just a best friend, uncle, or father on television soaps as people in the past 20 years have come to know him, he devoured his every line as Eric, a professor grappling with the loss of his lover Marcus, and his passion to help his abused student, Lance (Elijah Canlas).

For the very riveting performance, Romnick won the Best Actor award while Elijah, who was able to measure up to his thespic capability, didn’t go unnoticed and won the Grand Jury Prize. “Hindi ko alam kung papa’no nila binasag-bisag yung trabaho namin, pero alam ko na nahirapan sila [MMFF Jury] at binigay nila yung sarili nila,” he said. Romnick also hopes the results of the festival will provide a better direction as to the quality of Filipino films.

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

4. Maris Racal revealed her preferred church when she marries Rico Blanco, as well as her desire to become a drag queen

Noticeably, the former Rivermaya frontman wasn’t there to accompany the Here Comes the Groom actress. Maris told the press that he’s in La Union and is busy overseeing the construction of his hotel. One question led to another, which led to Maris even telling a reporter, “ba’t mo ako prinepressure,” when asked if the couple’s already engaged.

“May asaran between family and friends but alam naman niya na hindi pa ako ready,” clarified Racal. Unlike in the movie, which features a beach wedding, she prefers to get married in an actual church, which is the San Agustin Church located at Malate, Manila.

Does Rico help Maris rehearse for her roles? “Nagkakataon kasi na hindi kami magkasama ‘pag nagrerehearse ako ng role. But, definitely tinatanong ko siya ng mga opinion niya,” she stated. 

Maris also revealed that given the chance to swap bodies with one of her fellow cast members in real life, it would be with Xilhouete. She loves her and declared that: “Gusto kong maging drag queen. Pangarap ko yun. Gusto kong mag-show sa isang gabi as a drag queen. Parang ma-e-enjoy ko siya.” Maris said her drag queen name would be Stella Blondina Marie.

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

5. Gladys Reyes gets rebranded as “non-kontrabida” with her Best Actress win

Gladys, has been seared into the minds of audiences, especially those actively watching in the 90s, as a “kontrabida” or a villain. Her unforgettable turn as the Clara in Mara Clara and Judy Ann Santos’ torturer was both an advantage and a disadvantage to her as an actress. Sure, she comes to the top of the mind of executive producers when looking to fill an antagonist role, but not a protagonist.

Apag, Brillante Mendoza’s newest oeuvre, changed everything for her. In the film, she played a victim, the protagonist of the Kapampangan film who is keen to get justice for her husband’s death. The teary-eyed actress wasn’t able to deliver her speech right away, as the mic stand was too high for her. Dolly and the production staff both rushed to lower it for her, and she even good-naturedly jokes about it being too low, since it was at the level of her clavicle. “Wow, sobrang baba. [laughs] Sorry po, para na akong baliw,” said Gladys.

She thanked God first and then the Summer MMFF committee. “Thank you Direk [Brillante] for rebranding me in this movie,” Gladys quipped. “Sabi niya magpagawa daw akong gown pero cocktail dress lang yung napagawa ko,” she said as she thanked her fellow actress Jaclyn Jose.

“Sampung taon po akong di gumawa ng full-length role since Barber’s Tales, and now, sobrang sulit,” she stated.

Even outside of her film roles, Gladys is noticeably very congenial compared to many artists of her generation, with shiny eyes and a ready smile, always accommodating fans and reporters, even if her van is already waiting for her.

*Cover Photo/Thumbnail Photo from Buzz Beat Media

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