Date posted on April 14, 2009

The last term had been unbelievably hectic for me that it took me quite a while before I was able to relish the fact that I have been given the Box Office Entertainment screenwriting award from the Guillermo Mendoza Memorial Foundation. I was actually in class last March 13 when messages from friends started pouring in congratulating me after they heard the news on TV. I haven’t even seen an episode of SNN (Showbiz News Ngayon or Showbiz News Now – the Pinoy E! News) until my cousin Grace forwarded me the link to the following video (zip forward to 04.18s for the actual announcement!)

The first time I ever skirted an award was back in 2007, when the Philippine Movie Press Club (PMPC) nominated me and my co-writers Van and Carmi for our YOU ARE THE ONE screenplay. I knew we wouldn’t win since we were up against the likes of Direk Joey Reyes who was also nominated for Kasal Kasali Kasalo. Nevertheless, I decided to attend the ceremony. I figured it might be the only chance I’ll have to be nominated for an award. That wasn’t a self-deprecating thought. At that point, Star Cinema had been relegating me to romance-comedies and frankly, that’s not usually the route that leads you to an acceptance speech.

I also wanted to go since Direk Cathy said she was attending. It was also her first time to be nominated, you see, so we were both quite excited at the thought of experiencing what it was like. On the day of the 2007 Star Awards for Movies, my good friend Norman graciously agreed to attend the ceremony at the UP Theater with me. We were actually late as Laida and I met up in Town Center earlier. She even helped me pick out the purple outfit I wore to the event, since I didn’t have time go home and change.

It was an extraordinary experience attending that. It felt to me like my membership in the mainstream filmmaking community had somehow been legitimized. Prior to that, I had only moved within the back rooms of Star Cinema, Cinemalaya and a small corner of the independent movement. Norms and I soaked up the unique privilege of seeing so many people from the industry in one place. We were amused by the kind of characters they were, how they spoke, how they moved, and how an awarding ceremony was like. When the event finally ended, we took pictures for posterity.

With this recent award, I have to say that I did have an inkling that it might come. Or maybe, ‘I hoped it would’ puts it more accurately. A VERY SPECIAL LOVE was the Nth incarnation of a story I wrote for John Lloyd and Sarah whose working title was “If The Shoe Fits.” I kinda knew I was on to something special because it was instantly approved when I first pitched it. I enjoyed writing the script so much that I felt its huge potential to be a blockbuster early on. The big bosses’ reaction to the script confirmed that too. Knowing that it would be helmed by my long-time collaborator Direk Cathy whose metier was the rom-com also assured me of its success.

That’s why I also felt really bad that I was going to miss the shoot for A VERY SPECIAL LOVE. I had already moved to London by the time they started that I didn’t get to go to any shooting day. I usually try to be on location as often as I can because it’s a great opportunity to learn and feel all glitzy, what with popular stars within arm’s length. This was a particularly special case, however, because as I’ve written before, AVSL was to be my first time to be credited as a solo writer.

A VERY SPECIAL LOVE eventually realized all the hopes and expectations I and Star Cinema had for it. It broke box office records to become the third highest grossing local movie of all time. Its sequel, YOU CHANGED MY LIFE, eventually became THE highest grossing local movie ever.

I was familiar with the awards from the Guillermo Mendoza Memorial Foundation, but I also knew that our film faced tough competition from another Star Cinema film. I used to excitedly think about the prospect of AVSL winning all the Box Office Entertainment awards, but since it was becoming more and more likely that we wouldn’t, I honestly forgot about it. I guess it helped that I was preoccupied with school work.

Thus the utter surprise when texts about the award came. Soon, Facebook messages from friends also came in (thanks to Norms, Batch Sherlyn, Kristel, Ritz, Kris B, Tia, Mars, Rosa, JDV, Natz, Joyce, Mahal, Thesa, Shi, Peachy, Concep, Aimee, Jacque, Caye, and RR). My friend Lara who is based in Japan and the namesake of Sarah Geronimo’s character in the movie even saw the SNN episode on TFC.

I am finally starting to wrap my mind around the idea that I have just received my FIRST award as a screenwright. The ecstasy is slowly creeping in as well, especially since it’s spring break and there’s really nothing much to do here but think about what has been happening in the world while I’ve been recluse at LFS.

Perhaps, even more exciting for me now, is finding out that A VERY SPECIAL LOVE also reaped nominations from THIS year’s STAR AWARDS for Movies, comprised of movie, director, movie actor, cinematographer, editor, production designer, musical scorer, sound engineer and…! Original movie screenplay of the year 🙂

The prospect of winning is, to be quite honest, exhilarating. I’m not even going to hazard an estimate of my chances. I just want to enjoy and share this excitement with my friends! After all, what really makes me happy is when I get acknowledgment from the people who matter to me 🙂