“Ang galing ng acting! Pang Famas!"

The Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences Awards, also known as FAMAS Awards, are the awards given by the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS), an award-giving body for Philippine cinema composed of Palanca Award-winning writers, and movie columnists since 1952.

Why Famas Remained A Cliché, Even as the Glitz Fade Out

By  Angelo “Eloy” Padua

“Ang galing ng acting! Pang Famas!” is one of the most common trite we hear everyday every time we commend someone for a great acting performance.

We often hear it as part of a dialog in movies, television shows and sometimes, even from a friend when we try to convince them and pull off a little white lie.

It’s funny that the word “Famas” sticks, but it’s sad that it has been reduced into one inane expression.

Does anyone really remember how prestigious Famas used to be? Probably. But today, to most people, it’s just another so-so event. Don’t get me wrong; despite the proliferation of award-giving bodies, the FAMAS award is still the most coveted honor any local artist dreams to carry under his belt. After all, FAMAS, now on its 58th year, was the first body to give due recognition to the production and player of the country’s motion picture industry.

Sadly, people have somehow lost interest in this particular entertainment world’s monumental event – FAMAS Awards Night. Some could even say it has faded into oblivion. Why is this?

It could be because of the influx of foreign blockbuster movies in our local cinemas. Filipino movie-goers has been bombarded and brainwashed by a different set of standards when it comes to critiquing and appreciating films. They fail to see that what our local films lack in technology and special effects, local producers and screenwriters make up through getting in touch with our inner Pinoys.

Foreign movies are not entirely to blame, however, although they are indeed amazing, but for Filipinos to give equal attention to local films remains wishful thinking.

Consider this: how many people prefer to watch Oscar Awards Nights on daytime television as against how many watch FAMAS Awards Night?

One cannot also help but think that the problem could be internal. To begin with, people in the local entertainment industry wouldn’t even give the time of day to this monumental occasion. Often, they love the idea of winning a Famas Award, but are too busy or too tired to attend the actual event. Or else, staying away save them from what they think is embarrassing, should they not be called to receive an award. This is a far cry from Oscar nominees who consider being nominated a distinct honor. Such non-attendance could be one of the reasons why the glitter was taken out of the glamour.

Consequently, because of the absence of the recent FAMAS nights, the big television channels have not been interested in airing the event.

 Lack of media support is another problem, which FAMAS organizers have to get to address, as the next awards night in November approaches.

There are probably other reasons why the word “FAMAS” is now just a part of a performance-related expression. Still the growing member of movie fans who watch local films is very encouraging. There is light at the end of the tunnel!

 For Famas regain its glory, not withstanding its critics, it needs the support of the film industry, its stars and even media and the fans themselves to give it the importance it deserves as the pioneering award-giving body.

Why has “FAMAS” remained a cliché even if the glitz faded? Simple. Because a FAMAS trophy is still the most prestigious award that represents the undeniable fact that an actor/actress has delivered the most spectacular performance his/her life. 

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The Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences bestows the FAMAS Award of Merit to individuals who have used their skills and craftsmanship to the best of their abilities for the development and creation of a Filipino motion picture.

The FAMAS Award of Merit statuette was modeled from great screen legend and FAMAS Award-winner Rosa Rosal. 

The varnished gold-painted wood statuette boasts of a Balintawak-clad woman whose raised hands holds a four-spoke film reel. She stands on a black cylindrical pedestal, which is encircled with a thin gold leaf that bears the initials and full name of FAMAS in big black letters, the awards ceremony, the category in which it was won, the name of the winner, the place where it was given and the signature of the FAMAS President. The statuette design itself has never changed over the years.


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The Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS) is one of the four main award-giving bodies in the Philippines. 

From its inception in 1952 to the establishment of the FAP in 1981, it was regarded as the Philippines' equivalent of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), and its awards as the counterpart of the AMPAS' Oscars. Nevertheless, even with the Luna Awards, the FAMAS Awards is still widely recognized as the Philippines' Oscars.

The FAMAS is an elite, honorary film industry organization currently composed of film columnists, Palanca Award-winning writers and film publicists. All in all, the present FAMAS has 53 members. The early FAMAS was composed of film and fan magazine columnists and award-winning writers, as well as film publicists that represented the biggest studios of the time.

In 1960, Sampaguita Pictures and Vera-Perez Productions withdrew their participation from the Academy because the agreement between producers on who receives the FAMAS Awards was not followed. The agreement was that each of the Big Four studios (LVN Pictures, Sampaguita Pictures, Premiere Productions and Lebran International) would receive the top awards. For example, if the Best Picture goes to one studio, the acting awards should go the other three studios and the directing award should go to another studio. 

The 1960 FAMAS Awards, nevertheless, failed to honor Sampaguita Pictures with an award, so Sampaguita Pictures and its sister company Vera-Perez Productions withdrew from the Academy. In addition, Sampaguita's mogul, Dr. Jose Perez, returned all of the FAMAS Awards that the studio have won so far by placing them on public view in his Vera-Perez Gardens. Other movie studios also withdrew from the Academy, though they did not return their statuettes. The following year, studio membership representation ceased, which left the 

FAMAS membership composed entirely of movie writers and film columnists with no affiliations to the big movie studios. Even after a half century of the same membership, the awards of the Academy still remains a sought-after award in the Philippine film industry.

The FAMAS is maintained as a premiere elite film award-giving body by the set of officers duly elected by all its members yearly. The FAMAS President, specifically, used to be eligible to run for two consecutive one-year terms and can run for re-election after a year's lapse from his or her last administration. Nevertheless, during the administration of Art Padua, the rule was changed. A FAMAS President can now run for as many terms as he or she likes as long as he or she is voted by the FAMAS.

As the only activity of the FAMAS, the FAMAS Awards is the most eagerly awaited event of the Philippine movie industry because of the glamour and prestige that the awards night lends on Philippine cinema's most talented actors and film artisans. For more than half a century, FAMAS has seen to it that the best of Philippine cinema has been honored with the most-coveted FAMAS Award of Merit. Today, the FAMAS still stands as the steward of Philippine movies, still much aware of its role as the trendsetter of the highest standards of motion picture arts and sciences.

PicasaWeb Slideshow


The Original King of  Philippine Movies, Rogelio de la Rosa, posing with his lone FAMAS Award in this undated photo (Jimi de la Rosa).

The Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences hosts its awards night at various places and at various times over the years.



DATES

A FAMAS Awards night is either referred to with the year in which it was held (i.e. The 2004 FAMAS Awards, which happened on April 17, 2004) or the order of the Awards night (i.e. 53rd FAMAS Awards). Nevertheless, no matter how the media or anyone would refer to the awards, the name FAMAS alone is tantamount to awards in Philippine vocabulary. In fact, in Filipino, if somebody says "pang-FAMAS," (worthy of a FAMAS Award) it means that the event or action commended is worthy of great recognition.

Before the 21st century, there was a set season for the holding of the Gabi ng Parangal. It was usually held at the start of the Filipino movie awards season, which usually started on March or April of every year. The FAMAS was held regardless of when the Philippine Oscars, the Luna Awards,  would be held. Interestingly, there was only one time when the FAMAS Awards night was held later than the season, and that was in 1979 when the 27th FAMAS Awards for the movies of 1978 was held in mid-November. This was the latest awards night on record up until 2007.

Nevertheless, after the year 2000, when advertisers dwindled in number due to lack of funds to produce grandiose awards nights, the FAMAS Awards, as well as the other awards of the industry set their awards nights later in the year. The 54th and the 55th awards were both held in November of their respective years, which was a rarity in the list of past FAMAS Mga Gabi ng Parangal. For the record, the latest FAMAS Awards night was the 55th FAMAS Awards (2006), which was held on November 25, 2007.

VENUES

The First FAMAS Awards was held at the Hotel Riviera Mansion at what was then Dewey Boulevard (now Roxas Boulevard). Since that first awards night, FAMAS has made it a point to host the grandest and the most elegant occasion of the Philippine movie industry in the most sumptuous venues possible. The almost permanent home of the FAMAS Awards was the Manila Hotel, which is located in Roxas Boulevard in the City of Manila. This place hosted the most number of FAMAS Awards. The Manila Hotel was built during the American occupation and is still considered as one of the Philippines' most opulent hotels.

Over the years, the FAMAS Awards has tapped various places to serve as its venue. Hotels with extravagant function rooms such as the Manila Hotel, Manila Pavilion Hotel (the former Manila Hilton Hotel), Manila Midtown Hotel (the former Ramada Hotel) and the Westin Philippine Plaza Hotel served as venues for the awards nights, as well as elegant theaters such as the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), Manila Film Center, Metropolitan Theatre, PhilAmLife Auditorium, University of the Philippines Theater, the Henry Lee Irwin Theater of the Ateneo de Manila University, the Armed Forces of the Philippines Theater and the famed Philippine International Convention Center (PICC). The CCP, Manila Film Center and the PICC were all part of the CCP complex built by then First Lady Imelda Marcos in the 60s and 80s (as in the case of the Film Center) to foster Philippine culture and arts, and Mrs. Marcos had made it a point that the biggest event of the industry was held in these grand theaters.

TELEVISION COVERAGE

The Gabi ng Parangal is usually a pompous awards ceremony produced by a network as a television special, much comparable to the television broadcast of the annual Oscars.

The 1st FAMAS Awards did not have television coverage, however, it was covered simultaneously by the four major radio stations in the Philippines: DZBB, DZFM, DZPI and DCBC. However, as public interest grew, the FAMAS necessitated a television coverage for its annual awards.

The telecast of the annual FAMAS Awards was handled by different television networks. During the Marcos era, when the telecast of the FAMAS Awards began, the FAMAS Awards was covered live by the government television station PTV-4, at which time the FAMAS Awards were broadcast in black-and-white until the advent of the colored television in mid-1970s. Post Marcos, the official carrier of the FAMAS Awards became RPN-9, which was also the carrier of other Philippine awards nights and the Philippine broadcast of the Oscars. RPN-9 handled live broadcasts of the event.

For the 53rd FAMAS Awards, the country's largest television network, ABS-CBN 2, took over the reins of the telecast, which it covered with a slight delay. The network also made the first worldwide broadcast of the FAMAS Awards through one of its international channels, Pinoy Central TV. Another trend that was set by the FAMAS was the departure from the usual television special, which it started since the 1960s. For the 54th FAMAS Awards, the awards show was shown live as a feature in a television program, which is Pilipinas, Ngayon Na, in NBN 4. Since 2005, the Gabi ng Parangal was aired on tape delay instead of live, a departure from leaner times.

GABI NG PARANGAL
          
The Gabi ng Parangal commences with "The Walk," which is the FAMAS' counterpart to the Oscars' Red Carpet. Here, stars showcase their astounding dresses and formalwear that are designed by the Philippines' top fashion designers such as the Dean of Philippine Couturiers, Pitoy Moreno; Paul Cabral and Patis Tesoro among others. The movie queens of the decade come in with their rarest finds in terms of gowns and dresses, while movie kings are dressed to the nines, which signifies the formality and importance of the occasion. 

During "The Walk," various "fashion police" from showbiz-oriented talk-shows are also present to critique the stars' choices of clothing, which makes "The Walk" a lighter touch to the approaching formality that is the Awards night itself. The best and worst dressed stars are crowned indirectly when the coverage of the Gabi ng Parangal is broadcast in these showbiz-oriented talk-shows, which makes stars really careful about choosing their clothing finds. In addition to the fashion police, hoards of screaming fans cordoned off by security are also present outside the venue to cheer for their idols to win the coveted FAMAS Awards.

During the Gabi ng Parangal, the long list of awards awarded by FAMAS is intermittently spruced with colorful production numbers from the country's greatest dancers and singers. One great fixture of the Gabi ng Parangal is the performance of the five movie theme songs that are nominated for Best Theme Song. These songs are usually sung in succession by the country's greatest singers and performers. The announcement of the Best Theme Song winner usually follows after the performance.

The FAMAS Awards themselves are given and presented by the brightest stars of the time. The special awards given by FAMAS, however, is presented by a person closely associated with the award recipient him/herself. For example, a close friend of a special award recipient is usually tapped to present the award him/herself to the recipient. These special awarding are usually preceded by a short video tribute to the recipient highlighting his or her credentials and achievements in the industry that garnered him the special distinction that was to be awarded later on. One award, however, can be presented by only one individual, and that is the German Moreno Youth Achievement Award, which, by all means, is only presented by the award giver himself, German Moreno.

Aside from the awarding of the FAMAS Awards of Merit and other special awards, the FAMAS also awards various popularity and sponsor awards to its guests. These awards are "Face of the Night" (from Ponds), "Mister and Miss FAMAS Screen Idol," and other awards. Since these awards are not competitive or honorary in terms of film achievement, these awards are not included in this database.

Back in the early years of FAMAS, the nominees (if present) were all called on stage to receive their Certificates of Nomination. Right there and then, after the certificates are handed, the nominees await who among them would receive the FAMAS Award. However, during the early 1980s, indirectly due to the Oscars' influence, nominees were just asked to wait for the winner's announcement while seated on their seats, with their Certificates of Nomination given when they arrive before the show starts.

After the Gabi ng Parangal, the winners proceed to the press area, where the members of the press interviews the winners and take their photographs for publication in the next day's paper.