'Baler' wins Famas Best Picture
By Marinel Cruz
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines-"Baler," a film about a band of Spanish soldiers who battled Filipino forces for 337 days in Aurora province, was proclaimed Best Picture at the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (Famas) awards held Sunday night at the Pagcor Grand Theater in Parañaque City.

The film also bagged trophies for Best Cinematography for Lee Meily and Best Story for Roy Iglesias.

However, it was Ed Palmos' "Ay Ayeng"-a story of two friends who help educate a group of indigenous people in the Mountain Province-which brought home most of the acting awards.

Heart Evangelista won as Best Actress for her role as an Ifugao teacher, beating veteran actresses Sharon Cuneta ("Caregiver"), Judy Ann Santos ("Ploning") and Dawn Zulueta ("Magkaibigan").

"Ay Ayeng," adapted from the novel "Maestra Ester" by Abdon Noviza, also took the Best Director award for Palmos, as well as the Best Child Actor and Actress trophies for Dominico Soriano and Jessica Mae Flores, respectively.

Allen Dizon was chosen Best Actor, edging out Aga Muhlach ("When Love Begins"), Jericho Rosales ("Baler"), and Richard Gutierrez ("For the First Time"). Dizon copped the award for his performance in the Joven Tan film "Paupahan," about three intertwining stories set in a slum beside a cemetery.

Veteran actor and TV host German Moreno brought home his second Best Supporting Actor award, also for "Paupahan." Earlier he won a similar trophy from the Philippine Movie Press Club (PMPC), organizer of the annual Star Awards show. Snooky Serna was adjudged Best Supporting Actress, again for "Paupahan."

"Ngayon, Bukas at Kailanman," composed by Louie Ocampo and performed by Sarah Geronimo for "Baler," won for Best Theme Song.

The award for Best Screenplay went to Dennis Evangelista for "Paupahan," while the Best Musical Score honor went to Jessie Lasaten ("Ploning").

"As it turned out, competition had been stiff between 'Ay Ayeng' and 'Baler,'" observed Famas president Eloy Padua. "We are thankful to all those who supported Sunday's awards show, which was well-attended, compared to the previous years." The Famas Awards is one of the four major film honors in the country. It has been handed out by a group of Palanca Award-winning writers and entertainment columnists since 1952.