"I'm definitely thankful. I think I am so blessed," says Direk Joey Reyes on the three awards he received in the MMFF 2006—Best Director, Best Story and Best Screenplay for Star Cinema's Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo. Photo: Noel Orsal

Cesar Montano should feel good about this! Jose Javier "Joey" Reyes says he secretly wished that Cesar would win as best director in last night's Gabi ng Parangal of the 32nd Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) held at the Aliw Theater, CCP Complex.

Joey won the best-director award for his work in Star Cinema's Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo, starring Judy Ann Santos and Ryan Agoncillo. Cesar was nominated in the same category for CM Films' Ligalig, which he also starred in, co-wrote, and co-produced.

Direk Joey told PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) right after the awards night: "‘Yung pagkapanalo ng best director, hindi ko ini-expect. I was actually secretly hoping that Cesar would win because I knew that he did a very good job. So when I won, it was very, very overwhelming."

The Kasal director was still holding his best director trophy when he spoke to PEP: "These things [trophies] are nice to hold and nice to put on shelves, but this is not the point why I make movies. I love making movies and I love the people I make movies with. These are nice icings to the cake but this is certainly not the cake."

Direk Joey, who also won for best story and best screenplay for Kasal, wanted to make clear though that he was thankful for the recognition.

"I'm definitely thankful. I think I am so blessed. At the time when I was questioning myself whether I should stick it out in this industry or not, suddenly God gives me these answers. So I think I'm very happy," he said.

This is the third time that Joey Reyes has been chosen MMFF best director. He got his first award in 1993 for Star Cinema's May Minamahal, the second time was just last year for Canary Films' Kutob, and now this.

Interestingly, on all three occasions that Joey Reyes won for best director, his film was not awarded the Best Picture trophy.

In 1993, Reyna Films' Kung Mawawala Ka was the winner while Reyes's May Minamahal was 2nd Best Picture. In 2005, Regal Films' Blue Moon went home with the award while Reyes's Kutob was named 3rd Best Picture. This year, although Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo got the most number of awards—10 trophies to be exact, including Best Actress for Judy Ann Santos and Best Supporting Actress for Gina Pareño—it only came in second to Enteng Kabisote 3 for Best Picture.

BOX-OFFICE SUCCESS. The third installment of Vic Sotto's family adventure movie, Enteng, did not win any other award and won the Best Picture by virtue of its success at the tills.

Apparently, as host Edu Manzano announced, box-office returns comprised 40% of the total vote.

So the three top-grossers in this year's film festival—Enteng Kabisote 3, Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo, and Shake, Rattle & Roll 8—automatically won the three best picture trophies at stake.

Angelica Jones, who is in the cast of Enteng Kabisote 3, accepted the trophy on behalf of the film's producers—Vic Sotto and Orly Ilacad. Vic was out of the country during the Gabi ng Parangal, while "Boss" Orly had already left the Aliw Theater when the Best Picture trophy was presented.

The "40% box-office returns" ruling came as a surprise to nearly everyone, including Direk Joey who presented the award for Best Picture with Boots Anson Roa and Iza Calzado.

"It was only when Edu explained it as an addendum... but then I saw the pattern when we were reading the winners," Direk Joey replied when asked if he was aware of the criterion.