Veteran actor Ronnie Lazaro was over the moon when he was announced the winner of this year's Gawad Urian for best actor. In his excitement, he didn't realize that he was giving his acceptance speech in Ilonggo.

Photo: Noel B. Orsal

Applause erupted at the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino or Little Theater at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Pasay City last night, Sept. 19, after veteran actor Ronnie Lazaro was announced as this year's best actor winner at the 32nd Gawad Urian.

Beating out seven other actors, including award winners Coco Martin and Baron Geisler, Ronnie jumped from his seat near the back of the hall, ran to the stage, clutched his trophy, and spoke into the microphone in native Ilonggo without realizing it.

He was so excited that he never stopped smiling and lifting the trophy way over his head even after the event had ended.

According to Ronnie, he waited 27 years to get his hands on his own Gawad Urian trophy.

"Tagal ko na 'tong nakikita sa mga bahay nina Joel [Torre]," he said in his acceptance speech. "Sabi ko, one of these days, gusto ko rin n'yan. Pero 51 years old na ko. After about 27 years, ngayon ko lang nahawakan 'to. Thank you, Lord!"

Ronnie was first nominated for a Gawad Urian in 1982, for best supporting actor for the movie Oro, Plata, Mata, directed by Peque Gallaga. Joel Torre, who played the lead role in the Filipino film classic, was nominated for best actor, but lost to Phillip Salvador. (Joel would later win the best supporting actor award in 2000 for Bayaning Third World, and the best actor award in 2002 for Batang West Side.)

Ronnie was nominated for best actor in 1984 for Boatman, and in 2004 for Ebolusyon ng Isang Pamilyang Pilipino.

In an interview after the event, Ronnie told PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) that he couldn't even begin to describe how he was feeling.

"Words are not enough to describe," he said. "I'm very happy. Like I said, when I saw the trophy dun sa houses before, I said I hope to have one of those. Took some time, but patience pays off."

Ronnie regularly acts in independent films. He said he's proud to be part of what he calls the Filipino cinema's "new wave."

In Yanggaw, Ronnie plays a father who tries to keep his family together after his daughter is suspected of being an "aswang." He said he did not have a hard time acting the part.

"If you love what you're doing, it's all fun. I enjoyed every moment of doing Yanggaw," he said.

But he wanted to acknowledge the film's director, Richard Somes, who he claimed is a very good director and storyteller who will be a good addition to the country's film industry.

"He's going to give good donations to storytelling in the industry," Ronnie said.