Actor and beauty stylist Fanny Serrano was simply overwhelmed when he won best actor for Neal Tan's indie film, Tarima, at the recently-concluded 9th Gawad Tanglaw Awards, held on March 17 at the St. Dominic College of Asia in Bacoor, Cavite.
He said he was honored to win the top plum (male division) together with popular actor Coco Martin.
This is Fanny's first-ever acting award; he received a medallion and a certificate of citation. He won for his performance as the oppressed gay, Roselo, in Tarima.
Coco also got the Gawad Tanglaw jurors' nod in his role as the President's (Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III or P-Noy) ardent follower and supporter in the political drama, 'Noy, directed by indie newcomer Dondon Santos.
"Nung pinanood ko po ang 'Noy, ang sabi ko, 'Ay, ito [Coco] ang best actor ko sa taon na ito!" Fanny said in his acceptance speech.
The beauty guru said he considers the award a major feat in his acting career, which has had its highs and lows over the years.
"That time, wala pa akong nominations. Little did I know na makaka-tie ko pa si Coco," Fanny later told PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) in an interview.
He was referring to another nomination for lead performance from the Golden Screen Awards of ENPRESS (Entertainment Press Society, Inc.) which is slated to hand out prizes in the first week of April this year. (CLICK HERE to read related story.)
Fanny recalled that in the 1980s, he was hailed as a celebrity hairstylist and makeup artist, who did some cameo movie appearances on the side.
He never imagined that decades later, he would be recognized as best actor, sharing the honor with matinee idol, Coco Martin.
"Correct!" the amiable gay actor agreed. "Sa totoo lang, hindi ko naman siniseryoso... Basta, yun lang ang naramdaman ko nung napanood ko si Coco. Ang galing! Tapos ngayon, ka-tie ko, di ba? Hindi ko akalain. Samantalang ang prediction ko, 'Ito [Coco] ang best actor ko!" Fanny said.
THANKFUL TO GAWAD TANGLAW. Fanny shared three reasons why he considers it a great honor to be recognized by the nine-year-old awards-giving group composed of academicians.
"Unang-una, isang malaking karangalan yung mapansin ka ng mga tao sa Gawad Tanglaw na hindi mo kilala," he said. "I mean, wala akong koneksiyon [sa kanila] and, out of nowhere, bigla silang sumulpot sa buhay ko.
"At napakagaling nilang mag-buena mano! After that nomination, nagkasunud-sunod na—the Soho International Filmfest, pati sa Enpress."
Fanny said Tarima is joining the New York City-based international film festival in April 15 -22 as a main competition entry. Meanwhile, ENPRESS has honored him with another best actor nomination.
"Pangalawa, nagkaroon ng magandang result yung pagod namin sa Tarima. Isang malaking karangalan, at may Soho International pa!
"Pangatlo, ang maka-tie mo ang isang ini-idolo ngayong artista sa grupo ng mga kabataan natin, na magaling talagang umarte, in fairness," Fanny said of Coco.
"Hindi siya ordinaryong aktor o personality sa showbiz. Aminin natin, siya yung mainit ngayon. At para maka-tie ko siya, e, talagang malaking karangalan para sa akin."
CHALLENGED. Fanny has a loyal following in the beauty business. But such is his passion for acting, he has appeared in movies (in cameo roles), television (a few lead dramatic roles in various anthologies), and theater (Hanggang Dito Na Lamang At Maraming Salamat with the award-winning actor-director Mario O'Hara).
At the post-awards ceremonies huddle and photo-ops, Fanny was delighted to share with PEP a fan's words of encouragement:
"May nagsabi sa akin, 'Alam mo, TF (Tita Fanny), tama lang na bihira kang gumagawa ng pelikula, pero pinag-uusapan, tapos nananalo. Tama ang ginagawa mo na namimili ka.'"
There's wisdom in those words, Fanny said, adding: "Pagkatapos ng ginawa ko, ayokong makarinig ng 'Ano ba? Mag-beautician ka na lang!' o 'Mag-makeup ka na lang, Fanny!' Ayokong makarinig ng gano'n.
"Definitely it's a big challenge to act, to do heavy roles such as what I did in Tarima. So, I'm happy that even with my co-stars, nakakarinig ako ng ganyan. 'Ay, iba na naman ang ginawa mo, TF, iba ka talaga! It's worth it talaga!'
"Then, yung mga [fashion] designers at makeup artists na 'yan, ang tataray ng mga 'yan! Pero after the premiere night of Tarima last year, ang nasabi nila, 'It's worth our time!'" Fanny said.
"RULE-BREAKING" TARIMA. Fanny likewise shared with PEP what an insider from the Gawad Tanglaw Awards had told him in connection with the group's decision to include Tarima in this year's roster of Best Picture awardees. The list also included Adolf Alix, Jr.'s Presa, Laurice Guillen's Sa 'Yo Lamang, Joel Lamangan's Sigwa, and Mark Meilly's Donor.
Except for Guillen's film, the four best picture picks of the Gawad Tanglaw in 2011 are all independently-produced.
Among the five honored films, only Tarima was considered a film which dealt with the subject of a homosexual relationship.
"Gawad Tanglaw has broken a rule in their standard or criteria sa pagpili ng masa-cite," Fanny said. "Sabi sa akin ng isang academe member, 'Fanny, sa totoo lang, may na-break kaming standard na 'Bawal ang gay love scenes. Bawal ang mga ganyang pelikula.' Pero brineyk namin yun."
According to Fanny's supporter from the said awards-giving group: "Walang nag-react [about the film], lahat kami unanimous decision na, 'Sige, papanalunin.' At first, we had misgivings kasi ire-recommend namin sa tao 'yan. Pero nung mapanood namin yung love scene [between Fanny and Rocky Salumbides], we thought hindi nasayang yung mga eksena."
"At yun daw ang sinasabing kailangan sa istorya. Sa Tarima daw, ipinakita ang totoong nangyayari sa loob ng prison," Fanny said.
OFF TO SOHO, NYC. On April 15 to 21, the second edition of the Soho International Film Festival (SIFF) will be held in New York City. Neal Tan's Tarima is one of the entries.
According to Mr. Jorge Ballos, festival director and organizer of the SIFF, "Around 600 films were screened, and this number was narrowed down to 60, then 30 films, which make up the entries to SIFF this year."
Ballos was a guest of Fanny, along with his director and producer (Rey Maclang), at a recent dinner he tendered at his salon and residence on Scout Madriñan, Quezon City last March 14. They talked about Tarima's prospects in the said New York City-based film festival and competition.
Rey Maclang said, "Happy ako kahit papa'no kasi maganda yung pelikula. Lalo na ngayon, may balitang ganito... Yun yung fulfilment, for the sake of the arts."
Is he willing to produce another Tarima?
"Not in the immediate future," Maclang said. "Mag-iipon muna ako uli."
Joining international filmfests isn't new to director Neal Tan, having toured Europe and other continents promoting his socially-conscious drama, Ataul 4 Rent, in 2007 and 2008. But Tarima's forthcoming entry to SIFF excites him no end.
"Tarima is the first gay film I ever directed, kaya nakaka-excite!" said Direk Neal, who has since decided to drop the 'Buboy' (his nickname) in the film's credits.
"Nung gumagawa pa ako ng pito-pito movies, na-invite na rin yung pelikula kong Puri, bold yun, sa Bangkok Film Festival [in Thailand]. Hindi ako um-attend."
What can Fanny say about Tarima making it as an official competition entry to the Soho International Film Festival in New York City?
"Ngayon ako naniniwala... Dati, hindi ako naniniwala nung sinabi sa akin ni Bibsy [Carballo, Fanny's PR manager]. Mahirap akong ma-convince, e. Nung nag-email sa akin ang Soho, kay Direk Buboy ko pa pina-confirm.
"Ay, excited ako!" Fanny gushed. "Hindi ko akalain na sa ganito aabot ito, e. Wala kasi tayong iniisip noon, habang sinu-shooting ito, na 'O, pang-international ito!' O, 'Pang-award ito!' Wala!
"Gusto lang naming matapos, lalung-lalo na doon sa kulungan, ang hirap kasi mag-shoot doon. Sabi ko, 'Direk, tapusin na natin!"
Tarima is competing at the Soho International Filmfest, along with another local indie film, Ganap Na Babae, a trilogy directed by Ellen Ramos, Rica Arevalo and Sarah Roxas.
Last year's main competition entry from the Philippines was Paolo Villaluna and Ellen Ramos's personal drama on complex inter-personal relationships, Walang Hanggang Paalam, starring Lovi Poe, Jake Roxas, Rico Barrera, and Jacky Woo.
On its second year, according to Mr. Ballos, the Soho International Filmfest will be giving out awards in the following categories, among others: Best U.S. Picture, Best World Showcase, Best Short Film, Audience Choice Award, and Best Director.