By Pablo A. Tariman,VERA Files
In this year’s 37th Gawad Urian Awards, seasoned actors were edged out by new but equally brilliant talents portraying equally challenging roles not often seen in mainstream movies.
Indie queen Angeli Bayani (“Norte: Hangganan ng Kasaysayan”) won over Nora Aunor (Mabuti), Vilma Santos (Ekstra), Cherie Gil (Sonata), Eugene Domingo (Instant Mommy), Rustica Carpio (Ano ang Kulay ng mga Nakalimutang Pangarap?), Agot Isidro (Anino ng Kahapon), Vivian Velez (Bendor) and Lorna Tolentino (Burgos), among others.
In the best supporting actor category, the young and unknown Jun-Jun Quintana (Philippino Story) won over Cesar Montano (“Alamat ni China Doll”), Joey Marquez (On The Job), Yul Servo (Porno), John Arcilla (Metro Manila) and Art Acuna (Kabisera), among others.
As in the best actor and actress categories, the race in the best supporting actor was also tight and the surprise winner was indie favorite Quintana who played the role of a sex worker with a heart in the Benjie Garcia film.
Before “Philippino Story,” Quintana was noticed in Adolfo Alix’s Haruo, the Young Critics Circle Best Film of 2012 and “Quick Change,” another acclaimed indie film.
Of late, Quintana appeared in the stage play, “Imbisibol,” one of the highly promising one-act plays of the Virgin Labfest at the CCP.
Quintana has reasons to treasure his first major acting award: “I would say the trophy was indeed precious as it was the very first trophy to be handed out during the awards night. I held on to it throughout the proceedings. It is my very first award and they say that the first is always priceless.”
In the Benjie Garcia film, Quintana’s portrayal of the sex worker stood out well enough to make lasting impressions on former Manunuri critic Mario Bautista who wrote: “Gay-themed films that feature male hustlers usually portray them as ruthless gold diggers who are just after the money of their homosexual clients.’Philippino Story’ is totally different as its lead character, Phillip (Junjun Quintana), a waiter who moonlights as a male prostitute has a heart of gold. Jun-Jun, gives a very low key but heartwarming performance in his interpretation of Phillip.
Honestly, we believe it's Jun-Jun who should have won as best actor and Mark as the best supporting actor in the Cinema One Filmfest awards night.”
The young actor admits the tough part of his role was not to play it too big. “My director wanted me to keep a balance between subtlety and intensity because there were a few dramatic highlights and most of the conflicts of my character were internal. Also, I have to admit that I was much pressured because I was acting with the brilliant Mark Gil. Even without dialogue, lalamunin niya ako ng buong buo. I also listened to my director. and my co-actors and observed them, how they move, how they get into their characters, how they deliver their lines. And then I totally forget about myself, get into my character and try to be as effortless as possible.”
Quintana got as much help and support from director Garcia. From the very start, it was clear with what he wanted from him as an actor.
His impressions of the director: “He did not have a lot of unnecessary ‘ego,’ he was very cool, he was always straight to the point and he guided me throughout and allowed me to discover my character. I like his style. I like his sensibilities.”
His expectations vary with every director he works with. “I try not to expect too much every time I start working with a new director. Each project is different from the other. I simply try to get into my character as quickly as I can and do my best, hoping that they will like what I have to contribute as an actor in their films. I like directors who are straightforward but not arrogant, sensitive but not selfish, logical but not loud.”
For now, the young actor has an idea of the kind of acting that works and validated by his first acting award: “I like to believe that there are no strict rules when it comes to effective acting. My manager Ricky Gallardo told me once that in order for a performance to be good, it has to be sincere. That just stuck with me. I like effortless acting, you know, when the actor totally submerges into his character, allowing what is the most natural to come out. I’m still very new in the business but I am very comfortable with instinctive acting.”
Like most newcomers, he hopes for more illuminating roles and more challenge.
He concludes: “With this big blessing from the Urian, I am certainly refueled and recharged. I have to admit that being a newcomer in the biz is not easy, I’ve had my fair share of rejections, and the first few steps are the most difficult. I hope that this huge recognition from the Urian will make the decision makers on TV and film take a closer and longer look at me and entrust me with some good roles”
For now, he knows he only wants to achieve three things every time he faces the camera.
For him, there is nothing like truth, clarity and consistency.
(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)