1st FilAm Visionary Awards Held at Kodak Theater

by Rene Villaroman/Asianjournal.com

HOLLYWOOD – Coming together in unprecedented camaraderie, high achieving Filipinos and Filipino Americans were given recognition in their respective fields at the First Annual Visionary Awards held at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood on Friday.

The awards show was considered historic and trendsetting. Financially – it cost a reported six figures to rent the Kodak Theater as its venue. NuVision Worldwide Communications went through great lengths to ensure that the production went without a hitch. But Murphy’s Law has proven again that when things could go wrong, they would.


Although, NuVision led by Chairman and CEO Ramil Q. Gonzales, achieved what had been earlier described as a God-ordained mission “to change the way Filipinos and their achievements are viewed throughout the world,” the production, however, was marred by technical flaws. The producers also failed to provide the press with reasonable attention and respect.

“They cheaped out on the media,” commented David Rockello, an Internet radio host and officer of the Historic Filipinotown Neighborhood Council. “The Visionary Awards was a lovely event for the people who were able to actually sit in the seats in the auditorium. But for the press, we were led down into a dungeon – a press dungeon if you will – and we were robbed off our hearing.”

Rockello told Asian Journal that he came to record sound bytes for his Internet radio show at http://www.killradio.org.

“It’s kinda hard to do sound bytes if there is no sound in the video. The little teeny monitor that they have is not large enough for anybody to watch. They did not have food for the press and they did not have water. So, like at the last minute, they brought in one case of water. One case!” Rockello added.

The audio was so inaudible, that this reporter was forced to leave the press room to watch the show in the theater. There were approximately 50 to 60 media members in the press room.


The project was met with a lot of skepticism, deemed ambitious, when it was unveiled at a press briefing in February. Skepticism eased with the helped of generally positive press from the community media.

However, it is still unknown whether NuVision would recoup its investment. Although NuVision managed to fill up approximately 80 percent of the 4,000-seat Kodak Theater, it would be reasonable to assume that ticket sales alone would not be able to cover production cost

Stars-filled night

The luminary achievements of the first Visionary Awards were its effort to sew up an impressive list of honorees from the home country. That list included the Filipino King of Comedy Dolphy, basketball great and former Senator Robert Jaworski, Congressman Luis Villafuerte, Senator Bong Revilla Jr., comedians Tito, Vic and Joey, action star Rudy Fernandez, rapper Francis Magalona, boxing great Manny Pacquiao (who did not receive the award in person) and entertainers Martin Nievera, Jessa Zaragoza and Kuh Ledesma.

The producers also reached out to other ethnic groups, including the African-American and Asian-Pacific Islanders communities. Singer Brian McKnight presented the Entertainer of the Year award to Nievera. Iron Chef’s Mark Dacascos, One Tree Hill’s Michael Copon, Hanna Montana’s Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, and American Idol finalist Jasmine Trias were among the FilAm celebrities that raised the brilliance level of the show.

“I’m incredibly honored because I’m receiving it from my people. My grandparents worked so hard to offer the opportunities that I have today,” said actress/singer and third generation FilAm Nia Peeples. “We as a people have come together to honor each other tonight; let us celebrate our gifts, vision and resources. What a great time to be a Filipino.”

Former Senator and basketball great Robert Jaworski, a Lifetime Achievement honoree, said the secret to his success was hardwork, dedication, respect, resiliency, and faith in God Almighty. “I can never find any country in the world with more kindness than the Philippines,” Jaworski said.

“Public service is the central point of all our endeavors,” said Mitos Santisteban of ABS-CBN Global, which was accorded the Global Media Pioneer Award. Television network GMA-7 was bestowed the Award of Excellence in Television Programming, and Mike Enriquez, who received the Broadcast Journalist of the Year Award, accepted the statuette for his network.

After he was handed the heavy, gold-plated statuette by actress-singer Nora Aunor,Dolphy, looking frail but funny as ever, quipped: “Thank you, Lord. I feel like an Oscar awardee. I will treasure this until my memorial park.”

He continued his acceptance speech in Tagalog. “Tatagalugin ko na. Barya lang ang Ingles ko,” he said with the perfect timing of a seasoned comedian. “Tandaan ninyo, Pilipino tayo. Huwag kayong mahihiya!” Tito, Vic and Joey, the indefatigueable comedic trio that have entertained Filipinos for 32 years, was accorded a standing ovation, similar to that given to Dolphy. “Nakakataba ng puso. Pasensiya ka na Pidol (Dolphy), yung mga kasamahan mo, namamayapa na,” said Joey de Leon. The trio has been a comedic staple for three decades, in three television stations, and five Presidents.

When Dolphy was handed a second statuette for a Lifetime Achievement Award, he said: “Me bonus pa!” He then paid tribute to the memory of his departed peers in the entertainment industry. “Mabuti naman at ibinigay ninyo itong award habang buhay pa ako,” Dolphy said.


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