The winningest director, two best actresses and other Gawad Buhay facts | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Ronelson Yadao in a promotional still for “Songs of a Wayfarer”

Twenty-three trophies are up for grabs at the 11th Philstage Gawad Buhay Awards for the Performing Arts, May 28, at the Onstage Theater, Greenbelt 1, Makati City.

Lutgardo Labad and Felicitas Radaic will receive the Natatanging Gawad Buhay—the lifetime achievement awards—for theater and dance, respectively. Meanwhile, 21 individuals—comprising roughly 40 percent of individual nominations—are up for their first competitive Gawad Buhay.

In anticipation of awards night, here are 11 facts and milestones you may not know about “the first industry awards exclusively for the performing arts”:

1. The only time an actor won multiple acting awards in the same year was in 2010, when the late Mario O’Hara took home Male Lead Performance in a Play for the Asian premiere of Lloyd Suh’s “American Hwangap” under Tanghalang Pilipino (TP), and Male Featured Performance in a Play for Rody Vera’s adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s “Three Sisters,” now “Tatlong Mariya,” for the same company.

2. The category with the fewest winners is Outstanding Original Script. It has been awarded only four times, to Tony Perez for “Saan Ba Tayo Ihahatid ng Disyembre?” (2009), Ron Capinding for “William” (2011), Layeta Bucoy for “Doc Resurreccion: Gagamutin ang Bayan” (2012) and Kanakan Balintagos for “Mga Buhay na Apoy” (2015).


3. Only three musicals have brought home the trophies for both Outstanding Original Libretto and Original Musical Composition: Peta’s “Si Juan Tamad, ang Diyablo at ang Limang Milyong Boto” in 2009 (music and libretto by Vincent de Jesus); TP’s restaging of “Noli Me Tangere, The Musical” in 2011 (libretto by National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera, music by National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab); and TP’s “Mabining Mandirigma” in 2015 (libretto by Nicanor Tiongson, music by Joed Balsamo).


Ronelson Yadao in a promotional still for “Songs of a Wayfarer”


4. Ronelson Yadao holds the record for the longest gap between nominations. He scored his first nomination—and win—in 2009 for Male Lead Performance in Dance for Ballet Philippines’ (BP) “Neo-Filipino.” He landed his second nomination only eight years later, in 2017, for Male Lead Performance in Modern Dance for BP’s “Songs of a Wayfarer.”

5. Chris Millado has won the most trophies for stage direction—first for TP’s “Stageshow” (2012), and then, after the award was split into the play and musical categories, for Repertory Philippines’ (Rep) “August: Osage County” in 2014 and TP’s “Mabining Mandirigma” the year after. However, the most nominated director is Robbie Guevara, with seven nods to his name and all for musicals produced by 9 Works Theatrical (and, in recent years, Globe Live). Guevara has been nominated every year for the last six years, beginning with “Grease” (2013), followed by “The Last Five Years” (2014), “La Cage aux Folles” (2015), “Tick, Tick… Boom!” and “American Idiot” (2016), “Newsies” (2017)—for which he won—and now for “Eto Na! Musikal nAPO!” Bart Guingona, on the other hand, holds the record for the most nominations for direction of nonmusical work. His six nods include two pieces for Rep—“Almost, Maine” (2016) and “Agnes of God” (2017)—and four pieces under The Necessary Theatre by Actor’s Actors Inc.—“Red” (2013), “Venus in Fur” and “Full Gallop” (2014), and his winning work for “The Normal Heart” (2016).


6. Only twice have the four design categories gone to four different productions. In 2013, the winners were: Mio Infante (set design, “The Bluebird of Happiness”), Jolu Escano (lighting design, “Red”), Leeroy New (costume design, “Ibalong”) and TJ Ramos (sound design, “Der Kaufmann: Ang Negosyante ng Venecia”). Infante again took home the award for set design in 2016 for “American Idiot”; the other winners that year were John Batalla (lighting design, “Almost, Maine”), Gino Gonzales (costume design, “3 Stars and a Sun”) and Teresa Barrozo (sound design, “Tribes”).


Mailes Kanapi, Liesl Batucan and May Bayot in “Stageshow” —FACEBOOK


7. Only twice have Outstanding Ensemble for a Play and for a Musical gone to the same company: first in 2011, when Peta scooped those awards for “William” and “Care Divas”; then, the following year, when TP’s “Walang Kukurap” and “Stageshow” prevailed.

8. Only two individuals have received multiple Gawad Buhays for two consecutive years. Vincent de Jesus achieved this feat first by winning Outstanding Libretto for “Skin Deep” and Outstanding Musical Direction for “Batang Rizal” in 2008, and then for his libretto and original music for “Si Juan Tamad, ang Diyablo at ang Limang Milyong Boto” in 2009. The late National Artist for Theater and Design Salvador Bernal was the second to pull this off, winning for his sets and costumes for “Encantada” in 2011 and “Rama, Hari” in 2012.

9. In theater, only two individuals have won the same award for three consecutive years. Sound designer TJ Ramos triumphed in his category for “Encantada” (2011), “Stageshow” (2012) and “Der Kaufmann” (2013). He won a fourth time in that category for “Mabining Mandirigma” (2015) to become the Gawad Buhay’s most awarded sound designer. On the other hand, John Batalla—with five wins, the Gawad Buhay’s most laureled lighting designer—first had a back-to-back streak with “Equus” (2010) and “Encantada” (2011), before going on to win for “33 Variations” (2015), “Almost, Maine” (2016) and “Agnes of God” (2017).

10. Only once have two individuals tied for their work in the same production—in 2014, when Liesl Batucan and Tami Monsod both won Featured Actress in a Play for playing sisters in the Philippine premiere of Tracy Letts’ “August: Osage County” under Rep.

11. Real-life siblings triumphed in the 2012 choreography categories, when the sisters Alice and Denisa Reyes took home the awards for dance (for “Rama, Hari”) and theater (for “Stageshow”), respectively. The latter would go on to win the same trophy three years later for “Mabining Mandirigma”; the former, a National Artist for Dance, has one other Gawad Buhay—for her adaptation of Nick Joaquin’s “The Summer Solstice,” now “Amada” for the ballet stage. Meanwhile, the youngest Reyes sister, Edna Vida, is one of the Gawad Buhay’s two most laureled choreographers. Her three wins—a record tied by Carlo Pacis—were for “Banaag at Sikat” (2010) and “Peter Pan” (2010 and 2015). Her fourth competitive Gawad Buhay was for Female Featured Performance in Modern Dance for “Awitin Mo at Isasayaw Ko” (2016). —CONTRIBUTED