In a resounding victory, Jesuit Communications’ historical film, “GomBurZa,” clinched seven awards at the 49th Metro Manila Film Festival’s (MMFF) Gabi ng Parangal on December 27, 2023 at the New Frontier Theater. Just days after its grand premiere at Gateway Cineplex Cinema 5 on December 23, the film garnered the most awards among the ten competing entries.
The jubilant cast and crew, led by JesCom Executive Director and GomBurZa Executive Producer Fr. Nono Alfonso, SJ, accepted the Second Best Picture Award with pride. Alongside him were GomBurZa co-Executive Producer Fr. Ro Atilano, SJ, and GomBurza co-Producers JesCom Creative Director Ms. Pauline Mangilog-Saltarin, and JesCom Production Manager Ms. Ernestine Tamana.
“Thank you to the judges of the MMFF and our partners in this film, CMB and Media Quest. To all the brave Filipino heroes by my side at this moment, thank you to you all. Vivan los Filipinos,” exclaimed an overjoyed Fr. Nono in Filipino, as he raised the trophy.
Internationally acclaimed Jose Lorenzo “Pepe” Diokno was acknowledged with the Best Director plum. Meanwhile, Cedrick Juan, who portrayed Padre Jose Burgos, took home the honor of Best Actor. Juan’s victory marked a significant achievement, surpassing seasoned actors Piolo Pascual (Mallari), Dingdong Dantes (Rewind), Alden Richards (Family of Two), Derek Ramsay (Kampon), and Christopher de Leon (When I Met You in Tokyo).
In his acceptance speech, Juan dedicated the award to Filipinos denied justice, emphasizing the film’s essence as a poignant reminder of the martyred priests. He expressed gratitude to JesCom for the opportunity and to director Pepe Diokno for believing in him, while acknowledging his roots in theater at FEU and UP.
“Maraming, maraming salamat, JesCom, sa pagsugal sa akin,” he said. “Maraming salamat Direk Pepe Diokno sa tiwala sa akin. Sino ba naman ako? Nagpapasalamat din ako sa FEU at UP na siyang humubog sa akin sa Teatro.”
(Thank you so much, JesCom for taking a chance on me. Thank you Direk Pepe Diokno for your trust in me. Who am I after all? I also thank FEU and UP who molded me in theater)
“Itong parangal na ito para sa lahat ng Pilipinong hindi nakakuha ng tamang hustisya… Yun po ang kwento ng tatlong paring martir na sana ay matuto tayo sa ating history. Hindi para baguhin ito kundi para matuto.”
(I offer this award to all Filipinos who don’t get the justice they deserve. This is the story of the three martyred priests. I hope we learn from our history, and not distort it.)
“GomBurZa” dominated across categories, securing Best Cinematography (Carlo Mendoza), Best Production Design (Ericson Navarro), Best Sound Design (Albert Michael Idioma, Janina Minglanilla, and Emilio Sparks), and the prestigious Gatpuno Antonio Villegas Cultural Award.
Photo from the GomBurZa Facebook page
Other big winners during the awarding ceremony were Firefly (Best Picture, Best Child Performer for Euwenn Mikaell and Best Screenplay for Anj Atienza), Vilma Santos (Best Actress, “When I Met You in Tokyo”), JC Santos (Best Supporting Actor, “Mallari”), and Miles Ocampo (Best Supporting Actress, “Family of Two”).
Produced by JesCom Films and MQuest Ventures of MediaQuest, in cooperation with CMB Film Services, “GomBurZa” masterfully brings to life the inspiring tale of three Filipino priests executed in 1872, who propelled the fight towards independence. Dante Rivero portrayed Padre Mariano Gomes, Enchong Dee embodied Padre Jacinto Zamora, and Piolo Pascual played a brief but pivotal role as Padre Pedro Pelaez, founder of the Filipino secularization movement.
This triumph is particularly noteworthy for Jesuit Communications, primarily recognized for its religious and educational programs, which has now firmly etched its name among giants in the Philippine film industry. For JesCom, this achievement echoes the success of its first major motion picture, “Ignacio de Loyola,” which dominated the technical categories at the 35th Luna Awards of the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP), winning Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Musical Score, and Best Sound.
Dubbed the “biggest historical film of the new decade,” it was the overwhelming response and genuine interest of the viewing public that made “GomBurZa’s” victory much sweeter. After a heartfelt campaign to have the film screened in more theaters, cinemas were soon packed with sellout crowds with multiple block screenings being arranged. As of writing, from an initial count of 39th, the film has commanded the top three spot at the MMFF 2023 box-office rankings and is now being shown in over 120 cinemas nationwide.
“GomBurZa” fittingly stands as JesCom’s gift to the Philippine Church and the entire nation, aligning with the greater mission of the media arm of the Society of Jesus’ Philippine Province to inspire, educate, and nurture the flame of patriotism in every Filipino heart.
With the MMFF concluding on January 7, 2024, “GomBurZa” remains a cinematic force, inviting audiences to witness history and reflect on the enduring quest for justice and freedom.