HILDA KORONEL received first “Monty Manibog Lifetime Achievement Award” at inaugural launch of MANILA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL; “About Us But Not About Us” screening and Q&A closed out the star-studded event

By Oliver Carnay

A star-studded red carpet gala and lavish (not to mention, very well organized!) event for the inaugural launch of Manila International Film Fest 2023 (MIFF) was held at the Directors Guild of America (DGA) on November 2, 2023.  Attendees were treated with delectable Filipino and fresh Japanese foods at the DGA Atrium after the red carpet parade and screenings of “HERE COMES THE GROOM” and “LOVE YOU LONG TIME.” 

MIFF, the first edition of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) was launched with screenings of three films chosen from the eight entries in the inaugural summer edition of MMFF (Metro Manila Summer Film Festival-MMSFF) held last April in the Philippines.

The Three films were Chris Martinez’s “Here Comes the Groom,” starring Enchong Dee, Kaladkaren, Miles Ocampo and Gladys Reyes, MMSFF special jury prize winner, 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm; JP Habac Jr.’s “Love You Long Time,” starring Carlo Aquino, Eisel Serrano and Ana Abad Santos, 2:00 – 4:00 pm; Jun Robles Lana’s “About Us But Not About Us,” starring Romnick Sarmenta and Elijah Canlas, which won several MMSFF awards, including best picture, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, including a Q & A, moderated by journalist Ruben V. Nepales, with star Romnick Sarmenta and filmmakers Jun Robles Lana and Perci Intalan.

At the MIFF Lounge, during the party, board member Janet R. Nepales hosted the program and started it by calling MIF Executive Producer Lisa Lew, and inviting Jennifer Peat (DGA Special Assignments Executive) onstage, who gave a speech welcoming the MIFF and the Filipino/FilAm community at the Directors Guild of America.  Filipina Hollywood TV and Film Director, Marie Jamora – a Directors Guild member and friend of Hollywood Director Ava DuVerney, gave an inspirational speech, after which MIFF Chairman Omen Ortiz presented the first “Monty Manibog Lifetime Achievement Award” to actress Ms. HILDA KORONEL, assisted by Lisa Lew.  Named after the late Manibog, the first Filipino-American to become an elected official in Southern California and the first FilAm mayor in the continental United States, a humanitarian, lawyer and an Olympian. 

MIFF President Ebradu Udarbe was called on to introduce MMFF Chairman Atty. Romando Artes spoke, and later called the stars from the three films featured throughout the day at the inaugural festival, Enchong DeeKaladKaren, Romnick Nick Sarmenta, and Eisel Serrano vigorously related their experience and gratitude to MIFF.

All attendees enjoyed the party for a while and picked up loot bags for everyone on their way out for the final screening of the day, which was “ABOUT US BUT NOT ABOUT US.” 
After the “About Us But Not About Us” screening, Janet Nepales hosted the Q&A, moderated by Ruben V. Nepales with actor Romnick Sarmenta, Dir. Jun Robles Lana and Producer Perci Intalan in the panel.
Notable attendees at the red carpet and party were Tia Carrere and legendary actor John SavageInigo PascualJay R SillonaMica Javier ,Sam MorelosTootsie GuevaraGiji Kocher Djhoanna GarciaEvelyn Vargas-Knaebel with Olga NatividadCarlin JamesSaira Bunny ParasBradford Adkins, Publicist Winston EmanoBianca CatbaganMark LabellaLyndon ApostolBenjamin Manansala Cabrera, Jonjon Briones, among other luminaries in Hollywood and FilAm community.  
Congratulations to all MIFF Board Members for a very successful launch! Browse more pics from MIFF 2023 here: https://www.instagram.com/manilaintlfilmfest2023/
The MIFF founders are Omen Ortiz, chairman; Ebradu Udarbe, president; Lisa Lew, executive producer; Ruben Nepales and Janet Nepales, media relations consultants; and Celia Abaya Dy, ticketing manager. Also on the MIFF team are Leo Dela Cruz, chief financial officer; Erickson Ilog, chief operations officer; Ron Ramores, chief marketing officer; Cindy Sison, consultant; and Meriden Angeles, coordinator.  
For tickets and details to the upcoming Manila International Film Festival 2024, please log on to www.ManilaInternationalFilmfest.com