MANILA — As Christmas crowds trooped to cinemas for the 2019 Metro Manila Film Festival, “Miracle in Cell No. 7” star Aga Muhlach emerged as a fan favorite to clinch the Best Actor trophy.
However, Muhlach’s portrayal of a mentally challenged man who ends up in jail after being wrongly accused of a crime was snubbed for the top acting prize.
That award went to Allen Dizon for “Mindanao,” which was the big winner of the festival with 11 trophies, including Best Actress for Judy Ann Santos, Best Director for Brillante Mendoza, and Best Picture.
Despite “Miracle in Cell No. 7” not receiving a single award, Muhlach appeared in high spirits, and in fact “overwhelmed,” on Thursday during a thanksgiving dinner for the film’s box office success.
“‘Yung pagbabalik ko sa festival, ngayon lang ulit. Imagine ‘yung feeling ko na you end the year this way, and you start the year this way. It’s amazing,” he said, expressing gratitude to moviegoers who continue to rave about the film.
Speaking with ABS-CBN News’ Mario Dumaual, Muhlach only laughed when asked for his reaction to the movie reportedly leading ticket sales. Under MMFF rules, participating producers are not allowed to disclose box office tallies.
Muhlach did say, however, that he had been hoping Filipino audiences would experience the emotional story of Joselito and his daughter Yesha (Xia Vigor, Bela Padilla), and that he is happy that turned out to be the case as the festival season came around.
Muhlach said he is also grateful to those who have been praising his performance in “Miracle in Cell No. 7,” in light of online reactions in the wake of his Best Actor snub.
“Alam niyo po, wala pong best-best actor. All of us, we try our best,” he said, mentioning Dizon and other MMFF lead stars Vice Ganda and Coco Martin.
“These guys are great actors. That night, ang pinili po si Allen. Allen, congratulations, really, to you. I’m just the happiest. Kahit sinong kasamahan ko sa industriya na mabigyan ng pansin, ako’y parating magiging pinakamasaya for all of them. Kahit kanino man, seriously,” he said.