Actor Gabby Concepcion is back in the Philippines after a self-imposed, 13-year “exile” in the United States following the 1994 Manila Film Festival scandal. It was Concepcion who blew the whistle on an attempt by his own manager Lolit Solis to manipulate the results of the film festival awards.
Concepcion arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Centennial Terminal 2 at 3:26 in the morning Sunday from San Francisco in the United States.
The actor told reporters that he returned to the Philippines for the sake of his father Rolando, who is struggling with serious illness and already wheelchair-bound, and to attend the birthday of his daughter KC, who is not one of the hottest new young stars in Philippine showbiz today.
In the 1994 film festival awards, the winners announced for Best Actor and Best Actress were Gabby Concepcion and Ruffa Gutierrez. The scandal erupted when it was later learned that the real winners were supposed to be Edu Manzano and Aiko Melendez.
A subsequent investigation showed that several awards presenters, including Miss Mauritius Viveka Babajee and Rocky Gutierrez, conspired to switch the real envelopes containing the real winners’ names, with other envelopes prepared by Solis. The fake envelopes contained the names of Concepcion and Gutierrez.
Two unforgetable videos from that scam include that of a tearful Concepcion talking to reporters and implicating his Solis as the mastermind, and the awards clip showing an enthusiastic Babajee reading Ruffa’s name off the fake envelope as the Best Actress winner.
After calling out Ruffa’s name, Babajee even egged her on to go onstage and get the award, saying, “Take it! Take it”. It became a popular catch-phrase for a time among Filipinos.
That same clip also shows Rocky’s hand surreptitiously snaking across the podium, grabbing the real envelope, crumpling it and placing it in his pocket.
Babajee quickly left the Philippines after the scandal broke. Concepcion also went to the United States. Gutierrez matriarch Annabelle Rama later told reporters that her son Rocky was traumatized and had to undergo psychiatric support. Solis ended up in the hospital after an attack of hypertension.
Solis later bore the brunt of the legal consequences of the scam after she was convicted for her attempt to sabotage the results of the film festival.