DESPITE tighter screening of nominees, the ninth USTv Students’ Choice Awards held at the Plaza Mayor last March 7 again yielded winners known more for their commercialism than for their Christian values.

This year’s edition had a total of 33 categories and 90 nominees. Several category changes were implemented, removing “unessential” ones such as the Best Actor and Actress while adding the Best Network Foundation and Best Sports Personality.

“We, at USTv, don’t assess or evaluate the acting craft of the TV personality or how showbiz is done; rather, we search for the projection of our true Thomasian values,” said Benjamin Zoilo Mario Ravanera III, president of the Student Organizations Coordinating Council (SOCC) in his remarks.

Also added was the Student Leaders’ Choice for Best Television Program and Best TV Personality. GMA-7’s noontime variety show “Eat Bulaga” was declared the Student Leaders’ Choice for Best Television Program for its public-service segments such as providing high school scholarship grants to bright elementary graduates.

Actress Angel Locsin, meanwhile, won the Student Leaders’ Best TV Personality. An alumna of the UST High School, Locsin was cited for her charities.

“Siguro kung ano man ang narating ko ngayon, hindi ko maaabot kung wala ang tulong sa akin ng UST, so maraming salamat po sa inyo,” Locsin said.

ABS-CBN was the biggest winner of the night, with 20 awards mostly for their entertainment programs; GMA-7 earned 10 trophies. TV5’s reality program, “Talentadong Pinoy,” garnered the network’s lone award.

ABS-CBN’s daytime drama series “Be Careful With My Heart” brought home the Students’ Choice for Best Local Daily Soap Opera, while the program “Maalaala Mo Kaya” won its ninth straight award for Best Drama Program.

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The hit Korean series “Dream High” won the Best Foreign Soap Opera, while “Failon Ngayon” and “The Bottomline” won Best Investigative Program and Best Public Affairs Talk Show, respectively. “Matanglawin,” meanwhile, won its fifth trophy for Best Educational Program.

Other television program winners from ABS-CBN were: “The Buzz” (seventh win for Best Entertainment News Program), TV Patrol (fifth win for Best Local News and Current/Public Affairs Program), “Ako ang Simula” (Public Service Program), “Deal or No Deal” (Best Game Show) and “It’s Showtime” (Best Variety Show). “The Healing,” produced by the ABS-CBN’s film company Star Cinema, won Best Local Full-Length Film.

Several personalities from ABS-CBN were also acknowledged. Boy Abunda, Luis Manzano and Anne Curtis were declared Best Entertainment News Program Host, Best Game Show Host and Best Variety Show Host, respectively. Ted Failon won his third Best Male News and Current/Public Affairs Host award, while Kris Aquino personally received her trophy for Best Talk Variety Show Host. The ABS-CBN Foundation, Inc. was named Best Network Foundation.

Meanwhile, GMA-7’s programs “Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho” and “i-Witness” won its sixth and seventh straight awards for Best Magazine Program and Best Documentary Program, respectively. “Bubble Gang” won its eighth trophy for Best Gag Show, while “Pepito Manaloto” won Best Situational Comedy and “Party Pilipinas” Best Talk Variety Show.

GMA-7 personalities Jessica Soho and Chris Tiu were declared Best Female News and Current Affairs Host and Best Sports Personality, respectively.

Music artists were also acknowledged, with Callalily’s “Minsan” winning Best Local Music Video and Julie Anne San Jose Best Local Music Video Artist. Meanwhile, the commercial for Nestle’s 100th anniversary won the Students’ Choice of TV Advertisement.

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Two categories, the Students’ Choice of Catholic Program and Local Full-Length Independent Film, had no nominees. Special citations, however, were given to Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle’s show, “The Word Exposed,” and GMA News TV’s “San Pedro Calungsod Documentary Drama Special.”

Recognizing the power of television in influencing the youth, Fr. Richard Ang, O.P. underscored the importance of evaluating media critically. He also added that the USTv Students’ Choice Awards “has virtually set the standard for awards.”

“[The USTv] recognizes the importance of the students’ collective voice in urging television networks to produce quality programs that are family-centered and value-oriented. Fully conscious of the power of media to shape society, Thomasian students once again expressed their approval of television programs and personalities that mirror these values,” Ang said.

Ang added that responsible viewing demands sustained reflection and understanding of the message that TV shows send subliminally to viewers.

“TV, like any tool of human creativity, may be used or abused; it may represent or misrepresent; lead or mislead; communicate or miscommunicate; construct or deconstruct,” he said. “I believe that our students are well aware of their increasing responsibility to critically evaluate media and its impact on Filipino culture.”

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