Updated 09:25 AM PHT Fri, December 30, 2016
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Three overseas Filipino workers were the stars of the night instead of famous celebrities.
It's a historic moment – this is the first time in the history of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) that a documentary bagged the Best Picture award.
Babyruth Villarama Gutierrez brought home the top prize with her outstanding documentary Sunday Beauty Queen, the story of five Filipino women as helpers in Hong Kong and their love for beauty pageants.
The movie also won the best editing award.
For Gutierrez, it's an achievement for all aspiring documentary filmmakers and for the overseas Filipino workers whom she calls heroes.
"I've always championed that documentaries should have a place in this film industry because real stories are the champions of who we are, and for us to win best picture it's a big deal for us," she said.
The other outstanding winner of the night is acclaimed director Eric Matti who bagged the coveted Best Director award for second year in a row.
His film Seklusyon also won six other major awards including Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress (Phoebe Walker) and Best Original Theme Song.
The best actor award went to Paolo Ballesteros for his role as a transgender beauty queen in Die Beautiful.
His co-star, emerging actor Christian Bables, won best supporting actor.
The same movie also bagged the People's Choice Award, which was chosen by netizens.
As for Best Actress, the award went to Irma Adlawan for her role in Oro.
This year's Short Film Best Picture is EJK by Bor Ocampo.
Three movies won the Children's Choice Award - the animated film Saving Sally, the documentary Sunday Beauty Queen, and the teen romcom Vince, Kath, and James.
With the many unexpected winners, it appears the MMFF is taking a new direction - bringing renewed hope both to industry insiders and film enthusiasts.