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Veteran actress Eva Darren dropped as FAMAS presenter last minute; organizers say they're 'not able to locate' her

By NICK GARCIA Published May 27, 2024 3:30 pm Updated May 27, 2024 5:21 pm

Veteran actress Eva Darren was supposed to be a presenter at the 2024 Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS) awards night at the Manila Hotel on May 26 and made immense preparations. She, however, was allegedly dropped last-minute without explanation.

Darren's son Fernando De La Peña, in a lengthy Facebook post on May 27, said Darren, an actor of over five decades, received a notice of invitation for the FAMAS "a couple of months ago," and was given a script "to go over and memorize as an awards presenter" alongside Tirso Cruz III, another veteran actor.

Despite usually not attending social events and loving "the simple pleasures in life being surrounded by family," an "excited" Darren, according to De La Peña, bought the best dress and pair of heels she could afford and topped that with a nice package of hair and make up for the gala. She also brought her three grandchildren with her during the event.

"With a price tag of P5,000 ($90) per plate for four people, needless to say, it was not a cheap evening," he said, though added that it was worth it because Darren last went on FAMAS stage in 1969 when she was named best supporting actress for Ang Pulubi.

"Being the true professional that my mother is, she memorized and rehearsed her script to perfection, braved the downpour of a Signal No. 1 Typhoon warning and drove to the Manila Hotel," De La Peña said. "After the glitz and glamour shots with air-cheek-kisses and what not, everyone eventually took their seats and the awarding commenced."

But when it was time for Darren to present the award, Cruz went upstage with an upcoming young singer instead.

"My mother never went on the stage," De La Peña said.

He said the public relations officer of the FAMAS production staff, who had been in constant communication with Darren before the event, "had absolutely no explanations to offer, just a thousand apologies."

"He confessed not knowing what happened and wasn’t sure why there was a last-minute change," De La Peña said of the FAMAS staff.

Though Darren said "it's okay," she decided to leave nonetheless as "[s]taying around was just rubbing salt on her FAMAS-inflicted wounds" according to De La Peña.

He warned FAMAS organizers that they "cannot do this an icon of Philippine Cinema," especially since they've been handing the awards for 72 years now.

"You would think and assume that a 'prestigious award-giving body' who had been doing the same thing every year, over and over without fail, would have mastered their craft after 72 years," he said. "But no, not this entity."

"It makes one wonder... how many times have you callously and insensitively done this in the past without remorse or consideration for emotional consequences?" he added. "How many times have you stepped on an artist's dignity?"

De La Peña described what happened to his mother as "rude," "disrespectful," "unethical," and "unprofessional to say the least."

While he could've thought of a hundred other words to describe what FAMAS did to Darren and even consider legal actions, De La Peña said his sister, a devout Christian, told him to leave it to the hands of God. Instead, he called on Facebook users to share his post so "these people must learn a lesson."

'Not able to locate Ms. Darren'

Hours after De La Peña's post went viral, FAMAS issued an official statement expressing its "sincerest apologies" to Darren.

The institution acknowledged that she's part of the program to present Special Citations with Cruz.

"But considering that we were running a live show, and due to myriads of people present in last night’s festivities, the production team was not able to locate Ms. Darren," it said. "This was indeed a setback in the live show and a negligence on the part of the team."

FAMAS pointed out that "this was not intentional and purely a misjudgment."

"The show is being streamed live and needed to be remedied right away. Hence, a replacement for Miss Darren was done last minute," it added.

It said that it's "committed to make amends and rebuild her trust by a personal visit of the FAMAS Board to honor her stature, if she allows it."

'Impossible not to find her'

After news outlets reported the incident, De La Peña caught wind of's Facebook quote card containing FAMAS's explanation about not locating Darren.

"My mother was seated front and center, same table as Tita Marissa Delgado and my Ninang Divina Valencia!" he said. "It is impossible not to find her."

FAMAS, the country's oldest existing film industry award-giving body and dubbed the local Oscars, recognizes achievements in Philippine cinema for a calendar year.

This year's big winner was the horror movie Mallari, which bagged seven awards including best picture and best actor for Piolo Pascual.

(Editor's Note: This article has been updated to include Fernando De La Peña's reaction to the FAMAS official statement.)