Looking Back at Tessie Agana’s Unforgettable 2022 FAMAS Lifetime Achievement Award: A Monumental Honor from Filipino Cinema
Tessie Agana and Family on the Red Carpet at FAMAS 2022 in the Philippines

Looking Back at Tessie Agana’s Unforgettable 2022 FAMAS Lifetime Achievement Award: A Monumental Honor from Filipino Cinema

Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS) 2023 just concluded another remarkable ceremony on August 13, 2023 at the Manila Hotel. New awardees were honored, and I congratulate all the nominees and winners!

This made me reminisce about the day I received the message my mom was to be awarded the 2022 FAMAS Lifetime Achievement Award and our FAMAS experience a year ago.

The morning started off as a regular Saturday watching Mama over the weekend. In the corner of her bathroom sink, the soothing melodies of 1950s music play from my cell. As I pickup the hair dryer, I gently breeze through my mother’s fine silver hair, guiding the brush through her delicate end curls. In this seemingly ordinary interaction, I cherish the image of her eight-year-old self. While some might perceive it as mundane, for me, I treasure this very moment.

That day altered my mom’s life by a single Facebook message. Just when I thought our book (The Legend of Tessie Agana) was complete, her life story continued. On May 7, 2022, I received a pleasantly surprising note from the president of FAMAS, Francia Conrado.

In a momentous celebration of the rich legacy of Filipino cinema, the esteemed FAMAS bestowed its coveted 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award upon my mother, the iconic child actress, Tessie Agana. This would be held just a couple months later in July at the newly renovated Metropolitan Theater in Manila, Philippines. This remarkable recognition not only honored her exceptional contributions to the world of film but also highlights her enduring impact on the Philippine entertainment industry.

The whirlwind journey to Manila was like a beautifully orchestrated adventure, setting the stage for the event. We had 13 family members fly from the US to the Philippines to attend Mama Tessie’s big event. This was not just a family reunion, but a celebration of Filipino heritage and showcasing our culture to my husband, children, and nieces and nephews. From heartwarming family gatherings to the prestigious FAMAS Awards ceremony, every moment was filled with love, anticipation, and the determination to make this dream come true for Mama Tessie.

FAMAS Awards Day – A Day Like No Other

Tessie Agana doing hair and makeup prior to FAMAS 2022

On Saturday, July 30, 2022, the excitement reached its peak as the family prepared for the FAMAS Awards ceremony. The day began with early hair and makeup sessions for Mama Tessie and my two sisters. Despite living with dementia, Mama’s enthusiasm was infectious, showcasing her spirit and determination to seize this remarkable day. She was even singing old Filipino songs while getting ready.

The Unpredictable Twist

Mother Nature had a sense of humor, as a torrential monsoon downpoured on our way to the Manila Metropolitan Theater. Amidst the storm and chaos, the family persevered, ensuring Mama Tessie would ‘walk’ the red carpet in her wheelchair, creating a moment that would be etched in our hearts forever. Since it was raining the red carpet was only laid out in all its glory inside the theater.

I don’t think people recognized her at first but once word spread, the flicker of camera lights began to sparkle in front of us, Ma’am Francia introduced herself, and finally after weeks of details, we met. More veteran movie stars were now approaching, fans coming up asking for autographs, but it was also comforting to see my cousin, Carissa Cruz Evangelista, who was accepting the award for her brother, my cousin, Congressman Christopher De Venecia for Outstanding Public Service Award. SIDE NOTE: Check out the stylish clutches we are holding in the main picture. My cousin Carissa is the Filipina designer behind Beatriz Accessories.

A Memorable Moment in the Spotlight:

As Mama Tessie was announced as the recipient of the FAMAS 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award, the applause was thunderous, a testament to the love and respect the Philippine entertainment industry held for my mother, this legendary actress. Wheeling her onstage, surrounded by family, Mama Tessie’s beaming pride spoke volumes. I was chosen by family members to present her ‘acceptance’ speech. This was a tribute not only to her but also to the unwavering spirit of my Agana Jao family surrounding us onstage, per the request of my Mama Tessie.

FAMAS – The Oscars of the Philippines

Often referred to as the “Oscars” of the Philippines, FAMAS has a rich history of recognizing outstanding contributions to the film industry. This prestigious award serves as a testament to the recipient’s significant impact on Filipino cinema, and Tessie Agana’s name now stands proudly among the luminaries who have received this honor.

This year, I congratulate the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Awardee, Ma’am Marita Zobel, whom I had the pleasure meeting last year.

As my mom lives with dementia, she may not remember the FAMAS Awards, but my family will relive this memory for a lifetime.

Mylene Richardson
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Mylene Richardson
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Mylene Richardson

Mylene Richardson

Mylene Agana Jao Richardson was born in Manila, Philippines, and is the sixth of nine children (six boys and three girls) from Tessie Agana Jao and Dr. Rodolfo Jao. Although she grew up in Indiana, her trips back to the Philippines are her most memorable family vacations. Mylene currently lives in Arizona, with her husband Andy, and their two sons, Chapman and Harris.


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