Hollywood’s “Golden” Filipino Duo

Ruben Nepales, Patti Austin, Janet Nepales and Bessie Badilla during a commercial break at the 70th Golden Globes - International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton.

Enjoy the moment," Ruben V. Nepales reminded me while he led the way through the 70th Golden Globes' red carpet at the Beverly Hilton Hotel last January. The instruction coming from the first Filipino Chairman of the Board of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), I gladly followed.


There was orderly chaos with screaming fans in the gallery, and hundreds of paparazzi and TV cameras. Hollywood bigwigs and stars of television and the cinema all shared the crimson walkway to the hotel entrance. Starstruck, I walked without feeling the ground, trying my best to take in everything going on around me and silently thanking my friends, Janet (I fondly call her "Lady Jane") and Ruben for inviting me to the biggest party in Hollywood!


If the Golden Globes once again delivered, it was all because of the intense work done by the members of the HFPA. Ruben and Janet worked close to 24/7 for at least a month before the event and were still working while the show was live on TV.  Ruben looked dashing in his Oliver Tolentino tuxedo while being interviewed by several TV reporters. They were finally able to sit with us only when the show was already halfway through.

Dedication and love for what they do keep this dynamic duo leading members of the HFPA. Ruben Nepales, the Los Angeles correspondent and columnist of the Philippine Daily Inquirer (his column, "Only in Hollywood," appears Friday, Saturday and Sunday), was voted as member of the HFPA in 2006, the first from the Philippines.  In 2012, Ruben Nepales was elected Chairman of the Board, the first Asian and the youngest to hold the position. His wife Janet, also a journalist with columns in the Manila Bulletin and Philippine News and is the Los Angeles correspondent of GMA-7, was voted an HFPA member in 2008.They have been an inspiration to the Filipinos in Hollywood and in the international film industry as well. They are perfect role models for every young and aspiring Filipino-American. 

Best of all, Janet and Ruben remain true Filipinos–they serve not only the HFPA but the Filipino community as well. Many Filipino reporters lined the Golden Globes’ red carpet, interviewing Hollywood's A-Listers, because Janet and Ruben made it possible. They invited Filipinos as their guests so they could share the excitement of the awards night with their kababayans. There is no crab mentality with this couple.

I will watch the Golden Globes next year with so much Pinoy pride because I know Hollywood’s dynamic duo will be behind it all.


I shared the red carpet with Zooey Deschanel and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and, at one point, I was shoulder-to-shoulder with Katherine McPhee and Amy Poehler who both wore now-in-style plunging necklines!  I caught a glimpse of Giuliana Rancic, Maria Menounos and Ryan Seacrest doing live interviews in their special booths that looked tiny compared with what we normally see on TV. 

Chilled ready-to-sip-bottles of Moet et Chandon Champagne with gold spouts were handed out at the end of the red carpet. There were more magnum bottles of champagne on our table; I understood then why the Golden Globes is considered the Party of the Year:  there was more booze than actual food and everyone would come out "happy" whether they won or lost.

In the ballroom, I shared a table with Lady Jane, Sir Ruben, other members and spouses of the HFPA and my favorite singer, Patti Austin who was also a guest of the Nepaleses. We were situated right behind Jeremy Irons, Matt Leblanc and Eva Longoria and the casts of "Big, Bang Theory" and "Homeland." We were next to the backstage entrance so we watched presenters like Jennifer Lopez, Ann Hathaway and Megan Fox sashay right in front of us!

I was very impressed with the flow of the show.  The stars stood up and greeted each other from table to table making "swarm-of-bees" noises during the commercial breaks but, like clockwork, followed the countdown to get back to their seats on cue. I can only blame the booze as everyone became more rowdy and took longer to sit as the evening went on. At one point, the director had to scream on the mic, "Puhleezzzze take your seats in 10 - 9 - 8 - 7 - 6....." Patti Austin and I found that hilarious!


Ruben Nepales, Chairman of the Board of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association with wife and HFPA member Janet Nepales (Photo by John Salangsang)

Being Los Angeles-based and newly elected board chairman, Ruben was on top of his game during the awards without showing any signs of exhaustion and weeks of sleep deprivation. 

Janet, who looked glamorous in her aqua piña gown also by Oliver Tolentino, was the first to greet and interview the stars on the red carpet. Sleep or no sleep she had to look her best. Once everyone was inside the ballroom, she rushed backstage to interview the first set of Golden Globe winners before she could finally sit down with us.  

She only had champagne and a bit of my dessert because all the food had already been taken away when the show started.  In spite of all the commotion and intense work, Ruben and Janet were very upbeat and happy the entire night. And why not? Their hard work was all worth it. The 70th Golden Globes was arguably the best in many years!

I am already excited for next year's 71st Golden Globes, having had the honor of experiencing firsthand what goes on behind all the glitz and glamour we enjoy watching year after year. I will watch it with so much Pinoy pride because I know that Hollywood's dynamic duo will be behind it all.

Author Bessie Badilla  (Photo by Prosy de la Cruz)

Author Bessie Badilla (Photo by Prosy de la Cruz)

Bessie Badilla, a former Balenciaga model in Paris and the first Filipina Carnaval Queen in Brazil, is an actress, indie film producer and a lyricist and vocalist for Brinoy music. She dabbles in children's storybook writing and anime. She lives in Connecticut with her daughter Ines and visits her daughter Blanca in New York on weekends.