Singer Christina Aguilera and late actress Lupe Ontiveros were singled out for special honors at the 2012 Alma Awards gala in Los Angeles.

The National Council of La Raza, which created the Almas in 1995 to advance positive portrayals of Latinos in the entertainment industry, acclaimed Aguilera's musical career and philanthropic work while paying tribute posthumously to Ontiveros, who died July 27 of cancer at the age of 69.

"Lupe was an artist through and through with a powerful presence," actor Edward James Olmos said on the red carpet leading into the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

"We'll miss her so much, she was a great friend of mine ever since 1978 when we were in 'Zoot Suit' together. She was the mother of the (Alma) event and she's still the mother," Olmos said.

Andy Garcia, who attended the awards show with his daughter Daniella, added his own affectionate words about Ontiveros, and insisted on the importance of ceremonies like the Almas for showcasing Latino talent in the United States.

"It's a moment when youngsters see people with whom they can identify and realize that they too can have dreams," he said.

"Lupe was like family to me," said Eva Longoria, who repeated with comedian George Lopez as co-hosts of the Almas, at a gala during which the upcoming presidential elections were also in evidence with campaign videos of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

"Girl in Progress" took the prize for favorite movie of the year, its director Patricia Riggen went home with the Alma for direction and Cierra Ramirez was picked as best supporting actress for her work in the same picture.

Also landing multiple statuettes were Aguilera, being also named favorite personality on reality television for her participation as a judge in NBC's "The Voice," and Naya Rivera, tabbed as favorite TV actress in a comedy for "Glee" as well as favorite female music artist.

An emotional Zoe Saldaña won the best actress award for the film "Colombiana" and the Mexican Diego Boneta triumphed as best actor for "Rock of Ages," while the Venezuelan Edgar Ramirez took the supporting actor Alma for "Wrath of the Titans."

Among those making the list of winners at the ceremony, to be aired Friday night on NBC, Pitbull was named favorite male music artist and Rico Rodriguez was favorite TV actor in a supporting role for his part in "Modern Family."

Enlivening the gala were performances by Luis Fonsi and rapper Flo Rida. EFE