According to Judy Ann Santos, May 2008 is a very important month for her because it is when she turns thirty years old. Her friend Dante Nico "Ga" Garcia recognizes this fact and in time for Juday's birthday on May 11, he wrote and directed a movie that was shot in his hometown Cuyo, Palawan.
"Ako personally, regalo ko ito [Ploning] kay Juday," Ga points out during the April 16 press conference of his directorial debut. "Ang regalo binibigay in time for the birthday, hindi naman puwedeng lampas so it's a gift to a friend. Ang hirap kasing mag-isip ng regalo para sa isang sikat na artista. Wala na kasi siya by May 14th [Judy Ann will go on a European trip]."
The star of the movie is grateful to Direk Ga for accommodating all her requests in the movie, such as having her own kitchen in the island of Cuyo.
"Eight years ago pa namin napag-usapan ang istorya," recalls Judy Ann. "Kadalasan kasi meron akong mga pelikula kung saan shooting ko na bukas, bukas ko pa rin makukuha ang script. Sa pag-prepara nitong pelikula, bingyan ako ng chance, hindi lang ako, kung hindi lahat ng artista, to study our own characters.
"Unang pelikula ko ito na may live sound. Importante sa akin ‘yon kasi mahirap magpatawa kung magdu-dub ka. Mahirap magpaiyak kung magdu-dub ka. Ngayon, mas makapagdamdamin ang pelikula kasi ‘yong mga emosyon ng mga umaarte, nakukuha mo na. Espesyal rin ito sa akin dahil lahat ng hiningi ko, binigay sa akin," says Juday.
Judy Ann's boyfriend Ryan Agoncillo accompanied her while shooting in Cuyo, Palawan. In fact, the photos that he took will be used in a book titled Ploning that will be released in time for the opening of the movie this April 30.
"I could positively really say that it's a really beautiful book," she says. "Nakita ko na pero ‘di ko pa nakikita yung actual book, yung sa computer pa lang. But it's really nice. Easy reading s'ya pero nakakaiyak s'ya. ‘Pag nabasa mo yun, nakita mo yung mga litrato, makaka-relate ka masyado. Maiiyak ka talaga."
She reveals that Ryan and Direk Ga collaborated to provide the text of the hardbound book Ploning, which has around 200 photos.
Judy Ann told PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) about her experience in making cashew nut brittle for the movie. "Iba yung ginagawa sa kasuy kasi kailangan extra-careful ka, kasi madagta. Kaming apat na babae, may mga remnants kami, mga memories ng kasuy.
"Si Tita Ces [Quesada], mayroon siyang malaking sinusunog sa may paa niya. Ang dagta ng kasuy, ‘pag dumadapo pala sa 'yo, nasusunog ka...sinusunog yung balat mo."
Aside from making cashew nut brittle, Juday also shot scenes in a salt bed or asinan.
"Ako, meron akong memories ng asinan. May eksena kasi kami ni Tita Gina [Pareño] na sa asinan, naghi-hysterical siya... kinukuha namin yung asin. Siyempre ang asin ‘pag basa, ‘pag niyakap mo s'ya, masusugat ka. Si Tita Gina ang daming sugat pero okay lang kasi ang gaganda ng eksena, ang saya."
This movie produced by Panoramanila Pictures Co. cost over P20 million to make. It boasts underwater scenes shot by Marissa Florendo and principal photography shot by Charlie Peralta. Ploning was shot in the traditional 35mm film format with live sound.
SYNOPSIS. In the picturesque island of Cuyo, Palawan, an illegal Taiwanese fishing vessel docks, carrying a fisherman named Muo Sei. Played by Boodie Fernandez, Muo Sei is a man looking for something or someone with the name Ploning. He has from sunrise to sundown to look for this "Ploning."
During his search, Ploning is revealed to be the island's town belle of the year 1982. She is a dutiful daughter to patriarch Susing (Tony Mabesa) and a committed supporter to grieving Intang (Gina Pareño). Ploning is considered the honorary sister to extended family Nieves (Ces Quesada) and Toting (Crispin Pineda), a wise ally to simpleton Alma (Merlly Soriano), a supporter to broken-hearted Siloy (Lucas Agustin) and a co-mother to half-paralyzed Juaning (Eugene Domingo). Ploning is a woman so important that the town barely notices the absence of rain because of her presence in their lives.
Everyone is puzzled why this 30-year-old renowned beauty refuses to marry and still waits hopefully for her beau to come back. Tomas left for Manila when Ploning was 16 years old and there has been no sign of her lover returning any time soon. Ploning's silent demeanor adds to the mystery and depth of love that no one seems to understand.
A six-year-old Cuyonon named Digo (Cedric Amit) has built his world around the affection and care of Ploning, his foster mother. But his entire world crashes as he learns that Ploning has plans of going to Manila to look for Tomas. This will leave the boy with his bed-ridden mother Juaning and his strict older brother Veling (Ogoy Agustin). Digo tries everything to stop Ploning from leaving and finds an ally in the town's visitor, the beautiful town nurse, Celeste (Mylene Dizon). Celeste claims to have known and fallen in love with a man named Tomas and tried to follow him in Cuyo to find out if he loved her back.
Ploning, with security and so much faith, denies that her Tomas and the man Celeste fell in love with are the same man. On the day of the fiesta, the rain comes and Ploning seems to be missing. Digo's feeling of abandonment leads to a tragedy that grieves the town. But no one was prepared for the secret that Ploning has kept all these years.
Her secret exemplifies the selfless love that withstands pain and endures for all time.
Did Ploning choose closure with the man she has been waiting for half her life or the future of a young boy whose life is not her own? Will Muo Sei find his Ploning, accept the love revealed to him or continue to walk in hate?
Ploning will be screened from April 30 to May 6 at SM cinemas. From May 7 onwards, it will be screened in other cinemas.