Judy Ann Santos can still remember vividly her first taste of showbiz. It was her eighth birthday—May 11, 1986. Out of more than a hundred little girls who auditioned for the soap opera Kaming Mga Ulila on GMA-7, Regal Films matriarch Mother Lily Monteverde picked out little Juday from the crowd to be one of the supporting cast members. Juday cried buckets and thanked God for the wonderful birthday present.
Years later, every time Juday would cry buckets on the silver screen or on the television, millions of fans would cry with her. She is now considered the country's next Drama Queen.
On June 16, Juday will be holding a concert at the Big Dome to celebrate her 20 years in show business.
"This is the first time na nakaramdam ako ng kaba, takot, excitement, saya— all in one—in two weeks. Kumbaga, kinakabog na ‘yong dibdib ko. I can't wait na matapos na ‘yong araw na ‘yon simply because I have so much to say. I have so much to thank for. I just hope na manood talaga ‘yong mga tao," she said.
But with much joy, like all things in show business, comes much controversy. Piolo Pascual, Juday's former on-screen partner, is reportedly not invited to perform in the event.
"Ang sa akin po, kung ano man 'yong hindi nangyaring maganda sa amin ni Piolo, ayokong ‘yong show ang maging daan para magkaayos-ayos kami. Let it happen in a natural way na walang taong pumipilit, walang taong nag-aayos kasi pag may taong pumilit, hindi magiging natural ‘yong pag-uusap. At the same time, celebration po ito ng twenty years ko sa business, ayokong sabihin na sinu-showbiz ko ‘yong mga tao dahil pinapunta namin si Piolo," explained Juday.
She noted, "It's a special moment for me and I don't want anything to happen na hindi ko gusto. Kung mangyayari po iyon, I just don't think na sa Araneta Coliseum ang proper venue, and I don't think it's the right time. Pinagdadasal naman ng lahat na sana matapos na rin ['yong tampuhan]."
Juday revealed that except for her boyfriend Ryan Agoncillo, she still doesn't know who her guests are going to be.
What if Piolo shows up as one of the surprise guests?
"'Yon ang hindi ko alam," she admitted. "But I already gave my word. Sinabi ko na sa [production team] ‘yong dahilan. I didn't have to say na huwag. Alam na nila ‘yon. Simply because nirerespeto rin nila ako. Siyempre espesyal na okasyon ‘yon na araw ko, you have to honor kung ano ‘yong current situation ko ngayon. Naiintindihan naman nila ‘yon. Hindi na nila kailangang i-elaborate or tanungin pa kung bakit."
If Piolo decides to watch the show, would he be welcome to do so?
"Knowing Piolo, I don't think he'll even dare do that because alam ko ang delicadeza ng taong ‘yon kahit papaano. Nirerespeto rin naman niya ang mga sinasabi ko," Juday answered.
The actress clarified that the decision not to invite Piolo was not Ryan's call.
She said, "Hindi galing [kay Ryan], galing sa akin... Si Ryan naman ever since nagkaroon ng issue, he has never talked about it simply because may dignidad siya. Kung ano ang sinabi niya, iyon na ‘yon. Hindi na niya uulitin, hindi niya ie-elaborate pa. Kumbaga, hindi ito laban, e. Kumbaga, usapang lalaki sa lalaki dapat. Hindi showbiz si Ryan. Hindi siya ‘yong tipo ng tao na ipame-media pa ‘yong nararamdaman niya."
Although Piolo may not be singing serenades to his former on-screen muse, he still remains a vital part of her 20-year career, admitted Juday.