It was more out of curiosity that I watched Ploning last Monday. I was not a fan of Judy Ann Santos, although I’ve watched several of her more recent films. Not that I don’t like her. I’m just choosy in the movies I watch. The kind of films she made during her teens are the kind that will never make me part with my precious money. But I guess those days are over.
Judy Ann Santos is box office material, no doubt about that. An actress of her caliber must be very confident that whatever film she make will surely make money. However, to co-produce Ploning is still threading unchartered waters, risky if not completely suicidal. It takes a lot of bravery to do this kind of film. With Ploning, Juday has proven her worth as an actress and perhaps as a person. I guess she’s made of far better stuff than most actresses her age. For that alone she has earned my admiration.
Cuyo is located between Panay Island and Palawan. Although politically, it is part of Palawan, it’s culture is more Visayan than Tagalog. Cuyonon sounds like Kinaray-a thus I can understand some of the conversations without looking at the subtitles. Kinaray-a, a language related to HIligaynon, spoken in most parts of Iloilo and all of Antique – the province in Panay facing Cuyo group of islands. It was probably due to the proximity of Cuyo to Panay, especially Antique, that enable them to share cultural similarities.
Watching the movie also invoked fond memories of my childhood in Iloilo.
- We also play with the same bamboo cart used by the asin boys.
- We also play outdoors at night during a full moon.
- When a kid asks to see Manila, an adult would lift him through his head.
- When there were no gas stoves then, we used ‘tayhup’, the bamboo thing that Digo blew into to make fire.
- And our Nanays collect used Nescafe glass jars, which we used as drinking glass.
The movie’s plot is simple. It doesn’t deal with social issues that may make you leave the movie house with a heavy heart. It revolves around Ploning, a 30-year-old town belle of Cuyo who awaits for the return of her only love. While waiting for his return, she became surrogate mother to Digo, whose mother, portrayed by Eugene Domingo, was half paralyzed. Ploning also developes friendship with Celeste (Mylene Dizon), Alma (Meryl Soriano), and Nieves (Ces Quesada). Each woman has her own story to tell and their lives were all touched by Ploning.
Ploning is a story of love, not so much of romantic love but love among friends, family and of one’s roots. It’s a story of friendship, sacrifice and selflessness. Ploning showcases not only the beauty of Cuyo but also the charm of its people and their culture. They live a simple and laid back lifestyle typical of small-town life. But perhaps in that simplicity lies what truly matters in life.