by: Rachelle Siazon
Director Marilou Diaz-Abaya is proud of her comeback movie entitled Ikaw Ang Pag-ibig, which is a tribute to the tercentenary celebration of our country’s devotion to Our Lady of Peñafrancia or simply Ina to the devotees of the said patroness of Bicol province. A project two and a half years in the making, the award-winning filmmaker/breast cancer survivor shared whyIkaw Ang Pag-ibig is truly a film of faith. “Bago in-offersa akin yung project I was in remission, tapos nung tinanggap ko ito bumalik yung cancer. So during that time sinulat ko yung script. And then kung kailan time for production, dun ako nag-remission ulit. So para bang hindi na ako ang nagdi-direct, si Ina na yung nagdi-direct,” said Marilou who happens to be a long-time devotee of Ina just like her good friend Laurice Guillen. Laurice’s late husband Johnny Delgado also served as one of Marilou’s inspirations in writing, directing, and producing the movie.
Ikaw Ang Pag-ibig was originally titled Peñafrancia with Judy Ann Santos and Ryan Agoncillo as lead stars. But they were later replaced by Jomari Yllana and Ina Feleo due to Judy Ann’s delicate pregnancy last year. “We started with Judy Ann and Ryan, and then when she got pregnant, e medyo maselan ang pregnancy niya, sonag-discernment kami and Judy Ann agreed—I said I think ang sinasabi ni Mama Mary, ‘You know what, Judy Ann, I just don’t want you to play the role of a mom, I want you to be a mommy, which eventually sobrangblessing for Ryan and Judy Ann. Truth be told, all those who got involved in the film, in one way or another got a gift. And I am happy with our new cast led by Jomari, Ina and Marvin (Agustin) because their connection in the project is very personal in a lot of ways.”
Marilou also expressed her gratitude to Star Cinema for making it possible for Ikaw Ang Pag-ibig to be shown in theaters nationwide. “This project is also special because first time ng ABS-CBN at Star Cinema na mag-distribute ng film this way, hindi lang through the mainstream theaters pero bringing the film directly to the universities so it’s exciting. We will start showing in schools on February 9, tapos sa mainstream theaters on February 23, tapos by blocks all the way until September of this year which is the conclusion of the tercentenary celebration of Peñafrancia. It’s also one way of having a chance in the box office. Hindi ko alam kung mapapasalamantan ko enough ang Star Cinema at ABS-CBN for taking such a big courageous risk on a film of faith. I wish them all the blessings not only for this year but for many years to come.”
Asked if she already has plans to work on another movie anytime soon, Marilou claimed that she’s taking it one step at a time. “Whatever the Lord decides. I will still try my best to tell as many stories as I can, whether as a writer, as a director, as a producer or even as a teacher since I really love to teach. But for now I am just really happy with Ikaw Ang Pag-ibig because it really depicts the story of love between girlfriend-boyfriend, husband and wife, love of parents and how these different kinds of love are ultimately put to the test whether through illness or betrayal. I think we tend to cheapen the meaning of love. So I had the chance by making this movie to explore kung ano talaga ang meaning ng love.”
Ikaw Ang Pag-ibig is a joint project of Marilou Diaz-Abaya Film Institute and Arts Center and Star Cinema.