CRISPINA BELEN writes : Archbishop Leonardo Z. Legaspi of the Diocese of Caceres described “Ikaw ang Pag-ibig” as an excellent movie for the whole family, not only because he is its executive producer, but also because the movie is really excellent in its story, execution and in the performance of the cast, and because it was directed by no less than the acclaimed Marilou Diaz Abaya (“Rizal,” “Sa Pusod ng Dagat”).
“Ikaw ang Pag-ibig” is Marilou’s comeback after several years during which she courageously battled cancer. She is now in remission, and like her, Archbishop Legaspi is also a cancer survivor, she said.
There had been many plans in the past to film a story relevant to the devotion accorded to Our Lady of Peñafrancia but they all failed to materialize, until Marilou made it her personal mission. She believes it was her devotion to Ina that cured her of cancer.
However, as Archbishop Legaspi detailed in his speech during the special screening of “Ikaw ang Pag-ibig” at the Dolphy Theater at ABS-CBN, they almost failed to finish the project, too.
In the two-year-and-a-half period that they had the project in their hands, they encountered various obstacles that they thought they would not be able to finish it. It was Divine Providence that made us finish it, Archbishop Legaspi said.
Among those who watched the special screening of “Ikaw ang Pag-ibig” were friends and mentors of Marilou, among them religious and lay leaders.
Marilou profusely thanked them all in her articulate, emotional, witty, and humorous way. With the many priests and bishops around, we indeed felt we were among holy people, imbibing in ourselves their great devotion to Our Lady of Peñafrancia.
But to be honest, we were skeptical at first as to how Marilou could translate into film such devotion without resorting to hard sell. It shamed us to find out there was no hard sell at all. She projected a movie that seamlessly runs a gamut of faith, of love and devotion to the end.
We found the cast to be perfectly tailor-made for their roles: Jomari Yllana as the OB-Gyne Joey, and Ina Feleo as Vangie, an editor by profession who wasn’t keen about marriage. Jom and Ina, both award-winning actors, were the ideal choices to play the lead characters, although at first Ryan Agoncillo and Judy Ann Santos were invited to play Joey and Vangie.
Marvin Agustin plays the devoted priest Johnny (Marilou named the character after the late Johnny Delgado, Ina’s father and Laurice Guillen’s husband) who gets afflicted with leukemia but whose illness brings back together his family – his younger sister Vangie, and his estranged parents played by Nonie Buencamino and Shamaine Buencamino.
By the way, ABS-CBN has undertaken the promotion and theatrical release of “Ikaw ang Pag-ibig.” At the special screening of the movie at Dolphy Theater, Ms. Charo Santos-Concio, president of ABS-CBN, and Ms. Malou Santos, executive director of Star Cinema, received a beautiful, framed image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia from Archbishop Legaspi.