I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.

The 2.5 million peso gloat


So exclaimed the intrepid ‘lee‘ who also responded to my panning of Ploning thusly:

You’re pseudo-intellectualism could almost pass up as a genuine intelligent criticism. However, I doubt your credibility as you have not done your research. Get you facts straight.

Now, me, I don’t always gloat, especially when it comes to issues concerning the humanities. De gustibus and all that. But considering the vehemence of the reaction to my critique of Ploning – and most especially the gloating that attended Ploning’s submission for Academy consideration – I just couldn’t let this slide without comment. From Mindanao Times, I learned that 


THE P2.5 million government fund just went to drain as the aspiration of Judy Ann Santos was cut short even before it could step in Hollywood.

Ploning, the country’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film in the Oscars, failed to make the cut.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences excluded Ploning in the nine films eligible for the semi-final race. A total of 65 films from different countries were in the list.

Santos, also the co-producer of Ploning, had lobbied arduously for her film’s Oscar bid. The actress and her friends held fundraising events—like Damit Para Kay Ploning, Plato Para Kay Ploning, and Laro Para Kay Ploning—to help the film’s cause. 

Ploning also got P2.5 million from Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP). Its filmmakers also hired a highly-recommended public relations company, Murray Weissman and Associates, to increase the film’s chances.

Included in the nine top choices are Waltz With Bashir (Israel), Revanche (Austria), The Necessities of Life (Canada), The Class (France), The Baader Meinhof Complex (Germany), Departures (Japan), Tear This Heart Out (Mexico), Everlasting Moments (Sweden), and 3 Monkeys (Turkey).

This short list will be narrowed down to five nominees by specially selected committees, both in Los Angeles and New York, who will spend this weekend screening three films per day.

The nominations for the 81st annual Academy Awards will be announced on Jan. 22.

So I guess that makes this the 2.5 million peso gloat.

Didja hear that, lee? Toldja to hold off on the champagne, dint I? 

“Course, now I can’t wait to hear from lee and the rest of the Ploning faithful, first, how I am such a nasty nasty hater for rejoicing at the failure of a Filipino movie; and second, the reasons why Ploning didn’t make the grade.

In the first category, I plead innocent. I am not rejoicing at Ploning falling on its face. I am embarrassed by it. 

If Ploning were really a good movie, failing to get nominated would not mean anything other than that there were other, better, movies. No shame in that. But Ploning wasn’t a good movie. It was a beautiful love letter to Cuyon, certainly, but just like a love letter, it gushed too much and ended up saying too little.

What made Ploning’s failure shameful was that it’s bid reflected our entire movie industry’s inability to spot a non-winner. What makes it worse is that it wasn’t just the movie industry that made this terrible call – the government had to get in on the act too!

The Film Development Council of the Philippines – which presumably made the recommendation to the Prez to give 2.5 million pesos to the movie’s Oscar bid – is a government entity, created by Republic Act 9167 which is supposed to, among other things: 

To develop and implement an incentive and reward system for the producers based on merit to encourage the production of quality films.

Based on merit! What merit did they see in Ploning? Granted that the movie was visually arresting, but aren’t bodies like the FDCP supposed to be able to go beyond such superficial criteria and determine whether a movie is truly meritorious? Failing as it did, in the most basic task of a movie – that of telling a story – what basis did the FDCP have for saying that Ploning was worth it?

(Oh and, do remind me to write more about the FDCP. I’m not quite ready to let them off the hook yet)

As to the second – yes. I cannot wait for the faithful‘s justification for Ploning’s failure. 

Going by some of the reactions to my old Ploning post, I’d say that one of the reasons that we can expect is that America is godless; or that maybe because the Academy is mostly Jewish, they had no appreciation for the Jesus in Ploning.

the reason why i defended it so adamantly is the fact that it is significant to Christianity in general. i guess you didn’t understand it for the same reason that the Jews’ hearts were hardened for Jesus.

Mel Gibson would prolly be agree. But considering that he’s a drunken anti-semitic sot, I wouldn’t be too proud of that.

Oh and, yes, I simply cannot wait for the rejoinder from dear old Arch who claims to be a film Major from the University of the Philippines. Now what would be the right-lensed way to appreciate this situation, I wonder. 

*sigh* Making fun of sycophants is like shooting fish in a barrel. It starts out tremendously enjoyable but gets old pretty quickly. ANd in the end, what are you left with? Fish you can’t eat, and barrel you can’t use anymore.

Just like Ploning, really. All that drum-beating and back-patting, all that expense – for what? A stark reminder that what Filipino “experts” consider wonderful just isn’t good enough to compete with the rest of the world.

I’ll leave it to everyone else to salve the bruised egos of Judy Ann Santos and the rest of Panoramanila. 



Filed under: movies, pop-culture, , , ,

15 Responses

  1. GabbyD says:

    1) Why gloat? Why be glad at the loss of others? I understand that you didn’t like the film. clearly others did. This is a difference of artistic opinion. you said it coz of the vehemence of the comments? why is that important? Who cares what the oscar committee decided? Their decision (as you inferred) is not a direct statement on the quality (or lack of) in ploning.

    2) you say that FDCP picks non-winners. is this factually true? i was intrigued enough to check, and it seems they backed some good films in the past, and ploning also won something in asia (singapore?), right?

    i look forward to you critique of FDCP, but in principle its a good idea. Money must be spent on pinoy movies. sometimes (probably most times), that money will back films that eventually don’t make it in all the film festivals, etc. But that doesn’t matter — a competitive film industry is not built in a few years, so we have to keep going at it. diba?

  2. rom says:

    GabbyD: Did you even read my post?

    Why gloat? – “considering the vehemence of the reaction to my critique of Ploning – and most especially the gloating that attended Ploning’s submission for Academy consideration – I just couldn’t let this slide without comment. ”

    When I said vehemence of the comments, I was being charitable. The bottom line is some things you have to respond to in kind.

    Nevertheless, I did make it clear that I was not crowing about Ploning losing, per se but pointing out the industry wide failure to look beyond the back-patting and the misguided self-love that resulted in backing a movie like Ploning, and the sinking of 2.5 million peso investment.

    As for Ploning winning something in Asia – that isn’t relevant to this discussion is it? We’re talking about a competition they wanted to win – and whose standards they were presumably ready to meet.

    If a kid wins an amateur singing contest, and so gets into his head that he’s ready to take on the pros – and loses, do you ignore the fact that he prolly let his initial success get into his head; that he charged into the pros with an inflated sense of self worth? wouldn’t you have advised caution and a more objective assessment of his abilities?

    Why be glad at the loss of others? – “What made Ploning’s failure shameful was that it’s bid reflected our entire movie industry’s inability to spot a non-winner. What makes it worse is that it wasn’t just the movie industry that made this terrible call – the government had to get in on the act too!”

    Re:FDCP: Sure, they may have backed some good films, but they backed Ploning – which was not good. And performance is not judged by past success, GabbyD. But by your latest failure. At most, any good calls made in the past will only mitigate your responsibility for your failure in the now.

    The FDCP a good idea? Maybe. I’m not ready to concede that the film industry should be the recipient of anything other than the occasional government grant. I’m more inclined to believe that the movie industry should learn to swim on its own or sink.

  3. Chris says:

    Hey pal, your point-by point counter to the forum fanghey named nenyalorien (which is really just Alfie Lorenzo’s username) was funread but also was a little over the top. If she was an important reviewer, then that could be a match but I wouldn’t make patol to an overzealous fan.
    The 2.5 M alloted to a film was really small. Unfortunately, that’s how the game is played in Hollywood, or anywhere else. You have to spend or create buzz to be seen. The same way our athletes should be backed by corporations or the gov’t to be competitive abroad. It’s just last year, Caregiver, a couple of indie films no one has seen, and Ploning were the best.
    A little more heart for Ploning, buddy.

  4. rom says:

    Chris: hey,pal, welcome to the smoking room. But read the post again pal, and you’ll prolly understand that it was giving 2.5 million to a bad movie that i’m complaining about.

    And why should I have more heart for Ploning, pal It’s a piece of art, good or bad. It should stand or fall on its own merit. It does not require – much less deserve – my sympathy.

  5. BrianB says:

    Hey cuz, give me a link to that forum, will you mate? I have to be online a while and have nothing to do. And what have you been up to, son? Making more enemies?

  6. GabbyD says:

    i did read it, which inspired my question. Even if they wrote really asinine things, so what? “sticks and stones may break my bones’… etc… They have their opinion and you have yours. its all good…

    Still, i understand the need to stick it to the vehement commenters. Tina Fey did it, and it was funny!

    Yet, why wish ill on the hopes of the makers and backers of the movie; people who liked this film but didn’t insult you. Even if they were totally biased, other people like this film, even those without a stake in it as well as non-filipinos.

    whatever. people will always disagree on a movie. for me, i’d wish anyone the best, and let reality sort it out later.

    this reminds me of the dark knight, and how one critic (from the new yorker maybe) wrote a non-flattering review of the dark knight. he’s one of the few to do so. lots of people emailed and commented, to say really silly, off-base things. So many people wrote in that this critic wrote a response, writing on the role of the contrarian critic.

    no matter what happens to the dark knight, critical or commerical praise, it doesn’t detract from critical reviews. same with your review.

    i look forward to your analysis of FDCP…

  7. Rom says:

    gabbyd: so assuming that by now you have read the post, i have to wonder why you think i wished the movie or its makers or its fans ill?

    First you say i took pleasure in ploning’s failure. Now you say i wished it ill. That’s almost enough to make me think that i’m being misinterpreted on purpose. Unless of course you’re stupid, which i know you’re not.

    And why does it matter to you how i want to react to commenters? Does it offend you? Does it violate some aesthetic that you think i should be bound by? No quarrel with you expressing ur opinion, of course. Just curious. And with such strong opinions, i’m thinking maybe you ought to blog yerslf.

    Oh, and thanks for that semi-kinda-sorta-but-not-really validation of my critique, but there was really no need for you to go thru all that trouble just to tell me what i already know: that my opinion is my own, and tho there is an implicit invitation for readers to share it, they are under no obligation to agree. And vice-versa. 🙂

  8. flipmodej says:

    A really interesting read. I do agree with the other blogger that usually a third corporation or government has to help fund the movie. However that much money for something that wasn’t even worth international consideration has to make you wonder. I mean in germany, their government through some sort of part of law helps fund UWE BOLL direct his conceptual direct from video-game-to-movie abominations. Best money spent by the FCDC?

    The reaction from the 2.5 million peso butthurt proves that the pinoy movie industry thinks themselves money and celebrities automatically make a renowned cultured arts flick. And that is why a competitive film industry will never really be realized.

  9. GabbyD says:

    i was curious because i was confused by the use of the word ‘gloat’. the word is currently understood to mean to be happy with the misfortune of others. in this instance, that some people loved the fact that the movie was being marketed as an oscar bet, and that you were happy that this particular dream was didn’t work out.

    however, you did say that you are ” not rejoicing at Ploning falling on its face”. which led me to the question… why gloat?

    at this point, my curiosity has been satiated. i know for sure now that you were not happy at the misfortune of others. great!

    so, you ask, why this piqued my curiosity at all? well, i guess its just me. i don’t understand gloating(schadenfreude) as a concept. i was hoping to get insight into this…

    thanks for telling me i should blog myself. unfortunately, other than being curious, i have no strong opinions over most things.

    i didn’t mean to not validate your critique. i couldn’t do that even if i tried. also, i think contrarian views are great for films! i raised the dark knight analogy as another (separate but related) point: if everyone disagrees with a critic, does that make the criticism invalid? of course not! 🙂 other things invalidate film criticism; the fact that other people don’t agree is not one of those things… in fact i’d go further. good contrarian criticism is a good thing for movies.

  10. pageman says:

    “So I guess that makes this the 2.5 million peso gloat.” – it might actually be Schadenfreude on your part 🙂 but I might be wrong 🙂

  11. rom says:

    pageman: welcome to the smoking room. and yep, you be wrong. 😀

  12. Don says:

    You have some good points like maybe the govmt should analyze ng husto if magkano deserves ng bawat projects. I loved the cinematography ng film but the directing, doon naging weak. The idea is great but but the translation to film is yes weak. U should be happy dahil the film represent Pinoy worldwide ng medyo maganda kumpara sa ibang gawang pinoy. 2.5 M Peso, is nothing if you will use it para pagandahain ang image ng pinoy sa abroad. It’s nothing kumpara sa mga kalaban ng Ploning sa Oscar. So don’t cry about that too much dahil sa bulsa din ng mga pinoy at pamilya ng crew sa likod ng film napunta ang pera hindi sa corruption. Budget dito is from 200K to 5Million dollar ang low budget film. You should feel sorry for the crew for doing a wonderful moving image for that price na ika ka proud ng Pinoy worldwide. You should have maybe donated kahit magkano at naging proud pa kami sayo. Give them some credits. Kung wala sila walang naging Ploning movie na nagbigay sakin ng thinking na hey’ have to go home and see that place.. imagine and tourism sa pinas kikita ng konte. So gumawa ka ng pilikula nalang since mahilig kang mag sulat, and you’ll understand na kahit gaano kaganda ang sulat mo, depende parin yan sa maraming bagay. Budget$$$, good casting, cinematography, directing, sound, post, and combination ng lahat ng iyon at marami pa, ang magpapaganda ng film… Thank them for even trying with such a very low budget… and hope they will make a better one this year that convince them to represent us in a better way.. Millions of pinoy ang nag ho hope na maiangat ang reputation at pangalan ng pinoy worldwide.. You should do your part =0)

  13. rom says:

    Don: ang haba ng sinulat mo, pero ang tinumbok mo pa rin ay yung ugaling “OKAY NA YAN.” Sorry. Hindi ako naniniwala na ang OKAY NA ay okay na.

  14. […] the higher ups leads the trying hard mainstream movie makers to take it against the world, *cough* Ploning *cough*. And trailers are sometimes strategically placed and rearranged good scenes from the movie, […]

  15. Flipmodej says:


    Okay I agree that the money gets recycled back. However you definitely hit the nail on the biggest weakness which is directing. You wondered how many movies similar to it in terms of plot have been made and directed, except that it just carries a huge budget even though it tries to pass itself as an independent film.

    As of the ‘regional appeal’ of the Philippines, aren’t there movies like that from before in as well? On the other hand, an Oscar worthy film called ‘The Wrestler’ is honestly one of the most ugliest looking films and subject matter (oh ho! Pro wrestling!). However I can understand the challenge of making it visually moving than the taking the concept concocted long ago from ‘The Sound of Music’ in terms of using the beauty of backgrounds.

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