Long day’s journey in Palawan
Indie filmmaker Dante Nico Garcia recalled that his biggest dream was to direct a film with a lengthy title, in the tradition of the movies he grew up watching—such as Danny Zialcita’s “Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan” and “Nagalit ang Buwan sa Haba ng Gabi.”
“My first two films had short titles: ‘Ploning’ and ‘OMG,’” he recounted. “I also wanted to do a film that’s set during the pangangaluluwa,” the local version of the Halloween trick or treat ritual.
When he was a kid, he went on several pangangaluluwa adventures on the island of Cuyo in Palawan. “I did research and found out there were several versions of the same tradition, set on November 1, all over the country, in Ilocos Norte, Iloilo, Bacolod,” he related. “In Palawan, we call it kalay-kalay. In Lino Brocka’s ‘Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang,’ there was also a pangangaluluwa scene.”
With that in mind, he and cohort Nick Pichay wrote “Madaling Araw, Mahabang Gabi”—which took him back to his home province of Palawan. (“Ploning” was similarly set in that province.)
Biggest challenge was gathering his huge cast—consisting of 23
ABS-CBN, GMA 7 and TV5 actors (Angelica Panganiban, Glaiza de Castro, Dominic Roco, Edgar Allan Guzman, Kean Cipriano, Karel Marquez, Cherie Gil, Boboy Garrovillo, Lou Veloso, Alchris Galura, Rocco Nacino, among others)—to shoot during the long All Saints’/All Souls’ Day break. “I had to wait for Angelica to go on her birthday vacation last year,” he recalled.
Fortunately, November was Panganiban’s birth month as well, and her availability coincided with the pangangaluluwa revelry in Palawan.
Like Judy Ann Santos, the star of “Ploning” and “OMG,” Panganiban has been friends with Garcia for years. “I met her when she was just 12,” he remarked.
They had planned to do an indie film for a long time. When Garcia first presented the script to her, Panganiban wanted to play a different character, the virginal rocker. “I insisted that she should portray the bar owner’s daughter.”
At the film’s sneak preview at the Cinemalaya fest last July, Panganiban was nervous. “I couldn’t remember what I did in the movie,” she admitted.
It was because she and most of the cast members were intoxicated, in keeping with their characters’ inebriated state, during the shoot.
“It was something I wouldn’t be able to do in my usual projects on TV and in the movies,” Panganiban conceded.
Garcia shot for 13 days in Palawan and two days in Manila. Post-production took longer, almost a year, he said.
The film took months to finish because Garcia decided to sprinkle animated elements throughout the film, with the help of the animation firm Happy Boy.
Garcia’s production company Panoramanila will release “Madaling Araw, Mahabang Gabi” in commercial theaters on November 7.
“Panoramanila plans to have a series of beachside premieres during the November 1 holiday in Boracay, Palawan, La Union and Puerto Galera. The soundtrack will be performed live during the previews. May live scoring kumbaga,” he explained.
Panganiban also contributed a song to the soundtrack entitled “Barcelona.” “Angelica wrote the lyrics and Glaiza, who sang it, composed the music. Glaiza and her band Galura performed ‘Dusk Till Dawn’ and Myra David-Ruaro (formerly of Put3ska) sang ‘Ikaw Ba ay Pag-Ibig’ in the soundtrack, too.”
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