An indie film by a first time director beat out other titles as the Philippines' entry to the best foreign-language category of the Academy Awards. Ploning emerged as the final choice by a selection committee of the Film Academy of the Philippines.

The modestly budgeted pic is the initial production of Panoramanila and stars popular Filipino star Judy Ann Santos in her first major venture in an indie vehicle.

Set in 1982, Santos plays the town's local beauty in the idyllic island of Cuyo, Palawan, who is torn between two choices - whether to follow her true love in Manila or to stay home to take care of young boy who depends on her motherly love and care.

Other titles considered by the committee were two entries from the Cinemalaya filmfest, Tribu and Endo, as well as Caregiver. The latter was the other favored pic produced by a major studio, Star Cinema, and top billed by local superstar Sharon Cuneta.

It was a tight race between Ploning and Caregiver, getting three and two votes, respectively, from the committee members. The former was previously screened in the Paris Cinema fest in July which this year had a special focus on the Philippines.

Last year's Oscar entry, Donsol, was also a low-budgeted debut feature like Ploning whose director, Dante Nico Garcia, was originally a native of the film's remote island setting.