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Fascinating Women: Award-Winning Actress And Successful YouTuber Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo

2019 was a stellar year for Juday. As for the years to follow? We have no doubts that they'll hold even brighter things for this fascinating woman

How is a woman's worth measured?

Is it her career that defines her, her willingness to give up everything for the sake of professional pursuits? Or maybe it's when she's the traditional image of a mother who nurtures the home and children, cooking, cleaning, and caring selflessly and tirelessly. What about wifely duties, daughterly responsibilities, BFF roles? Does she have advocacies, a manicured Instagram account, fitness regimens, and extra-curricular activities, too? 

Must the 21st century woman be and do all these things and more? 

Perhaps, then, the more appropriate question is, how does a woman keep up with all the ways in which people judge her, scrutinize her, and inspect her, and deem good or bad, successful or unsuccessful, worthy or unworthy? 

Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo has the answer: it's not up to them to decide. 

A woman herself dictates what she is worth. And as a woman who fulfills more than one role at any given point—and does so at full throttle—who wouldn't have it any other way, it's no wonder that Judy Ann is where she is and who she is today: one inspiring, accomplished, fascinating model of a woman!

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“I don’t please anyone,” she first told us in her interview for Metro's 30th anniversary feature last year. 

“I please myself. But of course, now it’s a different scenario because I have a family. I have my husband, I have my kids. But when it comes to myself, whatever I want to do, I try to do it as much as possible because that’s the only time where I can tell myself na, ‘Deserve natin ‘to," she continues. 

The strength she exudes on and off camera is unmistakable, and that's because over the years, she's learned to stand her ground in both her professional and personal lives, yet still holds a tenderness and sweetness that gives her that signature Juday-esque warmth and lovability. 

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Fascinating Women: Box Office Queen Kathryn Bernardo

How she transformed from the seven-year-old who broke into show business into the Philippine pop culture icon, super mom, and business owner that she is today is nothing short of amazing; anyone who's known her since Mara Clara and Esperanza and followed the three-decade long career that blossomed from those early successes will tell you that listing her projects and accomplishments requires a separate feature altogether. 

She's done a hundred and one things as an actress and a showbiz personality, yet just last year, 32 years after her screen debut, one of the biggest and grandest validations to her acting career came.

She was given the Best Actress award at the 41st Cairo International Film Festival for playing the character of Saima, the tough-hearted mother and protagonist in Brillante Mendoza's award-winning film Mindanao. The accolade marked her very first international acting award. 

And what a way to come full circle; the last time the award was given to a Filipina, it was to Nora Aunor when she starred in 1995's The Flor Contemplacion Story (the film also bagged the award for Best Film). Best of all, Nora happens to be one of Judy Ann's biggest idols, too. 

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An official entry to the 2019 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), the movie made waves locally and internationally, and to say the least, took full advantage of Judy Ann's unparalleled dramatic chops. (In its Busan, South Korea premiere, Mindanao reportedly brought foreign audiences to tears). 

Come MMFF awarding night a few days before New Year's Eve, Judy Ann ended the evening with a bang as she again won the award for Best Actress (Allen Dizon won Best Actor and Mindanao won Best Film). The fact that Mindanao was Judy Ann's first MMFF film in seven years made the win so much sweeter. 

The story touches on so many social, cultural, and political events—many of which remind audiences that yes, this is the reality for their Filipino brethren in the south—that have become part and parcel of Mindanaoan consciousness. It's not an easy watch, that's for sure, but one that many will say is necessary, Judy Ann included.

In the film, she fully immerses herself in the role and it's truly one of her greatest portrayals; it's a delight to see the experiences of real-life motherhood guide her as she cradles her child in her arms, the mastery of her craft when she communicates more with intimate emotional restraint rather than wild outbursts, the reverence and sensitivity she gives the story she's telling as she knows this is a service to her country, and not at all a piece of fluff entertainment. 

Rising movie stars can learn a thing or two from this performance of hers, the first lesson being to learn to care about the stories you tell. Find the value in them. Wonder if it helps audiences ask the right questions and opens their minds. Think about how a character or a movie adds to the history of Philippine storytelling. 

With time comes wisdom and for Judy Ann who everyone will recognize as big screen royalty, wisdom she's full of indeed. 

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Judy Ann's only regret when it came to the Cairo Film Festival? She wasn't able to attend. Her co-star, Allen Dizon, accepted her trophy on her behalf. 

It was just because of plain business; she hadn't known about it early enough and wasn't able to make space for it in her busy schedule. 

Remember that she isn't just an actress; she has a home to attend to, kids with school requirements and activities to participate in, and so many chef and restaurant-related responsibilities to factor in! Just last year, she and her husband Ryan Agoncillo opened a restaurant called Angrydobo in Taft Avenue, and with its success comes plans of further expansion later in 2020. It was a dream come true for Judy Ann who would have likely become a chef had it not been for her success as an actress, and for her ever supportive husband.

All this and more were going on as she continued her cooking series on her YouTube channel, "Judy Ann's Kitchen" (which now has more than a million subscribers), and guested in popular shows like action series FPJ's Ang Probinsyano and headlined in kid-friendly drama, Starla, which was also her return to primetime television, all in the same year. 

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Our very first event for angrydobo westgate was such a success!!! My heart is overflowing with love and gratefulness from the support of our family and friends! I am blessed with a husband who not only believes in my cooking skills.. but supports my passion wholeheartedly!! To my brother in law kuya dondee and sister in law maloo.. thank you , thank you for the trust and love. To our chef consultant @sonnymariano .. maraming salamat for your time, dedication and sharing your knowledge not just yo me, but the while angrydobo teAm.. to our cast members.. good job guys!!! Sinula pa lang to! 🥰 to @diongsky and @tippyf salamat mga nak ko for the beautiful dinner set up! And to our Suppliers for our loot bags and photos... ❤️ thank you! Thank you! Photoman- @instafame613 Photo and video - @patrickedwardraymundo Tote - @goodbagph Pillow - @instamug

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The past year also saw her grace Metro's cover for the 7th time, not as an upcoming actress or a work in progress this time, but a woman fully realized and aware of her talents, capacities, and yes, her worth.

That's not to say that Judy Ann doesn't dream of doing more. Although she's crossed off many of the items on her to-achieve list, she does have a few things in mind. 

"Probably put up small kitchens around the Philippines to be able to help and encourage people to learn how to cook... And to be able to build something. Learn how to build something, whatever it is," she says with a smile, the same one that captivates again and again when she's doing what she does best on screen, greets fans with gusto when they encounter her in person, or when she's just happy to be in the company of her family. 

2019 was a stellar year for Juday. As for the years to follow? We have no doubts that they'll hold even brighter things for this fascinating woman. 

Lead photos from Metro.Style archive