Not much is known about the movie scene in Philippine’s and what many people might not know is that there are actually quite a lot of outstanding movies that were filmed and produced in the Philippines. While the local culture is getting more and more recognition around the world, the Filipino movie scene is often left out of the picture.
Here we’ve combined a list of five best drama movies to ever come out of the Philippines and why they should be on your watch list.
Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo (2014)
This is a 2014 historical action drama that tells the story about the life of Andres Bonifacio, a Katipunan revolutionary. The story takes place in two different timelines, first, we are transported in 1892, July 3rd, when Dr. Jose Rizal, is organizing peaceful reform, with Andres Bonifacio being one of the members. Bonifacio is already taking care of his siblings because their parents have both passed away. After Rizal is arrested, Bonifacio decided to form his own movement, Katipunan to lead a revolution against Spanish colonizers. We follow the newly established group fight against the Spanish troops. Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo is a touching story about the first president of the Philippines that everyone who is interested in Filipino culture should watch.
Mater Dolorosa (2012)
This is the newest film on our list and probably one of the most exciting releases the Philippines has seen over a decade. Marer Dolorosa is a family drama film, produced by the Cinema One Originals. The movie was a huge success in the country and even managed to get substantial success outside of the Philippines. This is a story of a woman who is taking over her husband’s crime empire, an important part of which is a gambling business that offers different casino games, including the ability to play roulette, and much more to its customers. Meanwhile trying to keep his family safe and sound as well the main character (Gina Alajar) is immersed in the cruel business world when the new mayor and his son enter the picture and threaten their businesses. The film was such a huge success that it managed to get on the International Film Festival at Rotterdam, Netherlands.
This is a 1993 historical drama that follows the life of Filipino patriot Macario Sakay. Sakay was outside and declared an outlaw because he would stop fighting against the United States even after the Philippine-American War came to an official end. Sakay was a factory worker who joined Bonifacio’s revolutionary society, and fought during the philippine revolution and stood out from the cross for his bravery and he remained in the field even after the capture of President Emilio Aguinaldo and the fall of the republic. Sakay didn’t rest and went to the mountains to revive the Katipunan movement.
Adela is an independent film and portrays the lonely life of an 80-year old Adela on her birthday. The story is very touching and sad, as we watch the lady prepare a big dinner, expecting her three children with her grandkids. We soon learn that none of them will be coming to see her. The story explored the themes of loneliness, gaps between generations and the resilience that is so often required at an old age. The drama film is an outstanding masterpiece among the Filipino movies.
One of the newer movies on this list is called Transit and it follows a story of an immigrant single father, who is trying to hide his kids from the immigration police, after Israeli government issues a statement, saying that all children of immigrant workers need to be deported. The movie begins at the airport, where a father and his son are awaiting their flight from Tel Aviv to Manila.
But later we learn that upon hearing the new law, the father had originally tried to hide his children inside the house. The story is moving and very intense and it shows the details of life as an immigrant.
The Ravagers (1965)
This is yet a Filipino classic connected to the theme of war. The movie Ravagers was filmed in 1965 and follows a group of Filipino guerrillas who are fighting against the last remaining occupational forces of Japan. This was probably the biggest event in the Filipino film industry in the 60ies and had a major influence on its development in the following decades.