In the world of cinema, there is an undeniable allure in crafting lists of must-see movies. We cherish these lists because they quench our thirst for order amidst the vast sea of movies available. They serve as a barometer of taste, even if sometimes a rudimentary one. Most importantly, they spark heated debates and discussions, pitting the passions of cinephiles against each other. Today, we embark on a cinematic journey through the lens of Pinoy cinema, exploring a curated selection of movies that have left a profound mark on those who have experienced them.
The Quest for Filipino Identity
Eddie Romero’s “Ganito Kami Noon Paano Kayo Ngayon” stands tall as a cornerstone in Philippine cinema, as it seeks to answer the profound question of what it means to be Filipino. This film, as suggested by Ed Cabagnot of Cinemalaya, deserves a special place in the pantheon of Filipino cinema.
In the quest to discover the finest Pinoy movies, we consulted some of the country’s top film critics for their insights. Francis Cruz, the voice behind the popular film blog “Lessons From the School of Inattention,” immediately pointed to Lav Diaz’s “Batang West Side” and Raya Martin’s “Independencia.” He also unearthed a hidden gem in Joey Gosiengfiao’s “Bedspacers.”
Meanwhile, Rito Asilo of the Philippine Daily Inquirer faced a challenging decision but ultimately chose “Magnifico,” directed by Maryo J. de los Reyes. Despite its tragic finale, this 2003 drama, according to Asilo, leaves strands of hope for viewers.
1. Kailangan Kita (2002)
Directed by Rory Quintos for Star Cinema, “Kailangan Kita” defies the stereotype that commercial movies are devoid of artistic merit. This enchanting love story between an arrogant city boy and a feisty provincial girl, portrayed by Aga Muhlach and Claudine Barreto, is also a vibrant celebration of Bicolandia’s culture and cuisine. The film masterfully employs food and color to convey the blossoming romance between the protagonists, making it a feast for the senses.
2. Libingan (2007)
Directed by Ramon del Prado for Tuldok Animation, “Libingan” offers a whimsical animated adventure that rivals the works of Hayao Miyazaki. This film introduces audiences to the enchanting world of Philippine folklore through the eyes of a city girl who ventures into the countryside. Del Prado’s contribution to Philippine animation could be a game-changer, expanding the nation’s animated film repertoire.
3. Ang Lihim ni Antonio (2008)
Joselito Altarejos, in his second venture into queer cinema, delivered “Ang Lihim ni Antonio.” This tragedy explores the complexities of a boy, his mother, and his uncle, diving deep into the realm of queer consciousness. Altarejos’ film, explicit and emotionally charged, stands as a vital addition to the canon of queer cinema. It serves as a potent narrative of self-discovery and the perils that come with it.
4. Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa? (1998)
Chito S. Rono’s fearless adaptation of Lualhati Bautista’s novel delves into the life of a single mother navigating a macho-dominated society. Vilma Santos delivers a stellar performance, seamlessly oscillating between drama and comedy. “Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa?” challenges conventions and showcases the power of Pinoy cinema to tackle societal issues with candor.
5. Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros (2005)
Auraeus Solito’s “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros” weaves a beautiful tapestry of unexpected yet inevitable elements. The story of a gay boy entangled with a lovable, albeit flawed, family of small-time criminals and his burgeoning affection for a handsome policeman is a captivating journey. Solito’s film is a masterclass in subtlety, culminating in a heart-wrenching ending that lingers in memory, much like the iconic conclusion of “The Third Man.”
These selected Pinoy movies offer a captivating glimpse into the rich tapestry of the nation’s cinema. They explore themes of identity, love, resilience, and self-discovery with a depth and authenticity that resonates with audiences worldwide. As we celebrate these cinematic treasures, we also anticipate the new voices and stories that will continue to shape the future of Filipino cinema.