8 Must-See Re-mastered Pinoy Movie Classics

In the mood for a throwback movie marathon? Start with these flicks

Filipino movies are gaining recognition in the international scene of late, but Philippine cinema has already produced many gems throughout its long history. Many movies were even ahead of their time. Whereas they had been relegated to dark backrooms previously, in the past few years, more Filipino movies have been restored, thus ensuring that the stories and performances are preserved for future generations.

Some of these re-mastered films can be found on iTunes. Others are shown at film festivals or special screenings, especially at FDCP Cinematheques nationwide. Here’s a list of movies to get you started.

Ikaw Ay Akin (1978)

By Ishmael Bernal

Starring a stellar dramatic triumvirate composed of Nora Aunor, Vilma Santos, and Christopher de Leon, this movie is a fine example of subtlety. Bernal elevates the genre of love triangles and unfaithfulness to reveal the raw human emotions that drive each character. It is a testament to the talent of each of the actors who hold their own individually as well as play off each other handsomely when they share the screen. Watch out for the last confrontation scene, the entirety of which is without dialogue but pregnant with meaning.

Oro, Plata, Mata (1982)

By Peque Gallaga

Set in Negros during the years surrounding World War II, the film starts off as a dreamy, luxurious escape from the outside world. But realities soon catch up with the privileged Ojeda family, and by the end of the film, during the aftermath of the war, much is revealed about human nature and the transitive nature of our existence. A stellar cast led by Cherie Gil, Sandy Andolong, Joel Torre, and Ronnie Lazaro comes out of the experience older and wiser.

Himala (1982)

By Ishmael Bernal

Tackling the themes of Philippine society’s fan culture, mysticism, and moral paradoxes, this film classic features Nora Aunor and director Ishmael Bernal at the top of their game. Aunor is believable as young girl Elsa who leaps from being anonymous to a local headliner. As the crowds gather around her and her posse thickens, the lines between truth and fiction blur and questions about morality are raised. In many ways, “Himala” serves as a mirror of society until today.

Batang PX (1997)

By Jose Javier Reyes

Patrick Garcia and Zsa Zsa Padilla star in this movie that reveals just how inextricably linked Philippine society is with America. The young Garcia is the son of an American military officer who was stationed in the Philippines during the presence of the US military bases here. Beyond a son meeting his longed-for father, the lofty ideas of salvation and affluence are attached to the pivotal event. But will expectations be met in the end?

Kung Mangarap Ka't Magising (1977)

By Mike de Leon

Starring Hilda Koronel and Christopher de Leon, this love story set in Baguio and Sagada features impeccable performances from the ensemble cast, breathtaking views of the lush mountains, and an endearing soundtrack featuring the voice of De Leon. The fog-hugged scenes add kilig to the seemingly innocent romance that unfolds between the two. Watch out for the extended scene of the pair walking under the rain that’s sure to give you the feels.

Insiang (1976)

By Lino Brocka

Insiang is the first Filipino film that was screened at the Cannes Film Festival. In director Lino Brocka’s signature realist style, the film shows the pulse of the Filipino everyman who lives a hand-to-mouth existence day-to-day. Hilda Koronel shines as the lead character whose rises up from her misfortune and exacts revenge on those who have wronged her. 

Kakabakaba Ka Ba? (1980)

By Mike de Leon

This hilarious musical is unlike any other Filipino film. Take the elements of Japanese yakuza, normal people dressed as priests and nuns, Chinese mafia, and cult members—and you have a romp-tastic time that could only have been filmed in that wild 1970s milieu. From Manila to Baguio, the ensemble cast composed of Christopher de Leon, Jay Ilagan, Johnny Delgado, Charo Santos, Sandy Andolong, George Javier, Nanette Inventor, Moody Diaz, Boby Garrovillo and Danny Javier (of APO Hiking Society) get involved in laugh out loud fun. But in the end, there’s still a glaring statement about Philippine society that resonates to this day.

Portrait of the Artist as Filipino (1965)

By Lamberto Avellana

Based on the play by Nick Joaquin written in 1950, this film stars great actors from the ‘60s generation: Vic Silayan and Naty Crame-Rogers. It tells the story of two spinster sisters living with their painter-father in an old house. Caught between colonial powers, the film posts the question of Filipino identity in this English-language milieu; yet it is told not in broad, abstract lines but with the family and the house representing the Philippine nation. It is poignant to see elements of the past century in nostalgic black and white.

Words by: Mari-An Santos
Image by: IMDB

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