Classic Filipino Movies

10 Classic Filipino Movies You Should Definitely Watch Again

The beauty of Sine Pilipino is that everyone can tap into a wide range of themes that are deeply rooted in the Filipino culture. Many of these recurring elements are the ones that truly set us apart from other cultures. Here are a few classic Filipino movies that you need to see or watch again to relieve those cinematic moments.

1Himala (1982)

Witness the magic unfold in one of the most powerful classic Filipino movies ever made in Philippine history. The fluid cinematography captures the barren landscape that somehow resembles the Filipino people, as hope is quickly diminishing. Elsa, played by Nora Aunor, is a simple village girl who extraordinarily witnesses an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is catapulted into the limelight thanks to her faith-healing abilities.

Director Ishmael Bernal weaves an imaginative yet realistic tale. The film takes a closer look at the double standards led by a religious-driven society. The spectacular performance portrayed by Nora Aunor has captivated both local and international audiences. It’s no surprise that Himala took home 12 awards and 13 nominations. It is also considered one of the best classic Filipino movies of all time.

2Maynila Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag (1975)

Next on the list of classic Filipino movies is a film based on a novel written by Edgardo M. Reyes and brought to life by Lino Brocka. Maynila Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag centers around Julio Madiaga, played by Bembol Roco. Julio, a naive probinciano, goes to the city in pursuit of his big dreams and his true love Ligaya, played by Hilda Koronel.

As he faces the harsh realities of urban life, Julio begins to see that things are not what they seem in the big city. It is written with such realism that caters to archetypes reflected in society. It also is the only Filipino film that is in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. The movie bagged 8 awards coming from FAMAS Awards, FOCAL International Awards, and Gawad Urian Awards.

3Bata, Bata Paano Ka Ginawa? (1998)

Another classic Filipino movie, this is based on a novel written by Lualhati Bautista and adapted to the big screen by Chito S. Roño. Vilma Santos breathes life into Lea Bustamante, a single mother trying to raise two children (played by Carlo Aquino and Serena Dalrymple) on her own in a predominantly patriarchal society. In our lives, we know a Lea Bustamante or two who have to put in more effort in juggling the roles of both a mother and a father.

Despite facing numerous hardships that test her will and character, Lea defiantly stands on her two feet. She does this without allowing the traditional society to dictate the kind of person she is. Bata, Bata Paano Ka Ginawa took home a total of 19 awards and 17 nominations. These include nods from the Asia-Pacific Film Festival, FAMAS Awards, FAP Awards, Philippines, Gawad Urian Awards, Star Awards for Movies, and Young Critics Circle Philippines.

4Batch ‘81 (1982)

A daring film led by director Mike de Leon zooms into a group and their tumultuous journey through the rites of passage upon entering Alpha Kappa Omega. It exposes the harsh realities of hazing that were prominent among fraternities at the time. As a symbol of fascism, the hazing conducted by fraternities stripped off all individual rights. They went as far as public humiliation and torture.

Behind the motion pictures, it served as an allegorical statement reflecting the uneasy political regime during the powerful reign of the Marcoses. Timely in recent events as one of the more understated classic Filipino movies, Batch ’81 won 4 awards and received 9 nominations. These came from the Chicago International Film Festival, FAP Awards, Philippines, and Gawad Urian Awards.

5Ganito Kami Noon…Paano Kayo Ngayon? (1976)

Under the direction of Eddie Romero, this story takes place at the revolutionary turn between the Philippines and their Spanish colonizers. Christopher de Leon assumes the role of Nicolas Ocampo or Kulas, a provincial man who journeys through a series of unfortunate events that make him question his Filipino identity.

The symbolism reflects the struggles of identity even after being freed from the hands of colonizers. Kulas soon discovers what defines a true Filipino. This is one of the few multi-awarded classic Filipino movies, receiving a total of 14 wins and 10 nominations from the FAMAS Awards, Gawad Urian Awards, and Metro Manila Film Festival.

6The Flor Contemplacion Story (1995)

Nora Aunor radiates another heart-shattering performance as Flor Contemplacion in one her timeless classic Filipino movies. The title character is a domestic helper accused of killing her Singaporean bosses’ son and her co-helper. Directed by Joel Lamangan, The Flor Contemplacion Story dissects the social injustice suffered by the marginalized, especially among impoverished families.

The film grabbed 20 awards and 16 nominations from Cairo International Film Festival, FAMAS Awards, FAP Awards Philippines, Gawad Urian Awards, Star Awards for Movies, and Young Critics Circle Philippines. Nora Aunor also famously took the title of Best Actress with numerous awards during the years 1995 and 1996. Can’t get enough of her? Check out Nora Aunor and these classic Filipino loveteams on screen again!

7Oro, Plata, Mata (1982)

Director Peque Gallaga and Screenplay Writer Jose Javier Reyes resurrect a rare film taken from the war-stricken Philippines during World War II. A war against the Japanese breaks out amidst a celebration among upper-class families. Due to this, they are forced to leave their flamboyant lives behind and take shelter in a rustic hacienda.

They try to escape from the realities of war and as a result, it quickly catches up with them. First-hand encounters challenge them to fight against new and old enemies. As the Americans pry the Philippines from the hands of the Japanese, the war simmers down to a sudden realization. The effects of war forever scarred but greatly transformed the characters. Oro, Plata, Mata is known as one of the more hard-hitting classic Filipino movies.

8Ang Tatay Kong Nanay (1978)

Lino Brocka teams up with Orlando Nadres to unleash a moving tale of a gay man named Dioscoro Derecho. Derecho goes by the name of Coring, played by the late comedy actor Dolphy. His former lover Dennis (Phillip Salvador) leaves him for Mariana (Marissa Delgado). Furthermore, Dennis suddenly returns and leaves Coring with his baby.

Coring, who runs a beauty salon, takes care of Nonoy (Nino Muhlach) as if he was his own. The film highlights how unconditional love overpowers any social stigma linked to homosexuality and parenthood. It is not just a film but a social commentary among classic Filipino movies. For Ang Tatay Kong Nanay, Nino Muhlach took home the FAMAS Award for Best Child Actor. Dolphy became a nominee twice for Best Actor (FAMAS Award and Gawad Urian Awards). Marissa Delgado got the nomination for Best Supporting Actress for FAMAS Award.

9Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros (2005)

Auraeus Solito with Screenplay Writer Michiko Yamamoto directed this breakthrough film. It is one coming-of-age film has all the right elements falling into place without being overly melodramatic. Maximo ‘Maxi’ Oliveros (Nathan Lopez) is a young gay preteen who performs ‘motherly’ duties. He looks after his family of petty criminals in the slum area.

He develops a crush on Victor, a handsome cop, who begins investigating within the neighborhood. Maxi is torn between his affection for his family and his growing admiration for Victor. This charming film has drawn 28 nominations and 24 prestigious local and international awards all over the world. It is truly one of the most inspiring classic Filipino movies worth watching.

10Insiang (1976)

Last on our list of Filipino classic movies is another brilliant masterpiece under the collaboration of Lino Brocka and Mario O’Hara. Insiang is a film that centers on the estranged relationship between an ill-mannered mother named Tonya (Mona Lisa) and her beautiful daughter Insiang (Hilda Koronel’s breakthrough role) living among the hot and heavy slums of Metro Manila.

After suffering through ill-fated events, Insiang plans her revenge towards those who have done her wrong. Insiang has gained 12 nominations and 7 awards from FAMAS Awards, Gawad Urian Awards, and Metro Manila Film Festival.

Did we miss any other of your favorite classic Filipino movies? Leave us a comment below!

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