So at this point, in the exactly one-week span between my last post and this, you know I’ve failed the blogger’s challenge. I’m not going to bore you with excuses except for this one: I wanted to write about my favorite movies; heck, anyone who follows this blog knows how much I love film. But that’s the problem. I’ve discussed my favorites in great detail so many times over. Forrest Gump, Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, Little Miss Sunshine, Gone With The Wind, Let The Right One In, Catch Me If You Can, Exorcist. When I saw the next category, my hands froze over the keyboard; I sighed then just walked away.
So in the interest of pursuing the challenge and not being redundant, I decided to narrow down the category to my favorite Filipino films. I’ve mentioned before that I’m such a local movie buff; so long as it’s quality entertainment, who cares if it’s local? Cinema One is one of my go-to channels when I turn the TV on. I grew up watching Jolina, Judy Ann, Wowie, and my one great love, Rico Yan. I’d tune in to Home Along Da Riles and Okidokidok. I watched Ang Pulubi at Ang Prinsesa, Anak, and Tanging Yaman in the cinema. I don’t watch everything. Up to now I deeply regret wasting two hours of my time watching Supahpapalicious.
There’s a wealth of wonderful local filmography, but it’s usually buried deep under a pile of not-so-good ones. By wonderful I mean refreshing, poignant, and artfully constructed (taking into context, of course, the technological limitations of the time).
*No spoilers here (because I really want people to watch them).
1. Magnifico (2003)
Directed by: Maryo J. Delos Reyes; starring an all-star cast including Jiro Manio, Albert Martinez, Gloria Romero, and Lorna Tolentino
I’ve seen this film so so so many times and every time, I still tear up, I still feel inspired. I still have hope for Philippine cinema. It’s about a young, unassuming boy who touches his entire neighborhood in the smallest of ways. Magnifico is a display of innocence, poverty, and love. It’s a simple story that has the most profound impact on me.
2. Abakada… Ina (2001)
Directed by: Eddie Garcia; starring Lorna Tolentino, Albert Martinez, Nida Blanca, Alicia Alonso, Bobby Andrews, Matet de Leon, Joanne Quintas
Nothing on YouTube except reenactments. It’s about an illiterate mother who never gave up on herself and on her family. Warning: It will make you cry.
3. Kasal Kasali Kasalo (2006)
Directed by: Jose Javier Reyes; starring Judy Ann Santos and Ryan Agoncillo
You’ve probably seen this. If not, I’m raising my eyebrow at you! Filipino ka ba??? I like it for its originality: how it didn’t stop at happily ever after. Because really, in the real world, there’s no such thing. You can be happy, but it’s a constant struggle, a daily choice that you have to painstakingly work on. Ever after only comes when you’re dead.
For Kasal Kasali Kasalo, I like the poignant and unobstructed view of marriage especially in the local setting. It’s very original, considering we’re in a country full of saps. Feed us cheese and we’ll gladly eat it no matter how it’s served! I’m not hitched (I’m only 22 years old for crying out loud!), but I’m aware enough to know that in marriage, you get more than romance–you get busybody in-laws, farts, incompatible living habits, kabits and the threats of, child scares, yaya problems, and more.
4. Magic Temple (1996)
Directed by: Peque Gallaga and Lore Reyes; starring Jason Salcedo, Junell Hernado, and Marc Solis
Magic Temple–a family-fantasy film that does not include neither Vic Sotto nor Bong Revilla. It’s about three gifted boys who journey to restore balance in the enchanted world they live in. Some elements in the film are a hodgepodge of materials taken randomly from other movies (watch it and you’ll see what I’m talking about), but they’re weaved together so seamlessly, it doesn’t matter. It’s complex and thoughtful without being overly done. Thankfully, good people who want to preserve good literature uploaded it in parts in YouTube.
5. Itim (1976)
Directed by: Mike de Leon; starring Charo Santos (her acting debut!), Mona Lisa
Eerie is the main qualifier for this entire film. You’ll have goosebumps from the start; I certainly did. It’s primarily a ghost story–a restless soul haunting her living sister–but it’s punctuated by jarring shots of Catholic symbols interspersed with equally disturbing music. I don’t know about you, but I find statues of saints very spooky, especially with the proper lighting. You’ll be a little shaken, but Itim is really a must-watch for those who appreciate Philippine cinema and its potential. This really set the bar high for local horror movies; I’ve yet to seen something like it (it’s probably hard to replicate and we’re usually so good with those!). It may be 36 years old, but Itim is refreshing the current crop of campy, contrived, commercial horror movies we see today. Fortunately again, the Itim is uploaded in seven videos on YouTube.