5 Independent Filipino Films That You Need To Watch

Critics have continued to say that the Philippine cinema has started to die. However, looking at our country’s film industry, I can say that it is actually far from it. Despite these assertions, Filipino films continuously shine from local to international stages. Additionally, movies become more accessible to the public due to the rise of online streaming platforms.

This allowed some movies, particularly independent Filipino films, to recapture their brilliance as it expands the audiences to learn about their stories. Independent Filipino films can be identified by their themes, aesthetics, and how the creators’ unique artistic visions were carried out.

Although not always, these independent Filipino films typically have far smaller budgets than films produced by major studios. Despite this, Indie films still provide us with movies that make social commentary, deal with life’s truths, triumph over adversity, etc. 

So, sit up, relax and buckle up! Here are five independent Filipino films we urge you to watch:

Patay na si Hesus

Photo from Sugbo Ph.

Filmed in Cebu, the film is heavily written in the Visayan language. Patay na si Hesus revolves around the story of Iyay (Jaclyn Jose) and her three sons. These would include Jude (Chai Fonacier), Jay (Melde Montaez), and Hubert (Vincent Viado) as they travel to their father’s wake in Dumaguete. Patay na si Hesus is a light film.

One might see that its layers are so small. Therefore, they must be magnified by the audience to be understood. Consequently, the overall plot of the movie contrasts thin and sharp. It is as thin as a sheet of paper yet has surprising sociopolitical and theological satire elements. Moreover, the humor in this film is simply fantastic. 

Apocalypse Child

Photo from IMDb.

The film Apocalypse Child centers on Ford (Sid Lucero), a surfing instructor with the same name as the American director Francis Ford Coppola. People have informed him that F.F. was his biological father as he grew up.

This is because Chona, a young lady at the time with whom Coppola had an affair, is his mother. Subsequently, Ford spends the remainder of the movie trying to come to terms with his past while preparing for the new surfing season.

This is not your typical film because it is a character study of a man who avoids facing his past. This movie also explores what it means to be an outsider and whether to accept or reject your culture. It takes a little while to get going, but trust me, this one is worth watching.

Pan de Salawal

Photo from IMDb.

Pan de Salawal follows the story of lonesome Salvador, also known as Sal. For a 68-year-old, his life’s purpose is to pass away. But, one night, a young girl named Aguy witnesses his anguish. Even if it means getting harmed, as her name implies, Aguy has the power to cure others.

She heals people physically instead of using songs, prayers, incantations, or magic oils. In fact, a clutch of jabs can actually remove a tumor. Furthermore, several slaps can effectively slap a crippling cough away.

Despite not overdoing the melodrama, Pan de Salawal still carries magic and charm. The presentation of magic allows it to trigger more emotions, despite focusing already on a naturally dramatic topic—illness. Through this, the film stands alone without over-embellishing melodrama. 

Lola Igna

Photo from IMDb.

The story follows the life of Lola Igna (Angie Ferro). Her life is upended when she receives the official title of Oldest Grandmother in the Philippines. Consequently, people are compelling her to compete for the world record title. Thus, getting the potential to collect millions of pesos by holding the world’s new record.

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In truth, Lola Igna is not particularly concerned about titles. Ironically, she has been hoping and praying for a quick death. But, when a long-lost relative (Yves Flores) shows up, her sudden popularity might really have turned out to be a blessing.

With the film Lola Igna, we get the chance to reflect on our purpose in life once more. It teaches us that life is valuable and that we should be grateful daily. Additionally, this shows that the present is far more crucial than predicting the future. Lola Igna’s character shows us that we can overcome our difficulties in life by simply living our lives to their fullest.

Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon

Photo from IMDb.

The film centers on the life of unmarried pair Celso and Teresa. After celebrating their 27th loversary, Teresa’s estranged husband Bene calls her and asks for assistance. After learning that Bene has stage 4 cancer, the couple rallies behind him and helps him with his everyday tasks. Together, Celso and Teresa realize how fortunate they are to have each other. Both witness the depths of their love as they interact with Bene on a daily basis.

The popular film customary showcase the magic and fantasy of love; meanwhile, Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon depicts otherwise. The film aims to tell viewers the flaws and imperfections of relationships.

Filipino film creators are creative in nature. They keep producing high-quality content that truly deserves recognition. Recognition from the international stage and, most especially, an acknowledgment from us, Filipinos. 

However, due to the sudden globalization, other Filipinos tend to patronize foreign media material more than our locally produced material. This is a bittersweet truth about what’s happening recently. Thinking of this, who else will pioneer our product if not us?

The movies mentioned above are just some of the hidden gems of independent films. There are a lot more indie films that need to be recognized. Therefore, as Filipino viewers, we should do our part in enriching these materials. 

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