I’m not the biggest fan of Filipino movies. The recipe for most local films has been the same for what feels like centuries. The genre changes, of course, but for every genre, the shit’s basically what it was two or three or even five decades ago, save for a few indie films.
We have marital affairs, rich boy/girl falling in love with a poor boy/girl (and no, it’s never homosexual), an adopted child with a biological mother who realized she made a mistake all those years giving the child up, badly-executed slapstick comedy, and an action movie that’s always about some drug syndicate.
Surprisingly, though, in the recent years, the course of Filipino films has changed quite a bit, even the mainstream ones, and has stirred in a direction that I actually do like. So, I began consuming more. After all, #SupportLokal.
All that said, here are three Tagalog/Filipino movies, that are available on Netflix Philippines, that I truly enjoyed.
A young woman travels home to bring a dog to her sick grandmother.
Although it wasn’t explicitly mentioned, Jasmine (Sarah Geronimo) is noticeably someone who has ASD (autism spectrum disorder). And her portrayal of that character and the way it was written and directed was truly something I wasn’t expecting, given the disaster that was Budoy.
The plot of the movie itself wasn’t amazing, or even believable and relatable. But it was the spectacular acting of Sarah Geronimo and Milo the dog (who played Happy) was what hit the nail in the head for me. The range that she showed here made me a fan.
This movie was something. And Sarah Geronimo was a breath of fresh air that I didn’t think I needed.
#2 Never Not Love You
A young and reckless love ends when a couple take different paths in life. Five years later, they meet and discover much has changed, including the love they have for each other.
It was honestly a surprise that I liked this. I’m not much of a fan of movies or TV shows where the lead roles are given to “love teams”. Put lightly, it’s irritating. Although, I would say that I’m actually a fan of Nadine Lustre and James Reid as individuals.
What I like most about this movie, though, is that it’s actually very realistic, unlike most Filipino romance films (or Filipino films in general). The movie dealt with how relationships actually work in the real world. Not the typical mushy shit that would either make you feel bitter cause why is your own relationship not like that or make you feel annoyed cause you know for a fact that relationships aren’t all sugar and spice and everything nice.
The story started out okay and I was, frankly, ready to zone out. But then it got all too real—which is how it should be—that I was pleasantly shookt. And it doesn’t hurt that I actually like Nadine and James as actors. The ending is also very unusual (here in the Philippines) and actually quite relatable given the circumstances of their relationship in the story. Definitely an A+ movie for me.
#3 Born Beautiful
After her best friend dies, Barbs starts a new life as a straight man named Bobby, which leads her to Trisha’s ex-boyfriend Michaelangelo, to her own ex-boyfriend Greg and to a woman claiming she is pregnant with Barbs’ child.
Of course, I had to include an LGBTQ+ film on here. And Born Beautiful, the spin-off (or sequel) to Die Beautiful, definitely did not disappoint.
There are a few things that I like about this movie, bear with me.
— Martin del Rosario, who’s apparently straight in real life, really gave his all to this role and was not at all shy about anything, including the kissing scenes that he had with other men. In the context of being a Filipino and this being a local movie, the kissing scenes and the sex scenes between same sex couples were something you don’t see often or at all. And seeing those, on the uncensored version that’s on Netflix, was like seeing a part of me (as a lesbian) being celebrated on screen.
— Chai Fonacier’s character, Yumi, was so powerful and was quick to take charge of her body as a woman. Owning our body as women, especially when it involves anything that can be depicted as sexual, is a very touchy and taboo subject here in the Philippines. So when Yumi owned that shit and said something along the lines of “katawan ko naman to, hindi naman iyo”, I was so goddamn proud!
— And the one that I liked most is when Barbs (del Rosario) joined a church retreat to help her “become straight”. But obviously, that doesn’t work (cause nobody can simply pray the gay away) and she ended up being sexually assaulted by one of the pastors and leaving the church still as ‘feminine’ as she was before. Shit like that (and by that, I mean “straight retreats/camps”) is not as common here in the Philippines as they may be in some western countries but the message relayed by that part was still as powerful.
Maybe this movie deserved its own post but it’s here now and I’m too lazy to draft a new one. In any case, you better watch it!
If you’re one of the lucky ones who’s so goddamn bored over this quarantine and wants something to do/watch, then here are some of my suggestions.