Filipino Films Flashback

Filipino cinema really started to rise and enter its first ‘Golden Age’ after World War II, where patriotic war films permeated the industry which the national audience at the time loved. Over time Filipino films evolved and gained international attention, with films such as Genghis Khan (1950) being shown at the Cannes Film Festival. The films of the late 20th century are quite commercialised and some are derivatives of American Western tropes and films, however, since the early 2000s independent cinema has mostly replaced that, breathing new life into the industry. Now there are many aspects of the Philippines and political commentaries that are shown through more recent films, breathing new life into Filipino cinema.

Check out CulturalPulse’s shortlist of the best Filipino films over the past 70 years below.

50's & 60's

Genghis Khan (1950)

Genre: Action
IMDB Rating: 7
Director: Manuel Conde
Stars: Manuel Conde, Elvira Reyes, Inday Jalandoni, Jose Villafranca
Synopsis: Temujin, who later became Genghis Khan is wise and sometimes cunning. He goes through several heroic episodes; competing at the Man of Men contest, falling in love with the enemy …  See full summary »

Anak dalita (1956)

Genre: Crime, Drama
IMDB Rating: 7
Director: Lamberto V. Avellana
Stars: Rosa Rosal, Tony Santos, Joseph de Cordova, Vic Silayan
Synopsis: A war hero meets a prostitute in the postwar ruins of Manila …  See full summary »

Noli me tángere (1961)

Genre: Action, Drama, Romance
IMDB Rating: 7.5
Director: Gerardo de Leon
Stars: Eddie del Mar, Edita Vital, Johnny Monteiro, Oscar Keesee
Synopsis: Epic screen adaptation of the great Jose Rizal’s novel, Noli Me Tangere (otherwise known as Touch Me Not or The Social Cancer) …  See full summary »

El filibusterismo (1962)

Genre: Action, Drama
IMDB Rating: 7.9
Director: Gerardo de Leon
Stars: Pancho Magalona, Charito Solis, Teody Belarmino, Edita Vital
Synopsis: Juan Crisostomo Ibarra has changed his name and identity to a rich jeweler named Simoun. In disguise, he travels the world amassing wealth, which he intends to use to topple the corrupt …  See full summary »


Weighed But Found Wanting (1974)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 7.8
Director: Lino Brocka
Stars: Lolita Rodriguez, Lilia Dizon, Eddie Garcia, Hilda Koronel
Synopsis: This landmark film is considered by many to be one of the most important in Philippine cinema. The son of a wealthy man, Junior has everything he could …  See full summary »

Minsa’y isang gamu-gamo (1976)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 8.1
Director: Lupita Aquino-Kashiwahara
Stars: Nora Aunor, Jay Ilagan, Gloria Sevilla, Perla Bautista
Synopsis: A young nurse questions her planned emigration to the United States, and her country’s post-colonial conditions, following her brother’s fatal shooting by an American soldier from the nearby military base …  See full summary »

Ganito kami noon… Paano kayo ngayon? (1976)

Genre: Drama, Musical, Romance
IMDB Rating: 7.7
Director: Eddie Romero
Stars: Christopher De Leon, Gloria Diaz, Eddie Garcia, Dranreb Belleza
Synopsis: Set at the turn of the 20th century during the Filipino revolution against the Spaniards and, later, the American colonizers, it follows a naive peasant through his leap of faith to become a member of an imagined community …  See full summary »

Tatlong taong walang Diyos (1976)

Genre: Drama, Romance, War
IMDB Rating: 7.2
Director: Mario O’Hara
Stars: Nora Aunor, Christopher De Leon, Bembol Roco, Orlando Nadres
Synopsis: A woman falls in love with a Japanese soldier during the Japanese Occupation in the Philippines; the whole town turns against her …  See full summary »

Ina ka ng anak mo (1979)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 8.3
Director: Lino Brocka
Stars: Lolita Rodriguez, Nora Aunor, Raul Aragon, Lorli Villanueva
Synopsis: Ester Postigo (Nora Aunor) plays a social worker who cannot have a baby. Because of her infertility, her husband, Luis (Raoul Aragon), goes to bed with her mother, Renata (Lolita Rodriguez) …  See full summary »


Kisapmata (1981)

Genre: Crime, Drama, Horror
IMDB Rating: 7.7
Director: Mike De Leon
Stars: Charo Santos-Concio, Jay Ilagan, Vic Silayan, Charito Solis
Synopsis: An crime-drama-suspense genre film not often seen in Philippine cinema, a controlling patriarch loses it over his daughter’s marriage and her attempts to escape from their incestuous household … See full summary »

Himala (1982)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 8.2
Director: Ishmael Bernal
Stars: Nora Aunor, Veronica Palileo, Spanky Manikan, Gigi Dueñas
Synopsis: Elsa saw the blessed Virgin Mary who had changed her life and caused a hysteria in a poor isolated village … See full summary »

Oro, Plata, Mata (1982)

Genre: Drama, War
IMDB Rating: 8.2
Director: Peque Gallaga
Stars: Manny Ojeda, Liza Lorena, Sandy Andolong, Cherie Gil
Synopsis: Two affluent families struggle and learn to survive during the Japanese occupation in the Philippines … See full summary »

Bayan ko: Kapit sa patalim (1984)

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
IMDB Rating: 7.7
Director: Lino Brocka
Stars: Phillip Salvador, Gina Alajar, Venchito Galvez, Ariosto Reyes Jr.
Synopsis: Arturo and his wife, Luz Manalastas, both work in a printing press. After Luz becomes pregnant, Arturo (“Turing”) is forced to ask for a raise. When he does so, his boss asks him to sign … See full summary »

Agila ng Maynila (1988)

Genre: Action
IMDB Rating: 8
Director: Pablo Santiago
Stars: Fernando Poe Jr., Vic Vargas, Encar Benedicto, Charlie Davao
Synopsis: An ex-policeman is confronted by tragedy. He must overcome them to seek redemption … See full summary »


Harvest Home (1995)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 7.8
Director: Carlos Siguion-Reyna
Stars: Maricel Soriano, Snooky Serna, Eric Quizon, Tirso Cruz III
Synopsis: Set in a quiet, rural Filipino village, tale revolves around a sibling rivalry between Jacinta, a woman who appears to be the ultimate dutiful daughter and wife, and Clarita, her more … See full summary »


Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 7.1
Director: Tikoy Aguiluz
Stars: Michelle Aldana, Gary Estrada, Ruby Moreno, Albert Martinez
Synopsis: In the daytime, Karen is an insurance saleswoman in Manila, but in the evening she works as an escort in a club. She is very successful in selling insurance to her escort clients. On the …  See full summary »

Milagros (1997)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 7.1
Director: Marilou Diaz-Abaya
Stars: Sharmaine Arnaiz, Dante Rivero, Joel Torre, Raymond Bagatsing
Synopsis: Milagros is a prostitute who becomes the maid of a family of four men. With them, she finds the family she never had. With her, each man finds the salvation he needs. Together, they begin ...  See full summary »

José Rizal (1998)

Genre: Drama, Biography, History
IMDB Rating: 7.5
Director: Marilou Diaz-Abaya
Stars: Cesar Montano, Joel Torre, Jaime Fabregas, Gloria Diaz
Synopsis: Jose Rizal’s life and works are recounted through a series of non-linear flashbacks which reflect on various aspects of his life – as writer, propagandist, lover, friend, brother, doctor, and the man that inspired a revolution. See full summary »

In the Navel of the Sea (1998)

Genre: Drama, Romance
IMDB Rating: 6.8
Director: Marilou Diaz-Abaya
Stars: Jomari Yllana, Elizabeth Oropesa, Chin Chin Gutierrez, Pen Medina
Synopsis: Pepito, growing up in a remote fishing village in the Philippines is destined to become the successor of his mother: the only midwife in the whole district, a job given from generation to …  See full summary »


Demons (2000)

Genre: Drama, Horror, Romance
IMDB Rating: 7.3
Director: Mario O’Hara
Stars: Hilda Koronel, Anita Linda, Matet De Leon, Leo Rabago
Synopsis: A story about young lovers Nena, a rich girl, and Jose, a poor boy who works in the fishponds owned by Nena’s family. The film traces their relationship as it develops, from prosperity into… » See full summary »

Anak (2000)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 7.3
Director: Rory B. Quintos
Stars: Vilma Santos, Claudine Barretto, Joel Torre, Baron Geisler
Synopsis: The main character is a Filipina Overseas Contract Worker, one of the many residents of the archipelago who is forced to leave her family and take a higher paying job in a more prosperous …  See full summary »

The Seventies (2002)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 7.3
Director: Chito S. Roño
Stars: Vilma Santos, Christopher De Leon, Piolo Pascual, Marvin Agustin
Synopsis: A middle-class Filipino family struggles to survive in the era of dictatorship. See full summary »

Magnifico (2003)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 7.9
Director: Maryo J. de los Reyes
Stars: Lorna Tolentino, Albert Martinez, Gloria Romero, Celia Rodriguez
Synopsis: Even though he is not good in school and belongs to a poor and unfortunate family, Magnifico still have a big heart and a large amount of optimism that enabled him to help not only his family but also the community... » See full summary 

Woman of Breakwater (2003)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 7.5
Director: Mario O’Hara
Stars: Gardo Versoza, Yoyoy Villame, Lou Veloso, Lucita Soriano
Synopsis: In a poor village by the Manila Bay breakwater, two brothers, Buboy and Basilio, come to the city to escape from the violence at home. They meet a prostitute named Pakita and become close …   See full summary »

Sa North Diversion Road (2005)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 8.4
Director: Dennis Marasigan
Stars: John Arcilla, Irma Adlawan, Madeleine Nicolas, Rolando Inocencio
Synopsis: A man and a woman play ten different characters in ten scenes, all of which take place in a car traveling along the North Diversion Road. Together, they go on a journey to self-discovery … » See full summary 

Donsol (2006)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 7.6
Director: Adolfo Alix Jr.
Stars: Sid Lucero, Angel Aquino, Cherie Gil, Jaclyn Jose
Synopsis: About two lonely people who met during the whaleshark watching season in Donsol, Sorsogon.    See full summary 

Mother Nanny (2006)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 7.7
Director: Pablo Biglang-awa
Stars: Maricel Soriano, Sunshine Cruz, Zoren Legaspi, Liza Lorena
Synopsis: Norma (Maricel Soriano) straddles between being a mother to Ruby (Tala Santos) and being a nanny to her employer’s daughter, Louise (Erika Oreta). Norma left her daughter in the province to… » See full summary 

One More Chance (2007)

Genre: Drama, Romance
IMDB Rating: 7.5
Director: Cathy Garcia-Molina
Stars: John Lloyd Cruz, Bea Alonzo, Derek Ramsay, Maja Salvador
Synopsis: Longtime couple Basha (Bea Alonzo) and Popoy (John Lloyd Cruz) are practically inseparable, so when they split up, it’s not surprising how heartbroken each feels. But Basha, stifled by the …   See full summary »

Pisay (2007)

Genre: Drama, Comedy
IMDB Rating: 8.2
Director: Auraeus Solito
Stars: Gammy Lopez, Annicka Dolonius, Carl John Barrameda, Elijah Castillo
Synopsis: Amidst the chaos of Martial Law in this Third World country in the 1980s, six teenagers in the top high school for the sciences discover themselves as they go through the joys and pains of … » See full summary 


Senior Year (2010)

Genre: Drama, Comedy
IMDB Rating: 7.9
Director: Jerrold Tarog
Stars: LJ Moreno, Che Ramos, Danielle Afuang, Aaron Balana
Synopsis: A high school movie featuring a mix of real students and professional actors that deals with the experience of finding one’s identity in a country that barely has one.   See full summary »

Mga mumunting lihim (2012)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 8.1
Director: Jose Javier Reyes
Stars: Judy Ann Santos, Iza Calzado, Agot Isidro, Janice de Belen
Synopsis: Mariel, a housewife who died from cancer, left a box full of her diaries through the years to her bestfriend Carly, an advertising executive. Though Sandra and Olive warned her not to read …  See full summary »

Sta. Niña (2012)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 8.0
Director: Manny Palo
Stars: Coco Martin, Alessandra de Rossi, Anita Linda, Angel Aquino
Synopsis: A man unearths a coffin containing the remains of his child which stirs up the enitre township as the body has hardly decomposed at all. Could it be that she is miraculous, a saint in the making?   See full summary »

Norte, the End of History (2013)

Genre: Crime, Drama
IMDB Rating: 7.5
Director: Lav Diaz
Stars: Sid Lucero, Angeli Bayani, Archie Alemania, Soliman Cruz
Synopsis: An embittered law student commits a brutal double murder; a family man takes the fall and is forced into a harsh prison sentence; a mother and her two children wander the countryside looking for some kind of redemption. See full summary »

Metro Manila (2013)

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
IMDB Rating: 7.6
Director: Sean Ellis
Stars: Jake Macapagal, John Arcilla, Althea Vega, Erin Panlilio
Synopsis: Seeking a brighter future in megacity Manila, Oscar Ramirez and his family flee their impoverished life in the rice fields of the northern Philippines. But the sweltering capital’s bustling… See full summary »

That Thing Called Tadhana (2014)

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
IMDB Rating: 7.6
Director: Antoinette Jadaone
Stars: Angelica Panganiban, JM de Guzman, Joem Bascon, Carlos Castano
Synopsis: A story about a broken-hearted girl who meets a boy in a not so normal way. Together, they go to places and find out “where do broken hearts go?” See full summary »

Sleepless (2015)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 8.5
Director: Prime Cruz
Stars: Glaiza de Castro, Dominic Roco, TJ Trinidad, Bea Galvez
Synopsis: Gem and Barry are two lonely people who can’t sleep. They spend hours lying awake while every- one else is asleep. They are both stuck in a rut, both of them working dead-end jobs at a call… See full summary »

Honor Thy Father (2015)

Genre: Drama, Crime
IMDB Rating: 7.7
Director: Erik Matti
Stars: John Lloyd Cruz, Meryll Soriano, Dan Fernandez, Tirso Cruz III
Synopsis: A family is caught in a financial ruin after being involved in a ponzi scheme.   See full summary »

Heneral Luna (2015)

Genre: Action, Biography, History
IMDB Rating: 7.7
Director: Jerrold Tarog
Stars: John Arcilla, Mon Confiado, Arron Villaflor, Jeffrey Quizon
Synopsis: Set during the Philippine-American war, a short-tempered Filipino general faces an enemy more formidable than the American army: his own treacherous countrymen. See full summary »

I See You (2017)

Genre: Drama, Comedy, Romance
IMDB Rating: 7.8
Director: Sigrid Andrea Bernardo
Stars: Alessandra de Rossi, Empoy Marquez
Synopsis: A blind woman falls in love with a man who uses kindness and humor to make a connection with her.  See full summary »