I can’t believe August is already ending. Why does time feel relatively slow and fast all at the same time? MAKE IT MAKE SENSE.
Hello, lovely people. It’s been a hot minute here on The Ultimate Fangirl, huh? A lot of things… happened. But that story is for another day. For the meantime, I want to focus on something close and dear to my heart. Here in the Philippines, August is a dedicated month for our national language: Filipino. Back when we were still allowed to go outside, schools tend to be very festive and you can anticipate scheduled festivities encapsulating the area. For me, our school often has this rule where we have to wear Filipinianas every Monday. Every 9th and 10th grader should be preparing for Sayawit and Sabayang Pagbigkas, as every section is trying to covet the prize of… bragging rights (and a trophy and prize money, if your school was that fancy).
Note: Sayawit roughly translates to “dance and song”, as this activity requires students to create an interpretative dance to the beat of a traditional Filipino song. Sabayang Pagkigkas on the other hand translates to “choral recitation”, wherein students usually recite a poem that is correlated to the theme of the overall celebration. These doesn’t exactly sound tense, but believe me when I say that A LOT of things can happen when everyone is preparing for this.
But I’m not in high school anymore. Those events are only part of my memories now. So I made up for the hollow feeling in my chest by doing three things: 1) Join Wikathon, 2) only watch Filipino movies, and 3) focus on locally produced media. I hope to also share posts regarding the other two, but I want to start on the one ‘prompt’ I actually stuck with. Since the start of the nationwide imposed quarantines, movies had been my primary source of escape. Most of the time, it gives me that serotonin boost that I badly need after seeing an angry man on the TV telling his constituents to inhale gasoline to prevent themselves from getting sick. And since working from home, I’ve been trying to balance the time I spend for work and for leisure. Which is why I decided to dedicate my weekends to watching Filipino films.
The ‘prompt’ I set for myself is simple: just choose a Filipino movie that catches your interest. It’s not that hard to do. To cop out on it would be a shame, since it’s the only designated task I set for myself during the weekend. Plus with the addition of streaming platforms stocking up a lot of Filipino movies in their arsenal, I had no excuse not to bask myself in the glory of Philippine cinema. It also helped that Cinemalaya (an annual film festival here in the Philippines) was held virtually this year. I was able to watch more movies than I ever did for any month, which was a pretty spectacular feat.
So here’s a breakdown of what I’ve seen as of writing:
*titles in bold are highly recommended for viewing
- Ang Kwento Nating Dalawa (The Story of Us That Never Was)
- Sana Dati (If Only)
- Exes Baggage
- Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank (The Woman in the Septic Tank)
- Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank 2: Forever is not Enough (The Woman In The Septic Tank 2: Forever is not Enough)
I was able to watch these films through iFlix and iWant. Both streaming platforms have free films available, but iWant also offers premium movies for a really cheap price.
Cinemalaya Short Feature:
- Ang Gasgas na Plaka ni Lolo Bert (The Broken Vinyl Record of Old Bert)
- Pabasa Kan Pasyon (Chanting the Passion)
- Tokwifi (Star)
- Quing Lalam Ning Aldo (Under the Sun)
- To Calm The Pig Inside
- Living Things
- Utwas (Arise)
- Excuse Me Miss, Miss, Miss
- The Slums
These films were all amazing, but Quing Lalam Ning Aldo really takes the cake for me.
- Basurero (Dump)
- Nang Em
- General Rizal
CINEMALAYA INDIE NATION SHORtS
- Igib (Fetch)
- Ang Meron Sa Wala (Beyond Nothing)
- Pinakanakapagpapabagabag-damdamin (Most Disturbing Feeling)
- Sakmit (Seize)
- Dama de Noche
- Grand Gestures
Now since most of the movies I’ve listed are not exactly accessible at the moment, I thought I could share some of the other Filipino movies I have seen and enjoyed this year. I highly recommend these, especially if you would want to hold a Filipino movie marathon on your own pace:
Ang Babae sa Septic Tank (2011)
Directed by: Marlon N. Rivera
What is it about: Two budding indie film makers and their silent PA want to make an internationally-acclaimed film that features the portrayal of the poverty in the PH.
What I liked about it: I loved how we got a glimpse of how films were made. On the bright side, I love the subtle mockery of the adamant poverty films. And Eugene Domingo definitely stole the show with her portrayal here.
Where to watch: Free on iWant
Lola Igna (2019)
Directed by: Eduardo Roy Jr.
Trigger warnings: Discussion of death
What is it about: A grandmother who was simply waiting for her time to go gets her world toppled when it was told she was in the running to be the oldest person in the world.
What I liked about it: Not going to lie that films that feature grandparents always hit me very hard. But I liked the rekindling journey that the grandson did here, and the scenes that featured Lola Igna’s smile were so heartwarming and pure.
Where to watch: Netflix
Smaller and Smaller Circles (2017)
Directed by: Raya Martin
Trigger warnings: death, serial killings, murder, violence
What it’s about: Two Jesuit priests investigate on the serial killings of young boys happening in Payatas.
What I liked about it: While I personally haven’t read the book yet, the movie was still a haunting tale that discussed a lot of issues etched in Philippine society. The actors were brilliant, and it was a mystery that could really keep you on your toes.
Where to watch: TBA Studio‘s Youtube channel
Cuddle Weather (2019)
Directed by: Rod Marmol
What it’s about: A prostitute takes in an apprentice who was initially swindled by his recruiter.
What I liked about it: Partially recommending this because I loved Sue Ramirez’ (the main actress) acting. Though that being said, I liked how the imperfections of finding love shined through. It’s that kind of rom-com that is perfect for the cold and rainy nights.
Where to watch: Netflix
Four Sisters and a Wedding (2013)
Directed by: Cathy Garcia-Molina
What it’s about: Four sisters reunite and plot against their own baby brother to stop him from getting married.
What I liked about it: Given that this movie has already reached god-tier status, I just want to point out the fact that this movie just deserves to be seen. Want to see a great Pinoy family movie? This is it.
Now that was an invigorating! It has been a while since I’ve actually made a cohesive recommendations post and it is just so fun to curate. What other movie recommendations would you want to see?