Music & Movies


We Filipinos love watching movies. It is one of our favorite pastimes. Sadly, no thanks to the pandemic, none of us could enter the cinemas. Luckily, with the emergence of various streaming platforms, movies have never been more accessible to the greater masses. If something can be said about the situation, I would say it allowed some movies, specifically indie films to relive their glory by letting their stories reach more people.

Some movies stick with us from when we were little until we start paving our own lives. They remind us of certain life symmetries and points for comparison. With the popularity of indie films, Filipino creators, writers, and creatives have taken the limelight to tell stories in ways we have never seen before —raw, emphatic, and straight-to-the gut.

They have offered us films about social commentaries, realities of life, struggles, triumph, and even the most blatant stories even a fifth-grader could probably write. There’s an indie film about the story of a hardworking single mother that reminded us why Ate V is the Star for All Seasons, up to the movie about the contrasting deaths of a father named Hesus and their pet dog, Hudas.

So, grab your popcorn and drinks! Here are 5 Filipino indie films we would like you to see:

Neomanila (2017), Mikhail Red

Full movie here:

“Suspek o biktima, wala talagang pinagkaiba ‘yan eh,” is probably the most famous line from this noir-infused film that talks about the violence of the war on drugs—a tough watch. The movie took its time to tell the story of extrajudicial killing from the perspective of the gunslinger, Irma. It creates a nauseating depiction that brutality and benevolence do coexist. Irma’s character showed tenderness towards Toto, a teenager trying to get his hophead brother out of jail – who later learned the need for him to force his maturity by becoming a killer-in-training.

“Yung kuya mo diyan lang hanggat wala kang pinapalit.” The message the movie was trying to send across was clear: we are all casualties in this bloody war.

Bar Boys (2017), Kip Oebanda

“Kung hindi ka natatalo, hindi ka na gumagalaw.” Okay, let’s go with a lighthearted one this time. Bar Boys started in a computer shop with four college students waiting for their entrance exam results to Law school while playing DOTA. Three passed, one failed. It then went on to tell their journey and how things started to change for them – highlighting the usual challenges of balancing “acads” and life.

What makes this movie interesting is the fact that underneath its seemingly lightweight façade, it showed the reality of how social status and privilege play a vital role in carving someone’s life. It gives a subtle social commentary about how those who have less would need to strive harder to get better in life while others get things far less easy.

The movie, however, discussed another life lesson about success – there are no shortcuts. More importantly, Bar Boys is a reminder that success is best experienced when shared. 

Yellow Rose (2019) Diane Paragas

Available on Netflix

If you wonder whether the title is a derogatory term or referenced from something, the answer is both. As described by the director Diane Paragas, Yellow Rose is the name used to demean the protagonist named Rose.  She is an undocumented Filipina teen who aspires to pursue her passion for singing by leaving her small town in Texas, making it a direct homage to the song The Yellow Rose of Texas.

While the story may seem like a typical persuasion movie about chasing after one’s dreams, Yellow Rose chose to dive deeper into real-life situations. How difficult the lives of immigrants are, especially the undocumented ones – before coming back up to highlight kindness and how it could save lives.

The movie reminds us that despite the struggles we may face in life, there is still an abundance of kindness wherever we may be.

Patay na si Hesus (2016), Victor Villanueva

Available on Netflix

Ultrawild screen TV, anyone? Patay na si Hesus’ humor is dark and odd – it may not be for everyone. I recall refusing not to read any reviews and commentaries about the movie because when I first saw it, only one word came into mind – ambiguous – and I’d like to keep it that way.

Now, I’d like you to experience this masterpiece on your own, so we won’t talk much about what it’s about.

Pay close attention to how the characters will change while the views and sceneries change. How they all wore white in Hesus’ wake and black in Hudas’. They are all symbolism of something the creator would like you to figure out on your own.

Ekstra(2013), Jeffrey Jeturian

Available on iWanTFC

Finally, we have Ekstra, a socio-realist movie about bit players’ lives – their struggles and triumphs. Ekstra is highly recommended if you are looking for a lighter movie packed with morals and realizations. Light as the movie tries to be, it couldn’t help but talk about the cruelty of their work and the labor issues associated with it.

The movie is a juxtaposition of the film industry. It shows that bit players comprise a vital cog in the whole system. Without them, nothing in the films or shows we see would look realistic and believable.

These are just some of the movies that are noteworthy to see. There are a lot more Filipino indie films that are waiting for you. We highly suggest that while they’re still streaming on various platforms, find time to watch them. Watch as much as you can and appreciate how great our Filipino creators are. Their stories are your stories too. You just haven’t figured it out yet.



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