In 1989, film scholar Joel David and his UP film criticism class conducted a poll among leading filmmakers and film critics for the best Filipino films of all time. Twenty-eight respondents (including Ishmael Bernal, Marilou Diaz-Abaya, Laurice Guillen, Eddie Romero, Bienvenido Lumbera, Nicanor Tiongson, and Mario Hernando) submitted their ballots and the results were published in the now-defunct National Midweek. The computation had Bernal’s seminal Manila by Night as the number one film.

Twenty four years later, we at Pinoy Rebyu have decided to conduct a similar poll to find out what the current crop of filmmakers and film experts regard as their favorite films. We sent out invitations to around 200 film directors, screenwriters, critics, scholars, programmers, and archivists, and received eighty one responses. We’re happy to note that three of the respondents to the 1989 poll (film critics Lumbera, Tiongson, and Mario Hernando) submitted ballots to our poll. We also re-computed the 1989 poll using a simpler point system (10 points for number 1, 9 points for number 2, and so on) and we came up with a different top 10 than the one originally published by David.

You can view the results of that poll here. As much as we are excited to let you know which films were mentioned most often, we are as excited to publish the individual ballots.

To highlight all the films in our own poll’s top 50, we decided to roll out the list in five installments, starting from numbers 50 to 43.


50 (tie) – ANG DAMGO NI ELEUTERIA (Remton Siega Zuasola, 2010)

damgoCebuano Zuasola’s debut feature film achieved the (almost) impossible: to shoot a 90-minute film in one long take, the camera following Terya and her family as she departs her home to begin a journey to Germany as a mail-order bride.

Voted by:

  • Misha Anissimov (Film Professor, University of San Carlos)
  • Zurich Chan (Director; Teoriya, Boca)
  • Skilty Labastilla (Member, Young Critics Circle Film Desk)
  • Ed Lejano (Director, UP Film Institute)


50 (tie) – THY WOMB (Brillante Mendoza, 2012)

Thy WombMendoza’s lyrical evocation of the peaceful Badjao culture features a transcendent performance from Nora Aunor as a devoted wife who goes out of her way to satisfy her husband.

Voted by:

  • Lex Bonife (Writer; Ang Lalake sa Parola, Ang Lihim ni Antonio): “An elegant and a modern step in Philippine Cinema.”
  • Zig Dulay (Writer; Posas, Ad Ignorantiam)
  • Dado Lumibao (Director; In da Red Corner, Must Be Love)
  • Arminda Santiago (Professor, UP Film Institute)


49 – MALVAROSA (Gregorio Fernandez, 1958)

malvarosaFernandez’ engaging family melodrama features a feisty Charito Solis as the youngest and only female sibling of a family beset by misfortunes.

Voted by:

  • Adolfo Alix, Jr. (Director; HaruoKalayaan)
  • Christopher Gozum (Director; AnacbanuaLawas Kan Pinabli)
  • Gerard Lico (Member, Young Critics Circle Film Desk)
  • Ramon Nocon (Board Member, Society of Filipino Archivists for Film)


48 – A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS FILIPINO (Lamberto Avellana, 1965)

portraitAvellana’s adaptation of Nick Joaquin’s landmark play about an upper-class family’s struggles on the cusp of WW2 captures the spirit both of the play and of the human condition of a bygone era.

Voted by:

  • Patrick Campos (Professor, UP Film Institute)
  • Ina Avellana Cosio (Senior Lecturer, UP Film Institute)
  • Jojo Devera (Film Writer, Sari-Saring Sineng Pinoy): “A poignant elegy to the custom and ceremony that died with a cityand the innocence and beauty that lived too briefly.”
  • Ramon Nocon (Board Member, Society of Filipino Archivists for Film)


47 – EL FILIBUSTERISMO (Gerardo de Leon, 1962)

El Fili- Robert Arevalo-sfDe Leon’s masterful adaptation of Jose Rizal’s sequel to Noli Me Tangere brought to life the characters that most Filipinos are familiar with from their high school literature classes. Pancho Magalona delivers a towering performance as Simoun.

Voted by:

  • Benjamin Garcia (Director; Batad: Sa Paang Palay, Malan)
  • Nicanor Tiongson (Professor Emeritus, UP Film Institute)
  • Mauro Feria Tumbocon (Founder, Filipino Arts and Cinema)
  • Noel Vera (Film Writer, Critic after Dark): “Jose Rizal’s great social novel turned into Gerardo de Leon’s great Gothic film–Crisostomo Ibarra’s quest for revenge, given unforgettable cinematic life by Pancho Magalona’s menacing performance as Ibarra (here called Simoun), shot through de Leon’s monumentally angled lenses.”


46 – BONA (Lino Brocka, 1980)

bonaBrocka directs Aunor in one of her iconic roles: that of a suffering martyr who gets her comeuppance in the end.

Voted by:

  • Dwein Tarhata Baltazar (Director, Mamay Umeng)
  • Benjamin Garcia (Director; Batad: Sa Paang Palay, Malan)
  • Eduardo Roy, Jr. (Director; Bahay Bata; Ang Pinakamagandang One-Night Stand)
  • Shaira Mella Salvador-MacKenzie (Writer; Tanging Yaman, Sana Maulit Muli)


45 – SALAWAHAN (Ishmael Bernal, 1979)

salawahan-8One of the wittiest and most quotable Pinoy films ever, Salawahan shows the lighter side of Bernal, telling the story of two young male cousins who decide to trade courtship styles to hilarious consequences.

Voted by:

  • Coreen Jimenez (Director, Kano: An American and His Harem): “Bernal really knows his comedy. I love watching this movie over and over and over again. One time, I also watched this film in a very intimate screening  with Matt Ranillo. That was so fun!”
  • Jon Lazam (Director; Nang gabing maging singlaki ng puso ang bato ni Darna, Hindi sa Atin ang Buwan)
  • Eileen Legaspi-Ramirez (Art Studies Professor, UP Diliman)
  • Vincent Sandoval (Director; Aparisyon, Señorita)
  • Jessica Zafra (Film Reviewer, InterAksyon)


44 – BABAE SA BREAKWATER (Mario O’Hara, 2003)

breakwaterO’Hara’s magical realist take on people living in one of Manila’s polluted breakwaters is a welcome respite from the spate of social realist melodramas that came before it.

Voted by:

  • Lex Bonife (Writer; Ang Lalake sa Parola, Ang Lihim ni Antonio): “An image of poverty in color and style.”
  • Ina Avellana Cosio (Senior Lecturer, UP Film Institute)
  • Jerry Gracio (Writer; Mater Dolorosa, Aparisyon)
  • Eli Guieb (Professor, UP College of Mass Communications)
  • Jeffrey Jeturian (Director; Kubrador, Pila Balde)
  • Pam Miras (Director; Pascalina, Wag Kang Titingin)
  • Vincent Sandoval (Director; Aparisyon, Señorita)


43 – THE MOISES PADILLA STORY (Gerardo de Leon, 1961)

The Moises Padilla Story (1961)bDe Leon’s gripping political drama based on the real life story of the eponymous hero set the standard for much of the political films that came after it.

Voted by:

  • Benjamin Garcia (Director; Batad: Sa Paang Palay, Malan)
  • Simon Santos (Owner, Video 48)
  • Nestor U. Torre (Film Writer, Philippine Daily Inquirer)
  • Noel Vera (Film Writer, Critic after Dark): “In mostly Roman Catholic Philippines, this is Gerardo de Leon’s Passion Play, a political tract that transcends its propaganda intentions to become a great character study–of the man who becomes the film’s Christ figure (Leopoldo Salcedo at his most heroic), and his compellingly tormented Judas (former president Joseph Estrada, in the performance of his career).”


PART 2 (40-31)

PART 3 (30-21)

PART 4 (20-11)

PART 5 (10-1)