- Jodi Sta. Maria, Third World Happy (2010)
Character: Aylynn, a single mother left behind by her then-boyfriend who migrated to America to follow his dream
As evidenced by her hugely successful turn as Maya in TV soap Be Careful With My Heart, Sta. Maria is very effective in playing the underdog in a romantic pair. In Third World Happy, she embodies that friend we know who got the raw end of the deal in a relationship with a more attractive partner when he left her behind to pursue his dream/another woman.
“In a scene where Aylynn reunites with her runaway boyfriend, Sta.Maria conveys silent anxiety and understated volatile agitation in delicious emotive splendor.” – Cathy Peña
- Mylene Dizon, Aparisyon (2012)
Character: Sister Remy, a young nun who begins to question her Order’s apathy in the face of growing social unrest
Dizon is in her element in headstrong, icy characters (e.g., 100, Mariquina) and she shows it here as a nun who admits culpability for the horror that befell a fellow nun. Her wordless apology scene with the equally brilliant Jodi Sta. Maria is one for the books.
“Si Mylene Dizon ay gamay na gamay ang kontrol sa hinihinging role mula sa kanya.” – Manuel Pangaruy
- Angel Locsin, One More Try (2012)
Character: Grace, a single mother forced to sleep with an ex-boyfriend to save their son
The preposterousness of the film’s premise does not at all diminish Locsin’s tour-de-force interpretation of a mother who would do anything to save the life of her sick son.
- Bing Pimentel, Mariquina (2014)
Character: Tess, a shoemaker’s business associate who becomes a stepmother to his unappreciative daughter when his wife left
The resurgence of Pimentel’s acting career began in 2013’s Kabisera where she effectively played the conniving wife of a drug mogul, but it is here in Mariquina that she truly showed that the talents of her children (Sid Lucero and Max Eigenmann) are not only inherited from their father, the late Mark Gil. As Ricky Davao’s lover (and, eventually, domestic partner) Pimentel brings grace and class to a character that we otherwise would have despised.
“After seeing Pimentel in last year’s Kabisera, I was not sold. I thought that she was just OK in it. Nothing memorable. But after seeing her in Mariquina, I instantly became a fan. She brought a whole new take on being the mistress.” – Carl Joseph Papa
- Rustica Carpio, Ano Ang Kulay ng mga Nakalimutang Pangarap? (2013)
Character: Teresa, an elderly househelp who is about to become homeless after her employers decide to sell their ancestral house
Carpio does not really act in Joey Reyes’ domestic drama: every time she’s in the frame, we project all our empathy towards her character because she reminds us so much of our own grandmothers, and the thought of them being banished from their homes is just too unbearable. Still, Carpio lends the role with a quiet wisdom and dignity.
“Carpio’s quiet scenes and painful realizations tug at viewers’ heartstrings, even without gut-wrenching and declarative ululations of betrayal and grief.” – Rito Asilo
- Nicholas Varela, Aberya (2012)
Character: Mike, a budding drug dealer experimenting with time travel
Varela’s incredibly realistic portrayal of a psychedelic-addled politician’s son makes one wish the four-part film just focused on his segment if only because it’s the most intriguing, and Varela has an arresting screen presence despite his everyman looks.
- Meryl Soriano, Donor (2010)
Character: Lizette, a hard-up young woman who is forced to marry a foreigner so she can sell him one of her kidneys
Soriano’s charismatic presence lends her portrayal of a poor but resourceful woman determined to make ends meet with a mix of resignation and hope.
- Jhong Hilario, Badil (2013)
Character: Lando, a son of a trusted politician’s aide who gets thrown into the dirty world of vote-buying when his father becomes incapacitated
“Lando, as portrayed by the excellently perceptive Hilario, grows before our very eyes from a hesitant fisherman and obedient son to someone who will fight for the loyalty earned by his father from the powers that be.” – SCL
- Anthony Falcon, Requieme (2012)
Character: Joanna, a transgender woman who runs away from home to live a new life
“Falcon plays Buencamino’s transgender son with just the right mix of restraint and flair that left viewers asking ‘Who is this guy?’ Mainstream actors playing swishy gay guys should study what he did here because there’s not an ounce of caricature in his performance.” – SCL
- LJ Reyes, Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino (2012)
Character: Doray, a young woman living in a slum coastal village who sells her body for a living
The prostitute with a heart of gold is pretty much one of cinema’s most tired character clichés but it’s impossible for viewers to not get affected by Reyes’ heartrending turn here. She plays Doray with a certain pluckiness that conceals her crushed soul.
“Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino drowns in the suffocating squalor of poverty porn, but LJ Reyes, who plays JM de Guzman’s femme fatale, is a soothing presence—and a lovely revelation.” – Rito Asilo
- Krystle Valentino, Purok 7 (2013)
Character: Diana, a pubescent girl left to fend for herself and her little brother when their mother left to work abroad and their father remarried
“Carlo Obispo’s debut feature would have been impressive enough just on the strength of his lyrical, gentle depiction of rural childhood amidst a tragic backdrop, but he knows that for his film to work beautifully as it did, he had to get a young competent actor who will carry the film with aplomb, and the charming, natural Valentino more than lives up to the promise. As the 14 year-old big sister and de-facto mother to a young boy, she has to hold her fort and maintain a sense of normalcy in the face of an impending tragedy and her own burgeoning womanhood. In doing so, she delivers such an honest, winsome, heartbreaking performance.” – SCL
“The film proves that neither a marquee name nor a gorgeous face is crucial for the success of a movie—and every actor has to start somewhere.” – Rito Asilo
- Sid Lucero, Muli (2010)
Character: Jun Bernabe, a Baguio hotel manager who enters into a decades-long affair with a married man
“Lucero magnificently plunges head-on into an array of emotions that play out naturally and sympathetically on screen. He is charming, affecting, believable and just astonishing, even in the scenes where he quietly cries.” – Cathy Peña
- Lilia Cuntapay, Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay (2011)
Character: Herself, as a life-long bit player who finally gets nominated for an acting award
Contrary to popular opinion, playing oneself onscreen is not as easy as it sounds: the tendency of most actors is to exaggerate the qualities that audiences know they possess. Cuntapay avoids the trap by erasing all self-consciousness from her body and delivering a sincere, heartfelt portrait of an industry outsider finally given the recognition she deserves.
“If I were to base from her previous works, I would not expect that she is a great dramatic actress, and a terrific comedic actress. Playing herself in a mockumentary, she hits every jokes, and was devastatingly heartbreakingly real. It for me was the performance of the year, by any actor. I can only wish that she gets more roles deserving of her talents.” – Carl Joseph Papa
- Fe Hyde, Sheika (2010)
Character: Sheika, a woman whose two sons were killed by a vigilante group
The controversy behind the casting of Sheika is probably as well-known now as the film itself, and it’s evident why so much was at stake: Sheika is a star-making role, and Hyde’s tornado of a performance rightfully embarrassed the people who insisted that director Arnel Mardoquio cast an established actor instead. Hyde’s superb portrayal here is powerful argument that regional cinema needs regional actors.
“Hyde is fierce in Sheika. She goes from protective to vengeful mother in a bat of an eyelash. She is loving, broken, angst-ridden, and out of her mind.” – Fidel Antonio Medel
- Cherie Gil, Sonata (2013)
Character: Regina Cadena, a washed-up opera singer recuperating in their family hacienda
“The sublime Cherie is superb as her character shuttles between a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown and her weak grip on lucidity—but, her friendship with Jonjon and his teenage friend, Ping (the note-worthy Joshua Pineda), soon nurses her back to sanity! Their raw and riveting portrayals are the film’s antidote against its occasional melodramatic excesses.” – Rito Asilo
“She is larger than life (what diva isn’t?) yet fragile and vulnerable. When a veteran actor like Gil delights in finding the role of her life, we viewers are only too happy for her.” – SCL
- Barbie Forteza, Mariquina (2014)
Character: Imelda Guevara, a high-school student coping with her troubled mother’s sudden departure
Imelda Guevara is undoubtedly Forteza’s breakout role. In Mariquina, she personifies the amalgamation of elements that make up our collective high school experience, falling in love, shaping our emerging identities, rebelling against our overprotective parents. And, when one of her parents left, Forteza’s shattered spirit is our own.
“It is such a tremendous performance. At the beginning I thought she would just be a passive character but the story provided her with so much that in lesser actresses would have become melodramatic. In the end Forteza gives her career-high performance at such a young age.” – Carl Joseph Papa
- Jasmine Curtis-Smith, Transit (2013)
Character: Yael, a teenage daughter of a Filipino migrant worker in Israel
“Curtis-Smith imbues her character with both youthful warmth and mature countenance that viewers gravitate towards.” – SCL
- Gina Alajar, Mater Dolorosa (2013)
Character: Lourdes Lagrimas, a single mother who inherits her late husband’s underground empire
“Alajar goes deep into the heart of Lourdes, covers it in metal casing, and goes through life without fearing anyone. Even so, she hasn’t lost her ferocious maternal instinct and when provoked, hell hath no fury indeed.” – SCL
“As matriarch of a crime family, Alajar means business.” – Fidel Antonio Medel
- Annicka Dolonius, Ang Nawawala (2012)
Character: Enid, a hipster who seduces a guy and helps him come out of his shell only to break his heart
“Dolonius is a breath of fresh air and is so natural on screen. Even if you root for Enid and Gibson’s romance, you will understand that her world-weary jadedness is not the perfect match to his pure innocence.” – SCL
“Dolonius gives a surprisingly spectacular performance.” – Carl Joseph Papa
“Dolonius is luminous.” – Manuel Pangaruy
“Dolonius is refreshing.” – Rito Asilo
- Ricky Davao, Mariquina (2014)
Character: Romeo Guevara, a shoemaker dealing with the consequences of his wife’s departure
Just when we thought that Ricky Davao has already exhausted his talents as an actor, he ups and surprises us with his quietly devastating turn in Milo Sogueco’s melodrama of regret and reconciliation.
“Davao is a Cinemalaya regular. But I have never seen him in such great form before. And of all the performances that I have seen from him, this might be his best, to date.” – Carl Joseph Papa