Top 20 Filipino Short Films of 2015

Lisyun Qng Geografia, Petersen Vargas’ wistful Kapampangan short film about a young man who revisits his hometown and recalls memories of a dear high school friend, tops Pinoy Rebyu’s 5th Annual Poll of the best Filipino short films of 2015, as voted by online film reviewers. This is the second year in a row that the film, which screened in a number of local film festivals last year, has topped the category, after it screened in several filmfests in 2014 and was also voted as the best for that year.

In a close vote, Lisyun edged out Kenneth Dagatan’s Sanctissima, a horror film about an old abortionist harboring a dark secret, and Martika Ramirez Escobar’s Pusong Bato, a surrealist tragicomedy about a former actress who gets hit on the head by a mysterious heart-shaped rock.

Below are the top 20 films and the individual voters’ ballots and write-ups.

TOP 20 »

1 – Lisyun Qng Geografia (Petersen Vargas, 76.5 points)


2 – Sanctissima (Kenneth Dagatan, 72 points)


3 – Pusong Bato (Martika Ramirez Escobar, 70.5 points)

Pusong Bato still main

4 – Junilyn Has (Carlo Francisco Manatad, 65.5 points)


5 – Wawa (Angelie Mae Macalanda, 59 points)


6 – Ang Maangas, ang Marikit, at ang Makata (Jose Ibarra Guballa, 46 points)


7 – Man in the Cinema House (Bernard Jay Mercado, 40 points)

Cinema House

8 – Ang mga Alingawngaw sa Panahon ng Pagpapasya (Hector Barretto Calma, 31 points)


9 – Tami-aw (Mary Ann Gabisan, 29 points)


10 – Cyber D3vil x Ahas (Timmy Harn, 23 points)


11 – Mumu (Jean Cheryl Tagyamon, 19 points)


12 – Operation Prutas (Ara Chawdhury, 18.5 points)

Operation Prutas

13 – Memorial ng Isang Saliksik (Jan Pineda, 18 points)


14 – Ang Kapitbahay Ko sa 2014 (Anya Zulueta, 17.5 points, 6 votes)


15 – Asan si Lolo Mȇ? (Sari Estrada, 17. 5 points, 3 votes)

Lolo Me

16 – Walay Naa Diri (Jean Claire Dy, 17 points)

Walay Naa Diri

17 – Pusong Bato (Pam Miras, 16 points)

Pusong Bato Miras

18 – Nenok (Rommel Tolentino, 15 points)


19 – Bayan ng mga Kontraktuwal (King Catoy, 14 points)


20 – Ang Nanay ni Justin Barber (Victor Villanueva, 13 points)


20 – My Revolutionary Mother (Jethro Patalinghug, 13 points)


20 – Ano ang Halaga ng Pangalan? (Mike Esteves, 13 points)




MAYK ALEGRE (Cinemaddict)

  1. Junilyn Has
  2. Mga Alingawngaw sa Panahon ng Pagpapasya
  3. Bayan ng mga Kontraktwal
  4. Ang Maangas, ang Marikit, at ang Makata
  5. Lisyun Qng Geografia
  6. Man in the Cinema House
  7. My Revolutionary Mother
  8. Pusong Bato, Pam Miras
  9. Sanctissima
  10. Kyel


DODO DAYAO (Piling Piling Pelikula)

  1. Cyber D3vil X Ahas
  2. Junilyn Has
  3. Pusong Bato (Pam)
  4. Pusong Bato (Martika)
  5. Sanctissima


EPOY DEYTO (Kawts Kamote)

Some weeks ago, I asked Skilty (the one who organized this poll) what does he think of 2015 for short films. He answered: “maraming matino ang pagkakagawa” (“most are decent productions“). This remains true; however, I still find it hard to assess last year (or even the past 3 years) for short films: while the comfort of digital filmmaking brought short films at par with (or probably even better than) most feature length films, the recent years have seen lesser filmmakers who explore and experiment with the medium, probably the only things I look for in a short film. This list might be the reflection of that personal struggle to find challenging pieces of work.

The last year has also been a challenging year for me for witnessing cinema as life always needs more urgent attention, so forgive me if most of what was written here are either films I saw on CinemaLibre Film Screenings (probably the only times that I’ve actually watched a film in a venue) which I helped organized or films and video works which were released online. I have not covered much from last year, but I think this lot that I’ve listed below are nonetheless the more interesting bunch from the films I get to see from last year (also, thanks to Skilty from helping us participants of this poll to catch up).

You might notice my thematic selection of meta-cinematic works and analog-fusion works in this list: this recent trend of exploring cinematic history thru films and technology has taken an interest in me, as though these filmmakers were trying to find answers by placing contrasts in place: the past and the present, the hardware and the software. The rest of the films I mention here are just from my own honest personal liking that I really wanted to share with everyone, hoping you’d find the same experiences I did.

10. Pusong Bato (Pam Miras)

True to its title, Miras’ Pusong Bato involves two people who have never opened themselves to each other over the course of the whole film. The notion of being “stuck” is apparent throughout the film, and maybe in the filmmakers themselves, who have not seemed to tire playing around with celluloid hand-processing. I’d say that it’s still worth the adoration the way they still want to physically interact with the medium, however, this is a work with old tricks (pseudo-flickers, deframing, etc). Pusong Bato, while an achievement in persistence of celluloid production, must remain as a reminder for the Tito and Tita collective to explore what more could the hand-processing method give them aside from getting the retro film. How about let’s take this question for a queue: Would celluloid give us the feel of a future?

  1. Dindo (Martika Ramirez Escobar)

Editing was the highlight in Dindo: it stressed an editor’s function as something as vital as the director’s all in an easy to digest manner. Ramirez never really had any trouble making any film she made as light as possible but still retaining wit and intellect, making her the most audience-friendly young filmmaker working today.

8. Sanctissima (Kenneth Dagatan)

Dagatan’s Sanctissima showed the thin line between love and bizarre – how one would go to extended measures to nurture, extend and protect who they love. This would have been a good poetry about motherhood, but only with flesh-eating and demons. Sanctissima is made with all the basic elements of horror films made more effective with great screen composition.

  1. Shotgun Tuding (Shireen Seno)

The question of why Shotgun Tuding was created is still a mystery to me, but one thing’s for sure, it wouldn’t have been made if not with 16mm. The desaturated frames compliment a lot with the sand dunes, the Western-inspired costumes and the B-movie-ish production design. I wonder how it would feel if this was projected in celluloid.

  1. Iris (Mike Esteves)

Esteves’ silent work took obsession in weird turns. One would see Wes Anderson on one side and feel Junji Ito on the other. The 4:3 aspect ratio added tension on every pan of the screen, some scenes are too tense they’re almost dreamlike. A weird mix of beauty and absurd.

  1. Mga Alingawngaw sa Panahon ng Pagpapasya (Hector Barretto Calma)

The main achievement of Mga Alingawngaw… is that it’s one of the works that actually take a step in criticizing the current administration (though indirectly) and takes a look at the situation of its current milieu and what is actually happening to the country: one thing that almost all Filipino filmmakers (young and old) seem to have forgotten to do with all these recent wave of “feelms”. Mga Alingawngaw… makes me think that the recent scene is not yet a hopeless case as long as people like Calma are still creating films.

  1. Cyber D3vil X Ahas (Timmy Harn)

Harn did what was usually isn’t done by filmmakers here: to extend the universe of the films they created. Cyber D3vil X Ahas follows the reptilian, in contrast to what we saw in Ang Pagbabalat ng Ahas, being free and enjoying himself on a bicycle. The film is presenting a narrative possibility that may or may not happen, but sure is something worth considering to be extended.

  1. Corazon (Francis Sacil-Espina)

What seems to be a murder scene was actually a double suicide gone wrong. Espina retells Romeo and Juliet backwards in crisp black and white cinematography in high contrast to compliment a song of adoration by Brickcity – whom I consider as the most interesting musical act in the country right now. Espina also did a great video work for Brickcity’s Common Remedies for Contemporary People last year.

  1. Man in the Cinema House (Bernard Jay Mercado)

Mercado couldn’t be any clearer about his criticisms against and intentions for Philippine Cinema. What he presents in Man in the Cinema House is not just the things he sees wrong but also what he thinks our Cinema ought to be. Mercado must be admired for his fearlessness and honesty.

  1. Excerpt from “INDEPENDENCIA 86: The Lost Film of Arturo Madlangbayan” as re-edited by Miko Revereza and Raya Martin (Miko Revereza | Raya Martin)

Independencia 86 simulates the experience of how enthusiasts and scholars alike have seen MOWELFUND shorts (or any independent film work) in the 90s: watching from an analog video recording of a celluliod projection with 4-track audio recording. The short seems to attain what Raymond Red’s Kamera Obskura wanted to attain with lesser running time and more appeal. Of all the neo-retro (or pseudo-retro, if you prefer) short films I’ve seen recently, this one has attained the intended effect closer to the real thing.



  1. Memorial ng Isang Saliksik (Jan Pineda)

Relying heavily in the strengths of memory, it possesses a confident experiment on how this very memory serves a person: lasting as it eats one up bit by bit.

2.  Wawa (Anj Macalanda)

Deep within its silence lies a valiant inspection of an interesting tradition set on an equally silent backdrop.

  1. Junilyn Has

The retribution of the titular underage dancer shows how powerful the showcase is from start to finish. Strong performance makes it essential and memorable.

  1. Ang Maangas, Ang Marikit at Ang Makata (Ibarra Guballa)

Witty, humorous and clever as a great comedic period piece that boasts its production design, screenplay and musical score while paying homage to Western films.

  1. Run Manila Run (MV Isip, Christine Sartorio, Christoph Doncillo)

Sucks one deep into its hypnotic core through sensible writing that pays tribute to urban lifestyle and pop culture.

  1. Man in the Cinema House (Bernard Jay Mercado)

A provocative letter to cinema with lasting effect thanks to its hybrid form that can be deemed as a meritorious protest.

  1. Oda sa mga Nangangarap (Jan Michael C. Jamisola)

Charming is an understatement for a film this brilliant, delectable and insightful. It tickles the imagination while staying grounded to reality.

  1. Pektus (Isabel Maria Luz Quesada)

The smallest details of this interesting and gripping story have to be commended, given its effective characterizations portrayed well by actors who have a strong command of the script.

  1. Mumu (Jean Cheryl Tagyamon)

Its calculations in comedy may be all too familiar but it effectively works to bring out laughter while actually poking fun at its own humor.

  1. Geo (John Aurthur Mercader)

Simply proves that we have a future in the field of animation with full support and appreciation.


KAYO JOLONGBAYAN (Film Police Reviews)

  1. Lisyun Qng Geografiya, Petersen Vargas

A melancholic and heartbreaking personal tale told with such ease and tenderness.

  1. Tisoy, Sari Estrada and Martika Ramirez Escobar

Wickedly funny and esoteric; some of the wittiest films I’ve seen in recent memory.

  1. September at Simon, James Robin Mayo

Uncomfortable to watch, but absorbing and fascinating.

  1. Sanctissima, Kenneth Dagatan

A bleak and disturbing film experience. The production aspects are all top notch.

  1. Malati Ya Mu, Jason Paul Laxamana

Hilarious, charming, without being too self-conscious.


PRINCESS KINOC (Film Police Reviews)

2015 was my first Cinema Rehiyon experience so I guess I’d have to draw out favors from all the short films featured in here. It was great that I got to see it in one of the old “rooms” or baluartes in Intramuros, and best of all — perhaps in the most cinephile sense — it was free. And so here are my top ten short films of 2015, most of which were screened during Cinema Rehiyon’s run in Intramuros.


  1. Happy Fiesta, Sherlyn Doloriel
  2. Gaid, Tara Illenberger
  3. Imperfect, Olga Vivero and Joyce Gula
  4. Bahig, Raoul Tatel
  5. Gatilyo ng Baril, Glenmark Doromal and Eero Francisco
  6. Nenok, Rommel Tolentino
  7. Operation Prutas, Ara Chawdury
  8. Hulagway sa Namumuno, Bryan Wong
  9. Bantay Salakay, Reymundo Salao
  10. Bagabag, Adrian Rey Manapil



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  1. Junilyn Has (Carlo Francisco Manatad)
  2. Ang Maangas, ang Marikit, at ang Makata (Jose Ibarra Guballa)
  3. Man in the Cinema House (Bernard Jay Mercado)
  4. Tami-aw (Mary Ann Gabisan)
  5. Walay Naa Diri (Jean Claire Dy)
  6. My Revolutionary Mother (Jethro Patalinghug)
  7. Bayan ng mga Kontraktuwal (King Catoy)
  8. Pusong Bato (Martika Ramirez Escobar)
  9. Pusong Bato (Pam Miras)
  10. Kyel (Arvin Kadiboy Belarmino)


NICOL LATAYAN (Pinoy Exchange)

  1. Pusong Bato (Escobar)
  2. Sanctissima
  3. Lisyun Qng Geografia
  4. Junilyn Has
  5. Operation Prutas
  6. Pusong Bato (Miras)
  7. My Revolutionary Mother
  8. Tami-aw
  9. Asan si Lolo Me
  10. Ang Kapitbahay Ko sa 2014


LYNDON MABURAOT (Table Stretcher)

  1. Nenok (Rommel Tolentino)
  2. Lisyun Qng Geografia (Petersen Vargas)
  3. Man in the Cinema House (Bernard Jay Mercado)
  4. Lapis (Maricel Cariaga)
  5. Wawa (Angelie Mae Macalanda)
  6. Pusong Bato (Martika Ramirez Escobar)
  7. Ang Maangas, ang Marikit, at ang Makata (Jose Ibarra Guballa)
  8. Momento (Jan-Kyle Nieva)
  9. Sanctissima (Kenneth Dagatan)
  10. Pusong Bato (Pam Miras)


MACKY MACARAYAN (Death of Traditional Cinema)

  1. PUSONG BATO, Martika Ramirez Escobar

A former actress couldn’t get past her ex-lover co-star in Martika Ramirez Escobar’s funny and subversive “Pusong Bato.” Mailes Kanapi delivers a perfomance that is equal parts hilarious and bizarre.

  1. ANG KAPITBAHAY KO SA 2014, Anya Zulueta

Friendship is vivid in any language in this charming little film, between two little girls living a building apart from each other. The film brilliantly captures the awe, innocence and beauty of childhood even in such short a time.

  1. CYBER D3VIL X AHAS, Timmy Harn

Inspired and hauntingly beautiful, “Cybe3r Devil X Ahas” beckons the viewer to know more. It’s not everyday that you get to see a snake man riding a bicycle with no hands.

  1. ANG NANAY NI JUSTIN BARBER, Victor Villanueva

The film satirizes fame, child stars and ultimately, the state of the local entertainment industry. The film knows when to poke fun at those issues, and when to tug your heartstrings.


A mother’s love knows no bounds. The parallelism between abortion and motherhood is clear as day in this atmospheric horror short, where blood is what matters (no pun intended).



  1. “Tami-Aw,” Mary Ann Gabisan
    This beautifully shot short docu-narrative is a heartbreaking illustration of poverty, with Pnoy’s cash transfer program providing temporary peace of mind.
  1. “Wawa,” Angelie Mae Macalanda
    Poetic, riveting, and gorgeously shot tale of a son’s journey as they take his father to his final resting place.
  1. “Maestro Basurero,” Moises Jhon Catbagan
    An engaging docu on an intelligent, educated scavenger with a tragic past, who learns to embrace his fate.
  1. “Sukat,” Jae-Re Louise Liwanag
    An emotional and thought-provoking docu about a woman whose parents gave her away— just because she’s a midget.
  1. “Ano ang Halaga ng Pangalan,” Mike Esteves
    Experimental black and white, a mesmerizing blend of construction and destruction. Building and destroying.
  1. “#JUSTLANDED,” Christian Lat
    Highly relevant; the truth about our obsession with social media, and our continuous search for self-validation on the Internet.
  1. “Cold Sand,” Noah del Rosario
    A painful letter of a daughter still haunted by her father’s disappearance.
  1. “Pasan,” Jorel Lising
    Impressive performances, great cinematography, this unique psychological sci-fi short will hook you from start to finish.
  1. “Ang Kapitbahay Ko sa 2014,” Anya Zulueta
    A cute, charming tale of a friendship blossoming from across the street.
  1. “Run Manila Run,” MV Isip, Christine Sartorio and Christoph Doncillo
    An excellent local version of Allen Gisberg’s “Howl,” perhaps inspired by the animated sequence in the 2010 movie, starring James Franco.




  1. Ang mga Alingawngaw sa Panahon ng Pagpapasya (Echoes in the Midst of Indecision, Hector Barreto Calma)
  2. Wawa (Anj Macalanda)
  3. Ang Sayaw ng mga Puting Mukha (Mike Esteves)
  4. In the end close of a long day when she said to herself time she stopped (Jean Claire Dy)
  5. Walay Naa Diri (There is Nothing Here, Jean Claire Dy)
  6. Translación (Christian Tablazon)
  7. What is a Day (Christian Tablazon and Carlo Pacolor Garcia)
  8. Eskinita: Bayan ng Kontraktwal (Pinoy Media Center)
  9. Pusong Bato (Pam Miras)


RENELSON MORELOS (Ramblings of a Film Urchin)

  1. “Lisyun qng Geografia” by Petersen Vargas

An affecting, wistful and sincere story of youthful love and heartbreak.

  1. “Sanctissima” by Kenneth Dagatan

This has the makings of a midnight cult classic – mysterious, graphic and disturbing.

  1. “Imahe” by Kristopher Navarro

This one is to be admired for its restraint and austerity, with a final scene that may lead us into thinking.

  1. “Pusong Bato” by Martika Escobar

A film-within-a-film narrative isn’t something new, but this short still manages to make it refreshing and original in its own way.

  1. “Ang Nanay ni Justin Barber” by Victor Villanueva

A funny tale of stage parenting, with an outstanding performance by Giselle Sanchez, who’s able to exhibit both hilarity and hurt as the title character.

  1. “Malati Ya Mu” by Jason Paul Laxamana

A comedy of manners that reminds one of the kind that the French and Spanish make.

  1. “The End of War” by Joeromer Bacus

Any cinematic work that comes from Mindanao will be most likely politically-strong and -relevant – and this is one such work.

  1. “Sky is Everywhere” by Ralph Quijano

Despite the gratuitous “money shot” at the end, this short is still remarkable for bringing into focus a serious illness that’s seldom discussed and yet can also afflict anyone of us.


*In no particular order:

  • Ang Kapitbahay Ko sa 2014

Such a fun and heart-warming short. May tamang amount ng whimsy at believability para ma-hook ka completely.

  • Junilyn Has

Mas titindi ang impact ng short na ‘to kung ta-Tagalog-in ‘yong title (i.e. “Meron si Junilyn”). Although as it is, matindi na rin naman talaga ang tama sa audience—isang ‘di inaasahang sucker punch.

  • Pusong Bato

Ang strength ng ‘Pusong Bato’ ay na alam niya kung gaano lang karaming oras at frames ang kailangan n’ya para mailahad ang kanyang kuwento nang buo, may laman, at may just the right hint of ka-weird-duhan

  • Asan si Lolo Me?

Ang effortless ng pagpapatawa ng ‘Asan si Lolo Me?’ It’s this rare combination of wholesomeness and originality na kaunting-kaunting pelikula lang (full-feature o short) ang nagsa-succeed na gawin.

  • Gloria

Isang clear-eyed 20-minute glimpse (oo, glimpse lang) into dementia na empathetic rather than sympathetic. And it made all the difference.

  • Happy Fiesta

Experimental pero hindi nakakairita kasi may point at buo at alam niya ang kanyang tinutumbok.

  • Lisyun Qng Geografia

Lisyun is a charming autobiography set in great original music with even greater cinematography.


Iisipin mong mas pang-art installation ito kaysa pang-film showing dahil sa extreme stylistics, pero pasok naman kasi sa subject matter ang napiling medium e. Sa ganitong paraan, malinaw na naiparating ang otherness at loneliness na sentro sa short na ‘to.

  • Cinématique

Isang mesmerizing visual spectacle ang ‘Cinematique’. Nirespeto at inangkin nito ang sine bilang medium. Ang galing nito ay nasa panghihikayat niya sa utak mo na ma-recognize ang mga hubog at tanggaping may kuwento rin ang bawat galaw ng katawan ng tao.

  • Sanctissima

Nakakakabog ang galing ng mga eksena; hindi mo alam kung mapapalunok ka sa kaba o masusuka sa mga imaheng ipapakita.


MANUEL PANGARUY (Tagailog Special Presents)

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1. Sanctissima (Kenneth Dagatan). Una akong nakuha nito nang dalawang beses pinalakpakan sa loob ng CCP Main Theater. Merong magic ang short film na ito upang makuha ang manonood. Siguro ay nakita rin nila ang nakita kong attention sa detalye ng pelikula. Masinop ang production design at naikalat ang terror sa limitadong running time nito.

2. Lisyun Qng Geografia (Petersen Vargas). Mahirap i-contest ang isang pelikula kapag masyado itong personal lalo na’t lahat ay dumaan sa unang heartbreak. Sa kaso ng short film, dumating ito nang maaga pero matagal na pinasan at ininda. Ang geography lessons sa title, most likely, ay ang lesson sa kabiguan na kailanman ay hindi matututunan. Memorable din ang performance ng dalawang lead dito na sina Earl Policarpio at Ross Pesigan.

3. Pusong Bato (Martika Escobar). Stylish ang short film pero inalagaan naman nito ang naratibo tungkol sa isang babaeng nangungulila at piniling magpatali sa kanyang nakaraan. Bravura ang art direction at sa buong pelikula ay ramdam ko ang retro na gusto nitong i-evoke. Parang pinapa-throwback din ang audience.

4. Wawa (Angelie Mae Macalanda). Vocal ako na hindi ko gusto ang short film na ito matapos mapanood. Kinakailangan lang namnamin kung ano ang gusto nitong tumbukin at iparanas para tuluyang ma-appreciate. Proseso ng pagdadalamhati ang core. Tungkol ito sa anak na namatayan ng ama. Ang facade n’ya ay emotionless kahit na ang katawan n’ya mismo ang bumigay (nakitang hinimatay ang bata sa isang bahagi). Saksi ang Wawa Dam sa bawat hakbang kabilang ang ilog na s’yang simbolo ng buhay.

5. Cold Sand (Noah del Rosario). Ang puso ng short film ay isang pagbasa ng liham mula sa iniwang anak na babae sa Germany para sa kanyang ama na nagkaroon ng bagong pamilya sa Pilipinas. Kung tutuusin, simplistic ang materyal na sinahugan ng mga imahe ng nature, ng paruparo, ng pag-apak sa buhangin at ng pag-alon ng dagat sa naapakang bahagi ng buhagin. Pero hindi ito nanahan dito. Marami s’yang gustong sabihin sa issue ng communication (snail mail versus email na argumento sa miscommunication), sa interracial family, sa sikolohikal na aspeto ng divorce at sa human nature.

6. Operation Prutas (Ara Chawdhury). May ilan na rin akong napanood na short film na isinali sa maliit na film festival para sa Sinulog. Kadalasan na kumbensyonal ito na tumatalakay sa himala ng “Señor” sa storytelling na melodramatic ang approach. Witty ang “Operation Prutas” na tungkol sa mag-asawang nais nakawin ang poon at pagkakitaan (hindi ko alam kung may statement ito tungkol sa kakarampot na proteksyon ang inilalaan para sa ating heritage). Kumbaga, nakalawa sa molde ang pelikula pero na-disect naman nito ang spirituality na gustong iangat.

7. Anatomiya ng Pag-ibig: Ding (Jewels Sison). Payak lang din ang tagpo sa short film na ito na kasali sa isang koleksyon mula sa iba’t ibang filmmaker. Tungkol ito sa dalawang magkasintahan na nagkita muli. Panibagong pagtingin ito sa nag-uumpugang tulak ng bibig at kabig ng dibdib at minsan, ayon sa pelikula, walang gustong sumuko at magpakita ng pagkatalo.

8. Reyna Christina (Pia Dimagiba). Isa sa mga paborito kong tema sa pelikula ang coming of age o ‘yong specific na trigger situation ng maturity ng isang bata. Naka-focus ang dilemma ng short film tungkol sa isang batang babae na nakatakdang maging sagala, isang visual na pagsasalarawan ng pagiging ganap nitong dalagita. Tingin ko, nakuha ng pelikula ang essential na pagbukas ng pakpak ng isang teenager at paglipad nito sa piling ng mga magulang.

9. Lapis (Maricel Cariaga). Medyo palasak na ‘yong statement nito tungkol sa nawawalang era ng hand-drawn animation kontra sa mga bagay na isinusubo sa atin ng technology. Malungkot ang tone tungkol sa decay at hindi nito binigyan ng pagkakataon ang computer graphics bilang isang alternatibo. Sa kabila n’yan, kahit na nagamit na, malungkot ang huling imahe nito na ang pintor (Soliman Cruz) ay tila nagtatanong kung barya na lang ba ang kanyang halaga.

10. Momento (Jan-Kyle Nieva). Wala na rin namang bagong ipinakita ang short film na ito sa Chavacano tungkol sa stand nito kung meron nga bang forever o wala. May mga bagay lang talaga na kahit paulit-ulit na ay masakit pa ring maulinigan. Ang matandang babae rito ay ayaw kumawala sa katotohanan na s’ya ay nag-iisa na. Bahagi ng kanyang denial ang malungkot na pagtabi sa kanyang asawa. Naalala kong bigla ang isang may-ari ng punerarya sa bayan namin nang mamatayan ito ng anak. Hindi n’ya muna ito ipinaembalsamo at pinalipas muna ang gabi na kasiping ang anak.


JAY ROSAS (Sine/Salida)

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  1. Bayan ng mga Kontraktuwal – King Catoy, Pinoy Media Center (Pandayang Lino Brocka)

The power of this short documentary lies in how the personal story/crusade blends and eventually forms part of the success stories it presents. The message is clear and the call to action is urgent. But we can carry the weight of this continued struggle.

  1. The End of War – Joe Bacus (Cinemagis, Cinema Rehiyon)

There is power to its silences and chaos, giving us an immersive and compelling experience. Its topicality, while evident, is matched by a clear vision, reminding us of the fragility of peace and the difficulty of the quest towards attaining it.

  1. Sanctissima – Kenneth Dagatan (Cinemalaya, Binisaya)

Man’s unlikely propensity for the macabre is what makes Dagatan’s short horror tale tick aside from its sumptuous production design and cinematography. Kenneth Dagatan delivers a knee-weakening terror that takes me back to the Shake Rattle and Roll of my childhood.

(tie) Operation Prutas – Ara Chawdhury (Sinulog Film Festival)

Ara Chawdhury’s caper captures the lively spirit of its Cebu origins. Poking fun at one of the most revered Catholic icons, the couple at the heart of the story ends up snared by its supernatural powers and the mischievous machinations of fate.

  1. Dindo – Martika Escobar (Cinema One Originals)

Nostalgia is the currency that runs in both Escobar’s Pusong Bato and Dindo, but I connected most to the latter. Dindo reminds us that like in films, while remembrances of the past is painful and bittersweet, it is essential to the soul and necessary for the continuity of our present.

  1. Ang Kapitbahay ko sa 2014 – Anya Zulueta

The film is awash in bright colors and brimming with charm thanks to its two child leads. The film’s skillful storytelling depicts the blossoming of friendship, but it also underlines what we adults sometimes lack – the need for genuine connection in our increasingly divided and distanced worlds.

  1. Walay Naa Diri – Jean Claire Dy

We seem to have a lack of autobiographical/personal, essay films that Claire Dy’s short film comes as a breath of fresh air. It isn’t so much about the familiar subject matter – one’s search for identity and a sense of place – but in the longing ache of her narration and the confusion in her images that makes the search more palpable and grounded.

  1. Mga Alingawngaw sa Panahon ng Pagpapasya – Hector Barretto Calma

The black and white cinematography in Calma’s period short works very well in the interior scenes, evoking the mood of the era. From carefully composed shots, the camera shifts to movement in the final third somehow capturing the spirit of unrest, ending in that powerful last shot – the answer to the indecision that pervades its first act.

  1. Cyberdevil x Ahas – Timmy Harn

A red devil, a green human snake on bicycle. I imagine this playfully disturbing film as what a computer Christmas virus would look like. A virus, a hack, an assault into one’s consciousness. In less then two minutes, Timmy Harn’s yarn manages to be all that, then some punch and a laugh.

  1. Tami-aw – Mary Ann Gabisan

Short films that have come out of the Nabunturan Indie Film Exhibition have captured the element of setting expertly sans tourism. Films like Tami-aw seems to suggest that stories of life in the provinces want to surmount this recurring motif of mountainous landscapes and controlled spaces. I was surprised to learn later that the film is labeled as a documentary – Gabisan’s direction seems to have blur the fictive and real elements of the story in the documentation process creating a mesmerizing portrait or marginalization, and proving once again the enormous talent and stories that abound outside the capital.

  1. Ang Maangas, ang Marikit at ang Makata – Jose Ibarra Guballa

There is only one female character in this fun Western-inspired film, subservient to patriarchy and torn between traditional male attachments, but it’s this character’s desires – her wanting to dance and not her father’s rifle or her avid suitor’s endless crooning – that rings the loudest. And Guballa, in that memorable final act, made sure to remind us of that.



  1. Pusong Bato, Martika Ramirez Escobar

The satire on this film is at times both deep and clever with matching top-notch performance from Mailes Kanapi. Unique, witty and discerning. A one of a kind short film!

  1. Lisyun Qng Geografia, Petersen Vargas

A unique, subtle, affecting relationship short film with the look, color and shots that tells a thousand words.

  1. Junilyn Has, Carlo Francisco Manatad

Boldly unconventional and refreshingly honest, an eye opener short film that addresses its themes and its protagonist.

  1. Mumu, Jean Cheryl Tagyamon

Alternately hilarious, scary, and simply diverting, a rare horror-satirical comedy that delivers on both fronts.

  1. Sanctissima, Kenneth Dagatan

Effectively scary, with good direction, technically polished and audience pleaser horror short film.

  1. Wawa, Angelie Mae Macalanda

Visually stunning and beautifully photographed short film that please the eyes of the audience.

  1. Drama Station, Kyle Nieva

A well written script that that amazingly shows the character deeper in just one sequence.

  1. Serbisyo Publiko, Mark Sicat Dela Cruz

Short and compelling that effectively delivers its intention.

  1. Usapang Matanda, Danica Sarmiento

A charming short film that will make you wish you were a kid again.


NAZAMEL TABARES (Movies in the Philippines)

  1. Wawa
  2. Ang Maangas, Ang Mariki at Ang Makata
  3. Memorial ng Isang Saliksik
  4. Ano ang Halaga ng Pangalan
  5. Junilyn Has
  6. Man in the Cinema House
  7. Pektus
  8. Mumu
  9. Geo
  10. One Week Earlier


JOHN TAWASIL (Present Confusion)

  1. Umuuga ang Ngipin ni Clarissa (Jose Ibarra Guballa)

I’m new to Jose Ibarra Guballa’s films, but I often find them possessing a unique, quirky class of humor that I really like; of all of his 2015 films this film about mysterious tooth snatchers is my favorite.

  1. Kusina ni Clara (Nikki Ferriols)

This film really nails its dramatic timing, and Barbie Forteza really brings it home with the last, heartbreaking sequence.

  1. Junilyn Has (Carlo Francisco Manatad)

Hypocrisy, revenge, hoo haa assassination techniques, this film has it all.

  1. Sanctissima (Kenneth Dagatan)

If there were just one genre film I would champion this year, this would be it.

  1. Lisyun qng Geografia (Petersen Vargas)

Out of all the films in this list, Lisyun is one of the most technically proficient – and its tale of painful nostalgia rips at the heart.

  1. Wawa (Angelie Mae Macalanda)

Gorgeously shot, abstract and artful.

  1. Gloria (Jethro Jamon)

While other short documentaries this year are objectively better made, this is one of the most personal, and one that hit me the deepest.

  1. Ang Kapitbahay Ko sa 2014 (Anya Zulueta)

Its relatively lighthearted compared to the other films on the list, but its narrative is filled with interesting surprises.

  1. Pusong Bato (Martika Ramirez Escobar)

Production wise, its simulation of the Golden Age of Philippine Cinema is exquisite; storywise, it manages to depict the folly of nostalgia through metaphor and magical realism.

  1. Ale Alejandra (Samantha Solidum)

While the story is not as robust as the other entries, it gains a place in my list thanks to its unique visual aesthetic and editing style.

  1. Happy Fiesta (Joe Bacus)

Its reverse chronology adds to a narrative that works told backwards and forwards.


EMIL NOR URAO (The Movie Bud)

  1. Asan si Lolo Mȇ?, Sari Estrada
  2. Sanctissima, Kenneth Dagatan
  3. Malati Ya Mu, Jason Paul Laxamana
  4. Ang Nanay ni Justin Barber, Victor Villanueva
  5. Pusong Bato, Martika Escobar
  6. Ama Namin, Nasa Langit Ka?, Jose Ibarra Guballa
  7. Daisy, Brian Reyes
  8. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas, Bor Ocampo
  9. Lisyun Qng Geografia, Petersen Vargas
  10. Mumu, Jean Cheryl Tagyamon


TRISTAN ZINAMPAN (Film Police Reviews)

  1. Pusong Bato

Weird and yet strangely familiar… Pusong Bato serves undeniable wit and charm as it shifts through reality and fantasy in tackling the theme of weathered dreams and tragic love.

  1. Lisyun Qng Geografia

Heartfelt all throughout, Lisyun perfectly captures the pain and confusion of young love and self-identify through the lens of nostalgia and sentimentality.

  1. Ding (Anatomiya ng Pag-ibig)

An anti-rom com which oddly reminds me of Andrew Lincoln and Keira Knightley’s segment in Love Actually, Anatomiya ng Pag-ibig’s Ding humorously (and painfully) hits all the right heart notes in its dealing with closure and the always hovering feeling that love can still remain after it has been lost.

  1. Mumu

Blending horror and comedy, at its heart Mumu is a tale of self realization and growth amidst the very relatable problems of fitting in and foregoing one’s past.

  1. Redlights

“Playing like a tense thriller reminiscent of the films of Michael Mann, Redlights plays up its atmosphere of uneasiness – that feeling that’s something’s up but you just can’t put your finger on what it is – to deliver a suspenseful look into the seedy underbelly of Cebu.”

  1. Sanctissima

“Sanctissima is easily the best amongst the the other short films it screened alongside with, as part of Cinemalaya’s Shorts A block. This is not to say that the short is perfect. The film has many good points as it delivers its promise of very Filipino barrio-set horror. Its flaws though lie on missed opportunities stemming from tonal shifts and its abrupt editing.”

  1. Maria (Anatomiya ng Pag-ibig)

Internationally, cults have been all the rage these days. Maria serves as a worthy addition to this 2015 trend as it tackles the disturbing devotion (and dare i say, love) in the realms of religion.

  1. Tisoy

Weirdly off-kilter as the rest of Martika Escobar’s works. Tisoy exudes charm through it smart script as it tackles the largely humorless topic of school molestations.

  1. Little Lights

Stylistically, a visual delight. Little lights foregoes complex storytelling to deliver heart that from its simple plot and wondrous painting-like animation.

  1. Wawa

Wawa is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. Forgoing dialogue and a solid plot, it carries its narrative through the use of visual poetry and making its landscape the main character of the story.




2 thoughts on “Top 20 Filipino Short Films of 2015

  1. wish i can get a copy and see all of these…a truly work of the young filipino filmmakers today… ranting with grit and they exude daring and challenge the minds of viewers with their untraditional narratives… dapat mapanood ito ng sambayanang pilipino…. so we can always claim… that we are confidently beautiful with a heart


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