In celebration of Women’s Month, Pinoy Rebyu presents the results of our poll of the best Filipino films helmed by women directors. Filipino female directors make up less than 10% of the total number of active local filmmakers, even though their films prove to be well-loved by both the movie-going public (e.g., the roster of Star Cinema directors and up-and-coming breed of young women directors) and critics (e.g., Diaz-Abaya, Guillen, documentarists, among others) alike.
For this poll, a total of 127 film professionals, experts, and pundits submitted their ballots after having pored through a masterlist of all 455 Filipina-directed films that we have compiled. The earliest film, Pendulum of Fate, was made by Brigida Perez Villanueva and released in 1933. The latest, as of this writing, is Irene Villamor’s Ulan.
Although the earliest film cited by any poll participant was released in 1947, we are issuing a caveat that majority of the participants have not seen many of the films released prior to the mid-1970s, because of two problems that have plagued the local industry for a very long time: the lack of preservation efforts that could have saved many celluloid film rolls from decay and neglect, and the narrow reach of film distribution.
Our goal with this list is to shine a light on treasures of the local film industry, made by filmmakers who remain underrepresented until today. The hope is that more doors will open up for women to share their stories and visions.
The list includes synopses of each film in the top 100. You may click on the titles to view their trailers or links to the full online copies.
100 (tie) Beauty in a Bottle (Antoinette Jadaone, 2014)
Three women (Angelica Panganiban, Angeline Quinto, Assunta de Rossi) struggle with their insecurities about how they look as they get caught up in building craze for a new beauty product.
100 (tie) K’na, The Dreamweaver (Ida Anita del Mundo, 2014)
When K’na (Mara Lopez), a young T’boli woman, becomes a dreamweaver, she has the chance to weave together her village’s warring clans. But will she give up true love to do so?
99 (tie) Four Sisters and a Wedding (Cathy Garcia-Molina, 2013)
The children of the Salazar family have been pursuing separate lives in the recent years. After a few years of not being together as a whole family, they find themselves reuniting when CJ (Enchong Dee) announces his plan to marry Princess (Angeline Quinto), his girlfriend for three months. Feeling protective of their youngest sibling, CJ’s sisters (Bea Alonzo, Toni Gonzaga, Angel Locsin, Shaina Magdayao) conspire to dissuade him from marrying his fiancée.
99 (tie) Mamay Umeng (Dwein Baltazar, 2012)
In a quaint provincial town, an elderly man (Gerry Adeva) awaits his inevitable fate.
98 Ganap na Babae (Rica Arevalo, Ellen Ramos, Sarah Roxas, 2010)
A woman (Mercedes Cabral) shares her soul as a prostitute in front of the camera. A survivor, she looks back at her life as a mother.
Milagros (Sue Prado) and Elena (Jam Pérez) are sisters tilling “camote” (sweet potato) in a dry land. Poverty provokes Elena to migrate as a mail-order bride in Japan while Milagros stays to take care of the family.
Eos (Boots Anson Roa) is a widow who falls in love with a younger man, Rodrigo (Rome Mallari). They try to make the relationship work amidst the pressure of their family and the society.
97 A Very Special Love (Cathy Garcia-Molina, 2008)
Laida Magtalas (Sarah Geronimo) is a modern-day Belle who works hard to provide for her family while hoping that someday she will meet her Prince Charming and that they will live happily ever after together. That would-be prince charming is none other than “Miggy” (John Lloyd Cruz), the youngest member of the Montenegro clan — a well-established family in the business world. Moony Laida’s desire to finally meet Miggy leads her to apply as an Editorial Assistant at his newly launched men’s magazine, Bachelor. Though a relationship with Miggy may prove to be a long shot, Laida revels in working in such close proximity with the man of her dreams.
96 American Adobo (Laurice Guillen, 2001)
The everyday struggles of people trying to bridge two cultures, as well as their attempt to find happiness in their new homeland. Tere (Cherrie Pie Picache), mid-forties and single, hosts a dinner for a friend visiting from Manila, Lorna. Invited are their New York City-based friends and former college classmates – Mike (Christopher De Leon), a newspaper editor in his forties, Gerry (Ricky Davao), an advertising copywriter and closeted gay, and Marissa (Dina Bonnevie).
95 Babae (Lupita Aquino-Kashiwahara, 1997)
Three generations of women whose lives are connected by blood and fate as they cope with relationships with men. Bea (Nora Aunor) is an architect who has just got promoted, but this professional success exposes her husband’s insecurity. Alex (Judy Ann Santos) is Bea’s teenage daughter who enters into an abusive relationship with a boyfriend. Adora (Nida Blanca) is Bea’s newly widowed mother who is about to come to terms with facing life alone. (From cinesum)
94 Kapag Langit ang Humatol (Laurice Guillen, 1990)
Florida (Vilma Santos), an oppressed housemaid, has transformed herself into a wealthy and powerful business mogul through sheer dint of talent, ambition, and driving need to avenge herself on her tormentors. She comes back to the scene of her most abject debasement with the sole intent of humiliating the family who once made her life such a living hell. Unknowingly, she gets to exact revenge on the very person who turns out to be her own daughter. (From Ati-atihan: Mother of All Philippine Festivals)
93 Magandang Gabi sa Inyong Lahat (Lupita Aquino-Kashiwahara, 1976)
Anna Carballo (Nora Aunor) returns from the States after four years to fetch her older sister Sarah from their Baguio mansion. Anna spends the night in Manila in a hotel and accidentally meets her former fiance, Roy Valdez (Tirso Cruz III). Roy tries to explain to Anna his marriage to Cornelia but Anna brushes him off.
That night Anna has a weird dream where Sarah brings her to their dining room and their entire deceased family greets her, “Magandang gabi sa inyong lahat!”
Anna proceeds to Baguio the next day and is gradually terrified as most of the things in her dream happen in reality. Roy, pursued by a nagging and hysterical Cornelia, tries to win Anna back. And together Roy and Anna try to unravel the mystery that engulfs the Carballo Mansion.
92 Sonny Boy (Susana de Guzman, 1955)
A touching drama of parental love that prolific filmmaker Susana de Guzman adapted from her own serialized novel in Liwayway magazine. Rosa Rosal won FAMAS Best Actress in a non-kontrabida role.
91 10,000 Hours (Joyce Bernal, 2013)
Senator Gabriel Alcaraz (Robin Padilla) is preparing to deliver a privilege speech alleging corruption in the highest levels of government. On his way to the Senate, he gets wind of a plot against him. The police seek to arrest him for his part in an operation decades ago. Suspecting that the administration isn’t willing to give him a fair trial, Alcaraz goes into hiding abroad, hoping to find a way to clear his name and eventually return to his family. Back home, an old colleague is put in charge of finding him, and his family suffers under the pressure of public scrutiny.