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REWIND: 25 best Filipino movies of 2018

For the year 2018, I was able to watch 64 Filipino films (up from 54 in 2017). Aside from mainstream commercial films and indie films from festivals throughout the year, there were also Filipino films released in digital format online. 

I was able to catch 4/5 entries of the Sinag Manila Filmfest in March, 2/8 in the Cine Filipino in May; 5/10 in the Cinemalaya in early August; 8/8 in the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino in late August; 5/6 of the ToFarm in September; 6/9 in the CinemaOne Originals in early October; 3/5 in the QCinema in late October; and 3/8 entries in the MMFF in December. 

Honorable Mentions:

25. “Mamang” by Denise O’Hara
24. “Rainbow Sunset” by Joel Lamangan
23. “Never Not Love You” by Antoinette Jadaone
22. “Aurora” by Yam Laranas
21. “We Will Not Die Tonight” by Richard Somes

20. “Trigonal” by Vincent Soberano
19. “Bakwit Boys” by Jason Paul Laxamana 
18. “Through Night and Day” by Veronica Velasco
17. “ML” by Benedict Mique, Jr.
16. “Meet Me in St. Gallen” by Irene Villamor

15. “Para sa Broken Hearted” by Digo Ricio
14. “Gusto Kita with All My Hypothalamus” by Dwein Baltazar
13. “Exes Baggage” by Dan Villegas
12. “Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon” by Carlo Enciso Catu
11. “Oda sa Wala” by Dwein Baltazar

Here are the 10 best Filipino films that I was able to see and write about this year:

10. “Kung Paano Siya Nawala” by Joel Ruiz

One day, while call center agent Lio was taking a breather outside a bar, an attractive girl Shana casually sat beside him and asked if he wanted to make out with her, and they did. However, the next time Lio met Shana in the coffee shop where she worked and then again on the street, he always failed to recognize her, much to Shana’s annoyance. Lio confessed he had face blindness, which made him unable to recognize new faces. 

9. “Liway” by Kip Oebanda

The setting was in the mid-1980s in Camp Delgado, a prison for criminals and political prisoners alike during the Martial Law. Day and Ric were raising their 10-year old son Dakip and infant daughter Malaya while behind bars for rebellion charges. In her attempt to normalize Dakip’s childhood (since he had lived his whole life in the Camp), Day told him fantastic stories about the powerful enchantress Liway of Mt. Kanlaon. Little did Dakip know that she was actually telling him her own life story.

8. “Paglisan” by Carl Papa

Cris and Oreng are a middle-aged couple. Cris was stricken with early onset Alzheimer’s disease which rendered him unable to function as he would normally. His fragile condition turned their home life upside down with his forgetfulness and unreliability, which led to him to withdraw from public interactions. One day, Cris was invited to perform in the anniversary of their theater group. Will he accept? 

7. “Miss Granny” by Joyce E. Bernal

The constant loud nagging of Fely caused her daughter-in-law Angie to fall very ill. This forced her only son Ramon to request his mother to temporarily move into a senior’s home while his wife recovered. One day, while waiting for the bus, the distraught Fely was drawn to enter the Forever Young photo studio because it displayed a photo of her favorite actress Audrey Hepburn in its window. Before he took her photo, the photographer promised Fely that he would make her look younger by 50 years. By some miracle, she literally did.

6. “Citizen Jake” by Mike de Leon

Jake was a hard-hitting political blogger from Baguio who constantly lived under the shadow of his father Sen. Jacobo Herrera, a notoriously corrupt veteran politician and crony. Jake was investigating the rape and murder of a student in an apparent love nest. This led to an intricate whodunit, which involved virginal escorts, suave pimps, rotten cops, elegant socialites, lusty DOM judges, among a web of other shady personalities. 

5. “Sid Aya (Not a Love Story)” by Irene Villamor

Sid is a hotshot and ruthless stock broker, who did not really care whose toes he stepped on to get ahead in his game, but this left him empty and sleepless. Aya is a broke young woman who had to juggle three jobs — a part-time clerk at a laundry, a performer in an amusement park, and a waitress in a 24-hour cafe. One day they meet and connect, at first purely on a business level. But will their relationship develop further more?

4. “Tanabata’s Wife” by Choy Pangilinan, Lito Casaje and Charlson Ong

Tanabata was a lonely Japanese farmer who emigrated from Okinawa to run his own farm in Trinidad Valley in the Mountain Province back in the 1920s. One day, he hired a young and pretty Bontoc tribeswoman Fas-ang to help him in his house and farm (cabbage and strawberries) for P4.00 and unlimited rice. Eventually, Tanabata and Fas-ang fell in love and lived together as husband and wife. Even if they soon have an infant son Kato, differences in their culture eventually crept its way into their relationship and threatened it.

3. “Buybust” by Erik Matti

Agent Nina Manigan has been taken in by drug enforcement officer Bernie Lacson under his team. They were assigned to join a buy-bust operation to apprehend big-time drug lord Biggie Chen. When the venue of the bust was suddenly moved to the slum area of Gracia ni Maria, Manigan, freshly scarred from a recent deadly botched operation, immediately knew something fishy was up. But getting her team out alive from that convoluted maze-like enclosure was not going to be easy.

2. “Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral” by Jerrold Tarog

The “boy general” Gregorio del Pilar was fiercely loyal to President Emilio Aguinaldo. Together with his trusted men, Goyo sought to eliminate Aguinaldo’s enemies (like the Bernal brothers), making him known as a gallant hero. His good looks also earned him a reputation as a ladies’ man wherever he went. However, when the Americans suddenly launched simultaneous attacks in several towns in Central Luzon, Goyo had to plan and execute a mighty defensive stand on the mountain pass on Mt. Tirad. 

1. “Signal Rock” by Chito Rono

Intoy Abakan regularly climbed the rocks so he can use his trusty Nokia 6110 to keep in touch with his sister Vicky, who now lived in Finland. One day, Intoy received an alarming call from Vicky that she was now battling for custody of their daughter Sarah and needed his help to get documents to help her prove that she can support her child on her own.

Christian Bables gave a brave and dedicated performance which led the outstanding ensemble in fleshing out the relationships of the people in this village. Among all the supporting actors, the most memorable were Nanding Josef and Daria Ramirez as Intoy’s parents. Their unusual relationship and living conditions lent itself as diverting and interesting comic relief. Their scenes in the pump boat during the harrowing storm and that one where they appealed on behalf of their daughter were simply so moving and poignant.

This article was originally published in the author’s blog, “Fred Said.”

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