What Filipino film deeply inspired you?

Published July 3, 2021, 3:30 PM

by Rica Arevalo

Our noted filmmakers and their favorite Pinoy movie

We asked noted film directors which ultimate Filipino film inspired them to become the filmmakers they are today.

Mikhail Red

On the Job (2013)

As a filmmaker is heavily interested in creating genre films, I am a big fan of Erik Matti’s On The Job (2013). It shows that Filipino films can be socially relevant yet well-crafted and entertaining. It’s a film that was successful in the international market, being programmed in 2013 Cannes Director’s Fortnight, while still getting a wide theatrical release locally making it accessible to the average Filipino moviegoer. It can get its message across where it matters. It is inspiring how local productions can take risks and push the boundaries and branding of what a Filipino film can be, while challenging the technical crafting skills of local film workers in every department, with additional departments not found in typical romance or dramas like stunts, armory, special effects, visual effects, sound design, fast paced editing, etc. It is quite inspiring to see that Filipino cinema is not just arthouse or mainstream commercial. A film can be slick yet relevant and compete with international counterparts. OTJ is truly a game-changer for our industry and a bar that is set high to inspire up and coming filmmakers and challenge them to help diversify our cinema.


Jose Javier Reyes

Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang (1974)

I was sophomore in college when Lino Brocka together with the young Christopher de Leon went to De la Salle College (then) for a promotional forum of this film. I, together with another school editor, had the opportunity of interviewing Mr. Brocka about his movie and his vision of the future of Filipino cinema. Tinimbang… was the film that broke the glass ceiling, defying the stigma that Tagalog movies are bakya and not meant for the educated middle class. Brocka opened my eyes to the possibility that cinema could become a reflection not only of the culture but the immediacy of time with its language.

Before meeting Lino Brocka, I knew I wanted a life of writing.  After that interview, I was positive I was going to write movies.

PS: Decades later, I told this to Lino as we were seated across each other in his house in Scout Albano and I was preparing to write Caught in the Act (1981) for him.  I can never forget the reaction he gave me—of warmth and happiness.


Brillante Mendoza

Kisapmata (1981)

I like Kisapmata because of its grit and realism. The film made an impact on me because it stayed in my mind long after I saw it. Syempre, hindi ko pa alam nun kung bakit, basta ang alam ko, iba siya sa mga napanuod kong Pinoy films. (Of course, I didn’t know exactly why I liked it then but I know it was so unique from the other Filipino films). Then I started following the films of Mike de Leon. 


Joel Lamangan

Biyaya ng Lupa (1959) and Maynila sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag (1975)

Biyaya ng Lupa by Manuel Silos clearly mirrored the agricultural, rural life of the Filipino family in the 1950s—how land had a great influence on the lives of every family. It showed the semi-feudal and semi-colonial culture of our country during that time. Life was determined by the time dictated by the activities related to land, planting, waiting to harvest, and harvesting. It was a movie reflective of our people’s struggle ang strength to maintain and keep the land that keeps them alive. 

With Maynila, I was so inspired by its truth and sincerity in portraying a reality that had been ignored for a long time. The presence of Chinese interest in Philippine society, the struggle of Filipino workers to lead a decent life despite the unhuman treatment by greedy capitalists. The undying love of two people coming from the rural area, how they tried to survive in the wilderness of the city. How their love and lives ended in their struggle to be alive in a city that seemed not to care at all. Maynila…is one of the finest Filipino films!


Sigrid Andrea P. Bernardo

Himala (1982)

In a world full of hopelessness, we aspire for someone who can save us instantly. We are blinded by false gods who continuously corrupt the people’s minds. When truth is too hard to swallow, we blur the lines between what is right and wrong. It’s our choice to become ignorant by creating our own gods. It’s not only a fictional story but it’s the reflection of who we are in the society. Himala and Ishmael Bernal made me contemplate all my works as a filmmaker. Whether the genre is romance, action, or even thriller, it is important that we always ask ourselves: “What do we want to say to our audience? What message do we want to impart and what is their take away on your film?” Just like Elsa, film is a powerful medium that can influence a person’s view in life.