March is Women’s History Month! As we honor women’s achievements and contributions throughout centuries, let’s also take time to watch these empowering women-centric films and documentaries directed by women.
Sunday Beauty Queen (2016) dir. Baby Ruth Villarama
Sunday Beauty Queen follows the lives of five women with the same Cinderella story. This documentary highlights the reality of working as a domestic helper in Hong Kong; hustling for 24 hours a day, 6 days a week. On Sundays, they escape from a week of hard labor and years’ worth of homesickness and transform into beauty queens.
Watch it on YouTube.
Inang Yaya (2006) dir. Veronica Velasco and Pablo Biglang-awa
Inang Yaya tells the story of Norma (Maricel Soriano) as she moves heaven and earth to be a mother to Ruby (Tala Santos) and a nanny to Louise (Erika Oreta). This tear-jerker film definitely hits home. If you have a soft spot for stories about a mother’s love, Inang Yaya will surely have you reaching for the tissues!
Motherland (2017) dir. Ramona Diaz
An intimate story-telling of Filipino motherhood, Motherland is a social commentary on reproductive health policy and conservative Catholic ideologies in the country. This documentary journeys to the world’s busiest maternity hospital, the Dr. Jose Fabella Hospital in Manila.
Rent or buy it here.
Ka Oryang (2011) dir. Sari Dalena
Ka Oryang is a film that speaks about the horrors and atrocities of the Martial Law era and how women played their role in these dark times. Georgia (Alessandra de Rossi) witnesses as revolutions ignite during the Marcos regime. With this, she goes through the challenges of being a woman to fight for the rights of the Filipinos. Abante, babae!
K’na, The Dreamweaver (2014) dir. Ida Anita Q. del Mundo
A story of bravery and love is told in this dream-like narrative of K’na, the Dreamweaver. Kana (Mara Lopez) is a T’boli princess who is chosen by the gods to be her village’s dreamweaver. The film focuses on Kana’s journey towards weaving together her people’s warring tribes and facing the dilemma of giving up her true love.
Watch it here.
Ganap na Babae (2010) dir. Ellen Ramos, Rica Arevalo, Sarah Roxas
A prostitute, two sisters, and a widow come together to tell their interwoven stories in this multi-narrative film. A woman (Mercedes Cabral) reminisces about her life as a mother before becoming a sex worker. Two sisters (Sue Prado and Jam Perez) are neck-deep into poverty, making one of them migrate to Japan to become a mail-order bride. A widow falls in love with a younger man and they have to protect their relationship from society’s judging gaze. Ganap na Babae not only highlights the personal challenges that these women face, but also the reflection of social issues to their lives.
Nanay Mameng (2012) dir. Jaja Arumpac
“13 presidente na ang inabutan ko, wala pa ring nagbago.” Nanay Mameng is a timeless piece. Even with her passing, Nanay Mameng’s legacy as the mother of urban poor struggle still lives on. This documentary delves deep into her life as a victim of poverty and domestic violence. She is the face of the Philippine mass movement. She was Nanay Mameng.
Watch it here.
Señorita (2011) dir. Isabel Sandoval
Señorita is a neo-noir political thriller with a power of its own. It depicts the story of Donna (Isabel Sandoval), a transgender woman struggling to leave sex work behind and start a new life. In her efforts to leave behind her old life, she becomes entangled in large-scale political corruption.
Which of these films will you watch first?