Filipino films are great — anyone who’s bothered to watch local movies outside of the mainstream knows this much. But somehow, discussions about the “surprisingly good” quality of local films resurface whenever a new indie movie catches the attention of the general public. There are plenty of Filipino films out there that capture the depths of heartbreak while balancing it with the joys of existing. If you liked the refreshing tearjerker Through Night and Day by Veronica Velasco, you’ll love these films below.
On Vodka, Beers, and Regrets
Bela Padilla and JC Santos star in this tearjerker by Director Irene Villamor. Jane Pineda (Padilla) is a washed-up actress who now spends most of her nights drinking. She meets band vocalist Francis (Santos) at a bar one night and the pair starts a slow connection. The film does not offer romance as a quick happy ending fix for a woman who’s drowning in alcohol and her own negativity. It delves into Jane’s character and helps figure her complexities. Her love story with Francis is just a bonus.
100 Tula Para Kay Stella
Director Jason Paul Laxamana’s film was one of the 12 selected to be part of the first Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino back in 2017. It featured the first pairing of Bela Padilla and JC Santos in a love story that will make you question if getting together is the only way to end a great movie. Think 500 Days of Summer but with more heart-wrenching scenes. The Padilla and Santos pairing will always be one of our favorites.
Meet Me in St. Gallen
Here’s another tearjerker by Director Irene Villamor, but this time it’s told in three parts about two souls fated to inevitably meet. The film starts with a meet-cute where Celeste (Bela Padilla) meets Jesse (Carlo Aquino) and they spend an entire evening talking about everything from the mundane to deep matters of the heart. But that one night is all they had. Years later, their paths cross again — but will they be brave enough to go after what they want the most? If you loved Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy, you’ll love this one.
Jun Robles Lana and Perci Intalan’s Unforgettable isn’t a story of romance, but it is a story about love. Sarah Geronimo plays Jasmine, a socially awkward girl from Baguio who gets sent to Manila when her grandmother (Gina Pareno) falls ill. She encounters a doggy friend named Happy and is convinced that bringing Happy to her sick grandmother will help cure her. Together, both dog and woman, embark on a journey facing all kinds of challenges. Here we see Geronimo’s range as an actress who does not need a romantic partner to make her viewers cry.
Mr. and Mrs. Cruz
JC Santos and Ryza Cenon star in Mr. and Mrs. Cruz, a film with a plot that may look cliché on the surface but is full of surprises. Both of their characters fly to picturesque Palawan to escape the stress of life in the city and past relationships. A supposed meet-cute ensues and between their adventures and meaningful dialogues, feelings bloom. But as they get to know each other more, it becomes apparent that they have varying philosophies when it comes to love.
The Day After Valentine’s
Yes, it is once again a film starring Bela Padilla and JC Santos, a pairing we now associate with the realities of heartbreak. Kai (Santos) is brokenhearted over his ex-girlfriend and Lani (Padilla) befriends him and attempts to help him get better. The film, like On Vodka, Beers, and Regrets, makes its viewers realize that romance isn’t the ultimate solution to heartbreak. Sometimes it’s quietly getting to know yourself well and accepting your own flaws.
Kita Kita, directed by Sigrid Andrea P. Bernardo, remains to be the highest-grossing Filipino independent film since it premiered in 2017. The film is a simple tale about Lea (Alessandra de Rossi) a tour guide in Japan who becomes blind, and Tonyo (Empoy Marquez) who tries to befriend her. It’s heartwarming, it’s endearing, and at the end of everything, it’s a punch in the gut.
Starting Over Again
Piolo Pascual and Toni Gonzaga star in this 2014 rom-com drama. Architecture student Ginny (Gonzaga) is unashamed of declaring her affection for her professor, Sir Marco (Pascual) who eventually returns it. After being in a relationship for some time, the couple has a horrible breakup. Years pass and they cross paths only this time, Marco has a girlfriend (Iza Calzado).
Which of these films have you watched?