I have a soft spot for iflix. They have in their vast library a decent-sized collection of Filipino films. To find in the platform rare gems—such as Buenas noches, España, Raya Martin’s otherworldly film about postcolonial Philippines, Dukit, Armando Lao’s assured, emotionally charged family drama, and Big Boy, Shireen Seno’s incredible portrait of a 50’s Filipino family—is such a huge convenience.
On this article, I’m listing ten of the best Filipino films available on iflix.
America has “liberated” the islands, and the Philippines has just been proclaimed a new republic. Every day at the crack of dawn, Father and Mother stretch Julio by pulling his limbs in opposite directions. He is made to drink a concoction believed to stimulate growth in children. Julio’s remarkable height is used to advertise this growth concoction. Meanwhile he grows distant and detached from his family, wandering around town while his parents are consumed by the success of the business.
Buenas noches, España
In another lifetime, a Spanish couple takes drugs and teleports through their television set. A troubled young man travels through the countryside and meets a lost woman. During the trip, they discover a museum housing the expatriated paintings of the most important Filipino artist of the revolution. Eventually, the Spanish couple disappears toward their colony. Inspired by one of the earliest teleportation accounts, which happened between the Philippines and Mexico during the colonial period.
Waldo was born to a religious but impoverished parents. At an early age, Waldo suffered his first personal tragedy when his father abandoned the family for another woman. He suffered his second tragedy when his mother died. Waldo assumed the role of the bread winner to his three sisters and continued to do so even after getting married to his childhood sweetheart. Through his ecclesiastical affiliation with the Catholic church, Waldo rose from rags and obscurity to riches and fame.
Leo (Abalos) belongs to a poor family. Because he did not finish his studies, his only option is to work as a contractual worker in various establishments. In one job, he met a high-spirited girl named Tanya (Feleo) with whom he got romantically involved. In their relationship, he wishes to feel fulfillment and sense of security with her but he is not prepared for this additional commitment. The title “Endo” comes from a slang expression that is used when a contractual worker goes to work for the last time, “Endo” being a shortened form of the term “end of contract”.
Inspired by true events, Engkwentro follows the last 24 hours of Richard and Raymond, two teenage brothers on opposite sides of a gang war. Richard is the leader of his gang, “Bagong Buwan” (“New Moon”) while Raymond is just being inducted into “Batang Dilim” (“Children of the Night”), a rival gang led by charming solvent boy, Tomas. Complications arise at a deadly midnight “engkwentro” (clash), when Tomas gives Raymond the task of killing his older brother.
Already accustomed to side profits from a small time drug ring, Peping naively accepts a high paying job offer from a corrupt friend. Peping soon falls into an intense voyage into darkness as he experiences the kidnapping, torture and dismemberment of a beautiful prostitute. Traumatised and helpless, this ordeal makes Peping search within himself. Is he now a killer too?
On The Job
In the Philippines, corrupt politicians and police cause abundant crime and poverty. Hitmen Mario and Daniel murder a man named Tiu. The two are prisoners who are regularly released from prison to perform hits for their boss Thelma in exchange for money. Mario, due to be released soon, uses his money to support his daughter’s law school tuition and estranged wife Lolet. Daniel, the younger and more reckless partner, sends some of his money home and spends the rest on goods and privileges in prison. Daniel has come to see Mario as a mentor and father figure. After the hit of Tiu, they are sent back to prison. Tiu’s murder case is assigned to NBI Agent Coronel through Congressman Manrique, who is Coronel’s father-in-law. Coronel’s father, also a policeman, died amid rumors of corruption. When Coronel and his partner, Bernabe, arrive at the local precinct, Sgt. Acosta, a 20-year veteran who feels the case was taken from him for political reasons, resists them.
Ang Panggagahasa Kay Fe
Each morning, baskets of black fruits mysteriously appear by the front yard of Fe. Thinking that it was a reconciliatory gesture from her abusive husband, Dante, Fe tells him about it. This only confirms Dante’s suspicions that she might be entertaining a lover.
Andrea is about to marry a man she does not love when a mysterious guest arrives and reminds her of the man she truly loves.
Mama Saleng is an owner of a boarding house and a canteen. She also happens to be a religious fanatic who firmly believes that she can give redemption to others. She does this by killing all of her boarders and serving their remains in her canteen.