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8 Historical Filipino Films You Should Watch

With a rich heritage spanning decades, Filipino films offer a glimpse into the country’s past, capturing pivotal moments, cultural nuances, and societal struggles. From epic tales of heroism to touching narratives of love and resilience, historical Filipino films hold a special place in the hearts of both film buff and history enthusiasts.

So without further ado, let’s embark on a cinematic adventure and explore some must-watch gems that showcase the essence of Filipino history and culture.

What’s Inside

1. Heneral Luna

Heneral Luna Movie Official Trailer | Jerrold Tarog | John Arcilla | Mon Confiado | TBA Studios

Brace yourself for a gripping portrayal of one of the Philippines’ most enigmatic heroes, General Antonio Luna. Directed by Jerrold Tarog, Heneral Luna chronicles the life and legacy of the fiery general during the Philippine-American War. With stellar performances and breathtaking cinematography, the film centers on Luna’s unwavering patriotism, his clashes with fellow revolutionaries, and the tragic circumstances surrounding his untimely demise. Heneral Luna serves as a powerful reminder of the sacrifices made by our forefathers in the fight for independence.

2. GomBurZa

‘GOMBURZA’ OFFICIAL FULL TRAILER | Enchong Dee, Cedrick Juan, and Mr. Dante Rivero

Directed and co-written by Pepe Diokno, GomBurZa is a historical biographical film depicting the lives of the three Filipino Catholic priests Mariano Gómes, José Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora who were executed during the Spanish colonial era in the Philippines. Starring Dante Rivero, Cedric Juan, and Enchong Dee, GomBurZa won several awards during the 2023 Metro Manila Film Festival, including Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Picture.

This film is a must-watch for its powerful depiction of courage, sacrifice, and the fight for equality. Through compelling storytelling and remarkable performances, the film sheds light on a pivotal moment in Philippine history, offering viewers a deeper understanding of the Gomburza’s significance and the enduring legacy of Filipino heroes.

3. Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral

Goyo – Ang Batang Heneral | Trailer 2 | Jerrold Tarog | Paulo Avelino | Art Acuña | TBA Studios

Following the success of Heneral Luna, Director Jerrold Tarog returns with Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral, a companion piece that focuses on the life of Gregorio “Goyo” del Pilar, another prominent figure in Philippine history. Played by Paulo Avelino, Goyo is portrayed as a complex and enigmatic character, torn between his loyalty to his country and his personal ambitions. Through Tarog’s masterful direction and the casts’ compelling performance, Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral offers a nuanced exploration of heroism, sacrifice, and the burden of leadership during times of war.

4. Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo

Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo Official Full Trailer

Embark on a journey through the noisy years of the Philippine Revolution with this stirring biopic of Andres Bonifacio, the revolutionary leader who sparked the flames of independence. Directed by Enzo Williams, Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo chronicles Bonifacio’s tireless efforts to unite the Filipino people in the fight against Spanish oppression. With its visceral action sequences and heartfelt portrayals, the film offers a glimpse into the sacrifices made by Bonifacio and his comrades in the pursuit of freedom and sovereignty.

5. Jose Rizal

No list of historical Filipino films would be complete without mentioning the biopic of the Philippines’ national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. Directed by Marilou Diaz-Abaya, Jose Rizal offers a comprehensive look into the life and times of the esteemed genius, from his childhood in Calamba to his intellectual pursuits abroad and eventual martyrdom at the hands of the Spanish colonial authorities. Through meticulous attention to detail and powerful performances, the film pays homage to Rizal’s indelible legacy as a patriot, writer, and visionary.

6. El Presidente

El Presidente (Official Trailer)

Directed by Mark Meily, El Presidente tells the story of General Emilio Aguinaldo, the first president of the Philippines. Set against the backdrop of the Philippine Revolution and the Philippine-American War, the film showcases a glimpse into Aguinaldo’s rise to power, his struggles against colonial forces, and the complexities of leadership during a tumultuous period in Philippine history. With its sweeping narrative and compelling performances, El Presidente sheds light on the challenges faced by Aguinaldo and his role in shaping the nation’s future.

7. Dekada ’70

Dekada ’70 Official Trailer | Vilma Santos, Christopher De Leon Piolo Pascual, Marvin | ‘Dekada ’70’

Directed by Chito S. Roño and based on the novel by Lualhati Bautista, Dekada ’70 tells the life under martial law in the Philippines during the 1970s. The film follows the Bartolome family as they navigate the stormy political landscape, wrestling with issues of activism, oppression, and personal freedom. Through the lens of one family’s experiences, this film illuminates the broader societal struggles and sacrifices that countless Filipinos endured.

8. Quezon’s Game

Quezon’s Game Trailer | Streaming this January 27 on iWantTFC!

Directed by Matthew Rosen and starring Raymond Bagatsing as President Manuel L. Quezon, Quezon’s Game is a biographical drama film that centers on the lesser-known efforts of the Philippines to save Jewish refugees during World War II. Set during the impending war and international politics, the film follows Quezon’s courageous initiatives to provide sanctuary for Jewish refugees fleeing persecution in Nazi Germany. Through its compelling narrative and heartfelt performances, Quezon’s Game highlights the moral courage and compassion of Quezon and his role in shaping the Philippines’ humanitarian legacy during a time of global crisis.

From the Spanish colonial era to the turbulent years of revolution and war, these cinematic masterpieces offer a window into our collective past, inspiring reflection, empathy, and a deeper appreciation for our rich heritage. So, the next time you’re in the mood for a cinematic journey through history, consider delving into the captivating world of historical Filipino films. Who knows? You might just uncover a newfound appreciation for the stories that shaped our nation.

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