Tag Archives: Philippine movies

#308 Maynila sa Kuko ng Liwanag

Poster of "Maynila sa Kuko ng Liwanag" showing the young actor Bembol Roco


  Maynila sa Kuko ng Liwanag (Manila in the Talons of Light) is a 1975 classic Filipino film drama directed by Lino Brocka based on the novel by Edgardo M. Reyes. The film is considered as one of the classics of Filipino cinema in the 1970s and has established Brocka as among the Philippines’ most influential director.

The film starred Hilda Koronel, Lou Salvador, Jr., Tommy Abuel, and in his film debut, Bembol Roco (credited as Rafael Roco, Jr.). The cinematography is by Miguel de Leon, who would later became a renowned director himself.

The film attracted controversy following the censorship it went through and the rejection by the Marcos administration. First Lady Imelda Marcos was reported as having condemned the film for its negative portrayal of Manila and its residents. Foreign and local critics, however, praised the film for its editing and cinematographic qualities, and is widely considered up to this day as one of the enduring examples of cinema noir in the country. (Source: Wikipedia)
Long live Philippine cinema!

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#257 Himala

Himala (“Miracle”) is an award-winning Filipino film directed by the late Philippine National Artist Ishmael Bernal. The film’s screenwriter and cinematographer were multi-award winner Ricky Lee and Sergio Lobo, respectively.

Based on a 1967 incident and news report, Himala was filmed entirely in the most arid Philippine tourist spots in Ilocos Norte, in just three weeks and with a budget of only 3 million pesos. The movie premiered at the 1982 Metro Manila Film Festival, and in 1983, it became the first – and so far the only – Filipino film to be included in the “Competition Section” of the prestigious Berlin International Film Festival. Since then, Himala has been exhibited in a number of film festivals around the world.

On November 11, 2008, Himala won the 2008 CNN Asia Pacific Screen Awards Viewers Choice Award for Best Asia-Pacific Film of all Time (voted for by thousands of film fans around the world. The CNN online voters hailed it as the “greatest Filipino film.”

The film stars Philippine superstar Nora Aunor, who is best known for her performance as the fake visionary Elsa in this film. Her portrayal is considered by most Filipino critics to be the best of her career. (Source: Wikipedia)

Mabuhay ang Filipino cinema!

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#229 Kinilaw

Kinilaw (sour-cooking raw ingredients ) in Philippine cuisine takes fish and other sea creatures, meat, fruits or vegetables- all at state- of- the- art freshness – and treats them equally, “sour-cooking” them in vinegar or other souring agents, flavoring them with the proper combination of condiments.

The kinilaw moment is that instant when the raw fish (or other seafood, or meat) meets the vinegar or other souring agent, and transformation begins from the raw state. In cooking vegetables, there is a spectrum of textural change: from the hardness of the raw, to the limpness of the overcooked. The perfect moment is somewhere along the line, at the point when the vegetable, e.g. ampalaya (bitter melon) retains the crispness of the raw, but acquires the softness of the cooked without being either hard or limp.

With kinilaw, the perfect moment is marked visually by a change from translucence towards, but without reaching, opacity. Texturally, it is a moment when the fish or shrimp retains the firm softness of the raw, but reaches a new state of being that has been called niluto sa asim – “cooked”, or more accurately transformed, in sourness. (From Kinilaw: a Philippine Cuisine of Freshness’ – by Edilberto N. Alegre & Doreen G. Fernandez 1991

Bon appétit!


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#57 Movie Posters

Philippine movie posters are almost a breed apart and can provide a whole range of dissertation topics to socio-anthropologists dissecting the mores, twists and turns of Pinoy psychology.

Particularly in Metro Manila where the Philippine movie industry is based, giant movie posters span across and almost occupy the facades of whole buildings, walls and gargantuan billboards creating a riot of eye-popping colors. Expertly rendered and executed by commercial artists, these giant paintings can be considered a distinct sort of pop-art expression, ranging from the cheeky, tacky, pedestrian, erotic to the horrendously comic.

The increasing use of photographic posters, however, are slowly eroding the use of handpainted movie posters and slogans, although some areas in downtown Manila still display the handpainted versions.

When caught in Manila’s notorious traffic, take a few minutes to ogle and enjoy these giant movie posters and marvel at the artists’ expertise in rendering faces and emotions with their painterly flourishes.

Long live Pinoy movie posters!

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#48 Insiang

Actress Hilda Koronel as Insiang, Lino Brocka's film noir masterpiece

The film “Insiang” by the late Filipino film director Lino Brocka is among the jewels in Philippine cinema and is known as one of Brocka’s masterpieces.

Critics consider Insiang as the best example of film noir in Philippine cinema, a film which takes a hard and critical look at Philippine society and culture-  the ills, faults and the disillusions of its people.

Although the film, produced in 1976, typifies the melodrama that is often seen in Brocka’s movies, it is not a run-of-the-mill tearjerker and rises above other Filipino movie dramas with its exceptional actors, superb script and excellent direction. A story of revenge, lust and poverty, Insiang was set and filmed in Smokey Mountain, one of Manila’s notorious shanty towns located in Tondo.

With its raw realism and portrayal of urban poverty, the film was denounced, censored and denied approval by former First Lady Imelda Marcos, making Brocka an outcast in the  Marcoses’ New Society where the truegoodandbeautiful-only mantra was a dominant rule during  the dictatorial regime of the Marcoses.

With Insiang, Brocka caught the eye of the international film industry when it premiered in Cannes outside the main competition, and launched the career of Hilda Koronel, the lead actress. Ironically, and despite the passage of more than two decades, the film’s portrayal of Philippine society remains valid up to this day, proof of Brocka’s talent and the power of cinematic art.

Mabuhay ang Philippine cinema!

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