Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — With life lately moving in ways unlike what we're used to, it’s safe to say we’ll be experiencing June — and our National Independence Day on the 12th — a little differently this year.
While large gatherings and fireworks are currently not the best options, we can still celebrate our country and what we stand for in small, meaningful ways, like championing original stories that encapsulate who Filipinos are, while also delivering universal themes and messages. If you’re looking to celebrate the occasion in the comfort of your own home, you might be interested in doing so by catching up on must-see titles Philippine cinema has to offer — or, if you’ve already seen them before, watching them unfold all over again. Initially hard to find (some just disappeared after their theatrical or festival runs), these movies have been made accessible to more audiences thanks to different streaming platforms. No more ticketing or scheduling problems; they’re finally available with just a tap.
Here are nine Filipino movies that are available for on-demand viewing right now, or within the month.
“Badil” (Chito S. Rono, 2013)
Cast: Jhong Hilario, Nikki Gil, Dick Israel
Set in a barangay in Samar a day before the local elections, “Badil” centers around a young man who learns about the dark side of grassroots politicking when he’s forced to take over his barangay captain father’s duties for a mayoral candidate. In this world of vote-buying and skewed priorities, he learns, as the audience does, what our so-called democracy entails.
Stream it on: iWant
“Aliwan Paradise” (Mike De Leon, 1992)
Cast: Raul Arellano, Melissa De Leon, Johnny Delgado, Julio Diaz
An entry in the anthology film “Southern Winds,” which also includes entries from Indonesia, Japan, and Thailand, “Aliwan Paradise” is a black comedy set in a semi-futuristic version of the Philippines, where the ability to entertain is as valuable as any qualified job skill. The 27-minute short borrows characters from Lino Brocka’s “Maynila, sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag” and is a damning critique of poverty porn, variety shows, and oppressive systems.
Stream it on: iFlix
“The Dance of Two Left Feet” (Alvin Yapan, 2011)
Cast: Jean Garcia, Rocco Nacino, Paulo Avelino
Wanting to impress his literature teacher who also teaches dance, a young man named Marlon enlists another boy in class — Dennis, their teacher’s dance assistant — to show him some moves in private lessons. Their sessions result in a deeper friendship, but things grow a little bit more complicated Marlon begins to develop feelings for Dennis and both boys are cast as leads for a dance performance.
Stream it on: GagaOOLala
“A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino” (Lamberto V. Avellana, 1965)
Cast: Daisy Hontiveros-Avellana, Naty Crame-Rogers, Vic Silayan, Conrad Parham
Based on the play by Nick Joaquin, “A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino” is set in mid-20th century Old Manila and explores the dynamics of high society from the point of view of sisters Candida and Paula Marasigan, as well as their father, a reclusive painter experiencing a creative block who refuses to sell his sought-after self-portrait to help the family make ends meet. When Paula elopes with their boarder Tony, tensions rise and the conflict within the family is brought further to light.
Stream it on: YouTube
“Women of the Weeping River” (Sheron Dayoc, 2016)
Cast: Laila Ulao, Sharifa Pearlsia Ali-Dans, Taha Daranda
In a remote Muslim community, two women are caught in the crossfire as a generations-long blood feud between their families worsens, and they reflect on their experiences in hopes of putting an end to it once and for all. With an all-Muslim cast from Western Mindanao, “Women of the Weeping River” won Best Picture at the 2016 QCinema International Film Festival.
Stream it on: YouTube
“The Search for Weng Weng” (Andrew Leavold, 2013)
Cast: Celso Ad. Castillo, Tikoy Aguiluz, Tilman Baumgartel
Director Andrew Leavold sifts through Filipino B-movie history in his quest to investigate just who the actor Weng Weng was, beyond his “James Bond”-esque action comedies and renown as the shortest leading man in cinema history at 83 cm. The documentary includes interviews with personalities who worked with and knew the actor, including comedy legend Dolphy, as well as Weng Weng’s relatives.
Stream it on: Tubi
“Smaller and Smaller Circles” (Raya Martin, 2017)
Cast: Sid Lucero, Nonie Buencamino
When murders of young boys in Payatas begin to pile up, a trail that leads to a possible serial killer, two Jesuit priests are tasked to help solve the mystery through tedious and unforgiving crime scene investigation, criminal profiling, and forensic analysis, while having to deal with apathy and corruption from the government and the Church.
Stream it on: YouTube
“Lola Igna” (Eduardo W. Roy Jr., 2019)
Cast: Angie Ferro, Yves Flores, Meryll Soriano, Maria Isabel Lopez, Royce Cabrera
The title character of the multi-awarded Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino entry “Lola Igna” is an elderly woman who finds her life changed in a myriad of ways when her family and the people around her realize that she might just have a chance at beating the world record for oldest grandmother alive.
Stream it on: Netflix
“Pamilya Ordinaryo” (Eduardo Roy Jr., 2017)
Cast: Ronwaldo Martin, Hasmine Kilip, Maria Isabel Lopez, Sue Prado, Ruby Ruiz, Raymon Lee,
In this award-winning Cinemalaya entry, a pair of teenagers struggle to make a living as pickpockets in the heart of Manila. When their one-month-old baby is kidnapped, they resort to drastic measures to get the child back.
Stream it on: Netflix (starting June 26)