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8 historic Filipino films to binge watch this Independence Day

By AYIE LICSI Published Jun 12, 2022 12:00 pm

Every day is a good day to watch a historic Filipino film, but if you want their lessons to hit deeper into your heart, why not do it during Independence Day?

As the Philippines celebrates its 124th Araw ng Kalayaan this June 12, it would be ideal to commemorate the occasion by diving head first into local films about freedom. 

These movies reveal much about the country and inspire pride. Some, on the other hand, offer a front-row seat to the most controversial periods of Philippine history and ignite heroism.

Here's a list of some of the most popular historical films to watch this Independence Day and where you can stream them.

Heneral Luna (dir. Jerrold Tarog, 2015)

Set in the Philippine-American war, Heneral Luna tells the story of the fierce Antonio Luna (John Arcilla) as he leads the revolutionary army in a war for freedom. But the fighting isn't just between the Filipinos and Americans, there's infighting among the members of President Emilio Aguinaldo's (Mon Confiado) cabinet. 

Heneral Luna is available on Netflix.

Ang Larawan (dir. Loy Arcenas, 2017) 

Ang Larawan is based on a literary film by National Artist Nick Joaquin set in Intramuros in 1941. It revolves around spinster sisters Candida and Paula Marasigan who try to maintain their affluent lifestyle while the country is on the brink of World War II by selling their father's final masterpiece. 

The film is available on Upstream.

Quezon's Game (dir. Matthew Rosen, 2018) 

This biographical drama centers around former president Manuel L. Quezon (Raymond Bagatsing) and his plans to shelter Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany in the Philippines. As he takes action, Quezon also battles a relapse of tuberculosis.

Quezon's Game can be streamed on Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+.

Bayaning 3rd World (dir. Mike de Leon, 1999)

Directed by Mike de Leon, Bayaning 3rd World is a mockumentary examining the heroism of the country's national hero, Jose Rizal. The film focuses on Rizal's supposed retraction of his writings against the Catholic Church during the Spanish regime.

Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo (dir. Enzo Williams, 2014)

We all know the name Andres Bonifacio and how he lead the Katipunan in a revolution against the Spaniards. Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo gives a more detailed story of the hero and the controversies surrounding his death. 

This film serves as a prequel to Heneral Luna and Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral.

Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral (dir. Jerrold Tarog, 2018)

After Antonio Luna was assassinated, Gregorio "Goyo" del Pilar (Paulo Avelino) was placed at the helm of the Philippine Revolutionary Army. The young, brash general has to determine where his true loyalties lie: the country or the leader.

The Battle of Tirad Pass depicted in the film is based on accounts and memoirs from both Filipino and American soldiers. 

Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral is available on Netflix.

Oro, Plata, Mata (dir. Peque Gallaga, 1982)

This historical war drama, set on the island of Negros, follows the story of two haciendero families coping with the changes brought about by the war. When the invading Japanese army arrives, the families escape to the mountains, leaving behind their privileged life.

Oro, Plata, Mata is available to stream on Apple TV+ and on Star Cinema's YouTube channel.

Dekada '70 (dir. Chito S. Roño, 2002)

Based on Lualhati Bautista's novel of the same name, Dekada '70 follows the Bartolomes, a middle-class family that gravely suffered amid former president Ferdinand Marcos Sr.'s martial law.  Parents Amanda (Vilma Santos) and Julian (Christopher de Leon) raise their five sons amid the tense political climate.

Dekada '70 can be streamed on Apple TV+.