Thursday, January 3, 2013

2012 Philippine Movie Report - A Rundown of All Commercially Shown Filipino Films

Did you watch one Philippine movie in 2012? I did 142, and this number roughly represents the country's film output last year. But the inclusion criterion for this: they all had to be available in commercial outlets and open to the general public to patronize. Excluded here are films that premiered and had a single screening in dusty university halls, cultural centers and museums. Worse still, beer joints and bars that clearly depreciate the medium. They had to be accessible for the viewing public to want to shell out their hard earned cash. After all, contemporary art has to be sensitive to the economics of its patrons. Film works kept in a cave might as well be kept there forever, and never to be seen til kingdom come. Food not served on the dining table, and hidden in the cupboard, isn't meant for consumption. No film maker, regardless of his genius, is worth risking your life, limb and sanity for.  


A bumper crop year has been experienced in terms of film output. And the magic number is 142 - the total number of films shown in commercial establishments. This is nothing short of impressive. Compare this from 2011's 105 titles and 2010's 73, it's clear that the Pinoy film makers have burned the midnight oil to produce their disparate narrative, transforming them into cinematic visions. Are we richer and wiser for these ouvres? In some ways, we are.  

What's more inspiring is how our cineplexes have warmed up to the idea of the legitimate and, well, not-so-legit "indies". Last year, festival fares saw regular commercial runs in SM and Robinsons Cinemas nationwide. At no other time has there been this considerable number - 17 independent films:  Antoinette Jadaone’s Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia CuntapayAureus Solito’s BusongBenito Bautista’s BoundaryBrillante Mendoza’s CaptiveDante Nico Garcia’s Madaling Araw, Mahabang GabiEmerson ReyesMNL 143Emmanuel Palo’s Santa NinaJoseph Laban’s CucheraJun Lana’s Bwakaw, Lawrence Fajardo’s Posas, Lee Meilly, Imee Marcos and Nelson CaguilasPintakasiMarie Jamora’s Ang Nawawala, Mark Meilly’s DonorMarty Syjuco’s Give Up Tomorrow, Nick de Ocampo’s Cine SineSheron Dayoc’s Halaw (Ways of the Sea), and Zig Dulay’s Huling Halik. The audience was hardly there, but it's a start. 


Mainstream Cinema lorded it over at the cinema tills, raking in millions for their mostly predictable, escapist products. Star Cinema, still the country's number one film outfit, produced and released 17 movies (including a remastered version of Bernal's "Himala"), while its perceived rival, GMA Films, had 10. While 10 hardly compares to 17, GMA has started to experiment with alternative names, employing Jade Castro for "My Kontrabida Girl" and Erik Matti for "Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles". Mac Alejandre, one of their tired favorites, came up with another elementary effort, "Just One Summer" which eventually tanked and lasted for a mere two days in theaters nationwide. They even ventured into co-production with an Indonesian film outfit for Muhammad Yusuf's "The Witness" with Gwen Zamora (Faye of the "Enteng Kabisote" franchise) as its lead and the sole Filipino in its all-Indonesian cast. Of course, we know what happened to Andoy Ranay's "Sosy Problems". 

Viva Films mainly banked on co-productions and the box office draw of Wenn Deramas, Anne Curtis and Vice Ganda, but they failed to come up with a single film project for their main property, Sarah Geronimo. Gerald Anderson's presence provides hypersensitivity reaction to the people around the young actress. Otherwise, they'd have produced box office gold from Geronimo and Anderson's pairing. Don't people just love the plight of "Romeo and Juliet"? Viva produced and released 8 titles, three of which were box office behemoth from Deramas ("Sisterakas", "Moron 5 and the Crying Ladies" and "This Guy's In Love With You, Mare"). Meanwhile, GMA's biggest star, Marian Rivera failed to come up with a single film project although she was seen doing cameos in a few films. Dingdong Dantes once again won an acting award for a film produced by his mother studio's rival. 

And where is Sharon Cuneta whose career seems to be in limbo? Her TV5 transfer could only muster a show with a dead 4PM timeslot, and no one came to watch. While many of us, my parents included, miss her dearly, it's ill-advised to grace the screen looking overly satiated. She's reduced to humorous references. In "Melodrama Negra", for example, she's referred as "From Superstar to Super Ferry." People may laugh at these glibs, but my mom at home can't keep playing her "When I Love" and "Bituing Walang Ningning" CDs forever. She will eventually get tired of them. I have.


A big output doesn't necessarily mean one artist is prolific. This shows in the list of the year's busiest directors, most of whom (except for Richard Somes) have some of the most execrable filmography in the history of Philippine Cinema:

1. G.A. Villafuerte - 6 
2. Darry dela Cruz - 6
3. Cleo Paglinawan - 4
4. Jigz Recto - 3
5. Paul Singh Cudail - 3
6. Richard Somes - 3
7. Wenn Deramas - 3

It is to be noted that Darry dela Cruz and Cleo Paglinawan come from the same production firm. If one directs, the other assists or does P.A. work. What's interesting is, their films are all interchangeable. They have the same look, same actors, and similar setting. G.A. Villafuerte, meanwhile, is known for films that complete principal photography within 24 hours. One-day shoot and he has a finished product, then he floods social media with self-glorifying publicities, starting with "Another Masterpiece from..." In Villafuerte's world, masterpieces are made in a day. Imagine that! :)


The news-worthy revelation in the film crop year is the mushrooming of the male-oriented erotica, aka the Pink Films. While there were 25 titles of the genre in 2011, last year had a staggering 45 titles! If you combine the output of Star Cinema, GMA Films, Viva Films and Regal Films, they would hardly come close to the number of Pink Films released in 2012.   

The male specimen has indeed turned into a more bankable object of desire. Meanwhile, the screen nymphets were reduced as side shows. Genre-specific stars were born: Alvin Duckert, TJ Morello, Bench dela Torre, Glenn de Luna, Jeremy Ian, Charles Delgado, Miko Madrid, Jerome Pineda, Migz Alcantara, Lance Lopez, Jonas Gruet, Rocco Mateo, Marco Ronquillo, Norris John, Xyrus Arruejo, The list is endless. Each one is willing to wave his dangling wand for these “brilliant” directors.  Jeff Luna, 2011’s “it” boy still graces some titles ("Bugaw", "Salo", "Galaw"). 

Interestingly, Crisaldo Pablo, the Dean of badly-made Pink flicks, was only able to muster a single commercial release, “Masukista”. Another title, the horrible “Bagito” (with Joeffrey Javier) was shown at last November’s Queeriosity Film Festival. The previous year (2011), Pablo had 6 commercial releases, most of which found an audience in Robinson’s Galleria. While this is good news, i.e. that Pablo’s mediocrity is finally nipped and neutered, other equally clueless film makers of dubious caliber mushroomed incessantly. One new, and particularly discombobulated director is Benny Andaya who megged “Uhaw sa Piling Mo” shown a week prior to MMFF. 


While 142 Philippine-produced films spell hundreds of viewing hours, writing about each of them is doubly hard and close to impossible. So we write what we can. About 700 to 1000 pages get read in this blog everyday. I closed this blog for 3 weeks last November and actually contemplated on "calling it a day", but I reckon it isn't time to fold the tent just yet. For the hundreds of souls who lingered around, thanks for joining me here. As a side note, go look for Craig Zobel's "Compliance" and Ang Lee's "Life of Pi". These are spectacular films that shook me to the core and had me 1. getting so disturbed and agitated for a full 24 hours (after watching "Compliance" overseas); 2. believe once again in the magic of the cinema and reaffirm the presence of God. "Life of Pi" is funny, edge-of-your-seat exciting, heart-poundingly suspenseful, and visually sumptuous. I cannot recommend them more.   


A milestone in the local silver screen was the release of Tony Gilroy's "The Bourne Legacy" which presented the bowels of chaotic Manila and the otherworldly beauty of Palawan to the world. The production maybe American, but many of us treated it as our own. A big chunk of the film franchise rankled with local color. And we can only sit back with sheer amusement as authentic slice of the metropolis is served on silver screen platter. Another surprise is Im-Sang Soo's Palme d'Or nominated "The Taste of Money". While this is mainly a Korean production, sexy actress Maui Taylor figured prominently in a delectable role whose character substantially shifted the plot of this twisty, sexy, albeit Shakespearean-flavored suspense drama that puts our local teleseryes to shame. Partially shot in Cebu, with a slew of Tagalog lines, the film was shown for 2 weeks at the Galleria prior to the Metro Manila Film Festival. Very classy indeed!

Like previous years, local film makers won in international film festivals, but we don't give a premium on their wins if they can't even get screened for their countrymen. This is why our very own Brillante Mendoza is commendable for continuously battling mainstream scruples against his "kind of films". French Superstar Isabelle Huppert came to the country to shoot a Mendoza project. This was more than big deal. Moreover, our Cannes-winning director screened his "Captive" for the local audience. As if this wasn't enough, Mendoza took Nora Aunor and "Thy Womb" to international audiences before eventually serving it on silver platter at the Metro Manila Film Festival

In Brisbane, Australia, for example, Mendoza's "Thy Womb" fetched A$22 (P950) for a seat at the Brisbane International Film Festival while other world titles were cheaper at A$18. Yet "Thy Womb" enjoyed packed screenings. Disturbingly, its MMFF screenings took the other route, as it was pulled out from cinemas way before its one-week run. This is, of course, alarming. Haven't we reached a level of maturity where cinema appreciation is concerned? But having Mendoza in the list of 8 participating entries is a triumph in itself. It's a foot in the door, so to speak. There's something to celebrate here.

Up next, the Best and Worst of 2012!

Without much further ado, ladies and gentlemen, here are the movies of 2012.      

Adolfo Alix, Jr.’s Mater Dolorosa

Adolfo Alix, Jr’s Kalayaan

Alejandro Bong Ramos’ Butas 2

Alejandro Bong Ramos’ My Amiga Girl

Aloy Adlawan’s Ang Katiwala

Andoy Ranay’s Sosy Problems

Antoinette Jadaone’s Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay

Antonio Mercader’s Galaw

Archie Dimaculangan, Franne Cheska Ramos and Jono de Rivera's Balang Araw

Armando Lao’s Ad Ignorantiam

Armando Reyes’ Dorm Boys

Arnel Madroquio’s Ang Paglalakbay ng mga Bituin sa Gabing Madilim

Ato Bautista’s Palitan

Aureus Solito's Busong

Aureus Solitos’ Baybayin

Bb. Joyce Bernal’s Of All The Things

Bb. Joyce Bernal's Kimmy Dora and the Temple of Kiyeme

Benito Bautista’s Boundary

Benny Andaya’s Uhaw sa Piling Mo

Bianca Catbagan and Jose Antonio de Rivera's Suntok sa Buwan

BJ Morales’ Dama

Brillante Mendoza’s Captive

Brillante Mendoza’s Thy Womb

Cathy Garcia-Molina's Unofficially Yours

Cesar Montano's Hitman

Chito Rono’s Shake, Rattle & Roll 14 – The Invasion

Chito Rono’s The Healing

Chris Martinez’s I Doo Bidoo Bidoo

Christian Linaban’s Aberya

Cleo Paglinawan’s Bikini King

Cleo Paglinawan’s Bugaw

Cleo Paglinawan’s Itlog na Pula

Cleo Paglinawan’s Mga Lalake sa Balsa

Crisaldo Pablo’s Bagito

Crisaldo Pablo’s Masukista

Dante Nico Garcia’s Madaling Araw, Mahabang Gabi

Darry dela Cruz’s Extra Serbis

Darry dela Cruz’s For Adults Only

Darry dela Cruz’s Malasado

Darry dela Cruz’s Midnight Temptation

Darry dela Cruz's Daklot

Darry dela Cruz's Frontal

Deo J. Fajardo’s East of Paradise

Dominic Zapata's Boy Pick-Up The Movie

Dwein Baltazar’s Mamay Umeng

Edz Espiritu's Hubo

Cleo Paglinawan and Crisaldo Pablo's films.

Darry dela Cruz's films

Emerson Reyes’ MNL 143

Emmanuel dela Cruz’s Slumber Party

Emmanuel Palo’s Santa Nina

Enrico Santos' My Cactus Heart

Erik Matti’s Rigodon

Erik Matti’s Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles

Frasco Mortiz’s The Reunion

G.A. Villafuerte’s Hardinero

G.A. Villafuerte’s Hayok

G.A. Villafuerte’s Kapa

G.A. Villafuerte’s Nympho

GA Villafuerte's Ang Lihim ng mga Nympha

GA Villafuerte's Id'Nal (Mapusok)

G.A. Villafuerte's films

Gabs Ramos’ Mestizo: A Beautiful Boy

Gerardo Calagui’s Marcie

Gigi Alfonso Javier’s Flames of Love

Gino Santos’ The Animals

Gym Lumbera’s Anak Araw

Han Salazar’s Adam’s Apple: Kakagat Ka Ba?

Ian Lorenos’ Alagwa

Ishmael Bernal’s Himala (nationwide release)

Jade Castro's My Kontrabida Girl

Jerome Pobocan's Born to Love You

Jigz F. Recto's Kasalo

Jigz Recto’s Binatilyo

Jigz Recto’s Patol

Joel Lamangan’s Migrante

Joel Lamangan's The Mommy Returns

John D’Lazatin, Mae Czarina Cruz, Frasco Mortiz & Dodo Lumibao’s 24/7 in Love

John-D J. Lazatin's A Mother's Story

Jose Javier Reyes’ Mga Munting Lihim

Joseph Laban’s Cuchera

Julius Cena’s Mga Dayo

Jun Lana’s Bwakaw

Karlo Montero’s Ken at Abel

Kevin Dayrit’s Catnip

Khavn dela Cruz’s Edsa XXX

Krizzie Syfu's Tahanan

Lando Jacob’s Wanted Boarders (Males Only)

Lawrence Fajardo’s Posas

Lawrence Fajardo’s The Strangers

Lee Meilly, Imee Marcos, Nelson Caguila's Pintakasi

Lem Lorca's Bola

Lemuel Lorca’ Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino

Leonardo Q. Belen’s Pinoy Super Kid

Loy Arcenas’ REquieme!

Lucas Mercado's Hiram na Ama

Lucas Mercado's Imahinasyon

Ma. Isabel Legarda’s Melodrama Negra

Mac Alejandre’s Just One Summer

Mae Cruz's Every Breath You Take

Marie Jamora’s Ang Nawawala

Mark Meilly’s El Presidente

Mark Meilly's Donor

Marty Syjuco’s Give Up Tomorrow

Mes de Guzman’s Diablo

Michael Angelo Dagnalan’s Paglaya sa Tanikala

Miko Jacinto's Salo (Share)

Monti Parungao’s The Escort

Muhammad Yusuf's The Witness

Nick de Ocampo's Cine Sine

Noli Salvador’s Kapalit ng Ligaya

Nuel Naval’s A Secret Affair

Olivia Lamasan’s The Mistress

Pam Miras’ Pascalina

Paul Singh Cudail’s Ang Jowa

Paul Singh Cudail's Hawla

Paul Singh Cudail's Maligalig

Paul Sta. Ana’s Oros

Raymond Red’s Kamera Obskura

RD Alba’s Biktima

Rene Cruz Jr.'s Three in One

Richard Somes' Corazon Ang Unang Aswang

Richard Somes’ Mariposa sa Hawla ng Gabi

Richard Somes’ Supremo

Rico Maria Ilarde’s Pridyider

Ron Morales’ Graceland

Ronaldo Bertubin’s Gayak

Rory Quinto’s Suddenly It’s Magic

Ruel S. Bayani’s One More Try

Sari Lluch Dalena and Keith Sicat’s Himala Ngayon

Sherad Anthony Sanchez’ Jungle Love

Sheron Dayoc's Halaw (Ways of the Sea)

Soxy Topacio’s D’ Kilabots: Pogi Brothers Weh

Toni Te’s Ganid

Tony Reyes’ Si Agimat, Si Enteng at si Ako

Topel Lee’s Amorosa

Tyrone Acierto’s The Grave Bandits

Vincent Sandoval’s Aparisyon

Wenn Deramas' Moron 5 and the Crying Lady

Wenn Deramas’ Sisterakas

Wenn Deramas’ This Guy’s In Love With U Mare!

Will Fredo’s In Nomine Matris

William Mayo’s Yakman: The Gigil King

Zech de la Cruz's My Naughty Kid

Zig M. Dulay's Huling Halik

2012 opened with two local releases: Pokwang's "A Mother's Story" and  Jigz Recto's "Kasalo". Which Pinoy film opens 2013?

Maui Taylor (below) appears in the Cannes-nominated Korean, "The Taste of Money".  Manila is heavily featured in "The Bourne Legacy".

Maui Taylor plays a maid-cum-sex nymphet for a  very rich and influential family, but there's an unexpected twist that thickens the Daedalean plot.


Please read our featured post about Cinema Bravo and why we sometimes feel nginig about Web Criticism:


Gene said...

Holy Kamotee! That is definitely a list!. I envy you Ms. Cathy for having the time and money to watch this much movie.

Anyway, I almost thought you quit that last November week. Lagi ako bumabalik to blank post, and I can't post a comment too. I thought nag-loloko yung Blogger, but mine is good, so akala ko talaga haha.

Here's to another year of your 'Cathyesque' movie criticism. More power to Make Me Blush!

Anonymous said...

wow, i only got to watch 7, 2 law fajardo, 1 chris martinez, 1 antonette jadaone, 1 joyce bernal, 1 mes de guzman and 1 marie jamora. Would have wanted to catch pascalina though. The thing is most of these films are on a limited run, so you really have to work your schedule around them.

more power to you for going to each of them. don't call it a day just yet!


Cathy Pena said...

@ Gene,

I can't be anything but "Cathy-esque". I'm a film lover first. I love sitting transfixed in a dark room while light transforms into images at the celluloid. It's pure magic to me. And I had to work my way around these movies, so why not write about them, di ba?

Thanks, Gene. And have a Prosperous 2013. :)

Cathy Pena said...

@ Juan:

What a classy list. If I could only watch 10 Pinoy films last year, they would be on my list as well, though I'd include "Jungle Love" and "Ang Paglalakbay ng mga Bituin sa Gabing Madilim".

Have a prosperous 2013 too. :)