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In honor of Sagip Pelikula: 12 films that need to be on your watch list, stat

In honor of Sagip Pelikula: 12 films that need to be on your watch list, stat


Since it was established in 2011, the ABS-CBN Film Restoration Project has been home to 3,000 films in various formats. Through a labor-intensive process of frame-by-frame digital restoration and sound remastering, the unit was able to digitize over a hundred titles from the 1970s to the early 2000s.

Some of the notable films that have been restored by Sagip Pelikula include Peque Gallaga’s “Oro, Plata, Mata” and Ishmael Bernal’s “Himala” from 1982, Mario O’Hara’s 1976 film “Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos” and Laurice Guillen’s 2000 film “Tanging Yaman.”

Despite its contributions to our cinematic heritage, however, the film restoration unit was one of the first casualties following Congress’ rejection of ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal. Before it closes its doors on Aug. 31, they are currently working on restoring 10 more films.

[READ: No rescue for the rescuers: ABS-CBN’s film restoration unit shuts down]

To honor the work that ABS-CBN’s film restoration team has put into restoring a number of significant films from their archives, we’ve put together a list of movies that we think people should watch. This list includes period films that discuss issues that remain relevant today, as well as comedy and romantic movies that made a mark on local pop culture and showcased our local actors’ talents. 

Malvarosa (1958)

Available for streaming on Vimeo

Based on a comic serial written by Clodualdo del Mundo, the film tells the story of a poverty-stricken family living near the railroad tracks. “Malvarosa” follows the misfortunes that Rosa and her four older brothers encounter as they struggle to make ends meet.

The film’s restoration was completed in 2019 and screened as part of the QCinema International Film Festival.

Biyaya ng Lupa (1959)

Available for streaming on Vimeo

Based on a story by novelist and scriptwriter Celso Al. Carunungan, “Biyaya ng Lupa” follows Maria and Jose, a young married couple who start a life and family together in the countryside. They begin to face tragedies when Jose makes an enemy of Bruno, a widower rumored to have killed his wife.

The film was an entry in the 10th Berlin International Film Festival and screened at the 1960 Asian Film Festival. Restoration of the film was completed in 2019.

Minsa’y Isang Gamu-gamo (1976)

Available for streaming on iTunes and TFC

Corazon de la Cruz is a nurse in the Philippines who hopes to move to the United States, despite the injustices their soldiers have done to her community. She ends up reconsidering her plans when her brother is shot dead by an American soldier on the night of her departure.

The film’s restoration was completed in 2018, and it is part of the roster of movies being screened by at the Cinemalaya Film Festival 2020.

Omeng Satanasia (1977)

Available for streaming on iWant

Despite having a successful career, aging scientist Omeng is disappointed over having never found true happiness. When he fails to develop a formula that brings back his youth, he sells his soul to the devil and has to find a woman who will truly love him within a year.

“Omeng Satanasia” helped the late Dolphy win his first and only FAMAS award through his portrayal of four characters in the movie: an aging scientist, a young genius, a guardian angel and the devil.

Aguila (1980)

Available for streaming on Vimeo

“Aguila” follows the story of the Aguila family, who discovers that their missing patriarch, Danie, has been alive after being presumed dead for three years. As they look for their father, they learn more about their history—which is interwoven with significant events from the 1896 Philippine Revolution, the American occupation, the Japanese era and the student militant activities of the late 1960s to early 1970s.

The 1980 period film was described as “the biggest Filipino film ever made,” and the film’s restoration was completed in 2019.

Misteryo sa Tuwa (1984)

Available for streaming on iWant

Set in Lucban, Quezon in the 1950s, “Misteryo sa Tuwa” follows the lives of Ponsoy, Mesiong and Jamin after they steal a suitcase filled with money from a plane crash site and resolve to never report what they found to the authorities. 

This film was an entry in the 1984 Metro Manila Film Festival, and restoration took five years to complete.

Kakabakaba Ka Ba? (1980)

Available for streaming on iWant

Couples Johnny and Melanie, Nonong and Nancy find themselves in conflict with warring Japanese and Chinese drug syndicates. The two groups later try to settle their conflicts through a grand sing and dance showdown 

“Kakabakaba Ka Ba?” is the last film produced by LVN Pictures before its facilities closed, and its restoration was completed in 2015.

Bulaklak sa City Jail (1984)

Available for streaming on iWant

Known for its depiction of women’s situation while imprisoned, this drama film follows Angela, a pregnant woman who is accused and arrested for frustrated murder and sent to Manila City Jail. Here, she ends up meeting other women who have been penalized for different kinds of crimes.

“Bulaklak sa City Jail” won a number of awards in the 1984 Metro Manila Film Festival, and its restoration was completed in 2019.

John en Marsha ’85 sa Probinsya (1985)

Available for streaming on iWant

Upon the request of a sickly aunt, John, Marsha and the rest of the Puruntong family travel to the countryside to spend more time with her. As they adjust to their new lives, they learn of a former mayor’s plans to open an industrial plant, which threatens to pollute the town.

This is the fifth film based John en Marsha, a sitcom that aired on the Radio Philippines Network in the 1980s. Its restoration was completed in 2018.

Sana Maulit Muli (1995)

Available for streaming on Amazon Prime and Apple TV

“Sana Maulit Muli” tells the story of Agnes, a shy girl who is struggling to survive in the United States, and Jerry, an on-the-rise advertising executive who has to provide for his family. The strain of their long-distance relationship ends with them drifting apart, until Jerry quits his job and flies to the US to reconnect with Agnes.

The film won Best Picture and Best Screenplay at the Gawad Urian Awards, and restoration was completed on its 20th anniversary in 2015.

Hataw Na! (1995)

Available for streaming on iWant

Robbie Mallorca and Anna Alvarado are teachers in an exclusive school, run by administrators who are conservative and disapprove of the students’ wish to build a dance group. The teachers then conduct underground training for the students to help them develop their talents in the arts.

The film’s restoration was completed in 2017.

Labs Kita… Okey Ka Lang? (1998)

Available for streaming on iWant and Apple TV

This romance and comedy film follows Bujoy and Ned, who have been inseparable since childhood. Upon entering college, Bujoy realizes that she has feelings for Ned and resolves not to act on it in fear of ruining their relationship—until Ned falls in love with her balikbayan friend.

The film is considered a local pop culture favorite and its restoration was completed in 2017.

Header photo screengrabbed from “Misteryo sa Tuwa”

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Read more:

Indie film fans, catch your favorites on Netflix this June—start with award-winning ‘Pamilya Ordinaryo’

6 local films you may have missed in cinemas are now streaming online

These local LGBTQ+ films are the stars of Cinema One Originals’ virtual film fest

Writer: ANGELA PATRICIA SUACILLO © 2020. Hinge Inquirer Publications, Inc.


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