3 Best Movies to Watch From Cinemalaya Foundation

Staff & contributors

Ordinary People tells the harrowing story of Jane and Aries, two teenage parents struggling to survive the streets of Manila. At the mercy of limited welfare, the two resort to criminal activity to get by. When a woman offers to help them financially (on loan), Jane eventually relents—but is shocked to discover that her baby's been kidnapped. Trying everything from going to the police to contacting the perpetrator's mother, the reality becomes unavoidable: no one truly cares for the poor even if they're children. Interspersed with CCTV footage of the crimes the characters commit or witness, this powerful, heartbreaking portrait of poverty still offers glimmers of hope as they fight the odds to continue their search together. 

Genre: Drama

Actor: Alora Mae Sasam, Bon Andrew Lentejas, Erlinda Villalobos, Gold Aceron, Hasmine Killip, Karl Medina, Maria Isabel Lopez, Moira Lang, Raymond Lee, Ronwaldo Martin, Ruby Ruiz, Sue Prado

Director: Eduardo Roy Jr.

Rating: R

, 2023

If there are parts to Rookie's story that seem too easily resolved—for the sake of making this more of a feel-good movie—these shortcuts still serve a genuinely romantic central relationship that develops in the most organic way possible. Besides the school's stifling conservatism, there's nothing that really stands in the way of Ace and Jana's blossoming connection. By immediately advancing its depiction of queer love beyond the self-acceptance stage (where so many other films get stuck), Rookie is allowed to show us two girls in love and supporting each other, as the normal and beautiful thing it should be. It doesn't hurt either that the movie is pretty entertaining as a sports film, with just enough flash in its editing and sound design to sell the frantic energy of a game wherein you want to impress the person you have a crush on.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Agot Isidro, Aya Fernandez, Che Ramos, Mikoy Morales, Pat Tingjuy, Simon Ibarra

Director: Samantha Lee

With their personal life offered for consumption, carefully curated for viewers and sponsors, the social media influencer has become a fascinating character to study, especially with the job becoming Gen Z’s top career aspiration. As If It’s True examines this character through Gemma Stone, using the fake relationship trope to examine the lengths to which she would cling to her clout. John Roger’s debut feature blurs the line between real and the fake, not just for Gemma and James but also for the viewers, and it brings up much to say about how this aspiration can ruin people. However, the lines are blurred too much, as the ideas don’t mesh cohesively as it could. As If It’s True is an interesting character study, but the film hasn’t allowed itself to see the human side of the people highly incentivized to be fake for views.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Adrianna So, Angellie Nicholle Sanoy, Ashley Ortega, Jan Silverio, Khalil Ramos, Marnie Lapus, Rachel Coates

Director: John Rogers