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The 23 independent Filipino films you should watch

While certain movies go against the norm, mainstream Filipino blockbusters have a reputation for clichéd and formulaic plots, repetitive celebrity tandems, and standard happy endings, among other factors. But when you delve into the world of independent movies, you’d find that there are some quality films that help elevate the local industry into something world-class.

The Binisaya Film Festival 2016, running from September 17 to 24, aims to help promote these movies by bringing them to a wider audience. After years of small screenings in coffee shops and under the bridge communities, this year marks the first time the festival will take place in commercial theaters.

Here are some of the independent films worth checking out:



Eluna Cepeda

A romantic misadventure leaves our protagonist struggling with depression. He finds himself in the care of a male nurse, who lives with his gay brother. Together, they dole out equal measures of care and taunts to their patient. But one day, the urge to take revenge is felt. Bodies are dismembered and mutilated. No guilty party is spared. Will history be easily outrun?



Grace Marie Lopez

One day in the life of a young woman in a burgeoning city.



Jaylou Dari

When Jaylou, a mechanic, discovers the code of conventional courtship, he decides to use that discovery to carve his name in history. What could possibly go wrong?



Marco Campos

A bet collector makes the gamble of his life.



Pepe Diokno

“Engkwentro” follows two teenage brothers attempting to escape an unnamed city controlled by an iron-fisted mayor. They must first break away from the cycle of crime, while trying to run from rival gang leaders and the state’s murderous vigilantes.



Eric Peter

There is a social transformation worldwide into a positive attitude that unites us instead of tears us apart. Familiar Strangers: Conversations on the Near Future explores this very shift through a series of performative dialogues from a personal and local viewpoint. As a small-scale gold miner, Henerose Lorono can often be found digging for gold in his tunnel. Whereas, this practice seems to affect nature negatively, people’s lives have improved in financial terms. Heneroso’s daughter is now able to study.



Isaias Herrera Zantua

Heaven or Hell? These are the paths that the resurrected lost souls have to choose in the afterlife. But for Angelica — it’s hell or nothing! Will her strong conviction to become a full-fledged demon be enough for her to get certified?



Christian Linaban

Olivia, who sells knives for a living, develops a romantic obsession with her next door neighbor, Jeffrey.



Joe Bacus

A Western man in black pays local hospitals nightly visits carrying an ice bucket. Later revealed as a member of an international organ-trading association, he seduces women into spending nights with him with his ulterior motive. This night, however, he meets a mysterious woman who proves to be his match.



Karl Derick Sia

It was in the humble and peaceful countryside where the clouds spread across the sky and the palm leaves sway to the fresh mountain breeze that a growing fledgling experiences the pain of loss, the loss of time, and the time unspent with the father he never met. We follow the life of this tree sparrow towards the end of his, and the start of another.



Chloe Veloso

Three brothers quarrel over the rights of their ancestral home and the care of their mother suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.



Carlo Francisco Manatad

A dancer in a nightclub, Junilyn has to learn new moves to attract more customers during the Pope’s visit to the Philippines. But while she rehearses, she is also preparing her bold move to free herself.



Roberta Fuentes

This is a portrait of my grandmother. Every day, she would sing her song while threading sorghum seeds that she sells in the market.



Remton Siega Zuasola

A mother works abroad leaving behind her sick husband and young son who couldn’t stand each other. Both boys suffer from intense longing of the same woman they loved and started drifting in a world of their own; Father drowns his sadness with his vices while son escapes through his drawings of imagined adventures, but an accident forces both boys to work together to become better men.



Ara Chawdhury

BEHIND THE SCENE: Director Ara Chawdhury films one of the movie's pivotal scenes. (Photo credit: Panumduman Pictures)

BEHIND THE SCENE: Director Ara Chawdhury films one of the movie’s pivotal scenes. (Photo credit: Panumduman Pictures)

A young drag queen, Dodong, joins a barangay gay pageant to gain acceptance in his father’s community. He is instead met with hostility from his father, who chases him to a jungle, where he sobs to a lone bright star. What follows is the strangest night in his entire life, and an even stranger 9 months when he realises he is pregnant. With his only his stepmother, Lisa, as support, Dodong deals with ridicule from a barangay who does not believe him – until the rumours become a headline in a tabloid, “BAKLA, INA NG DIYOS”



Nickle John Lim

Two people facing the same fate and meeting the same end: sadness, darkness, fulfillment, and enlightenment. Will they find solace until they learn to accept life as it is?



Steven Atenta

A few days after a super typhoon ravages a small town in the Philippines, a lone survivor scavenges for food in an abandoned compound. He stumbles upon a large can of food which he takes for himself but also discovers another desperate and starving survivor willing to use violence.



Lav Diaz

It had been 325 years that the Philippines was under Spanish rule when the Revolution, led by Andres Bonifacio, exploded on August 21, 1896. But on May 9, 1897, Bonifacio was charged with death sentence by rival revolutionaries led by Emilio Aguinaldo. Bonifacio’s body has never been found. His wife, Gregoria De Jesus, searched for his body in the mountains for thirty days, calling for Andres and even spirits to help her find her husband.



Victor Villanueva

Benjamin teaches English to Koreans in an ESL centre. Despite his mundane and routinary life, he still believes that he will find his soul mate. One day, as if destiny intervened, he meets his new Korean student, Mi-Ok North Park…. it was love at first sight! Is this the soul mate that he’s been longing for? Will there be a happy ending between the shy Cebuano teacher and the beautiful Korean Angel despite their language barriers?



Jose Victor Bacsarpa

An inspector tries to get to the bottom of a local drug-related killing.



Christian Linaban

A young man is on a quest to find a mythical strain of cannabis called the SUPERPSYCHOCEBU. Along the way, he meets characters that appear to have lost their minds after trying it, one of them even possessed by the Devil, at which point he starts questioning whether he’s in for some good weed or just one hell of a bad trip.



Keith Deligero, Remton Siega Zuasola

A story about heaven and hell.



Hanz Florentino

Miguel gives a surprise wedding proposal to his girlfriend Jonah, when in the middle of the proposal Jonah secretly leaves and appears to have been cheating on him over a mysterious guy named Henry. Miguel retreats to a bar where he meets the temptress Melena. He now faces the dilemma of sulking on his fate with Jonah or accept the sweet invitation of Melena?



SATURDAY, September 17
SM Seaside City Cebu

6:30 – 7:00 p.m.
Lunchbox (Remton Siega Zuasola | PG)

7:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Q&A with the cast and crew

8:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Daughters of a Lesser God (Ammar Aziz | Pakistan | PG)
Fat Boy Never Slim (Sorayos Prapapan | Thailand | R13)
Lo Sum Choe Sum (Dechen Roder | Bhutan | R13)
Sepatu Baru (Aditya Ahmad | Indonesia | PG)
There Is No Poetry Here (Kalinga Deshapriya | Sri Lanka | R13)
Three Wheels (Kavich Neang | Cambodia | PG)

MONDAY, September 19
UP Cebu

6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Saranghae My Tutor (Victor Villanueva)
Gugma ni Olivia (Christian Linaban)
Uwan Init Pista Sa Langit (Keith Deligero, Remton Siega Zuasola)

7:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Q&A with directors

TUESDAY, September 20

2:00 – 3:30 p.m.

3:30 – 4:00 p.m.
Q&A with directors

WEDNESDAY, September 21

2:00 – 3:30 p.m.

3:30 – 4:00 p.m.
Q&A with directors

Robinsons Galleria

5:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Engkwentro (Pepe Diokno | R13)

8:00 – 9:30 p.m.
Miss Bulalacao (Ara Chawdhury | R13)

THURSDAY, September 22
USJR MassComm Studio

2:00 – 3:30 p.m.

3:30 – 4:00 p.m.
Q&A with directors

FRIDAY, September 23

1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Filmmaker’s Forum with FDCP chair Liza Diño-Seguerra

4:00 – 4:30 p.m.
Prologo sa Ang Dakilang Desaprecido (Lav Diaz)

SATURDAY, September 24

9:00 – 12:00 p.m.
The Film Business and Production with Cebuana producer Bianca Balbuena

SM Seaside City Cebu

1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Happy Fiesta (Joe Bacus | Cagayan de Oro)
2013 (Eluna Cepeda | Manila)
Cobra (Marco Campos | La Union)
Aluncina (Grace Marie Lopez | Cebu)
Familiar Strangers (Eric Peter | Compostela Valley/Surigao del Sur)
Pakigbisog (Steven Atenta | Cebu)
Junilyn Has (Carlo Francisco Manatad | Tacloban)
Lunchbox (Remton Siega Zuasola | Cebu)

3:30 – 5:00 p.m.
Lola (Roberta Fuentes | Bantayan | PG)
Hinagunoy Sa Goryon (Karl Derick Sia | Cebu | PG)
Inahan Sa Kanunayng Panabang (Chloe Veloso | Cebu | PG)
One Day, Isang Diwa (Nickle John Lim | Davao | R13)
Static (Jose Victor Bacsarpa | Cagayan de Oro | R13)
Get Certified (Isaias Herrera Zantua | Cebu | PG)
Ambihas (Jaylou Dari | Cebu | PG)
Yes (Hanz Florentino | Cebu | R13)

5:10 – 5:30
Q&A with Directors

6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
SUPERPSYCHOCEBU (Christian Linaban)

7:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Q&A with the cast and crew


Like Binisaya on Facebook for more updates.

All plot synopses courtesy of Binisaya.


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After the Razzmatazz and Razzle-dazzle: Post-Sinulog Thoughts

by Chrissy Grey Resaba

Buntings of red and yellow were removed from post to post. Streets were cleared and cleaned. Fireworks displays were faded in the sky. Beats of #prititit and tunes of tourism-booster Cebu tracks were being put to archive once again.

Contingents from different parts of Cebu and Central Visayas had gone back home. Party people had gone sober while some are still recovering. Traffic has gone back to normal. Businesses, as well, has gone back to normal.

However, all the fun and loud chants, smooth grooves, and frenzied choreographies are still replaying from the memory banks of the people who celebrated Sinulog 2020. The queen of all festivals in the Philippines has left again another mark of cultural and festive nostalgia to the people from all parts of the world and Cebuanos alike.

After all the razzmatazz and razzle-dazzle, let’s get to know what are these IG and FB personalities’ #PostSinulogThoughts about celebrating the newly-culminated Sinulog 2020 and how did they differentiate it to last year’s.


Eva Patalinjug

Eva Psychee Patalinjug, Binibining Pilipinas Grand International 2018 @evapatalinjug

I celebrated my Sinulog with my boyfriend and some of my close friends, we decided to choose a place where it’s not very crowded where we can see the whole Cebu, talk, and chill the night away. We went to Verified Lounge – Cebu’s newest premier sky lounge – located at the rooftop of the Avenir Building. It was something new for me as the night was calm as I was away from the busy streets of Cebu. It’s definitely one way of enjoying such festivities.


Kim Covert

Kim Covert @kimcovert

The Sinulog celebration this year has been one of the most memorable events in my life. Not only was I invited to perform a few of my own songs during the weekend’s festivities but I also turned over my Binibining Cebu Tourism crown to my successor. Last year, I was busy with work and was not able to completely grasp the events. This year’s festival was more organized which is a great success for Cebu. Many have flown in and had spent time with their families in the “Pit Senyor” spirit, others have enjoyed spending time off with friends and colleagues. It was a great way for me to start my New Year and close my Cebu chapter before I leave to the US in a week.


Alem Garcia

Alem Garcia @thealemgarcia

Well pretty much, I was still busy doing shows and events for Sinulog. But what made it different this year was the religious celebration made me believe even more that Sto. Niño is indeed miraculous and that He is meant to be celebrated. Even though you are successful in your chosen field, furthermore, everything will be meaningless if you do not have the faith.

Philip Pingoy


Philip Pingoy @almostablogger

We all have a Sinulog story to tell. It may be a story of losing faith and finding hope. But what is important is our devotion to the Holy Child Jesus (Señor. Sto. Niño). This year, my Sinulog experience was very different since I am already based in the United Kingdom. Thanks to the internet I was still able to watch the mass and all the festivities in Cebu. I am in UK because I prayed to Sto. Niño. So, let us not forget the reason we celebrate Sinulog and let us continue to share to the rest of the world why Sinulog is the grandest festival in the Philippines. Pit Senyor everyone! I hope you had a good one!


Lyssa Amor

Lyssa Amor @lyssaamor

Sinulog celebrates Filipinos’ acceptance of Christianity. This year, I celebrated Sinulog by hearing the word of God. I went to church which I do every Sinulog but the difference now is that I am not in Cebu. It’s my first time to celebrate Sinulog away from home because I’m currently in Japan. Although I didn’t dance the traditional Sinulog dance this year, I wasn’t able to watch the fireworks in Ayala, and didn’t spend time with my friends in Mango and IT Park. Snr. Sto. Niño will always be in my heart and I am forever grateful that our ancestors accepted Christianity and we continue to embrace it up until today.


Kevin Geniston @kgeniston

Sinulog will always be a highlight for me as a Cebuano. This year has been fulfilling as I was able to brave the crowd in the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu three times to attend the novena mass which had also become like bonding time with my family, daughter, friends and loved ones. I ended the celebration of the Sinulog festivities with a bit of the usual partying and/or clubbing.

Carlo Olano

Carlo Andrew Olano @kalamicebu

My Sinulog this year was a great mix of religious and secular activities. I was able to go to the church and somehow witnessed the Traslacion and the fluvial procession. I also went to many side events like parties, mall events, and fireworks exhibitions. Sinulog 2020 had a fantastic balance of fun, faith, and festivities.


Danna Bacolod

Danna Bacolod @dannabacolod

This is the second time I spent Sinulog with Cebu Pacific. We had series of events prepared during its entire week and participated the grand parade by having a float last Sunday. I always feel excited to join Sinulog Grand Parade and see a lot of people celebrating their own way of Sinulog along the streets of Cebu. Guess it’s safe to say that I had so much fun. Even if this was work-related, I didn’t feel like I’m actually working as it was always joyful doing events like these.


Nimo Scheming

Nimo Hideki @nimo_scheming

You prolly knew this already but, Sinulog 2020 was by far the most phenomenal Sinulog experience: more laidback than the previous years’. The music in every corner of the streets were still there to help you let loose and enjoy the experience. The surge of people had tested you both mentally and physically. But it was an experience you cannot miss like mingling with people from different walks of life and shouting out “Pit Senyor” to everyone. Summing up my Sinulog experience, I was able to get crazy and enjoy all aspects of the fest.


Michael Rey

Michael Rey @michaelsomewhere

I had the most relaxed Sinulog experience this year. I did not party and preferred to witness the grand parade instead. I do think that this year’s celebration was more colorful and much safer as establishments strictly abided the rules imposed by the Cebu City Government. I was also amazed at how the festival of fashion here in Cebu has evolved throughout the years.

Now, how about you? What are your #PostSinulogThoughts this Prititit 2020? Viva Pit Senyor!

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Stellar Set of Music Personalities shine at the First World-class Music Festival in Cebu

British DJ and record producer D.O.D
by Chrissy Grey Resaba

A day before the grandest celebration of Sinulog Festival this new decade of 2020, a line-up of international DJs and local artists are up gathered to perform for the first time this January 17, 2020, at City Di Mare at the South Reclamation Properties.

IV of Spades

Speaking of first, Baladhay is the pioneer music festival in the Queen City of the South that forays top-rate production and technical values. Headlining the event are Spanish house and electro house DJ and producer Danny Avila, British DJ and record producer D.O.D, America EDM, DJ Makasi, and Dutch DJ and record producer duo Blasterjaxx.

Danny Avila

Joining the stellar set of musical personalities are top Manila bands Sandwich and Pedicab which rock music resonates in timelessly. Moreover, hit band IV of Spades are paired together with homegrown Cebuano artists Victor Jao, Gino V, Budoy, Intertwined, Mandaue Nights, Sepia Times, and Route 83.

DJ Makasi

One of the most technically complex setups ever done in Cebu is a combined efforts of Cebu’s Blackstraw Productions and Manila’s Creative Control Group which deserve to get noticed to the global standard levels with its PMX Audio setting up a full-on L Acoustics K2 rig—the preferred brand and model of international artists, bands and DJs. For the lighting, the event is presenting locally available fixtures pre-mapped and programmed weeks before the event with a Chamsys MQ500 Stadium lighting controller. It is also the very first unit in the country that makes a debut in Cebu courtesy of Forerunner Technologies PH Professional.


Timely and relevant to the Sinulog festivity, this musical event is named after the adviser of Rajah Humabon. Baladhay was responsible for inventing the famous Sinulog dance of “two steps forward, one step backward” after he was healed miraculously from severe illness by the most Holy Child Jesus.

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Sinulog 2020: What’s and Where’s?

by Allain Dumon Fonte

Sinulog is always the most awaited festival in the Philippines.  Dating back more than 400 years old, the festivities have shown the best of Cebuano culture and heritage. The Sinulog celebration draw more than 300,000 tourists every year, both pilgrims and spectators.  So, here are a few places to visit and events that should not be missed to make the best of your Sinulog experience.

MAAYO Hotel Cebu

168 Plaridel St, Mandaue City, 6014 Cebu

On the 18th of January, MAAYO Hotel Cebu will host ILLUMINATE; neon lights, great music, and an open bar will be the events’ highlights.  Illuminate will be at the roofdeck pool bar of the MAAYO hotel.  Live bands will be performing all throughout the night.  Never miss out on their world-class sangria, a signature concoction that can only be enjoyed from the MAYO Hotel bar.

Cebu Parklane International Hotel

N. Escario St, Cebu City, 6000 Cebu

The hotel is best known for its warmth hospitality, sumptuous culinary collection, and for its love and promotion of the Cebuano culture.  The Cebu Parklane International Hotel displays an exquisite collection of Santo Niño images by Madam Josie Pereyra.  With some dated back from the 18th century, with over 50 relics and images are displayed at the hotel’s lobby. One of the relics include a century-old Santo Niño from the National Museum.

The hotel also has an exhibition of paintings by Cebu’s renowned artist, Ruel Rosello.  While all of his paintings show Cebuano culture, practices, and traditions, the image of the holy child, the Señor Santo Niño, is the central figure in all of the art pieces.  The exhibition is until the 31st of January.

Seda Ayala Center Cebu

Cardinal Rosales Ave, Cebu City, 6000 Cebu

The new Seda Hotel at the Ayala Center Cebu exhibits masterpieces of international painter, Mr. Cesar Castillo.  The paintings depict the faith and devotion of the Filipinos to the Holy Child Señor Santo Niño.  The hotel lobby is also accented with intricately designed Sinulog costumes by Cebu’s most sought after costume designer, Miss Malayka Yamas.

Il Corso Shopping Center

Cebu South Costal Road Properties

Cebu’s newest shopping destination has prepared an explosive event this Friday.  The Sky Symphony Musical Fireworks: a grand fireworks competition will happen at the IL CORSO Mall bay area on the 17th of January 2020, at 7:00 in the evening.  The grand fireworks competition will have music from Cebu’s best DJ’s and live band performances.

La Plage Pool Club

North Reclamation Area, Mandaue City

The newest lifestyle and pool club in Cebu is hosting the grandest party of the year, Hydro Cebu Music Festival.  La Plage’s grand opening will kick off with the music festival on the 17th of January to the 18th of January.  This is an event that should not be missed as the best DJ’s in Asia gather for this two-day music and dance party.  Music lovers get ready to get wet and wild!

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