We’re all familiar with male Filipino heroes from textbooks and the various historical movies made about their lives. What is less known, yet deserves as much attention, are the women who were equally important in the struggle who oftentimes survived more challenging circumstances. Although the attention given to them is still greatly lacking in comparison to their male counterparts, there have been glimpses, and sometimes even brilliant portrayals of them in Philippine Cinema.
Vina Morales as Gregoria de Jesus in Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo
As an entry to the 2014 MMFF, Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo is one of the biggest films about Andres Bonifacio. It stars Robin Padilla and Vina Morales, who plays Gregoria de Jesus, or Oriang, the love interest of Bonifacio. The romance between the two is bittersweet, as we’re able to see their relationship develop from their first meeting to their last.
Vilma Santos as Sister Stella Legaspi in Sister Stella L
Mike de Leon’s 1984 classic Sister Stella L, written by Jose F. Lacaba, is an award-winning masterpiece about a nun who gets a political awakening after learning the government’s neglect of the poor and the working class. The realities in labor, politics, and religion are all tackled in this film, which raised many questions about the state of the country during the Marcos era. Sister Stella is considered one of Vilma Santos’ most memorable roles.
Joanna Ampil as Candida Marasigan in Ang Larawan
Based on the famous 1950 play, A Portrait of the Artist as a Filipino by National Artist Nick Joaquin, the period musical takes place in 1941 just before World War II, in Intramuros. An entry in the 43rd MMFF, where it won in five out of twelve categories, the story revolves around the struggles of the Marasigan family, who are trying to cope with the changing times. Ampil’s performance is absolutely breathtaking and truly brings the entire film to life.
Amanda Page as Josephine Bracken in Rizal sa Dapitan
In this 1997 film written by Pete Lacaba, Amanda Page is Josephine Bracken, Rizal’s common-law wife. The film shows the struggles they endured in order to make their relationship work—criticized by their families and the Catholic Church.
Cristine Reyes as Hilaria Aguinaldo in El Presidente
Cristine Reyes plays the first wife of Emilio Aguinaldo, Hilaria. Although the film focuses mainly on the story of our first President and the establishment of the Republic, it does touch on the more personal aspects of his life and shows how we was behind closed doors with his family and loved ones.