The society of respected film critics that hands out the annual Gawad Urian in cinematic excellence

Pinilakang Gawad Urian

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In celebration of its 25th year, its silver anniversary, the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino has named the 10 best Filipino films made in the group's nearly three decades of existence: the '70s, '80s, and '90s.

The films are listed in chronological order:

Maynila sa kuko ng liwanag (1975)

Manila is portrayed as a web of exploitation and poverty, that traps and devours a naive probinsiyano, Julio Madiaga (Rafael "Bembol" Roco, Jr.), who journeys into the city in search of a better life and his beloved, Ligaya Paraiso (Hilda Koronel), who has become a common-law wife of a Chinese merchant. When they try to escape from the oppressive city, Julio and his beloved are destroyed.

Insiang (1976)

A love triangle leads to a crime of passion as an innocent slum girl, Insiang (Hilda Koronel), is transformed into a scheming, ruthless woman by harsh social and physical conditions and by here even harsher experience. After being raped by her mother's live-in lover (Ruel Vernal), Insiang makes the lover fall in love with here, so that the mother (Mona Lisa) would be forced to butcher the man in a gruesome fit of jealousy.

Gaano kami noon... Paano kayo ngayon? (1976)

A sprawling, picaresque tale revolving around a character named Kulas (Christopher de Leon) who is tasked to bring bastard child of a Spanish friar to the city, and in the process, wanders through the Philippine Revolution against Spain and the Philippine-American War, and wonders about the meaning of being Filipino in those critical decades of national self-definition.

Nunal sa tubig (1976)

Employing a quiet, experimental cinematic style, Ishmael Bernal's opus recreates the quality and slow pace of life in a dying village surrounded by the sea, as it is caught in the eternal cycle of love and hate, of fertility and pollution, of birth and death. A bold—and successful— attempt to depart from the usual commercial fare, it cryptically paints a large, bleak canvas showing rural fold and how their chances at redemption and happiness are irreversibly decimated by poverty, ignorance, neglect and the dark side of big business.

Manila by night (City after dark) (1980)

A loving, candid, Altamanesque vision of a city full of colorful, flesh-and-blood characters—living, loving, lying, fighting, struggling in a world of decay and decadence, joy and squalor, mystery and revelation, hope and frustration. Using the eloquent language of cinema, the filmmaker imaginatively exposes the frailties and strengths of these people, their joys and heartaches, encompassing the different seasons and special occasions like one explosive New Year's Eve and a lusty Valentine merry-making.

Kisapmata (1981)

Employing economy of means and the power of suggestion, director Mike de Leon effectively presents a highly visual and stark character study of a demented patriarch and retired policeman (Vic Silayan) and his acquiescent family. The old man's tight grip n his submissive wife (Charito Solis) and daughter (Charo Santos) is threatened when the young woman marries her fiance, driving the father to fits of jealousy and violence. Also a statement on tyranny and the use of terror by an authoritarian figure, an oblique criticism of the Marcos dictatorship.

Himala (1982)

Ishmael Bernal's film may be read as a parable of “art” and “life, “ faith and fact, hope and despair, in a society driven to desperation by widespread destitution. A filmmaker (Spanky Manikan) plays a pivotal role in the unfolding of the story of a village “miracle-maker” (Nora Aunor) who in claiming the Virgin has appeared to her, consequently brings the dying barrio to life. Bernal's parable is both philosophical and political. The filmmaker seems to have been set up as a representation of the artist who believes his art is a simple transcript of reality and finds himself confounded by the morality of condoning “untruth” by his failure to expose the outrage on the “miracle-maker.” The political aspect, in retrospect, is Bernal's damning comment on the deceptions being foisted by the Marcos dictatorship on the Filipino-- the fiction that Martial law had brought aibout the “miracle” of eradicating poverty and unrest in Philippine society.

Batch '81 (1982)

A realistic and metaphorical depiction of the horrors of fraternity initiations. The so-called masters of the organization subject their neophytes to gripping physical and psychological violence and humiliation leading to death and anarchy. It is yet another cinematic look at society's tolerance and acceptance, even approbation, of mindless conformity and submission-- the order of the day during the martial law regime.

Orapronobis (Fight for us) (1989)

The evils of militarianism and its paramilitary arm are exposed in this harrowing tale of a community reeling—and dying—in terror sowed by the vigilante group Orapronobis. Following the EDSA revolt, political prisoners are released, including Jimmy Cordero (Phillip Salvador), an activist priest who believes in the new government. When the abuses continue and when Jimmy joins the fact-finding mission to investigate the incident, he is now torn between his wife Trixie (Dina Bonnevie), a human rights activist, and his former girlfriend Esper (Gina Alajar) and his son (R.R. Herrera), and begins to question his decision to leave the underground.

Bayaning 3rd World (1999)

This post-modernist take on the National Hero Jose Rizal, his life and legend, his psyche and that of his followers, folllows the artistic and intellectual meanderings of two filmmakers (Ricky Davao and Cris Villanueva) who are struggling to make a movie about the Filipino martyr. They dissect the ubiquity of the Rizal figure, from one-peso coin to the pervasive popular practice of attaching his name to just about everything, including matchsticks and funeral houses. A movie of ideas, shot in black and white, it provokes the audience into reevaluating not only their perception of the revered nationalist and Renaisssnace man, but also their positions and attitudes toward hero worship, myth-making and deification.