In Philippines cinema has always represented an important part of the daily life and culture of its residents, and its development has proceeded constantly and dialectically within the two poles of popular traditions (particularly theatrical) and Western codes. In fact, the genre of musical comedy and that of adventure and fantastic stories (often inspired by local legends) have found great space and above all melodrama, a favorite of authors and an audience that loves the representation of extreme conflicts and feelings. other Southeast Asian countries (see Asia and Vietnam), historical and colonial events have contributed to making the history of Filipino cinema very complex and stratified; however, it is necessary to bear in mind the difficulty of reconstructing the birth and early developments, due to the scarce availability of sources. Thus, for example, of the nearly four hundred films shot between 1919 and 1944, only three were saved; therefore entire seasons and great successes of Filipino cinema can only be reconstructed on the basis of the advertising posters still preserved. to distribution, keeping the local market under heavy control, as the director and producer Vicente Salumbides recounts in his memoirs (1952). To counter foreign incursions, some companies specialized in films in the Tagalog language – later called pilipino and became the official language in 1946 – targeting a more popular audience, who did not know English. In this context the bakya genre was born (so called from the name of the wooden clogs usually worn by the poorest), inspired by the ancient and rich theatrical tradition of sinakulo (sacred representation on the Passion and death of Christ), of komedya (dramatization of the conflict between Christians and Muslims) and sarsuwela (operetta), but also with recognizable contaminations with classic Hollywood genres. Precisely because of these characteristics, the bakya anticipated what would be the subsequent development of Filipino cinematography. the author who for years was the main point of reference for many directors was José Nepomuceno, very close to musical cinema. After founding Malayan Motion Pictures in 1917, which would later produce all of his works, he made his debut with the successful Dalagang bukid (1919, The Country Girl), based on a play by writer H. Ilagan, in which the actors were dubbed live (in singing and acting) during the screening, thus bypassing the obstacle of silent cinema. His Noli me tangere (1930), a choral film with an accurate nineteenth-century setting, also achieved great success. The story was inspired by a historical novel by J. Rizal (writer who would always maintain a close link with the world of cinema) and reconstructed the period of Spanish domination. It seems that Nepomuk himself must, in addition, Punyal na ginto (1933, The Golden Dagger), the first totally sound Filipino film, while V. Salumbides, who began to devote himself to directing after various experiences as an extra on the production set, was very close to the taste of Hollywood Americans. An admirer above all of sophisticated comedy of international taste, as evidenced by the use of titles in English, Salumbides made his debut with Miracles of love (1925), revolutionizing the cinematographic language then common thanks to the introduction of parallel and alternate editing (to give rhythm to the narrative) and elements a la Griffith, such as the use of the innovative foreground. He also changed the style of acting, choosing to use non-professional actors, exponents of the upper classes of the capital, regular frequenters of Western cinema. These choices proved to be of considerable importance for the subsequent affirmation of the first local stars (Mary Walter, Naty and Gregorio Fernandez, Nora Linda and others) who became the undisputed principles of the star system.After the Second World War, production flourished almost immediately returning in a short time to the frenetic rhythms of the pre-war period with a marked predilection for the musical film, adventure and the fantastic genre (with local or biblical sagas, but also Hollywood-style costume films) and the definitive affirmation of melodrama in the preferences of the public. The first successful attempt by Filipino cinema to cross national borders, in search of a notoriety that would do justice to its expressive richness, also dates back to that period: with the biographical film Genghis Khan (1952), director Lou Salvador managed to blend popular culture and Western cinema suggestions with perfect balance, gaining some attention at the Venice Film Festival and opening a path that would later be followed by Lino Brocka, the most famous Filipino director. The protagonist and producer of Genghis Khan had been Manuel Conde, also known by the nickname of ‘Filipino DeMille’ for his spectacular films. After behind the camera, Conde reached full maturity in the 1950s with epic-fantastic films; an excellent example is Sigfredo (1954), a free adaptation of the Nibelungian saga also remembered for the sumptuous sets created by the artist Carlos V. Francisco. Solid craft and profound awareness also distinguish Lamberto Avellana’s cinema, Gerardo de Leon and Eddie Romero, directors with an immense filmography that includes about seventy titles for each. War film is Anak dalita (1956, Son of Sorrow) from Avellana, who tells a bitter episode of the war in Korea, which was followed by Badjao (1957), shot among the gypsies of the South Seas, whose nomadic life he describes, traditions and daily gestures. G. de Leon also cultivated the war genre with Saigon (1953), the first of a series of co-productions between Philippines and Vietnam, and devoted himself to the chivalrous western with Ifugao (1955), where there are showy mélo veins, as well as the historical genre with El filibusterismo (1962), a tale of anti-colonial struggles based on the work of the same name by J. Rizal. The latter is the writer who most of all has given great pages to Filipino cinema, and which in more recent times was remembered with the biographical film by Marilou Diaz-Abaya José Rizal (1997), where his profile as a great late nineteenth-century reformer is reconstructed and the figure of this man is celebrated in all its complexity. beloved national hero, on the occasion of the centenary of independence (1998).The activity of director E. Romero takes place in a contradictory period, during which there was the collapse of the studio system and the birth of a severe censorship law (1962). Romero was a complete figure of cinema: director, screenwriter, producer, he created for Roger Corman, between the mid-fifties and the mid-seventies, b-movies in the horror, adventure, war genres favored by the American director-producer; but he also shot and produced films for the foreign market, including Cavalry command (1963; Cavalleria commandos), Beast of blood (1971; The beast of blood), Savage sisters (1974; Three magnificent scoundrels), circulating in Italy. More attentive to introspection and psychological reflection were some later works, such as Ganito kami noon, paano kayo ngayon? (1976, We were like this before, and what are you now?), Whose protagonist is a young man in search of himself, and Banta ng kahapon (1977, The Menace of the Past), a rigorous denunciation film. Since the seventies, a strong protest against the political-cultural establishment has developed thanks to films that have wisely managed to force the limits imposed by censorship. In fact, from Japan and China have come the models of a cinema that entrusts to violence and eroticism the task of expressing a form of harsh and extremely bitter criticism of politics and society, as in the case of Nympha (1970) directed by Celso A. Castillo. In those same years, the author who made his debut more than others he would have known how to renew Filipino cinema making it known to the rest of the world: Lino Brocka, who directed his first film in 1970, Want-ed: perfect mother. In this work there is a particular use of comics, a sign of a desire for innovation on the part of a cinema very interested in all forms of popular culture. Eclectic and active on many fronts (he worked for television but also for the theater), Brocka proved to be at ease especially in melodrama, which he knew how to interpret changes with an open and curious gaze. An exemplary case is the film that actually marked an important turning point in his career, Tinimbang ka ngunit kulang (1974, You have been weighed but you have been found scarce), a love story between a leper and a retarded girl. The attention to the separation of human relationships, almost always subservient to money and sex, emerges in the following and more famous Maynila sa kuko ng liwanag (1975, Manila in the claws of light), Insiang (1976), Jaguar (1979; Giaguaro), Bona (1980), all set in the shantytowns of Tondo. Next to Brocka, Mario O’Hara, screenwriter and director, undisputed master of noir and protagonist of the Filipino scene especially of the seventies and eighties (his is the script by Insiang). Genre masterpieces, but also testimonies of political commitment, are to be considered Tatlong taong walang Diyos (1976, Three years without God), but even more Hope of the heart (1983), shot a few months after the assassination of B. Aquino – a leading figure in the opposition to President Philippines Marcos – which tells of the terrible violence carried out by the military regime. In line with a continuity with the past, Carlitos Siguion-Reyna (member of the Association of Filipino filmmakers, an organization that fights against censorship) has subsequently established himself who, once again, he has chosen melodrama for his films, made of waiting and prolonged times until exasperation. At the center of his stories are stories of men and women, of overlapping gazes, of environments and situations filmed with an accurate passion for detail. His films Ang lalaki sa buhay ni Selya (1997, The man in the life of Selya), Tatlo… magkasalo (1998, Scambio a tre) and Azucena (2000) remain important examples of a cinema that, despite its contamination, maintains an unmistakable identity. 1998, in particular, was a rich year from the production point of view, with 145 works completed, including productions of great economic commitment and semi-independent works. Among these should we still mention Bata, bata, paano ka ginawa? (Child, child, how were you conceived?) Directed by Chito Rono and inspired by a well-known feminist tale.