By James Gabriel Regondola

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), in partnership with Negros Cultural Foundation (NCF) premiered a dozen of Filipino short films on Sine Halaga Film Festival worldwide last August 25, 2020 via Vimeo OnDemand and NCCA Learning Resources Hub website for free. 

The ongoing festival aims to be an educational resource for addressing fundamental Filipino virtues, customs, and practices as determined by two members of the film festival's jury, Arvin Villalon and Jose Soliman, Jr.

Here are the 12 movies on Sine Halaga that you should not forget to put on your watchlist:


Directed by: Richard Soriano Legaspi
Duration: 27 minutes
Filipino values: Self, Life and Purpose, Livelihood, Family

Photo courtesy by Sine Halaga Film Festival, Red Room Media Productions

After finishing his prison sentence, Lino (Jemuel Salumba) returns home unexpectedly to his mother (Maria Miranda). When he departed to work overseas, he had a strained relationship with his stepfather, who had lost their 10 hectares of land due to gambling debts. He went to see his former girlfriend Lena (Ahlex Leyva), who had previously married his best buddy, after settling down. Lino screams in agony with a heavily cloud-covered Mt. Arayat in the background was strikingly lovely. Beautiful wide panoramas of the rural environment dominated this short film.  And the conclusion's twist was well-executed.


Directed by: Zig Dulay
Duration: 20 minutes
Filipino values: Education, Family, Basic Needs, Self, Livelihood, Peace and Progress, Loyalty, Integrity, Life and Purpose, Human Rights, Love of Country, Cultural Arts and Sciences, Good Government, Happiness

Photo Courtesy by Sine Halaga Film Festival, Uncle Scott Global Productions
12-year-old Sambal Aeta boy Itan (Ron King), aspires to be a lawyer to defend their ancestral lands. Sadly, Norman (Norman King), his father, considered him to be already good enough to finish grade 6. Until he received a bag, he had the hope of fulfilling his dream—which he must read to finally understand a document that sent him and other Aetas away from their homes in the mountains. This short film reveals Aetas's struggles in education, highlighting the religion and familial dynamics of indigenous people. It leaves us the lesson that perseverance and love can move mountains.


Directed by: Arden Rod Condez
Duration: 26 minutes
Filipino Values: Self, Life and Purpose, Creativity, Fellowship, Happiness, Environment, Cultural Arts and Science

Photo courtesy by Sine Halaga Film Festival, What If Films

Lola Acay (Adela Luciano-Berboso) realized it was time for her to die because her daughter denied her inheritance. She requested a teenage internet cafe gamer (Jansen Magpusao) to guide her to Payaw in Negros, where there was a mysterious river where women like her could turn into ashes and fade away. The movie linked compassionately with a terrible monster in Philippine Mythology: aswang. To express its paranormal premise, it had three scenes with properly crafted special effects.


Directed by: Ralston Jover
Duration: 25 minutes
Filipino Values: Self, Family, Human Rights, Livelihood, Creativity,  Traditional Heritage, Cultural Arts and Science

Photo courtesy by Sine Halaga Film Festival, Pelikula Productions

DISCLAIMER: R18! Hernan Fernandez (Lester Llansang), a carpenter, was left to care for his two kids while his wife worked in Dubai. After a heated argument with his hot-headed neighbor over the common pathway to their houses, he was prosecuted with attempted murder. To confront his neighbor, he pulls a bolo from the kitchen. The film also featured aswang, a well-known creature in local legend, having appeared in a young girl's nightmares as well as a school dance performance. The fact that Bles, her pregnant sister-in-law, is due to give birth at any time adds to the anticipation. The crimson filter employed in tight sequences heightened Hernan's rage. 


Directed by: James Allen Fajardo
Duration: 20 minutes
Filipino Values: Self, Faith, Peace and Progress, Environment, Fellowship, Cultural Arts and Science

Photo courtesy by Sine Halaga Film Festival, Looking for Rafflesias Productions

The townspeople fear tikbalang, a horse demon from Philippine myth, after being blamed for various killings on the mountain. Young boy Gubat (Reynald Raissel Santos), a tikbalang that transforms into an adolescent, is one of the natives who travels to the mountain in search of the truth until he met Darren (Kevin Andrews), an American botanist on the lookout for rafflesias. His encounters with the American revealed unprecedented basic requirements to him. This obliges him to show his genuine identity and sacrifice his life.


Directed by: Noel Escondo
Duration: 19 minutes
Filipino Values: Self, Integrity, Family, Life and Purpose, Fellowship, Livelihood, Basic Needs 

Photo courtesy by Sine Halaga Film Festival, All Blacks Media Productions

One morning, in a tragic maritime accident, Lorna (Angeli Bayani), a mother of two, just lost her married husband, Jose (Bong Cabrera). She had no choice but to establish a family of her own. She is the first woman "mangingisda" in a town where women were considered inferior to feed her children. Her story is very familiar, but still a good pitch for women empowerment. 


Directed by: Jan Carlo Natividad
Duration: 25 minutes
Filipino Values: Self, Happiness, Fellowship

Photo courtesy by Sine Halaga Film Festival, 1440 Productions

Set in Tondaligan Beach in Dagupan, Pangasinan, Federico (Kych Minemoto) and his childhood friend Luis (Zeiah Mejia) reunited again after long years. Luis moved to Manila to study 7 years ago, and this is the first time they've seen each other in a long time. Federico was puzzled and concerned after spending time together on the beach since he began to develop feelings for Luis. Federico takes advantage of the solitary setting to express his prohibited yearning to his long-time friend. The climax took the film in a radically new path and was executed really effectively, with the characters putting on a bold performance.


Directed by: Christopher Gozum
Duration: 38 minutes
Filipino Values: Family, Faith, Health, Identity, Peace and Progress, Environment, Love of Country, Cultural Arts and Science

Photo courtesy by Sine Halaga Film Festival, Sine Caboloan Productions

Mina (Lean Emgil-Galsim) was a great student at a Pangasinan school, who was subjected to a drunken birthday celebration by a Video Scandal. This led her to be so anxious that her mother, Rita (Gilconida Ambat-Vandoorn), needed to go home and look after her. Mina started witnessing extraordinary elements since her call to traditional healing had to be accepted. This film was made with its strange sequence, long tracking shots and bright black and white imagery. 


Directed by: Kurt Soberano
Duration: 35 minutes
Filipino Values: Self, Happiness, Fellowship, Family, Education, Basic Needs, Livelihood, Loyalty, Life and Purpose, Culture Arts and Science, Traditional Heritage 

Photo courtesy by Sine Halaga Film Festival, Bakunawa Films

In 1982, a fourteen-year-old cinema lover from a poor family in the Municipality of Manapla unexpectedly encountered the making of Oro, Plata, Mata in his village. He approaches the filmmaker, Peque Gallaga, with enthusiasm, hoping to secure a position that will help him provide for his family and fulfill his passion. Fans of the epic film "Oro Plata Mata" will admire the restoration of the production as well as the excerpts.


Directed by: Jordan dela Cruz
Duration: 17 minutes
Filipino Values: Self, Faith, Good Government, Cultural Arts and Science, Fellowship

Photo courtesy by Sine Halaga Film Festival, Gadfly Projects

Simon Biraga (Marc Felix), a miserable fisherman living along Bicol River, was devastated by the abduction of his wife Lilia Biraga (Julie Ciron). When he eventually finds her, his trust in God is put to the test. Majority of the sequences were shot in extreme close-ups, which added to the piece's mental health angle. 

11. 13 FEET

Directed by: Carlo Obispo
Duration: 10 minutes
Filipino Values: Health, Environment

Photo courtesy by Sine Halaga Film Festival, Rough Road Productions

Peter Pulido (Anjo Resurreccion), a fitness coach, went viral after saving a girl from drowning 13 feet deep in the ocean in Pangasinan. Later, he noticed scaly skin growing under his ear. The growing skin lesions had revealed themselves to be something entirely else. This extremely short film was primarily shot within the confines of Peter's luxurious condo along EDSA serving a picturesque backdrop. 


Directed by: Manie Magbanua Jr. 
Duration: 17 minutes
Filipino Values: Happiness, Fellowship, Life and Purpose, Identity, Health, Faith, Cultural Arts and Science, Environment, Family

Photo courtesy by Sine Halaga Film Festival, Filipino Pictures Productions

Circumcision plays a vital role in Filipino culture where boys were either excited or anxious about it. Kadoy (Jason Louis Mioten), a 9-year-old child from Antique has opted to circumcise this Lent Week. This short film has superb production elements, especially the photography of the rural scenery. A memorable scenario in the film was the adults discussing this coming-of-age habit for guys in front of a girl Suping (Angelica Sta. Romana), who was being teased with Kadoy.