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7 relatable Filipino coming-of-age films for young LGBTQIA+ people

Are you excited for Samantha Lee’s “Billie and Emma” coming back to cinemas this Mar. 20? Us too. It’s another chance to more queer coming-of-age narratives on Philippine cinema. And with the plethora of our country’s run-of-the-mill commercial films, it’s good to see stories like “Billie and Emma” get a chance to reach a wider audience.

But while we wait for the film to screen, why don’t we learn more about other queer coming-of-age films similar to it? Let us broaden your film library with some starter recos. Ranging from the indie classic “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros” to more obscure ones like the Visayan film “The Thank You Girls,” we might have the coming-of-age films that could be your next potential fave.

“Ang Huling Cha-cha ni Anita” (2014)

Set in the outskirts of Bulacan, 13-year-old Anita wants to understand herself as she goes through puberty. Her mother’s religious outlook and personal desires for her doesn’t help Anita on her self-discovery. But when a beautiful woman named Pilar goes back to Anita’s hometown, she becomes the person to awaken young Anita’s sexual and romantic desires.

“Miss Bulalacao” (2015)

The night after a gay pageant in Biliran, a young drag queen named Dodong gets pregnant. Is it aliens or a miracle sent from above? That’s what the local villagers are trying to figure out. As he gets excited about motherhood, his pregnancy raises his status in the village as either the next Mother Mary or a demonic entity waiting for a holy intervention.

“Baka Bukas” (2016)

Of course, this list is not complete without the mention of Samantha Lee’s debut film “Baka Bukas.” It’s the story of two best friends Alex and Jess. Alex is a 20-year-old creative living in Manila, trying to navigate the metro as she immerses herself in the creative life while building up the courage to come out to her best friend who she has feelings for. When her best friend finds out that she’s lesbian, they both face the challenges and the complications that came with it head on.

“The Thank You Girls” (2008)

Five young gay pageant queens from Davao City are on a losing streak. They seem to have a hard time trying to bag the crown within their own turf. Tired of the bad luck, they went on a road trip to Cagayan De Oro with their gay manager in hopes to win the biggest gay pageant there.

“Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros” (2006)

Maxi is a young gay boy living in the slums with his family who are petty thieves. As he lives a young, carefree life, he found himself slowly falling in love with a handsome police officer named Victor. His affection for Victor eventually backfires as he is torn between losing his family or losing his crush in the process.

“Jazz in Love” (2013)

This documentary revolves around a young Davaoeño named Jazz, leading up to his dream wedding with his LDR German boyfriend. Our country’s laws don’t allow them to marry. So in order for Jazz to marry his dream man, he has to fly over to Germany and tie the knot there. He starts to make big changes in his life like moving to Manila in order to learn Deutsch. But with all of these big changes coming, the most important people in his life are kept in the dark—his parents.

“Ang Lihim ni Antonio” (2008)

Like any 15-year-old, Antonio is still coming to terms with his sexuality and overall identity. This trying time in his life slowly alienates him from his friends and loved ones. But when his uncle comes to live with his family, something starts to change. 

Still from Ang Huling Cha-cha ni Anita


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