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About Films / Movies / Theater in Philippines

Given how talented Filipinos are and how inclined they are to the performing arts, it comes as no surprise that the Philippines offers much to do in terms of entertainment. No matter where you are in the country, there's bound to be a cinema or theater that will cater to your needs.

The variety of entertainment in this country is also one that both locals and foreigners will appreciate. From Hollywood blockbusters and Broadway hits to award-winning indie local films and productions, the wide range of flicks and shows offered to the public caters to all audiences of varied interests. If you want to immerse yourself in all kinds of theatrical and film genres, seeing a show in the Philippines will definitely broaden your cultural horizons.


Going to the movies is one of the favorite pastimes of Filipinos. It's an activity enjoyed by everyone from families to cliques, and with the vast amount of movie theaters available all over the country, this pastime has been extended to almost all Filipinos of various social classes.

Most of the cinemas in the Philippines can be found within malls. Almost all branches of popular malls such as SM, Ayala Malls, and Robinsons, as well as the smaller community malls like Walter Mart and CityMall offer cinemas within their premises so mall-goers can also entertain themselves with a movie.

These cinemas screen various movie genres so moviegoers will have plenty to choose from. From Hollywood flicks to local films that range from pop culture to indie, they really satisfy the palates of audiences with various cultural tastes.

There are even cinemas that are exclusive for foreign films. Foreign film enthusiasts will be able to enjoy French films at the theater of Alliance Francaise de Manille as well as German films at the theater of Goethe Insititut Philippines.

In addition to movie houses found within malls, there are also stand-alone cinemas that cater to the indie film niche. Some of these include Cinema ’76 Film Society, Cinematheque Centre Manila, Cinema Centenario, CCP Arthouse Cinema, and UP Film Institute's Cine Adarna. If you're a supporter of indie films, these movie houses will fulfill your wishes.

Film Festivals

Many film festivals are being held annually in the country, but arguably the most popular would have to be the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF). Usually kicking off on Christmas Day and lasting well until the first week of January, this festival highlights Filipino films, which is why during the course of the competition, you rarely see foreign films showing in the theaters. It is usually during the festival season that movie houses see a rush of moviegoers.

Another notable film festival is Cinemalaya. This independent film festival highlights the works of indie filmmakers, from full-length films to short flicks. Aside from independent movie houses and in the CCP, selected shopping mall theaters within Metro Manila also screen Cinemalaya entries.

Then there are also foreign film festivals such as Cine Europa and French Film Festival, which brings the choice of foreign language films to Filipinos. These films are usually screened at theaters located in foreign language institutes, but there are also times that commercial theaters have picked them up and offered to screen them to the public.


A cultural experience is also not too far away with the number of theaters in the Philippines where you can catch all sorts of stage productions for theatrical plays, musicals, and other spectacular acts.

The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) is usually top of mind when it comes to venues for cultural performances. Featuring numerous exhibition halls and theaters, it plays host to both local and international performances ranging from stage plays, concerts, art exhibitions, and film screenings. Traditional and folk cultural performances are also held here, if you want to immerse yourself in traditional Filipino culture.

Right next door to the CCP and adjacent to the popular amusement park Star City in Pasay is Aliw Theater. At 3,614 square meters, it plays host to a variety of events from concerts to plays, but it is better known for being the venue for the ballet productions of Ballet Manila, a popular local dance company founded by Filipina prima ballerina Liza Macuja.

In addition to the CCP and Aliw Theater, Pasay City is known to be a home of world-class integrated resorts which boast state-of-the-art theaters. The Newport Performing Arts Theater at Resorts World Manila as well as The Theater at Solaire at Solaire Resort and Casino are both popular venues for musicals. In fact, they each have an impressive portfolio of running Broadway and even West End productions of world-class musicals the likes of Lion King, Les Miserables, The Sound of Music, Annie, and the King and I, to name a few, so if you're gunning for some world-class entertainment, these theaters will provide that for you.

In terms of local plays, the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) Theater Center is the place to be. It constantly runs a variety of stage plays, including original ones as well as local adaptations of foreign plays. Rak of Aegis, Sa Wakas, and 'Night Mother are just a few of the notable recent plays that were staged at PETA Theater.

Another venue option for local plays is Power Mac Center Spotlight at Circuit Makati. Albeit small and with a limited seating capacity of only 300 guests, it nevertheless has become host to various performances from plays to concerts, but it also became the venue for the first run of the international short play festival Short + Sweet Theatre Festival.

Theater festivals

Much like film festivals, theater festivals in the Philippines are also much-awaited among theater fans.

In contrast to Short + Sweet Theatre Festival which is hosted in various countries, Virgin Labfest is proudly Filipino. This theater festival, which is held every June, was incepted and has always been held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The plays that are staged are new and never-before-been-staged one-act plays from local playwrights.

If you're a fan of improv performances, then make your schedule for March open for the annual Manila Improv Festival also held at PETA Theater Center. Improv artists from all over the country gather together to perform on-the-spot performances before an audience.

Special productions

If you're scrambling for something new to try, you should definitely check out the Boracay Amazing Show the next time you find yourself in this island paradise.

With a magnificent lineup of performances from singing, dancing, and comedic acts all performed by a cast of Filipino drag queens, the Boracay Amazing Show will truly be one of the most amazing shows that you will ever witness.

Some cinema and theater rules to live by

Since you're going to be sharing the movie or performance with a bunch of other people in the audience, each one is expected to be on the best behavior and follow a few rules to ensure a hassle-free and smooth cultural experience for everyone.

Observing silence whenever you watch a movie or any performance is considered a golden rule. Refrain from talking loudly to your companion if you want to discuss something, and if you'll be taking a phone call, make sure to step outside. You should also make sure to put your phone on silent mode or turn it off instead so as not to disturb other people.

Furthermore, if you brought kids to your movie screening or theater run and they became unruly, lead them outside until they've calmed down enough to be brought back again as a sign of respect to other movie and play goers.