Throughout history, the intersection between film and music has been closely knit — from music enhancing a film’s storytelling to songs inspiring scenes of a movie.

The bond between the two has been inseparable. Several works of art have showcased the relationship between music and film that have birthed timeless classics, cult favorites, and shaped cultural movements. Whether it’s those locally produced or celebrated abroad, numerous films have emerged as prime examples of how music elevates film, and vice versa.

In Philippine culture, music itself isn’t merely a background element but a vibrant pulse that finds its way into every aspect of our lives. Filipino’s innate appreciation for the art form has established its musical heritage and has found its way into the fabric of the local movies that grace our screen – whether it’s from the cinemas nearby, television units, or even the mobile devices that we carry.

Whether you’re an aspiring artist or a curious listener new to the vibrant world of Filipino music, dive into the heart of the Philippine gig scene with these films that capture its energy and essence. From these film’s raw depictions of gig culture to the exhilarating journey of finding fame, these movies offer entertaining insights into the scene’s highs and lows. Billboard Philippines presents six essential Filipino films that paint a vivid picture of the local music landscape –– inviting you to explore the must-watch flicks that define the rhythm of Filipino life.

Rakenrol (2011)


Penned by director Quark Henares and Diego Castillo, Rakenrol is a hilarious musical comedy that captures the heart of the Filipino gig scene with its tumultuous energy and vivacious spirit that often feels larger than life.

It’s a fun film that tells the story of two friends who find a home in the Philippine rock scene and form a band that features a very colorful cast of characters. While it does offer a satirical take on the music industry, Rakenrol serves as a passionate love letter to the underground OPM scene that highlights the close-knit nature of the community –– both for the artists and frequent gig-goers. Backed by an exceptional soundtrack to boot, it’s the perfect representation of the living, breathing nature of the local music scene that we’ve come to love over the years.

The Breakup Playlist (2015)

the breakup playlist

Despite the love story at the center of its premise, it’s still understandable as to why the Sarah Geronimo and Piolo Pascual-led musical-drama is considered a beloved depiction of the highs and lows of making it into the music scene.

Dan Villegas and Antoinette Jadaone’s tale of an aspiring professional singer and rock star collaborating on a hit song may sound like a clichê storyline similar to several other rom-coms out there, yet the melodramatic nature of the story perfectly captures both the inner and external conflict that several struggling artists undergo in real life. Though it does sound like a heavier-handed showcase of the industry’s gig scene (and finding a way to break into it), it’s told in such an entertaining manner that makes it impossible to look away from.

With thanks to the strong chemistry between Geronimo and Pascual, their experiences resonate deeply with anyone watching, making their endeavors feel more personal – whether or not you’re a musician awaiting your big break, or someone who sympathizes with the challenges that artists face on a daily basis.

I’m Drunk, I Love You (2017)

i'm drunk i love you

There’s no doubt about the hold that JP Habac’s I’m Drunk, I Love You held on audiences in the late 2010s –– but a surprising revelation came from the film’s ability to highlight how the influence of the local gig scene extends far beyond the venues that most people would frequent.

Maja Salvador and Paolo Avelino star as two college best friends who go on one last road trip together, with their shared love of OPM music serving as a key bridge in their complicated relationship. With both characters being avid members of the scene, they utilize this common denominator as a means of communication –– sharing emotive covers from some of the industry’s best independent and rock acts to convey an honest, if not lovelorn, form of expression.

So even if you’re someone unfamiliar with the live music scene, the film’s rich characterization and noteworthy use of music are enough to draw anybody interested in the colorful nature of the scene.

Miss Granny (2018)

MISS GRANNY sarah geronimo

While it’s a remake of the popular South Korean film of the same name, there’s still an irresistible and unique charm to Joyce E. Bernal’s version of the Miss Granny tale.

Sarah Geronimo stars as the rocking grandma living out her second chance at youth as a rising singer, a role that adds a special flair of a rising star defying all odds to make it into the local music scene. What the film accurately captures about an artist making their way in the local music scene is the simple (yet key) fact that everyone has to start out small from somewhere. Whether it’s a public cafeteria, a spot in the park, or a prestigious music festival, Miss Granny shows us that giving your all no matter where your performance is can truly take you places –– just as how Geronimo’s titular character had done it.

Though the film is a fun romp that delivers lighthearted entertainment, it also carries the important lesson that drive, commitment, and perseverance play a huge part in jumpstarting your career in the local scene, no matter what anyone tells you about what you can or cannot achieve. And while it could take a while for the dream, very few musicians get the chance to go back and reach career heights, unlike others who continue with their relentless pursuit –– showcasing just how important it is to “finally” make a name for themselves and their artistry.

Tulad Ng Dati (2006)

tulad ng dati the dawn jett pangan

Though 2006 isn’t necessarily too long ago, it often feels like Mike Sandejas’ independent film Tulad Ng Dati is overlooked by local cinephiles — despite its unique approach to telling the story of celebrated rock band, The Dawn. 

The film brings us back to the 1980s (in its own special way) to spotlight the band’s achievements during the peak of their fame –– and manages to say a lot about just how different the Philippine music scene was during that particular period of time with that of the past few years. Though it works as an intriguing commentary on fame and success, it also plays out like a traditional rock and roll flick with its ample amount of girls, drugs, and booze, as well as its climactic finale akin to a battle-of-the-bands segment. To add to the film’s representation of the local music scene, it also features the members of the Dawn portraying themselves alongside other surprise cameo appearances from other beloved musicians (which we won’t spoil!) that surprise its viewers in the best of ways.

While it’s by no means a perfect film, the manner in which this “reality musical drama” blends elements of a documentary film on the scene, with fiction and an inadvertent tribute to the late Teddy Diaz is well worth commending. Its innovative and experimental nature showcases an inept creativity that feels fresh and noteworthy — portraying the Philippine music scene in a very different light (and perspective) than we’re used to seeing.

Ang Nawawala (2012)

ang nawawala movie

What good would this list be without Marie Jamora’s Ang Nawawala?

This cult-favorite revolves around the life of Gibson who deals with mutism after a traumatic childhood event. As he navigates through life, struggling to connect with others, he finds solace and expression in music. Yet beyond his appreciation of OPM music and live gigs, the film also showcases just how far the its influence trickles into nearly every fabric of his life.

Against the backdrop of the vibrant local music scene, the story sees Gibson reconnecting with the people in his life, while unexpectedly finding a chance at his first, real romantic relationship. The film beautifully intertwines its narrative with a diverse soundtrack featuring tracks from some of the underground scene’s most active artists like Tarsius, Sandwich, Pedicab, APO Hiking Society, Ebe Dancel, Ciudad, Hannah & Gabi, The Itchyworms, Ely Buendia among others.

What stands out about the film is that the music in Ang Nawawala isn’t just background noise; but it becomes a character in itself — one that shapes the emotional landscape of the story and the development of its characters. The music scene is such an active participant for both Gibson and the audience’s journey, as we witness him finding comfort in the shared communities of the scene, and even inviting his love interest to a gig for their first real date.

As a result, the film’s has become an iconic representation the local gig scene in Filipino cinema –– tracing its resonance both in storytelling and establishing connections beyond the confines of the gig venues we’ve come to love and frequent over time.