Bamboo Gods and Bionic Boys: A Brief History of the Philippines’ B Films


As one of the Asian region’s and (at one point) the world’s most prolific film cultures, the Philippines is distinguished by an under appreciated parallel cinema that comprises films for international release. This paper considers the heretofore untold history of the emergence of this phenomenon, from the breakdown of the post-WWII studio system, inspects the usefulness of available descriptors such as “independent” and export films, and focuses on the still-problematizable “B films” term as the most appropriate one for the present study. It tracks the many twists and turns in the narrative of B-film production, with careful attention to the auteurs (not just directors but also producers and performers) who played prominent roles in ensuring that this parallel sub-industry would be able to thrive alongside the better-recognized mainstream one.