5 Filipino Book-to-Film adaptations to re-discover this Book Development Month

Not too long ago, books were considered the primary means of story-telling, affording us a journey of the imagination through their pages. But as creative and artistic fields other than literature flourished,  one story can be told through several mediums, among the more popular ones being film.

In the Philippine intellectual property code, film adaptations are considered derivative works or simply works derived from existing sources. These are protected by copyright too as converting the source material - the book - into a movie,  makes use of a different set of creative and artistic skills of the screenwriter and the director (among others). They may be considered authors of creative works too, separate from the novelist, and enjoy protection of their work.

As the country celebrates Philippine Book Development Month this November, let's look at five Filipino films inspired by  literary works.

1. Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag


Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag can be counted among the most influential works of legendary filmmaker Lino Brocka, and took inspiration from Edgardo Reyes' novel of the same name, serialized in Liwayway magazine from 1966-1967.

2.  Kisapmata

The Nick Joaquin-penned 'House on Zapote Street'  recounts the grisly murder-suicide of the Cabading clan at the hands of its patriarch, and was skilfully translated to the screen by equally renowned filmmaker Mike de Leon, in his 1981 film, Kisapmata.  

3. Hihintayin Kita sa Langit

A Filipino adaptation of the British Victorian-era novel, Wuthering Heights,  Hihintayin Kita sa Langit follows the same plot line of doomed romance and revenge of the Western novel  (with a young Richard Gomez and Dawn Zulueta standing in for the ill-fated lovers, Heathcliff and Catherine) but re-imagined in the Philippine context.

4. Dekada '70

One of several novels of Lualhati Bautista transposed to film, Dekada '70 tells the trials and tribulations of the Bartolome family in that tumultuous decade on the onset of the Martial Law period. Bautista’s Palanca-winning Dekada ‘70 garnered equal praise as a movie under the direction of Chito Rono: the adaptation took home three Metro Manila Film Festival Awards in 2002.

5. Smaller and Smaller Circles

The most recent film in this list, Smaller and Smaller Circles is based on the award-winning crime novel of the same name by F.H. Batacan.  Young auteur Raya Martin is behind the lens on the gritty thriller, rendering on-screen the novel’s interwoven themes of justice and religion.