As film awards season has rolled around once again, we’ve decided to take a look back at some famous Filipinos who have walked the red carpets of Hollywood, a major player in the international entertainment industry.
However, for some people who follow the showbiz scene, awards season is also a reminder of how the industry is still lacking when it comes to representation and diversity.
Reporting on the University of California’s (USC) Annenberg Inclusion Initiative for The Hollywood Reporter, journalist Rebecca Sun noted that among the 100 top-grossing films in the United States in 2022, only 32% of leads and co-leads were from historically underrepresented races or ethnicities.
“Nearly 40%-39.9%-of the [US] population is not white,” said Sun.
Rolling Stone also reported fewer female directors and directors from underrepresented communities had taken the lead in the US’s top films in 2022 compared to 2021.
It’s no wonder that whenever we see a Filipino doing well behind or in front of the camera internationally, it is a cause for celebration, and there was much to celebrate in 2022.
In this blog, we’ll recall the famous Filipinos who have recently made waves in the global entertainment scene.
Mercado grew up in the US, but his mother and father were from Zambales and Manila in the Philippines. Talking to GMA News Online, the animator said his experiences growing up with his parents in Stockton, California, influenced parts of his work.
“My love and care and my Filipino culture is very universal as well. It’s just like the connection and the closeness that you have with your family. And it’s often that the people who you’re closest to are the ones, that you [butt heads] and bicker with the most because you have that trust and you have that relationship and I’m very proud to say that, that’s that specific experience. And the way I live is tied to the emotion of the film and the character dynamics,” he said.
Before becoming a director, Mercado worked as a story artist at DreamWorks Animation for seven years before becoming a supervising director at Nickelodeon from 2015 to 2017. Mercado then did some freelance work as a storyboard artist before returning to DreamWorks to work as head of story and eventually co-director with his friend Joel Crawford.
Apart from Puss in Boots, Mercado also worked in well-known animated films, including Kung Fu Panda 2, Penguins of Madagascar, The Lego Ninjago Movie, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, and The Croods: A New Age.
Dolly de Leon
You may have seen Dolly de Leon playing big parts as a character actress in Philippine showbiz. Still today, she makes our list of famous Filipinos for playing Abigail, an overseas Filipino worker (OFW), in Ruben Östlund’s Triangle of Sadness.
In Östlund’s social satire, Abigail works as a toilet manager on a luxury cruise. Her survival skills eventually turn her into a leader when the cruise goes awry and the passengers are stranded on a deserted island.
The film received excellent reviews and won the 2022 Palm d’Or, the highest award from the Cannes Film Festival. In addition, for her critically acclaimed performance, De Leon garnered several historic nominations for best supporting actress.
Though she did not make the final list, Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter’s executive editor for awards, had cited De Leon as a frontrunner for an Academy Award nomination.
Apart from Triangle of Sadness, you can watch De Leon in Lav Diaz’s Historya ni Ha, Erik Matti’s episode for HBO’s Folklore, Raymund Ribay Gutierrez’s Verdict, and on Dirty Linen, a revenge drama on Philippine television.
Next on our list of famous Filipinos is Chai Fonacier, who got her start as a contestant in the Philippine singing competition and reality show, Pinoy Dream Academy.
She further honed her performance skills as a university student, leaving her province of Cagayan de Oro to study at the University of the Philippines – Cebu. It was in Cebu that Fonacier learned improv acting and made a name for herself in the local music scene as a member of the trip-hop trio, WOMB.
By 2015 Fonacier was already winning awards for best supporting actress, first in the Sinulog Film Festival for her performance in the short film Operation Prutas, then in the Cinema One Originals Festival for her role in Miss Bulalacao.
Her most significant break before acting internationally was playing the trans man Jude in Victor Villanueva’s Patay na si Hesus, a road trip comedy about a family leaving Cebu to attend their estranged father’s funeral in another Philippine province called Dumaguete.
Fonacier’s portrayal of Jude won her another best supporting actress award at the 2017 Cinemalaya Film Festival. She also had a role in Respeto, which won best film at the same festival.
In 2022, after appearing in several productions in Manila, Fonacier went on to star alongside international actors Eva Green and Mark Strong in Nocebo. In this psychological thriller, Fonacier plays an OFW and folk healer who works as a nanny in the United Kingdom and uses her healing skills to smoke out the truth.
Apart from Nocebo, Fonacier appears in Raynier Brizuela’s Asuang and Perci M. Intalan’s Born Beautiful. She has also acted in several Filipino television and streaming series, including Ang Probinsyano and Maria Clara at Ibarra.
Soliman Cruz was a theatre actor long before his big break in the 2005 Filipino indie film The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros, where he played the main character’s father.
This indie role landed him parts alongside famous Filipinos in the local film and television industry, like Judy Ann Santos and John Lloyd Cruz.
However, an untreated drug addiction slowed down his career in the late 2000s, bringing him to a low point in his life, when he lived on the streets of Manila to avoid burdening his family.
The last year proved to be his biggest yet, with a best supporting actor award from Cinemalaya for his role in Blue Room, and international attention for his role as an OFW in Mihai Mincan’s To the North.
In Mincan’s film, Cruz plays a Filipino seaman who spots a Romanian stowaway while aboard a Taiwanese cargo ship. Faced with a dilemma, Cruz’s character must choose between surrendering the stowaway to be thrown overboard or saving his life.
The multilingual thriller won the Premio Bisanto D’Oro at the 79th Venice Film Festival.
Apart from To the North, you can admire Cruz’s acting chops in Raymond Red’s Manila Skies, Lav Diaz’s Norte sa Hangganan ng Kasaysayan, and Erik Matti’s On the Job films.
Stefanie Arianne grew up in the Philippines and moved to Japan to pursue an acting and modelling career when she turned 18.
In a new country, she faced several failed auditions while working English teaching and retail jobs to make ends meet.
It was in 2020 that Stefanie was cast in Chie Hayakawa’s Plan 75, where she played Maria, an OFW working as a caregiver for Japanese senior citizens.
In the film, Maria bonds with one of the main characters who is struggling to make the most of her senior years in a Japan that has incentivised voluntary euthanasia for citizens aged 75 and above.
Stefanie still has a day job in a call centre where she talks to Japanese children in English, but she is also working on another movie.
Her dream is to eventually establish a Hollywood career to represent Filipino Japanese people on a grand stage.
Follow your dreams
Because of these famous Filipinos in international entertainment, audiences across the globe have the chance to appreciate Filipino talent and learn about our experiences.
And like you, the people on our list have overcome challenges to get to where they are now. They are working to reach their dreams and make a better life for themselves.
If you’re considering a new life overseas as an OFW, or you’re already living in the UK or Canada, make sure you use Kabayan Remit when sending money back home to your family and friends in the Philippines.
Our easy-to-use mobile app ensures your money arrives safely and securely. We also offer high exchange rates and very low fees so that you can get the most out of your money.
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Manny Pacquiao- Boxer& Politician
He changed the game of boxing and became a national hero worth millions, and arguably the most famous Filipino in the world.
The reformist writer Jose Rizal, today generally considered the greatest Filipino hero and often given as the Philippine national hero, has never been explicitly proclaimed as the (or even a) national hero by the Philippine government.Who are 3 famous people in the Philippines? ›
- :: List of Famous People from Philippines ::
- José Rizal. ...
- Epifanio de los Santos. ...
- Benigno Aquino III. ...
- Ferdinand Marcos. ...
- Benigno Aquino, Jr. ...
- Corazon Aquino. ...
- Henry Sy.
José Rizal (1861-1896) is one of the most revered figures in Philippine history. He was a multifaceted intellectual and a political activist, best known for his political writings that inspired the Philippine revolution and ultimately led to his execution by the Spanish colonizers.Who is the most famous Filipino woman? ›
1. Gabriela Silang. Perhaps the most recognizable woman in all of Philippine history, Maria Josefa Gabriela Silang is the first revolutionary leader to take the reins against Spanish colonization in the 1760s. A daughter of Ilocos Sur, Gabriela Silang was born into a country under Spanish control.Who is the famous Filipino celebrity TikTok? ›
- Niana Guerrero.
- Andrea Brillantes.
- Spencer Serafica.
- Evan Tan.
- Kyline Alcantara.
- Pau Pelaez.
- Andree Bonifacio.
The dynasty's kings were Philip I, Philip II and Philip III.What entertainment is the most famous? ›
Video games were the most popular form of entertainment in 2022 by far.Who is the biggest entertainment in the world? ›
The cinema of the United States, often generally referred to as Hollywood, has had a profound effect on cinema across the world since the early 20th century. The United States cinema (Hollywood) is the oldest film industry in the world and also the largest film industry in terms of revenue.Is the most famous celebrity in the Philippines? ›
1. Jose Rizal – Liberator. What is this? Together with Andrés Bonifacio and Apolinario Mabini, Jose Rizal is widely regarded as one of the greatest heroes of the Philippines.
The most famous Filipino singers include people like Lea Salonga, Regine Velasquez, Gary V, and Jed Madela.Are Filipino people from the Philippines? ›
the Philippines collectively are called Filipinos. The ancestors of the vast majority of the population were of Malay descent and came from the Southeast Asian mainland as well as from what is now Indonesia. Contemporary Filipino society consists of nearly 100 culturally and linguistically distinct ethnic groups.Who are the top foreigners in the Philippines? ›
- United States 29,972.
- China 28,705.
- Japan 11,584.
- India 9,007.
- South Korea 5,822.
- North Korea 4,846.
- Canada 4,700.
- United Kingdom 3,474.
Discovery of the Philippines by the West and Revolution (2)
The Philippines were claimed in the name of Spain in 1521 by Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer sailing for Spain, who named the islands after King Philip II of Spain. They were then called Las Felipinas.
In American history, there is a Filipino hero we ourselves may have never heard of yet. His name is Larry Itliong. Itliong was born on Oct. 25, 1913 in San Nicolas, Pangasinan.Who are the popular Filipino heroes? ›
- José Rizal. ...
- Andres Bonifacio. ...
- Emilio Aguinaldo. ...
- Apolinario Mabini. ...
- Marcelo H. ...
- Sultan Dipatuan Kudarat. ...
- Juan Luna. ...
- Melchora Aquino (Tandang Sora)
Jose Rizal, the greatest hero of the Filipinos who died for his own people but his death influenced other Asian nations as well to exercise their rights as a free people.Who is the strongest girl in the Philippines? ›
Hidilyn Diaz, Sports
She's an Olympic Gold Medalist in Weightlifting and, recently, got a historic reign in the 2022 IWF World Weightlifting Championships in Bogota, Colombia. Besides being an award-winning weightlifter, she is also a Staff Sergeant in Philippine Air Force.
Of course Jose Rizal is a given as the national hero. And then there's Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo, and Emilio Jacinto. Perhaps even throw in Antonio Luna thanks to successful historical film “Heneral Luna” (2015). The Philippines does not have an official list of national heroes.Who is the first Filipino actress? ›
Elena Jurado was born Elena Jurado Jacobs in Sibonga on May 19, 1901 to Mark Jacobs, a U.S. Army Sergeant of Company H, 19th Infantry stationed in Cebu, and Placida Jurado, a native of Sibonga, this rural municipality south of Cebu City overlooking the Strait of Cebu.
|3||Mommy Ayek @yhellgee||1.1M|
Leonarda Limjap, aged 17 was named Manila Carnival Queen by the Philippine Assembly but later resigned the title before she was crowned in late January 1908 in favor of her family vacation in Japan.Who is the strongest Filipino in the world? ›
GAWAIN JOHNSTONE is considered the strongest Filipino of all time.Who was the strongest Filipino? ›
|Ramon Simpas Subejano|
|Subejano in 1971|
|Born||1905 Philippine Islands|
|Died||September 16, 1988 New York City, United States|
|Buried||Arlington National Cemetery|
Comcast Corporation, the Walt Disney Company, and Netflix are the top three entertainment companies by TTM revenue.Which country is popular for entertainment? ›
United States. The United States of America is a North American nation that is the world's most dominant economic and military power. Likewise, its cultural imprint spans the world, led in large part by its popular culture expressed in music, movies and television.What are the 5 major categories of entertainment? ›
Becky: Those six categories are music, games, comedy, theater/cinema/performance, literature, and sport. Eric: Now, each of those different types of entertainment appeals more or less to different people. Beyond that, each one of these categories contains many different subcategories.Who is the Big 3 entertainment? ›
It is important to note, however, that some fans believe that the term 'Big 3' is reserved for SM, JYP, and YG Entertainment. Therefore, these companies will always be included in the term regardless of whether they perform well compared to other companies or not.Who is the best entertainer in the world? ›
- Michael Jackson.
- Elvis Presley.
- The Beatles.
- Charlie Chaplin.
- Freddie Mercury.
- Bob Dylan.
- Hindi Cinema (Bollywood) (India) ...
- Cinema of Nigeria. ...
- Cinema of China. ...
- Nihon Eiga (Japan) ...
- Cinema of the United States (Hollywood) ...
- Cinema of South Korea. ...
- French Cinema. ...
- Cinema of the United Kingdom.
- Manny Pacquiao.
- Rodrigo Duterte.
- Bella Poarch.
- Bruno Mars.
- Ferdinand Marcos.
- Pia Wurtzbach.
- Lou Diamond Phillips.
- Liza Soberano.
|FAMAS Award for Best Actress|
|Presented by||Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences Award|
|Currently held by||Alessandra de Rossi Watch List (2020)|
Zack Tabudlo and Ben&Ben are still the most streamed Filipino artists, followed by Arthur Nery, Moira dela Torre, and Adie.Who is the famous Filipino pop art artist? ›
|Anton Del Castillo|
|Born||Julius Anthony Del Castillo January 13, 1976 Tondo, Manila, Philippines|
|Education||College of Fine Arts, University of the Philippines, Quezon City|
|Known for||Pop art, mixed-media installations, modern art, figurative art, conceptual art|
One of the greatest Filipino vocal talents, National Artist for Music Jovita Fuentes was also the first Filipino international star in the world of opera.Who is the best selling Filipino artist? ›
Regine Velasquez has sold more than 8.5 million certified albums regionally making her the Philippines' best-selling artist of all time.Who is the Filipino singer who won the Grammy Award? ›
Filipino-American singer Steve Lacy was born to a Fil-Am father. Photo from Recording Academy IG.Where does the Filipino DNA come from? ›
Basal-East Asian ancestry, as well as later Austroasiatic ancestry, from Mainland Southeast Asia, arrived into the Philippines prior to the Austronesian expansion. Austronesian-speakers themself are suggested to have arrived on Taiwan and the northern Philippines between 10,000BC to 7,000BC from coastal southern China.What race are most Filipino? ›
The majority of the people in the Philippines are of Austronesian descent who migrated from Taiwan during the Iron Age. They are called ethnic Filipinos. The largest Filipino ethnic groups include the Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Bicolano, Kapampangan, Maranao, Maguindanao, and Tausug.What is Filipino mixed with? ›
We are proud of our heritage at the rim of East Asia, the meeting point of the many Asian groups, as well as Europeans from Spain. Our culture even 100 years ago was already a mix —of Malay, Chinese, Hindu, Arab, Polynesian and Spanish, with maybe some English, Japanese and African thrown in.
- Sy siblings (net worth: US$12.6 billion)
- Manuel Villar (net worth: US$7.8 billion)
- Enrique Razon Jr (net worth: US$5.6 billion)
- Lance Gokongwei and siblings (net worth: US$3.1 billion)
- Aboitiz family (net worth: US$2.9 billion)
MANILA, Philippines — Real estate and retail tycoon Manuel Villar, chairman of the Villar Group, remains the country's richest man, according to the Forbes 2023 World's Billionaires list.Who is the most popular Filipina TikTok? ›
- Niana Guerrero.
- Andrea Brillantes.
- Spencer Serafica.
- Evan Tan.
- Kyline Alcantara.
- Pau Pelaez.
- Andree Bonifacio.
- Ruby Ibarra.
- Pilar Valdes.
- Ronnie del Carmen.
- Isabel Sandoval.
- Jon Jon Briones.
- Nico Santos.
The former lead singer of The Pussycat Dolls was born to a Filipino father and a Hawaiian mother. Scherzinger, who adopted her stepfather's family name, has honoured her Filipino roots many times in the past.
- Kaye Abad.
- Neile Adams.
- Siena Agudong.
- Anna Akana.
- Nicole Gale Anderson.
- Cathy Ang.
- Ashley Argota.