Iconic Filipino actresses


The TV shows and movies today that have defined our viewing habits wouldn’t be notable without some of our most iconic Filipino actresses. After all, aside from their looks, these actresses have proven that they are more than just their visuals through their various talents and philanthropic works. 

So below, we break down why every Pinoy TV & movie buff should know these 10 iconic Filipino actresses


1. Angel Locsin – actress & philanthropist


Filipina actresses - Angel Locsin
Image credit: @therealangellocsin

Having been the actress behind iconic characters on local television, Angel Locsin is one of the most popular celebrities of all time.

Filipina actresses - Angel Locsin
Angel Locsin as Darna
Image credit:
Angel Locsin Fanpage

Beginning her career at GMA Network, she rose to popularity when she played Alwina in Mulawin (2004), a television drama about two opposing factions with human and birdlike characteristics, and the lead role in Darna (2005), a TV series inspired by comic artist Mars Ravelo’s superheroine. 

In cinemas, her loveteam with Richard Gutierrez is one of the most celebrated ones. They acted in several top-grossing early 2000s films, from Let the Love Begin (2005) to Mano Po 5: Gu Ai Di (2006).

Filipina actresses - Angel Locsin
Locsin (right) alongside Maja Salvador (left) and Mark Gil (middle) in the famous ‘Royal Rumble’ scene in The Legal Wife
Image adapted from:
ABS-CBN Entertainment

ABS-CBN’s TV series The Legal Wife (2014), in which she played Monica, has been one of her most recent and notable works. The scene where her character confronts Nicole (Maja Salvador) about the latter’s affair with Adrian (Jericho Rosales) has become iconic, hailed as “The Royal Rumble” because of the intensity of their confrontation. 

Now more than just a celebrity, Locsin has also been using her popularity to champion good causes from standing up for ABS-CBN during the network’s franchise controversy to celebrating women’s rights. 


2. Kathryn Bernardo – starred in various top-grossing films


Filipina actresses - Kathryn Bernardo
Image credit: @bernardokath

The first Filipino actress with two movies that have breached the P800 million mark at the box office, Kathryn Bernardo has become a darling of the cinema. 

Filipina actresses - Kathryn BernardoRichards (left) and Bernardo (right) in Hello, Love, Goodbye
Image adapted from:
ABS-CBN Star Cinema

Her film Hello, Love, Goodbye (2019) is currently the highest-grossing Filipino film with worldwide total earnings of P880 million (~USD18M). The film tells about the struggles of an Overseas Filipino Worker, Joy (Bernardo), and a bartender with womanizing habits, Ethan (Alden Richards), amidst the glitzy skyscrapers of Hong Kong.

Filipina actresses - Kathryn BernardoPadilla (left) and Bernardo (right) in The Hows of Us
Image adapted from:
ABS-CBN Star Cinema

The Hows of Us (2018), one of her films with her real-life partner Daniel Padilla, also broke records when it earned a whopping total of P810 million in 2018. The movie is about the struggles of George (Bernardo) and Primo (Padilla), two lovers who are in a long-term relationship. 

Aside from big movies, Bernardo has also acted in notable TV series, beginning from the remake of Mara Clara (2010-2011), where she played the protagonist Mara alongside antagonist Clara, played by Julia Montes. Got to Believe (2013-2014), one of her TV series with Padilla, made phenomenal TV ratings as well and its ending was dubbed by fans as “the best ending ever” because of Padilla’s character’s magic trick wedding proposal.


3. Iza Calzado – queen Amihan in Encantadia


Filipina actresses - Iza Calzado
Image credit: @missizacalzado 

Glowing with a sun-kissed complexion and breathtaking beauty, Maria Izadora Ussher “Iza” Calzado-Wintle has the makings of an iconic Filipina actress.

Filipina actresses - Iza Calzado
Iza Calzado as Amihan
Image credit:
Encantadia Wiki

She is one of the lead actresses in the original Encantadia (2005), considered one of the best Filipino fantasy series of all time. In the show, she played Amihan, guardian of the Brilyante ng Hangin (wind jewel) and the mother figure among the four goddesses of the mystical land of Encantadia.

Filipina actresses - Iza Calzado
Calzado in Bliss
Image adapted from:
TBA Studios

Aside from her works on TV, she has graced the screen with films such as Moments of Love (2006) and Bliss (2017). In 2007, she even starred alongside Meteor Garden star Ken Chu in the film Batanes, which tells how Pam (Calzado) met and fell in love with a Taiwanese man Kao (Chu) whom she had rescued during a storm.


4. Nida Blanca – had a career that spanned over half a century


Filipina actresses - Nida Blanca
Image credit: Philippine Old Photos Collection 

With a showbiz career that lasted for over half a century, Nida Blanca or Dorothy Jones has truly cemented her name on the history of Filipino entertainment.

Filipina actresses - Nida Blanca
Image credit: Casa Grande Vintage Filipino Cinema 

Starting from the 1950s, Blanca had been a popular leading lady, and her love team with actor Nestor de Villa was iconic. She acted in more than 200 movies, and her charisma was also seen in TV series such as sitcom John En Marsha (1973-1990), where she played the role of Marsha, the wife of John Puruntong, played by Comedy King Dolphy

Her tragic death happened in November 2001, when she was found dead with 13 stab wounds inside the back seat of her car in San Juan City. Up to this day, the suspect of her death remains a mystery. 


5. Anne Curtis – Pambansang Dyosa


Filipina actresses - Anne Curtis
Image credit: @annecurtissmith 

Anne Curtis, or Pambansang Dyosa as she is fondly called by fans, has had a colorful career in showbiz, beginning from when she was young.

Filipina actresses - Anne Curtis
Curtis with del Rosario
Image credit:
Chezka Valeroso

At age 12, she was already acting. One of her first TV shows is the 90s TV youth-oriented series T.G.I.S (1995-1999), where she was in a love team with Chubi del Rosario, who was also her ex-boyfriend. Aside from starring in the series, Curtis and Del Rosario also played as a pair in other TV shows and movies such as Honey, My Love, So Sweet (1999) and May Bukas Pa (1999). 

Curtis’s career had its first breakthrough when she got her first lead role in the teleserye Kampanerang Kuba (2005). She played Imang, a hunchback who can magically transform into a beautiful girl.

Filipina actresses - Anne CurtisCurtis (left) with her It’s Showtime co-hosts Vice Ganda (middle) and Vhong Navarro (right)
Image credit:
ABS-CBN Entertainment

The madlang people got to know her more when she was chosen in 2009 as one of the hosts of ABS-CBN’s noontime show It’s Showtime. Her most recent works include box-office hits such as No Other Woman (2011), A Secret Affair (2012), Sid and Aya: Not a Love Story (2018), and BuyBust (2018).


6. Marian Rivera – played iconic TV roles


Filipina actresses - Marian Rivera
Image credit: @marianrivera 

With her mestiza beauty and acting chops, Marian Rivera Gracia-Dantes is easily one of the most recognizable actresses of our time.

Filipina actresses - Marian Rivera
Marian Rivera as Marimar
Image credit: @marianrivera

She is best known for playing the lead role in GMA Network’s remake of Marimar (2007-2008), an adaptation of the Mexican telenovela of the same name. Rivera played the titular role alongside Dingdong Dantes, who played the role of Sergio and who eventually became her real-life husband in 2014.

Filipina actresses - Marian Rivera
Rivera as Amaya
Image credit:
beautystar_sightings

Aside from starring in Marimar, she has also played the lead role in TV shows Dyesebel (2008), a story about a young mermaid, and Amaya (2011), a Filipino historical fiction drama about a princess hidden from society.


7. Sharon Cuneta – the Philippines’ Megastar


Filipina actresses - Sharon Cuneta
Image credit: @reallysharoncuneta 

Dubbed as the “Megastar” of the Philippines, Sharon Cuneta has achieved massive success in the entertainment industry, because aside from acting, she has also been a successful record-breaking singer and television host.

Filipina actresses - Sharon Cuneta
Cherie Gil (left) and Sharon Cuneta (right) in Bituing Walang Ningning (1985)
Image adapted from:
Jiselo Lama

Her films Bituing Walang Ningning (1985), in which she acted in the iconic “copycat” scene alongside Cherie Gil, and Maging Sino Ka Man (1991), where she starred alongside iconic actor Robin Padilla, are one of her most popular works on screen.

As a singer, she has recorded numerous albums that have also found success abroad. Her most popular singles are the songs “Mr. DJ” (1978), which she recorded when she was only 12 years old, and “Kahit Maputi na ang Buhok Ko” (1994). She hosted her own musical variety show, The Sharon Cuneta Show (1986-1997), aired on IBC and ABS-CBN.

Filipina actresses - Sharon Cuneta
Cuneta (right) alongside Gomez (left) in Three Words to Forever
Image adapted from: ABS-CBN Star Cinema 

Her most recent works include the rom-com film Three Words to Forever (2018) that also stars Kathryn Bernardo and Richard Gomez.


8. Bea Alonzo – one half of the iconic Bea & John Lloyd loveteam


Filipina actresses - Bea Alonzo
Image credit: @beaalonzo

Bea Alonzo, born Phylbert Angelli Ranollo Fagestrom, is one of the most recognizable faces on cinema and TV.

Filipina actresses - Bea AlonzoAlonzo (left) in the ‘Sana ako na lang, ako na lang ulit!’ scene in One More Chance
Image adapted from: ABS-CBN Star Cinema 

Her love team with actor John Lloyd Cruz has become iconic because of their chemistry, and their film One More Chance (2007), which tells the struggles of long-time couple Popoy (Cruz) and Basha (Alonzo) who met each other at a university, has had enduring appeal to moviegoers, so much so that a sequel, A Second Chance, was released in 2015 to follow the couple’s love story. 

Filipina actresses - Bea Alonzo
Alonzo in First Love (2018)
Image adapted from: ABS-CBN Star Cinema

Aside from films, she has also done projects on TV with Cruz, from their first project together Kay Tagal Kang Hinintay (2002) to Maging Sino Ka Man (2006) alongside Anne Curtis and Sam Milby. 

Alonzo has also been paired with several other big actors. First Love (2018) was a film she did with Aga Muhlach, and she also played a leading role in the TV series A Love to Last (2017) with Ian Veneracion.


9. Claudine Barretto – starred in classic ‘90s TV shows & movies


Filipina actresses - Claudine Barretto
Image credit: @claubarretto 

Capturing our hearts through her iconic roles in the 90s and early 2000s, Claudine Barretto has truly solidified her position as one of the queens of Philippine entertainment.

Filipina actresses - Claudine Barretto
Barretto (left) and Yan (right) in Got 2 Believe
Image adapted from:
ABS-CBN Star Cinema

Beginning her career in 1992, she was launched into stardom when she got a lead role in the TV series Mula sa Puso (1997), one of ABS-CBN’s highest-rating dramas of all time, alongside Rico Yan and Diether Ocampo. 

Her love team with Rico Yan, who was also her former boyfriend, has endured even years after the actor’s death in 2002. For instance, their film Got 2 Believe (2002) is often considered as one of the best rom-com movies.

Filipina actresses - Claudine Barretto
Barretto as Marina
Image credit:
ABS-CBN Entertainment

Aside from love stories, Barretto has also acted in fantasy TV series Marina (2004), which was another breakthrough role for her where she played a young mermaid. 

Her most recent works include the film Etiquette for Mistresses (2015), a film about five rich women who have affairs with married men. In the movie, she acted alongside Iza Calzado, Kris Aquino, Kim Chiu, and Cheena Crab.


10. Nora Aunor – Philippine cinema’s Superstar


Filipina actresses - Nora Aunor
Image credit: IMDb 

This list wouldn’t be complete without the superstar of Philippine cinema, Nora Aunor. The iconic actress is one of the country’s best actresses of all time, having garnered countless awards both in the country and abroad.

Filipina actresses - Nora Aunor
Aunor in Himala
Image credit: IMDb

Her best known films include Himala (1982), where she played the role of Elsa who supposedly saw visions of the Virgin Mary in a far-flung barrio, and Bona (1980), where she portrayed a fan who has an obsessive fixation over an unpopular actor.

Filipina actresses - Nora Aunor
Aunor (right) in Thy Womb
Image credit: VIVA Films

Aunor is still unstoppable even today, with her recent films such as Thy Womb (2012), where she acted as a Badjao midwife, earning her recognition around the world. 

Her talent doesn’t stop with acting. She has sung famous singles such as “It’s Time to Say Goodbye” (1968), “Silently (1968)”, and “Forever Loving You (1970)”.


Filipino actresses


From Angel Locsin to Nora Aunor, our most celebrated Filipina actresses are indeed a league of their own who have played the most memorable characters on screen. 

And more than charming us with their undeniable good looks, they have stretched the boundaries of their craft and lent their voices to many a good cause. 

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Cover image adapted from: @therealangellocsin, @beaalonzo, and @bernardokath

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