COMMENTARY: Defining the Pinoy kontrabida

Bella Flores, the quintessential kontrabida, stated in the Benchinko short film titled Kontrabida 101, "Walang bida kung walang kontrabida!"

Kontrabidas add spice to any movie plot. A villain or kontrabida adds tension to the story, otherwise, everything would be smooth-sailing for the protagonist.

As Bella Flores stated in the Benchinko short film titled Kontrabida 101, "Walang bida kung walang kontrabida!"

Over the years, we have seen certain plots that have become standard among Pinoy kontrabidas. These formulaic clichés are used over and over again not so much because of their effectiveness, but more because they have been so much a part of the Pinoy pop culture psyche.

In the past, listed the clichés that plague Filipino teleseryes.
(CLICK HERE to read related article)

A separate list pointed out the cliches that plague Filipino movies.
(CLICK HERE to read related article)

This time, lists the standard devices often employed by Pinoy kontrabidas.

Have you noticed any in the performances of Filipino antagonists?

Feel free to add them in the comments section below, PEPsters.


Master the art of the sabunot (hair pull) and the sampal (slap)

Hurting the heroine is an art, stated Bella Flores in the Benchinko short film titled Kontrabida 101. She points out that there are important elements to consider when doing a slapping scene: it should be precise and it should have the right angle and emotion.

Maniacal laughter

How else could a villain express wickedness and lack of empathy but by laughing like a crazy person while the hero/heroine is suffering?

Dick Israel, John Regala, and Bella Flores all have guttural and husky laughter meant to intimidate the hero and make the audience hate these villains even more.

Menacing stare

The art of the menacing stare is effective in sowing terror in the hearts of hapless heroines or children. Kontrabidas often employ this technique in order to cow the bida or impose her will through direct eye contact.

Liza Lorena used it to the hilt as she played an uncaring would-be mother-in-law to Angelica Panganiban’s character in the movie I Love You Goodbye. Odette Khan is similarly an expert in the stare down, thus her “kontrabida” expertise was requested by Rhian Ramos’ character in the movie My Kontrabida Girl.


Thick Mustache = Bad Person (at least during the 1980s)

The quintessential male villains of the 1980s had one thing in common: they all had a mustache. Paquito Diaz, Romy Diaz, Max Alvarado might have been required to not shave in order to give the impression that they meant business. At that time, crooks, gang leaders and rapists in movies seemed more believable if they had facial hair—the thicker, the better.

Paquito Diaz played Lucifer—the god of darkness—in the 1983 movie Lumaban Ka Satanas.

Max Alvarado is known for being Fernando Poe Jr.’s nemesis Lizardo in the movie Panday.

Romy Diaz is infamous for his wild wide-eyed look prior to a rape scene and has played a rapist in the movie Epimaco Velasco: NBI.

Other mustached villains include Bomber Moran, Rez Cortes, and Joaquin “Buwaya” Fajardo.

Being bad has never looked this good

Currently, a new breed of bad guys has emerged (minus the mustache). The villains are now mestizos, ex-matinee idols or hunks.


Edu Manzano played the villain out to hunt down Sharon Cuneta in the movie Maging Sino Ka Man.

Eddie Gutierrez played a corrupt governor in Home Along da Riles: The Movie.

Roi Vinzon played the head of the “aswangs” in the movie Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles.

Other mestizo-looking villains include siblings Mark Gil and Michael de Mesa, as well as Eddie Gutierrez’s son Ramon Christopher.

Sexually aggressive women are evil

The rise of “kabit” movies has resulted in a slew of roles being given to attractive actresses who lure weak-willed men into submitting themselves to the villainess’ charms. In a country with a predominantly Catholic population, sexually aggressive women are frowned upon by society in general.

Solenn Heussaff played the antagonistic female obsessed with Richard Gutierrez in Seduction. Andi Eigenmann was cast as the sex-starved young woman in the movie A Secret Affair.

Kontrabidas speak English

The classy English-speaking kontrabida is now the norm, probably to provide stark contrast to the meek, humble beginnings of the hero or heroine.


Cherie Gil is the patrician-nosed and classy adversary of the cute, poor and pudgy Sharon Cuneta in the film Bituing Walang Ningning. Cherie Gil’s line in the movie is notorious for its arrogance expressed in eloquently-spoken English: “You’re nothing but a second rate, trying-hard copycat!”

Maricar Reyes similarly played an exacting, controlling, English-speaking tyrannical boss to Kim Chiu’s character in the movie 24/7 In Love.

Have you seen other kontrabida clichés in Philippine movies? Share them in the comments section below, PEPsters.





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