Top 15 Most Popular Filipino Actors and Their Best Performances

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Whether locally or internationally, Filipino artists have made their own names in the industry. For sure you know at least one of these top Filipino actors in Lou Diamond Phillips, who conquered Hollywood with his magnificent performance in La Bamba.

From the veterans to the young stars, the Philippines has truly become a powerhouse of talented actors that have appeared in local blockbuster movies as well as award-winning films abroad.

Pantheon ranked the top 13 famous Filipino actors according to their Historical Popularity Index (HPI), a metric that gathers information about the online popularity of a particular biography – in this case, Filipino actors’ life stories.

But with more local celebrities getting known in the world of acting, we added two more sikat (popular) names to the list. Let’s get to know these 15 best Filipino actors that became household names after their remarkable acting stints in teleseryes (TV series), movies, and other local shows.

1. Lou Diamond Phillips (Hollywood Filipino-American Actor)

Hollywood Filipino Actor Lou Diamond Phillips

Born in 1962 in the US Naval Base in Subic Bay, Philippines, Lou Diamond Phillips was originally an Upchurch. But when his father, Gerald Amon Upchurch died, he took his mother’s second husband’s surname, Phillips. Lou was raised in Texas, USA, and finished a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts Major in Drama. After graduating from college, he became active in theater and appeared in some productions. Some of his greatest achievements include the Best Supporting Male award, nomination for Golden Globe Award, Western Heritage Award Bronze Wrangler Theatrical Motion Picture, and Outstanding Broadway Debut Award.

Watch Lou Diamond Phillip’s Sing ‘La Bamba’ Scene:

List of Lou Diamond Phillip’s Best Performances

Magaling, makisig, at bukod na pinagpala sa larangan ng pag-arte.

Phillips is best known as a Filipino-American actor who was made famous for his films Stand and Deliver, Young Guns, and La Bamba. The following are the best performances that made Lou Diamond Phillips one of the famous Fil-Am actors of today:

  • Trespasses (1986)
  • Dakota (1988)
  • Disorganized Crime (1989)
  • Renegades (1989)
  • Arduous Moon (1990)
  • A Show of Force (1990)
  • The First Power (1990)
  • Demon Wind (1990)
  • The Dark Wind (1991)
  • Sesame Street (1991)
  • Courage Under Fire (1996)
  • The King and I (1996)
  • Camelot (2007)
  • Longmire (2012-2015)
  • The Night Stalker (2016)

2. Reggie Lee

Reggie Lee Pinoy Actor

Another Filipino-American actor, Reggie Lee was born in Quezon City, Philippines, and migrated to Cleveland, Ohio when he was only five years old. He went to Padua Franciscan High School and worked in the Greenbrier Theater or what is now known as the Cassidy Theater while studying. He dreamed of becoming an actor so he didn’t follow what his parents wanted him to be, a doctor. He got accepted to study at Harvard but moved to LA to pursue his professional acting career at 17 years old.

Watch One of Reggie Lee’s Most Memorable and Emotional Scenes:

List of Reggie Lee’s Best Performances

Tunay na dekalibreng pinoy na aktor sa mundo ng Hollywood.

Some of Reggie Lee’s best performances include Grimm, Prison Break, and Miss Saigon. Other shows and movies in which he also starred are the following:

  • Carousel (1994)
  • Diagnosis: Murder (1996)
  • F.O.B. (1997)
  • Babylon 5 (1998)
  • Beverly Hills, 90210 (1999)
  • Judging Amy (2001)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)
  • Star Trek (2009)
  • The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
  • NCIS: New Orleans (2018)
  • Fresh Off The Boat (2018)

3. Fernando Poe, Jr. (FPJ)

Fernando Poe, Jr.

The late Fernando Poe, Jr., whose real name is Ronald Allan K. Poe, was a cinema artist, a cultural icon, and a craftsman who was able to act, direct, write and produce films when he was in the prime of his career in the Philippines. He was born on August 20, 1939, in Manila and studied at the University of the East. When his father died, Poe dropped out of college to support his family. He was married to Susan Roces and they had three children. Unfortunately, Poe died in 2004 and he was named National Artist for Cinema in 2006.

Watch FBJ Highlights and Best Scenes

List of Best Performances

Isa sa mga beteranong aktor pagdating sa aksyon na tumatak sa bawat Pilipino.

The tremendous impact Poe had on his audience was truly admirable as a Filipino actor. Some of the smash-hit films he did are as follows:

  • Apollo Robles (1961)
  • Batang Maynila(Manila Boy) (1962)
  • Ang Alamat (The Legend) (1972)
  • Alupihang Dagat (Mantis Shrimp) (1975)
  • Tatak ng Alipin (Brand of Slave) (1975)
  • Panday (Blacksmith) (1980-1984)
  • Ang Probinsyano (The Hick) (1996)

4. Lea Salonga

Lea Salonga

With multiple awards under her belt, Lea Salonga is undeniably a world-class talent and pride of the Philippines. With perfect pitch, powerful voice, and polished acting, Salonga has won multiple award-winning roles in musical plays. She has toured around the globe to perform sold-out concerts in prestigious places including Carnegie Hall, Hong Kong Cultural Center, Disney Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House, and O2 Arena.

Watch the Legendary Lea Salonga Perform “I’d Give My Life for You” in the Manila Production of Miss Saigon (2000)

List of Best Performances

Nakilala sa kanyang husay, dedikasyon, at puso sa pag-awit sa entablado.

Lea Salonga has become famous for her role in Miss Saigon. But she played more award-winning roles including Les Miserables and its 2006 revival. Below are other great performances that Salonga has been famous for:

  • The King and I (1978)
  • Aladdin (1992)
  • Mulan (1998)
  • Mulan II (2004)
  • Allegiance (2015)
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2016)
  • Once On This Island (2018)
  • Human Heart Tour (2019)
  • Yellow Rose (2019)
  • Lea Salonga: Live with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra from Sydney Opera House (2020)

5. Nora Aunor

Nora Aunor

Nora Aunor, or Nora Cabaltera Villamayor in real life, is a renowned Filipino actor, singer, film producer, and director. She appeared in numerous TV shows, concerts, and stage plays; hence named the Philippine Cinema’s Superstar. Aunor started as a singer and debuted as an actress in the film All Over The World in 1967. Her critically acclaimed role in Himala (Miracle) in 1982 is the most sought-after film where she starred as the lead character.

Watch a Classic Segment of Nora Aunor Playing the Lead Role in Himala

List of Best Performances

Sa galing umarte, mapapasigaw ka talaga ng “walang himala!”

With local and international nominations and awards, Aunor has received five Best Actress awards and was put in the Hall of Fame for her winning performances. Here are other films where she played major roles:

  • Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos (Three Godless Years) (1976)
  • Bona (1980)
  • The Flor Contemplacion Story (1995)
  • Thy Womb (2012)

6. Regine Velasquez

Regine Velasquez

Regine Velasquez, also known as The Queen of Pop and Asia’s Songbird, is a successful Filipino pop singer and actress. With her impressive vocal range and musical diversity, Velasquez’s unique belting technique paved her way to stardom. She has best-selling records and sold-out concerts as well as award-winning performances that earned her an Asian Television Award, two MTV Asia Awards, 12 Aliw Awards, 16 Awit Awards, and 18 Box Office Entertainment Awards.

Regine Velasquez Perfroms in Kailangan Ko’y Ikaw (2000)

List of Regine Velasquez’s Best Performances

Sa ganda ng boses, dadalhin ka niya sa kanyang palasyo hanggang langit ay manibago.

As an actress, her first lead role was in Wanted Perfect Mother, which led her to more romantic comedy films as the female lead. In addition to that, she also starred in the following box office hits:

  • Kailangan Ko’y Ikaw (You’re All I Need) (2000)
  • Pangako Ikaw Lamang (Only You, I Promise) (2001)
  • Maalaala Mo Kaya (Memories) (2002)
  • Forever In My Heart (2004)
  • Diva (2010)
  • Poor Senorita (2016)

7. Daniel Padilla

Daniel Padilla

Daniel Padilla, born Daniel John Ford Padilla, is one of the most idolized Filipino actors of his generation and a talented recording artist with several hits that fans have been LSSed to. He was born in Manila, but grew up in Tacloban, hence his fluency in Tagalog and Waray. His first appearance in the hit teen show Growing Up was like love at first sight for his would-be fans. Although Padilla was only cast as a temporary substitution for his love interest’s supposed love team with another young actor, they remained as a love team and now the Philippine’s ever-loved King and Queen of Hearts – also known as KathNiel.

Watch the Top 10 “KathNiel” Performances

List of Daniel Padilla’s Best Performances

Talagang mapapakanta ka ng “nasa ‘yo na ang lahat pati ang puso ko”. With his instant fame and charming appeal to his fans, Padilla has been cast to play more romantic roles with his leading lady, Kathryn Bernardo. Here are some of Daniel Padilla’s mega-hit teleseryes (TV series), movies, and other shows:

  • Princess and I (2012)
  • The Hows of Us (2018)
  • The House Arrest of Us (2020)
  • Kun Maupay Man It Panahon (Whether the Weather is Fine) (2021)

8. Kathryn Bernardo

Kathryn Bernardo

With mostly romantic roles or playing the love interest in both TV shows and films, Kathryn Bernardo earned the name Queen of Hearts from being the Philippine cinema’s Teen Queen. She’s also a recording artist with a sold-out self-titled studio album featuring multiple singles. Despite being home-schooled when she started acting, Bernardo studied marketing at Enderun Colleges in Taguig.

Watch the Top 10 Kathryn Bernardo Acting Moments

List of Kathryn Bernardo’s Best Performances

Ang mukha ng gandang di mo inakala, ang tunay na gandang Pilipina.

Kathryn Bernardo debuted as a young actress in 2003 with a minor role in It Might Be You, a hit TV series at the time. The first major role she played was in Super Inggo in 2006. Her acting career quickly grew and Bernardo started accepting more projects including the following:

  • Mara Clara (2010)
  • Way Back Home (2011)
  • Must Be Love (2013
  • Pangako Sa’Yo (My Promise To You) (2015)
  • She’s Dating the Gangster (2014)
  • Barcelona: A Love Untold (2016)
  • Hello, Love, Goodbye (2019)

9. Sarah Geronimo

Sarah Geronimo

Sarah Asher Tua Geronimo or popularly known as Sarah Geronimo is one of the sweetest voices in the Philippine music industry. This Filipino singer also ventured into acting and modeling as she rose to fame. She’s best known as the country’s Pop Princess and Princess of Philippine Movies, having won the grand prize in Star For A Night and acting her way to the peak of her career’s success. Geronimo was enrolled in the Center for Pop Music, the Philippines at the age of six to reach her full potential in singing. Her first most popular song was To Love You More by Celine Dion, which paved her way to a recording contract with Viva Records.

Watch Sarah Geronimo’s Contagious Laugh in These Bloopers

List of Sarah Geronimo’s Best Performances

Bawat karakter ay talagang pinilahan sa takilya.

Sarah Geronimo’s early years in acting included getting a few supporting roles in the films Annie B, Captain Barbell, and Filipinas. But when she became a household name, Geronimo worked on bigger projects including:

  • Sarah, The Teen Princess (2004)
  • The Other Side (2005)
  • Bituing Walang Ningning (Lackluster Star) (2006)
  • Pangarap na Bituin (The Star We Dreamt) (2007)
  • A Very Special Love (2008)
  • You Changed My Life (2009)
  • It Takes A Man and A Woman (2013)
  • The Breakup Playlist (2015)

10. Nadine Lustre

Nadine Lustre

Acting, dancing, hosting, and singing, there’s nothing that Nadine Lustre can’t do. Born Nadine Alexis Paguia Lustre, this multi-talented Filipino performer is best known for her odd role in Diary ng Panget (Diary of an Ugly Person) as the female lead. She was also part of Pop Girls, a popular girl band at the time managed by Viva Entertainment. Lustre graduated with a degree in films, hence the versatility in acting and performing, whether as a singer or as an actress.

Watch One Liners from Nadine Lustre

List of Nadine Lustre’s Best Performances

Ang babaeng nangarap sa San Francisco bilang Lea at nakahanap ng wagas na pag-ibig kay Clark.

Before Nadine Lustre became one of the highly-paid artists in the Philippines, she appeared in a few minor roles. After revealing her potential, she was given more projects including these blockbuster movies:

  • Talk Back and You’re Dead (2014)
  • Para Sa Hopeless Romantic (For the Hopeless Romantic) (2015)
  • On The Wings of Love (2015-2016)
  • Never Not Love You (2018)
  • Ulan (Rain) (2019)

11. Kim Chiu

Kim Chiu

Kimberly Sue Yap Chiu or Kim Chiu for short is the first Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) Teen Edition big winner. She has a mesmerizing Chinita (Chinese girl) charm that drew a lot of attention while she was inside the PBB house. This Chinese cutie from Cebu is a daughter of a businessman from Mindoro. She’s fluent in Tagalog, Cebuano, and English with a basic understanding of Mandarin and Hokkien Chinese.

Watch Some of Kim Chiu’s Best Portrayals

List of Kim Chiu’s Best Performances

S-in-yota ka rin ba ng bestfriend mo? When Kim Chiu signed a contract with Star Magic, she was paired with her fellow PBB housemate, Gerald Anderson, and was shipped as a love team called Kimerald. Their first few projects were Spell, First Day High, and Sana Maulit Muli (Chances). The following are other successful projects where Chiu became well-known:

  • Tayong Dalawa (The Two of Us) (2009)
  • I Love You, Goodbye (2009)
  • Healing (2012)
  • Bride For Rent (2014)
  • The Ghost Bride (2017)

12. Angel Locsin

Angel Locsin

Angel Locsin, also known as Angelica Locsin Colmenares, is a well accomplished Filipino actress, model, and film producer. She was famous for her role in two of the biggest television series Darna and Mulawin. Aside from being a successful actress, Locsin is also a philanthropist. When she backed out from playing Darna for the movie adaptation with Star Cinema, Locsin lay low from acting.

Watch Angel Locsin Transform into Darn from the Television Series Darna and Mulawin

List of Angel Locsin’s Best Performances

Ding, ang bato!

From GMA Network to ABS-CBN, Angel Locsin has done a lot of well-received movies and TV series such as the following:

  • Majika (Magic) (2006)
  • Lobo (Wolf) (2008)
  • Imortal (Immortal) (2010)
  • In The Name of Love (2011)
  • One More Try (2012)
  • Four Sisters and a Wedding (2013)
  • The Legal Wife (2014)

13. Carla Abellana

Carla Abellana

Carla Abellana is one of the most angelic faces in Philippine showbiz. She is an actress and model, best known for her lead role in the Pinoy adaptation of Rosalinda that aired in 2009. Abellana recently tied the knot with longtime partner Tom Rodriguez, her male lead in My Husband’s Lover. She has a degree in psychology and graduated cum laude from De La Salle University, one of the most prestigious schools in the country.

List of Carla Abellana’s Best Performances

Bukod sa mala-anghel na mukha, isa ring mahusay na aktres.

Carla Abellana’s appearance in the critically acclaimed Basahang Ginto (Gold Rag/Golden Heart) led her to more promising roles including:

  • Kung Aagawin Mo Ang Langit (Losing Heaven) (2011)
  • Makapiling Kang Muli (To Be With You Again) (2012)
  • My Destiny (2014)
  • Because Of You (2015)
  • I Heart Davao (2017)

14. Piolo Pascual

Piolo Pascual

Piolo Pascual whose real name is Piolo Jose Nonato Pascual is one of the Philippines’ original heartthrobs that can steal the heart of the audience no matter their age. Born on January 12, 1977, he was a miracle baby who survived her mother’s pregnancy problems. Pascual became a household name and everyone calls him “Papa P” – a nickname that even Filipino grandmothers know.

List of Piolo Pascual’s Best Performances

Isa ka rin ba sa napasigaw ng “I love you, Piolo?”

Piolo Pascual’s first taste of showbiz was in That’s Entertainment and then went on to do more projects with Star Circle and ATBP. There are so many popular shows that he was part of, but here are some to name a few of his most remarkable performances:

  • Sa Sandaling Kailangan Mo Ako (The Moment You Need Me) (1998)
  • Esperanza (1999)
  • Kahit Isang Saglit (Even Just For A Moment) (2000)
  • Dekada ‘70 (The ‘70s) (2002)
  • Till There Was You (2003)
  • Don’t Give Up On Us (2006)
  • Love Me Again (2009
  • On The Job (2013)
  • The Breakup Playlist (2015)
  • My Amanda (2021)

15. Coco Martin

Coco Martin

Rodel Pacheco Nacianceno or more commonly known as Coco Martin is one of the most versatile Filipino actors of his generation. He grew up with his grandmother and completed a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. He worked a few odd jobs including working as a janitor in Canada, but a talent scout discovered him while he was a waiter in a restaurant. Martin immediately rose to fame after starring in indie films and TV series.

List of Coco Martin‘s Best Performances

Ang nag-iisang Ricardo Dalisay na walang kamatayan. With numerous recognitions received including Best Actor nominations and awards, Coco Martin has indeed come so far in his acting career. The following are the most notable works that he was part of:

  • Luv Text (2001)
  • Masahista (The Masseur) (2005)
  • Summer Heat (2006)
  • Tambolista (The Drummer) (2008)
  • Kinatay (Butchered)  (2009)
  • Sa’yo Lamang (Only To You) (2010)
  • A Moment in Time (2013)
  • Feng Shui 2 (2014)
  • Beauty and the Bestie (2015)
  • Ang Panday (The Blacksmith) (2017)

Did your favorite Filipino actor make it on the list? If not, feel free to share in the comment section below who your ultimate Pinoy celebrity crush is!

Image Resources – Wikimedia Commons Images:

  1. Lou Diamond Phillips – Wikimedia
  2. Reggie Lee – Wikimedia
  3. Fernando Poe, Jr. – Wikimedia
  4. Lea Salonga – Wikimedia
  5. Nora Aunor – Wikimedia
  6. Regine Velasquez – Wikimedia
  7. Daniel Padilla – Wikimedia
  8. Kathryn Bernardo – Wikimedia
  9. Sarah Geronimo – Wikimedia
  10. Nadine Lustre – Wikimedia
  11. Kim Chiu – Wikimedia
  12. Angel Locsin – Wikimedia
  13. Carla Abellana – Wikimedia
  14. Piolo Pascual – Wikimedia
  15. Coco Martin – Flickr Photo

Honeyj So

As a content writer/journalist, I write about people, places, cultures, innovations, and experiences. Since 2014, I create engaging content that focus on brand awareness as well as fun learning.

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