A Family Affair: The Basco Brothers Are Bringing the Filipino-American Story to Netflix

The movie is a love letter to the Basco brothers’ heritage and an intimate look at the unique dynamics of second-generation Filipino immigrant families.
IMAGE NETFLIX

It’s been a good year for representation in cinema, and the Basco brothers are adding to the movement with a family film of their own called The Fabulous Filipino Brothers, which is now streaming on Netflix. Following the hilarious adventures of four Filipino-American brothers, the movie is a love letter to the Basco brothers’ heritage and an intimate look at the unique dynamics of second-generation Filipino immigrant families. 

The Bascos have been dubbed the first Filipino entertainment family of Hollywood, with brother Dante Basco being the most recognizable from his voice alone. Grownups nowadays might remember him as the actor behind Rufio from the ’91 movie Hook or as the voice behind Zuko from the cult classic 2000s show Avatar: The Last Airbender. He also starred as the male lead in one of the first feature films about a Filipino family called The Debut way back in 2001. 

Basco’s 35-year career has allowed him to witness the extraordinary changes happening over at Hollywood, which he shared with us over an exclusive roundtable interview. 

Photo by Netflix.
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“When I first got into Hollywood, as a young Filipino actor, I would come in the room and they (casting directors) asked ‘What are you?' And I would say Filipino, and they would have no idea what that was,” Basco said. “I was savvy enough to get a lot of roles playing different Asian [nationalities] to various Latino roles. But we've seen things change through the years and representation [is] happening. It’s a whole different era in Hollywood.” 

Basco mentioned big names like sports legend Manny Pacquiao and comedian Jo Koy, and how prominent Filipinos like these are paving the way for uniquely Filipino representation. By now, the word “representation” might seem like a buzzword, but for second, third, and fourth-generation immigrant Filipino-American families, it’s a way to appreciate and honor the story of your community. In The Fabulous Filipino Brothers, the story is just as much about the brothers as it is about the entire community around them.

There are references about Fil-Am dances, jokes about Lola going to church every day, secret cockfighting matches, and very extended families. From the Tagalog songs playing in the background to the giant lechon at the party table, there are plenty of nostalgic and familiar moments in the film. There’s even a chapter where Basco’s character, Duke, returns to Manila and reconnects with an old girlfriend played by none other than Solenn Heusaff. 

Photo by Netflix.
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“Even though I didn't set out to make the definitive Filipino film or even Filipino-American film, I really wanted to represent us and really want to do well by our people in our community. We're in a golden era right now,” said Basco, citing Asian-led blockbusters like Crazy Rich Asians, Parasite, and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. 

We're at the highest-profile we've been as Asians and pop culture in Hollywood. As a Filipino filmmaker, I have to make a Filipino [film], I have to put it down one time for us. We must represent ourselves, we must tell our stories about [ourselves] with all the joy and energy and vibrancy we can. The Filipinos are coming.” 

It might seem like a heavy responsibility, but the brothers took it in stride and it’s clear they all had a blast filming. There are some decidedly hilarious—and dare we say erotic?—moments that will leave you in stitches, and that sort of chemistry could only come from blood brothers. 

“It feels like in a lot of ways, our whole life and our whole careers led us up to this,” said Basco, who also directed the film. “Every time I'm directing them, they know exactly what they want and what I want from them.” 

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Starring alongside Dante Basco are his three brothers: Derek, Dionysio, and Darion. Derek plays brother Dayo who feels the responsibility of being the eldest and has a curious encounter with a rooster. Dionysu plays David, the fun-loving brother who loves his women and his food. And Darion plays Danny, the sensitive brother dealing with heartbreak who finds joy in the most surprising places. 

Even their parents make an appearance, as well as their sister Arianna Basco as Dores. We even spotted a cameo from Derek’s daughter Ella Jay Basco, who you might recognize as Cassandra Cain (possibly future Batgirl?) from Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn. 

The Fabulous Filipino Brothers is certainly a family affair as even the plot is derived from the mad adventures of their family. After watching the film, that fact might make you pause for a moment, but of course, the Bascos will keep the identities of the real people who lived these outrageous experiences to their graves.

The Fabulous Filipino Brothers is now streaming on Netflix.

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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