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Muro-Ami (Reef Hunters)
GMA Films' Muro Ami (Reef Hunters)
Directed by Marilou Diaz-Abaya
Screenplay by Ricardo Lee and Jun Lana
Story by Marilou Diaz-Abaya
Starring Ceisar Montano as Fredo
Pen Medina as Dado
Amy Austria as Susan
Jhong Hilario as Botong
Rebecca Lusterio as Kalbo/Amy
Cinematography Rody Lacap
Edited by Jesus Navarro
Distributed by GMA Films
Release dates
  • 25 December 1999 (1999-12-25)
Running time
120 minutes
Country Philippines
Language Tagalog

Muro-Ami (Reef Hunters) is a 1999 Filipino film that depicts one of the worst forms of child labor in the illegal fishing system. The film follows the story of Fredo, a ruthless captain of 150 Muro Ami divers, who employ illegal fishing practices, such as pounding and crushing corals to scare fish, driving them towards the nets. With a high quota to meet, Fredo forces the divers, who consist mostly of children, to accomplish at least eight dives a day to meet their goal before the millennium. Tired and harassed after the burdensome task being given to them, the children have to make do in subhuman conditions in the Muro Ami boat, The Aurora. They sleep in rat-infested bunks and are fed only twice a day. Life above the water in the boat is much worse than the suffering the children encounter beneath the sea. For every dive, a child's life is perilously in danger.

On January 22, 2008, filmmaker Nick Deocampo, Director of the Movie Workers Welfare Foundation (Mowelfund) announced the holding of a Ricardo Lee Film Festival from February 4 to 10, 2008 – the World Arts Festival under Mayor Tito Sarion, in Daet city, Camarines Norte. Lee's scripts became Philippine cinema classics of Philippine cinema, which made the 2nd golden age of 1980 Filipino movies. 5 films will be shown in the festival: Gina Alajar's "Salome," "Anak," "Muro Ami," "Gumapang Ka sa Lusak", and "Memories of Old Manila".[1]


Fredo (Cesar Montano) is a fisherman who has endured more than his share of hardship in life; his wife and child both perished in a boating accident, and today Fredo approaches each trip to the sea with the angry determination of a man out for revenge. Fredo commands a crew of young people from poor families as he takes his rattletrap ship into the ocean in search of fish that live along the reefs, snaring catch with an illegal netting system. Not all of Fredo's youthful sailors are willing to put up with his abusive arrogance, however, and even his father Dado (Pen Medina) and close friend Botong (Jhong Hilario) have grown weary of Fredo's tirades. Fredo's body is beginning to betray him as well, and as he and his crew damage the sea's reef beds in search of fish, no one is certain how much longer he will be able to continue.

Maestro Fredo, a tyrant captain, fixates to claim the treasures of the sea—no matter what, in whatever diabolical technique for as long as he profits. He employs dozens of men, mostly children, in his dangerous expeditions. Conditions aboard the ships are oppressive. Children are often overworked and his crew is furious with the way they are living. He blames the sea for claiming the lives of his family and he exacts revenge by plundering its depths.



Direction: Marilou Diaz-Abaya
Screenplay: Ricardo Lee and Jun Lana
Cinematography: Rody Lacap
Film Editing: Jesus Navarro
Production Design: Leo Abaya
Art Direction: Bonna Fajardo and Mannix Mateo
Music: Nonong Buencamino
Producers: Butch Jimenez, Jimmy Duavit, Marilou Diaz-Abaya


Year Award-Giving Body Category Recipient Result
1999 Metro Manila Film Festival [2] Best Picture Muro Ami Won
Best Director Marilou Diaz-Abaya Won
Best Supporting Actor Pen Medina Won
Best Cinematography Rody Lacap Won
Best Production Design Leo Abaya Won
Best Editing Jess Navarro and Manet Dayrit Won
Best Child Performer Rebecca Lusterio Won
Best Original Story Marilou Diaz-Abaya, Ricardo Lee and Jun Lana Won
Best Screenplay Ricardo Lee and Jun Lana Won
Best Musical Score Nonong Buencamino Won
Best Visual Effects Marc Ambat (Optima Digital) Won
Best Sound Recording Albert Michael Idioma Won
Gatpuno Antonio J. Villegas Cultural Awards Muro Ami Won

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