“The Muro Ami film which graphically portrayed the exploitation of young kids by big fishing operators and the unconscionable depletion of our marine resources due to illegal and destructive fishing methods and systems brought home to me a deep concern for our environment and our natural resources.” – Cesar Montano
Title: Muro Ami ”Reef Hunters” (1999)
Directed by: Marilou Diaz-Abaya
Genre: action / drama / adventure
Cesar Montano, Amy Austria, Pen Medina, Jhong Hilario
Winner of thirteen awards out of its sixteen nominations at the 1999 Metro Manila Film Festival including Best Child Performer (Rebecca Lusterio), Best Story (Marilou Diaz-Abaya, Ricardo Lee, Jun Lana), Best Screenplay (Ricardo Lee and Jun Lana), Best Director (Marilou Diaz-Abaya) and Best Picture. It also received the Jury and Public Choice Award in the Bénodet Filmfest in France.
Muro Ami (Reef-Hunters) is a film that depicts one of the worst forms of child labor in the illegal fishing system. Fredo is the ruthless captain of 150 Muro Ami divers. The illegal fishing is done by pounding and crushing corals underwater to scare the fishes and luring 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 burdening 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 boat is much worse than the suffering the children encounter beneath the sea. For every dive, a child’s life is perilously in danger.