Maynila: Sa mga kuko ng liwanag

Manila in the Claws of Light | Manila
Fisherman Julio leaves his idyllic island province to search for his girlfriend Ligaya in Manila, where she allegedly has a job. He signs up at a construction site, where the workers are ruthlessly exploited. One day at the market, he spots the woman who lured Ligaya to the big city. She takes him to the house of a Chinese man, where Julio thinks he recognises his girlfriend at a window. When he loses both his job and his apartment, he ends up with a street hustler, who indoctrinates him into the world of prostitution. It becomes increasingly clear that Ligaya is also working as a prostitute, albeit not voluntarily … This social drama depicts the ordeals of two young people as representatives of the urban underclass during the Marcos regime, whereby the real location is freighted with symbolic meaning. Oppression and state corruption in Manila in the Claws of Light are countered by gestures of solidarity among the poorest of the poor. But neither religious solace nor the Marxist revolution will provide salvation for the two lovers, seen finally in a cinema, hugging as the passion of the Christ in Nicholas Ray’s King of Kings (1961) unfolds.
by Lino Brocka
with Hilda Koronel, Rafael Roco, Jr., Lou Salvador, Jr., Tommy Abuel, Jojo Abella, Lily Gamboa-Mendoza, Joonee Gamboa, Pio de Castro III, Joseph Jardinazo, Spanky Manikan
Philippines 1975 Filipino 126’ Colour & Black/White

For the 2023 Retrospective, internationally renowned directors, actors, and screenwriters were asked to select their personal coming-of-age favourites.
Lav Diaz on his selection


  • Hilda Koronel
  • Rafael Roco, Jr.
  • Lou Salvador, Jr.
  • Tommy Abuel
  • Jojo Abella
  • Lily Gamboa-Mendoza
  • Joonee Gamboa
  • Pio de Castro III
  • Joseph Jardinazo
  • Spanky Manikan


Director Lino Brocka
Written by Clodualdo del Mundo, Jr. based on the novel “Sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag” by Edgardo M. Reyes
Cinematography Miguel de Leon
Editing Edgardo Jarlego, Ike Jarlego, Jr.
Music Max Jocson
Sound Ramon Reyes, Luis Reyes
Art Directors Alfonso Socito, Soxy Topacio
Make-Up Len Santos
Producers Severino Manotok, Jr., Miguel de Leon

Produced by

Cinema Artists

Additional information

DCP: Cineteca di Bologna
Restored in 2013 by the World Cinema Foundation and the Film Development Council of the Philippines at Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, in association with LVN, Cinema Artists Philippines and Mike de Leon. Restoration funding provided by Doha Film Institute.