People Have the Power: Resistance in Filipino Cinema

They Call Me Joy

Ligaya ang itawag mo sa akin

Carlos Siguion-ReynaPhilippines106 minutes1997RColourTagalog

Nov 4
  • Press & Industry screenings and events are only for accredited passes.


One-time sexploitation star Rosanna Roces makes an indelible impression as the title character in this once-controversial film, which was initially banned by the shocked Filipino censors; when the filmmakers managed to have the ruling overturned, it went on to become the year's biggest critical and popular hit. Roces stars as Ligaya (which translates as "Joy"), a sex worker in a provincial whorehouse who realizes the cherished dream of marriage to a respectable man — in Ligaya's case, a smitten local farmer. Unfortunately, her new neighbours are deeply "Christian" (i.e., they eschew charity for judgment and punishment), and Ligaya is soon subjected to a deluge of torments and humiliations. Prostitution as a metaphor for the injustices visited upon women was a popular device for Filipino artists, and They Call Me Joy remains one of the most pointed, effective, and touching examples of this sub-genre.