Comprised of photographs dating from 2007 to 2018, Dead to Rights uses the capital city and my surrogate home of Manila, the Philippines as a theater for looking at the contradictions, extremities, and inequalities that characterize the human condition and its mortal coil.

Manila is the city that I have visited the most and I have charted its evolution from the 25th anniversary of the EDSA revolution to the rise and violent reign of President Rodrigo Duterte.

As a child of Filipino parents who fled the Marcos Regime, I have always felt that my life could have easily begun in the Philippines instead of the United States. That moment in Philippine history and the choice of my parents determined my fate.

Manila has always existed concurrent  to my life in America. Overseas, I photographed continually reckoning with the notion that what differentiates me from the Filipinos that I depict is a sleight of hand and a trick of the eye. In another life, I am that person in someone else’s frame.

As such, the narrative begins and ends with an authentic Filipino birth and death certificate that were forged in the famous black markets along Recto Ave. The series imagines an entire life, and my own demise in Manila from the lives and deaths of real people that I encountered and photographed.


"Feature: Dead to Rights // Lawrence Sumulong"


"A Son of Immigrants Contemplates What His Life Might Have Been"


"AP35 // Dead to Rights"


Using Format