Apart from being the first big-time Hollywood production to shoot in the Philippines in a long time, Bourne Legacy which stars Jeremy Renner in the lead role along with Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton will be the first mega-budget Hollywood blockbuster film to actually feature the Philippines as part of its storyline. Despite the Philippines being used as a film production location every now and then, it often takes no more than the role of a body-double for other cities…
Manila has a history of being used to portray other cities: It served as Jakarta in Peter Weir’s 1982 drama “The Year of Living Dangerously,” Bangkok in Jonathan Kaplan’s 1999 thriller “Brokedown Palace,” and Panama City in Showtime’s 2000 biopic “Noriega: God’s Favorite.”
“Legacy,” however, will be the first notable Hollywood movie to represent the capital as itself. Action scenes including a helicopter hovering above the financial district and a long car chase through a major thoroughfare are to be shot in the city, according to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority. The production will also film in Palawan, an island province known for its pristine beaches and tropical rain forests.
That only a tiny handful out of dozens of films that shot on location in the Philippines actually acknowledge the country in its plot is remarkable considering the non-trivial size of the Filipino community in the United States. It highlights the embarrassingly tiny cultural imprint millions of Filipinos-Americans collectively make in their adopted home.
On the other hand, this is good timing for Philippine tourism which is reeling from yet another promotions snafu after its much touted slogan “It’s more fun in the Philippines” delivered mixed results at best. Nevertheless, the powers that be are reportedly optimistic…
Malacañang acknowledged [the expectation that tourist dollars might follow] on Tuesday when Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda welcomed the filming of the movie here since “it will be a boost to tourism.”
Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino added that the decision to shoot a major Hollywood movie in Manila also shows it is safe to visit the Philippines.
According to various media reports, scenes will be shot in Metro Manila and the island of Palawan which is noted for its pristine beaches and natural landscape. Apart from Ayala Avenue in Makati City, however, many of the planned film locations in the Metro are not exactly noted for their physical beauty. Included in the reported itinerary are some public markets, narrow alley ways in the older more decrepit parts of Manila, and the infamous Navotas City Fish Port. Some buildings were even modified to make them “look older”.
Obviously, the nature of the Philippine capital as the quintessential Third World megalopolis is the key essence of Manila’s contribution to the setting of Bourne Legacy. Juxtaposed against its other location, the pristine scenery of Palawan, the Philippines’ place in the scheme of Bourne highlights the reality of the country — a nation of stark contrasts: extreme ugliness and breathtaking beauty with not much of note (at least to a film producer) in between.