I watched a lot of cartoons and movies. I draw incessantly and carry a sketchbook everywhere. I work in animation and self-publish my books. There are monsters in the streets, don't wear red. Mad bulls and monsters hate that color. I still watch cartoons.

Thursday, August 31, 2006


Of Boatmen and waterfalls. My very first job in movies happened a few days right after I graduated from high school. Hemisphere pictures was hiring crew for a Vietnam movie being shot in various provinces in the Philippines. I got in on the recommendation that I knew how to draw. Which was entirely neither here nor there as I was going to be a grunt weilding a house brush most of the time. That was how I got to work on "Apocalypse Now."

Half-way point. Stopped for lunch by this cascading falls. One of many leading up to the main one.

The last location I worked in my few months stint was the municipality of Pagsanjan (pronounced, Pag-sang-han) where the falls of the same name is located, and also where Martin Sheen's boat inched along to get to Marlon Brando's temple. A typhoon wiped out the set I was working on and the river rose up the jungle canyon walls. I saw the plaster and burlap parts of the temple, soggy and limp, floating down the river with the storm showing no signs of abating. It was every man for himself and soon I was on a bus trudging through floodwaters headed for Manila.

I hadn't been back until now. This last trip home I wanted to finally get to the falls myself and also glide by the location of the set. The boatmen knew to hype this up though it was rather anti-climactic since all that's left are a few stone steps well into be being claimed by the moss and jungle.

The river ride on bancas (wooden boats) is quite exhilirating, traversing 14 rapids against the current! I didn't do any work, the boatmen did all the heavy lifting. Literally. We just sat in the boat got carried over rocks like precious cargo. The Pagsanjan falls at the end of a box canyon is quite a sight to see and the roar of the water completed the spectacle. After you arrive you see that there is an option (an added fee) to be dragged in on a raft right under and behind the falls!

From under the main falls. Camera all wet. Even took some little movies. Check the links below this post for little movies

That was so awesome! I highly recommend that if you were to stop over Manila do get the hotel to arrange a day trip. You'll have a grand time. Be prepared to get wet, and have a spare set of dry clothes waiting for you at your car. Also great rainy or in the heat of summer. Mabuhay!

Pagsanjan movies
1,2 and 3.

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Anonymous stacy said...

Beautiful! Thanks for posting this, Ronnie!

6:45 AM

Blogger amelia said...

WOW! What a trip!!

4:55 PM

Blogger Louie del Carmen said...

The last time I was there was a family trip way back with mom and dad and some cousins I think.... I must have been 5 or 6 but I remember vividly the bright cool water falling from the falls. I'm just glad to see that it's still there.

Nice sketches! Is that a moleskine watercolor pad? Those things are awesome!!

Welcome back "stateside" as they say...

5:07 PM

Blogger Gerald said...

First off, welcome back. I like the sketches (so accurate!) and the photos (especially the young coconut).

Second, what a great story of how you worked on "Apocalypse Now". Amazing.

12:53 PM

Blogger Hans said...

Wow Ronnie, that's absolutely amazing!!! Hard to believe there's actually places looking like this and you're sure there's no matte painting og CG involved?!!!;)
Thanks for sharing your photos and experiences, i need to go there some day.

Have a great weekend,


1:43 PM

Blogger redhen said...

Wow! What a cool post! Thanks for sharing - a part of the world I will probably never see . . .

11:45 PM

Blogger TSM said...

Great post, Ronnie! What an amazing place.

Saw the behind the waterfall movie and thought "El Doraaaa-do! El Dorah-ah-ah-ah-dooo!"

Couldn't resist.


9:10 PM

Blogger Nick Sung said...

Wow Ronnie,

That looks like quite an adventure; what a beautiful place!
I'd certainly like to check out the Philippines some day.

...but first I gotta get a pair of those SHOES!

11:31 AM

Blogger Monkeyfeather said...

You worked on Apocalypse Now!!!!

Welcome back. Great posts.

5:09 PM

Blogger sho said...

wow , those are awesome pix, thanx for sharing...u worked on Apocalypse Now ?
sounds amazing.

5:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Ronnie,

It looks like you had a great trip to PI. I never heard of Pagsanjan falls so I will mark it as "things to do" in my next trip to Manila. Did you get to meet Coppola? Apocalypse Now is one of my favorite movies based on one of my favorite book (Conrad's Heart of Darkness). You are on hallow ground. Have you been to Coppola's winery in Rutherford? He has props of his film including story boards from Apocalypse Now of the famous napalm scene.


PS. Many great memories of young coconuts at 10 pesos a piece. sooo gooooood. Do you have pics of mangoes. yeah Philippines.

9:36 PM

Blogger Alina Chau said...

awesome photos and beautiful waterfall landscape painting! :)

2:01 PM

Blogger Tyler said...

Hi Ronnie, great photos, I was just there myself on Aug 19, great trip, going under the falls was a blast. and on the way back to Manila we picked up a few buko pies.

9:37 PM

Blogger antouane said...

Thanks for these pictures!
I actually went there when I was a child and I had completely forgotten the name. And I had no idea it was linked somehow with apocalypse now.
Great blog by the way!

9:48 AM

Blogger Hadibi said...

Ah, Philippines :) I miss my relatives there~ Great pictures man and wonderful watercolors :)

10:31 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

mabuhay ka pinoy!

10:13 AM

Blogger Angelo said...

You are the man!!!! Ammazing water colours...could you stop by to my blog and give me sone suggestions to my woter colours?
Thank you for sharing thouse ammazing art work.:)

7:39 AM

Anonymous Craig said...

Ronnie, I especially enjoyed the videos - beautiful! I wish I could see it firsthand. Also wanted to add another 'you rock' comment - great site, excellent artwork. Look forward to hearing you and your collegues at the expo this weekend.

2:25 PM

Anonymous mia said...

Ah, you make me miss home...

2:21 PM

Blogger kier03 said...

im kier from pagsanjan.. tnx for visiting our town.
you know,, i really love drawing. actually , my dream is to be an animator, hope it won't be just dreams..

3:47 AM


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