Sunday, September 9, 2007

Km. 51

The first time I went here, I didn’t know that it was called Km. 51. I was doing a location hunt for a music video two years ago that requires a very big tree on the side of the road where we can simulate a car hitting a tree at high speed. So naturally, I had to look for a location where people rarely exist. He! He! He!

On my way to Upper Tanay, I saw a winding highway with hills at the background covered with tall grasses. It was a perfect picture. I had to ask the driver of the van to pull over so I can take in this perfect view. Honestly, I didn’t know that this could exist somewhere near Metro Manila. If I remember it right, I had to go to Bataan before to find a location like this. But at that moment, it felt like being transported back to Batanes.

We never pushed through with the shooting at Tanay. The approved location was somewhere near the boundary of Bulacan, Quezon City and Caloocan City.

When I went back to Unitel last year, I had a project that requires a photo of Km. 51. I asked my staff to go there and they already seemed to know where it is. The photos were tight shots so I couldn’t see much of the grandeur of my director’s “favorite location” that they call Km. 51. It was only during the location check when I realized that this was the same location I fell in love with when I did the location hunt I mentioned above.

Km. 51 is indeed the 51st kilometer in this Tanay Highway. Military camps were set-up in different places here as Tanay used to be a communist-infested area. Also, Km. 51 is very near Camp Capinpin where the former President Joseph Estrada is being held. The area is being manned by a retired military officer, Col. Ronnie Navarro. He claims it’s his but the signage all over the property says “Military Property, No Trespassing.” He even built a small house by the road, and created a garden, all by himself.

We shot Project “Big” there. The requirement was to shoot a talent taking a hike, with mountains as her background. Not knowing that this area was popular among bikers as well, we spent most of the time trying to traffic the bikers and covering our ears from the deafening sounds of their motorbikes.

Picture muna bago mag-pack up!

The second time I shot on this location was for a BBC-commissioned project for the children’s TV show called “Tronji.” For this one, we used Col. Ronnie’s lot to shoot a couple doing housework while their goat’s leash got loose and ruined their vegetation. We shot the entire day, yet, never really feeling hot and tired despite being under the sun that long. And during pack-up, the sunset had cast different range of colors in the sky. It was a beautiful place to be at during that time.

The third, and hopefully, not the last, shoot I did there was for Ronnie Velasco’s first directorial job, a station-produced mother’s day TV commercial for Johnson’s & Johnson’s. Here, we set up Col. Ronnie’s backyard as the talents’ front yard. The background, of course, was the green mountains in the distance. The foreground was designed with plant ornaments and a bamboo fence. It was definitely a view one would wish for to have in their front lawn.

Background during the shoot of
Project "Runner"

The bamboo fence overlooking the hills of Tanay

Hmmm... Plastic lang 'yan!

Ooops! Nakalimutan 'yung century stand!

According to Col. Ronnie, we can always have the house if we want to run away from the city. It’s the only way we can experience pure serenity. The place was beyond the reach of any mobile services’ signal, no one can definitely bother us there. Maybe someday, I might be able to ask him for that favor… When the perfect time comes.