Pinoywood Central Casting
Everybody wants to write a book about something, some event that either shaped or changed their life. My own particular story that must be told is the story of making “B Movies” in the Philippines.
Now, I must add at this point, if you see your name in here, and you are not happy with the way I depicted your participation in film making one way or another, go ahead and sue me! Good luck too! If you were an asshole, you deserve all the mud and shit that I sling at your sorry ass! However, at the end of the day, the old saying, “Publicity, good or bad, is still good publicity”!
The 70′s the “Video Market” took off like a rocket with the advent of Betamax, then later with VHS. You could now watch movies in the comfort of your own home, on your television, without those stupid nagging commercials assaulting your very being, or being in a theatre where some asshole was always talking, or worse yet, some idiot in back of you constantly kicking the back of your seat! Instantly, a huge market was created. The public was hungry for more, more, and more!
Filmmaking took on the theme of a “Gold Rush”. During the late 70′s up to the early 80′s there were around 40 foreign films a year, being shot in the Philippines. These did not include those films being shot for the foreign market by local producers. It had become a free for all!
Roger Corman of course was on the ground floor as he was, after all, the “B Movie King”, and he knew a good thing when he saw it. The Video Market would be the perfect venue for his cheap films. At the time, Roger had deals going on around the globe. He had partners in Argentina, and the Philippines, not too mention some other countries as well. Usually, he would be taking five films a year from each of his “Partners” to fill the market. But Roger was not alone. You had the Israelis, Golun and Globus with their Cannon Films, There were the Italians, Antonio Margarretti ( Can’t remember his film outfit’s name), and Memo (Pronounced Me Mo) of Flora Films. Everybody was climbing on the bandwagon! Even local Filipino film distributors were getting into the act. There was Kimmy Lim of Kinavesa Films, Boy Puzon and Pio Lee of Cinex Films, Even the Filipino Government got into it. They had their own film servicing outfit called Enterphil, headed by Armida Siguion Reyna (Johnny Enrile’s sister). It seemed like everybody was becoming an International Producer and for the most part all of their products were shit! But that did not matter to them . The market was there, and the market was hungry.
The list of “Notables”, “Has Beens” and “Wannabe’s” who starred in some of these epic masterpieces of crap ( I say this with a smile) is quite long! Chuck Norris, Lee Van Cleef, Luke Askew, Richard Harris, Bill Pullman, James Remar, Lou Ferigno (The Hulk), Michael Ironside, Martin Sheen, his brother Joe Estevez, Linda Blair, Robert Patrick, Jim Mitchum, Chris Mitchum, Tia Carerre The list goes on and on and on
I had spent 32 years of my life as a part of this farce (Again, I say this with a smile). I worked in every possible position. Extra, Stuntman, Bit Player, Character Actor, Casting Director, Associate Director, Production Manager, Associate Producer, Writer. You name it, I did it and I loved it!
Because of these films, I traveled around the Philippines from one location to another. This was one aspect of filmmaking that I loved. I mean where else are you going to have a job that takes you to exotic locations. From the north, Laog City in Ilocos Norte, all the way to the southernmost part of the Mindanao provinces. Granted, facilities and amenities were not always the best, however, I didn’t care as I was young and looking for adventure.
It was 1973, and I had been out of the military for a few months. I had broken up with my first wife Dolores, and was living with my Kumare Celi and my Kumpare Danny Reyes (brother and sister) in a province north of Manila called Nueva Ecija.
This was part of the large Central Luzon Rice Bowl. As far as the eye could see it was all rice fields. David Carradine had once said to me, “ You must have been through some extraordinary circumstances…” Shit, he didn’t know the half of it!
While living in the province I spent my time doing things a Filipino farmer does. I helped pull rice seedlings in preparation to planting. I looked like a pig from a wallow at the end of the day. I also harvested rice with a small serrated harvesting knife, and used something like nungchucks to thresh the rice. It was kinda cool out in the fields. Each family maintained a little grass thatched hut in their field, which they used for taking a nooner and meals at lunchtime. I often saw women wandering from hut to hut carrying a gallon tin can and a sack with some palay (rice that hadn’t been milled yet).I asked my Kumpare what they were doing and he replied, “ They are whores. You can fuck them for a can of Palay. But don’t get any ideas pare most, of them have high voltage (an STD)”! Funny thing was, a couple of nights later I heard Inang (mare and Pare’s Mom) and Tatang (the father) arguing. It seems Tatang (he was 70+ at the time) arguing. It seems he picked up a case of the crabs from one of the rice hookers. Pareng Danny and I laughed our asses off.
Other times I would be in the fields catching frogs for dinner. You got a little bamboo pole, tied some fishing line on one end, then at the other end you would make a kind of needle from thin bamboo skin and thread it through an earth worm. Then you would make a loop and tie it. The idea was to dangle it in the rice plants and frogs would jump and gulp the worm. Next step was to drop the frog in the sack and whack it with the end of your pole. It wasn’t always a frog on the end of the line. Sometimes you got a bonus in the form of a mud fish, or a heart attack because some goddamned snake like a cobra or dahong palay (a rear fanged viper that I still can’t find the English name for) dangling from the line. At any rate, when I brought the frogs home, Inang showed me how to clean them and skin them with my fingers that had been dipped in soot to get rid of the slippery slime. She would then wash them and cook them adobo style (vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and onions) or with the tender fresh leaves from a tamarind tree. It was all good. While harvesting, we would catch rice field rats and either cook them adobo style or inihaw (bar b que). It was all good!
I had spent about eight months there. Weathered a really funky typhoon that turned the whole area into a giant ocean. There were various types of snakes swimming all over the place. I saw what I thought was a red ball, and I grabbed it only to find out it was a ball of fire ants. I participated in Haranas ( courting virgin barrio girls with songs), going to the small town market where they only had the municipal building and a small restaurant called Bindoy’s. You could get a large glass of Halo Halo (shaved ice with fruit, sweetened beans, sugar and condensed milk) or you could order a small plate of roasted dog skin and liver with vinegar sauce for 80 centavos (at the time the exchange rate was $1.00 = PHP 7.10). I had made a lot of friends there and life was okay. One day a telegram arrived from Manila asking me to go to Valiant fire Fighting for a job interview. It seems my dad knew the owner and they were looking for people who knew about Fire Fighting. I was a certified instructor and everybody thought it might be a good idea to go there. I guess I failed to mention that I was on the mend from a nasty break up with my 1st wife Dolores (who was a real cunt). So after a tearful adios, off to Manila I went.
I arrived in Manila and was interviewed by Anacleto Bandril who was the President and General Manager for Valiant Fire Fighting. They were doing the fire protection system for the Central Bank and I was assigned as the shop supervisor. We were making parts for the sprinkler system, manufacturing fire extinguishers (out of scrap manganese 5” naval cannon powder shells).
One day I made a huge cannon from 6” BI pipe that was about 10 feet long. The boys and I filled that sucker with acetylene gas and fired it off. Holy shit!!! It blew out all of the windows from Cleto’s office, and the cops from the police HQ next door (it was martial law at the time) swarmed all over the place. Cleto’s Dad was a Colonel in the army and from President Marcos’ home town. So that passed. I was warned and things went back to normal.
A couple months later I was filling a new extinguisher with nitrogen and got sidetracked. There was a loud explosion, and all we could see was a hole in the roof and the canister shooting like a rocket in the sky. We were located on the corner of Kamuning road EDSA (the main road through Manila). There was a cop in the middle of the intersection and the canister came down like a fucking artillery round almost on the cop’s head! Well I ended up getting demoted and was sent to supervise the motor pool. What can I say? I was still young and had a lot of bad habits (many of which I still have today).
I worked with a guy by the name of Tony Luna ( a Spanish mestizo) who was an excellent car mechanic. We became fast friends and he introduced me to Caloocan City and a biker club called Anghel ng Lansangan (Angels of the road). I would often go to Olongapo City to sell some old Harley Davidson bikes that we had restored. One of the members father in law was a Commander with the Philippine Coast guard and was assigned in the Visayas (southern Philippines) and he would buy basket case WWII Harleys and sell them to us real cheap. We would then recondition them.
Tony had an uncle involved in the film and advertising industry as a Stills Photographer. One day he got a call from his uncle asking if he was interested in doing a 1 day shoot, and, if he could bring a friend who was also a mestizo. Tony approached me and asked me if I would be interested. The pay was 150 pesos and we earned 15 pesos a day at Valiant! I told him sure. On the appointed day, we took off from work and rode Tony’s motorcycle down to Roxas Blvd (formerly Dewey Blvd named after Admiral Dewey) and on to the Aloha Hotel. Roxas Blvd is famous for the view of the Bay and the most beautiful sunsets in the world. Tony was basically driving the bike and I was shifting gears. Tony had lost his leg in an accident, but that didn’t stop him. If he was alone on the bike he would shift using his hand.
We arrived at the hotel, and there were various movie types walking around and looking busy. This was my very first exposure to making a movie and I was in awe. Everybody seemed to know each other and the noobs were me and Tony. I had always been involved in theatre since my Elementary School days. I didn’t really have proper training like my best friend Henry Strzalkowski, and I had never been to film school like most Hollywooders, but I did have the right attitude and I was a fast learner. I didn’t have any allusions at the moment. I was just there on a goof and a chance to earn some fast cash. Now if you can make sense out of what I have just written, then we’re all good.
I didn’t know it at the time but I was being part of Kimmy Lim’s film machine called Kinavesa and the name of the film was “Kill the Tiger”! After a while, Tony and I were ushered inside to the cocktail lounge by a Filipino AD. The AD’s started blocking us. We were at a table and the Chinese AD came over with several packs of cheap Chinese cigarettes and encouraged us to smoke like chimneys and then some. They told us part thru charades or mime that we shouldn’t worry as they had plenty of cigarettes and id we ran out, they would give us more. I didn’t know it at the time, but these guys were so cheap that they didn’t employ any SFX people and wouldn’t even come up with a cheap ass bee puffer to generate smoke. So we sat there smoking and smoking, filling up the cocktail lounge with smoke to set the atmosphere.
Looking around I saw a cute half breed girl who went by the name of Blue Seal. I guess this was due to the fact that Blue Seal meant anything imported or 1st class. This came from American cigarettes which were expensive and readily identified by the blue tax seal on top of the cigarette pack. One of the pinoy AD’s came over and explained that when the director shouted action I was to start being a drunken asshole with the girl. The Jing Caparas (original SOS stuntman. Now deceased) would come to her aid. I would then kick the shit out of Jing then Chen Xing would come over and kick the shit out of me. Well whaddaya know. We did it in one take! Of course I did have experience as I was a wrestler in High School, had kicked many an ass in Detroit, not too mention elsewhere in the world.
We wrapped and were wondering who was going to pay us. The Chinese disappeared! One of the local production people told us they were checked in at The House International Hotel on Ongpin Street in Chinatown (Binondo). We went downtown to the hotel, went up to the floor where the Chinese Director and crew were staying. Tony and I were ready to kick ass and take names. We knocked on the door and it opened and what we saw made us crack up! There were about 12 guys in the one room. They were all over the place. One guy who spoke a minimal amount of English came out into the foyer and we told him we wanted our pay. He told us it would be the following week. We told him that if they didn’t pay us then and there somebody was gonna get their ass kicked. The guy went back into the room and had a conference with the other guys. All of them started to look in their wallets and cash was handed over to the spokesperson guy. He paid us off then Tony and I went to Max’s fried Chicken to eat. We each had a whole spring chicken with a roll and rice for PHP6.50 each. At the time I thought, “What a cool way to make a living”….
The fear and loathing begins
I continued to work at Valiant for a while. I had been promoted to sales and did a few contracts with Colgate Palmolive, Marcopper Mining for mechanical works. We had a sister company called Invictus Construction. We were in the process of expanding to civil works projects and Cleto had hired a new engineer who at the time was also working with Erectors and was the project manager for First National Bank Building in Makati City. His name was Tom Chavez and was around the same age as me. He was from Batangas ( a province south of Manila). We became drinking buddies and hung out together. Cleto told me to go after civil works projects so I got the company registered with OICC Westpac. This organization headed all construction projects for the US Navy in the Philippines. I was forever bring rolls of blueprints over to Tom and he would look them over and forward them on to our engineering department to estimate for bidding. It was around this time that I did my first television appearance.
A production manager contacted Tony Luna and was looking for a white guy to appear on Eddie Ilarde’s TV program Kahapon Lamang or in English “Just Yesterday”. Little did I know that I would be working years later with Eddie’s son Rico. Anyway the drama was about a girl who ended up working as a whore in Olongapo due to the fact that her live in partner was an asshole and beat her on a regular basis, knocked her up and then abandoned her. She meets an American sailor who didn’t give a shit about what she did, fell in love with her and married her.
All during the taping Eddie and his partner Bobby Ledesama sat in the lounge and drank vodka with Eddie taking pain pills. I had a chance to talk with Eddie and he showed me his leg which had been fucked up at the Plaza Miranda bombings at a political rally in 1972. President Marcos used this incident as a to declare Martial Law. Nobody was ever brought to justice because they were all part of the Marcos Machine. It looked real bad. He had almost lost his leg as he was close to where one of the grenades lobbed into the crowd had exploded. I finished the taping which went on all night long without a hitch. I didn’t realize it at the time but I had planted seeds that would bear fruit in the future.
Things at Valiant / Invictus didn’t pan out. Most of the engineers had fucked up the estimates and I always ended up with egg on my face at the biddings for the projects. Tom recommended that I quit Valiant and go work with a pal of his by the name of Ray Lucas who had a company by the name of Redd Mark trading. Jeebus! The redd Mark should have told me something as it was fucked up even worse than Valiant. Along the way I met Gaspar Yu who had a company called Hydra Painting. Gaspar did all of the commercial painting for buildings in and around Manila.
Working with Gaspar was a lot of fun. He was this tiny, ultra skinny Chinese guy. His fingers were as skinny as a pencil. He loved to drink White Castle whiskey which was some really rot gut shit but did the job. He was living with this woman whom he had two kids with by the name of Anita Wee. Gaspar was not yet a Filipino citizen but Anita was. She was from a wealthy Chinese family from Zamboanga and a real cunt. She would always threaten Gaspar with deportation if he didn’t do what SHE wanted! I felt sorry for the guy as I had already been through a real bad relationship and I knew what he was going through. The cool thing with Gaspar was that I would always take off for Olangapo to visit with my buddy from the navy Lanny Mooney. Gaspar would just look at me when I came back from a real long weekend with thinly disguised disgust but wouldn’t say anything. Anybody else would have fired me, but not Gaspar. He didn’t pay much but was pretty cool about cash advances especially if you had visitors from the province invading your home. Another great thing was he was intimate with everybody in Chinatown. We had a lot of clients from the area. I learned where to get the best dumplings and other Chinese food. I worked with Gaspar for a couple of years and later moved on to a couple of other failed business endeavors. For a while I worked as the manager for a detective agency, then as a consultant for some of the local law enforcement agencies.
Mooney was married to my former sister in law Lourdes and he was a real nut and druggie like myself. I would sell bikes to sailors and marines while there, and fuck my x wife’s cousin Lina. How can I describe Mooney? He was crazy as a loon and so was I. One night we had stolen the Admiral’s flag from the mast that was really fucking high. If we had fallen off we would have been a strawberry splat on the deck below. One night the ship had just pulled out of Subic and we were on our way to the Tonkin Gulf,
Mooney told me he had scored some really good weed and scag. A group of us went into one f our spaces and started to snort some scag. It was some real bad ass shit. I would guess it was about 99.98% pure. It fucked us up really bad, but we started to roll a couple of huge joints that we dusted with a shitload of scag. When that was done, we went up on the flight deck and into this escape chute. We started to smoke and after that a nuke could have gone off and all we could have said was, “Wow man, what was that…” A little later Chief Robbie came up with some other Petty officers and caught us in the act of being really fucked up. I could hardly stand up. Some asshole by the name of Gitkos had ratted us out! Anyway we were able to weasel our way out and got extra duty when we hit Hong Kong for R&R. I even weaseled my way out of that as the Chief who was supposed to be on duty was in a night club called the Makado Bar. He saw me and I saw him, we laughed and he told me to just check my name off the list when I got back to the boat.
Mooney and I joined the Drug Exemption program. That was a gas! Every Wednesday we had an hour meeting with a bunch of other druggies and some Chief who didn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground. Eventually we got a clean bill of health and continued to smoke weed like fiends! Anyway as I said earlier, I used to go to Olongapo and stay at his house and sell bikes. One time I went down to Gapo as we called it, and heard that Mooney had caused a scandal one night when it was pissing down rain. It seems that a F4J Phantom had just touched down and Mooney was sent to direct the plane to the proper area on the tarmac. I guess he didn’t have any rain gear with him so he stripped down to his birthday suit and boondockers, got out of the pick up then proceeded to direct the plane with his 2 wands. The pilot couldn’t believe what he saw and called to the tower and said there was a naked guy directing him. The tower replied, “It’s okay, he’s supposed to be there”! I have a zillion stories about the guy that could fill a book, but that is neither here nor there…
So I go down to Gapo one day and Mooney tells me, “Hey man! There is a big movie going on. Go up to Subic City and look for Stumpy at Stumpy and Gimpy’s Muff Divers Inn. Well that was really the name of the place! Subic City was like an old Wild West town. It was wall to wall brothels both sides of the street. Girls would stand in the doorways dressed only in heels, a bra and panties or just nighties. It was only a matter of time that you would get a stiffy, cave in and grab one of the babes The Shore Patrol didn’t go there, nor did the Armed Forces Police. The local cops didn’t give a fuck what you did there as long as you didn’t kill somebody and even if you did they still didn’t give a shit! Pussy was a plenty and cheap. Anyway I got up the next day after lunch, hauled my sorry ass down to the Victory Liner Station and caught a jeepney going to Subic City. I got off in front of the Cherry Club, then climbed the stairs to the second floor. I went in the door and asked a waitress who Stumpy was, she called over to this one legged American with long hair and a full beard, “daddy somebody look for you”! Well I went to the where he was at the bar and introduced myself. Stumpy gave me a San Miguel and we talked. He told me that the Casting Director, Ken Metcalfe had already gone back to Manila and I should go to Nepomuceno Studios and look for him there. I found out that Stumpy had lost his leg in an accident aboard a Submarine. Him and his partner Gimpy, both former navy guys got a huge disability check and had bought the place. There was a bar, and a few tables. They had one of the first Pong machines in the country. Good sounds poured out of the jukebox. Stumpy had found the thing in a junkshop, fixed it up and loaded it with 45rpm records from his own collection. He had a couple of waitresses and freelance hookers would come in and out of the place. While sitting there one freelancer came in and the next thing I knew I was in her room eating her out while she sucked my dick. I spent the whole day with her and went back to Mooney’s place the next day. I grabbed my shit and went back to the Victory Liner station and caught a bus going to Manila.
The next day I went over to Makati and found the studio next to the Makati Health Studio. I found Metcalfe and filled out the profile/Application. I was told to get a haircut (my hair was down to my shoulders at the time), and they would be in touch. I thought, “yeah sure…whatever”… Well we did get called but only to tell us that a typhoon had blown the set away and the shoot was postponed. I thought, “oh well…”. So back to Hydra Painting and more boring day to day routine. This went on for a couple of weeks then somebody from Metcalfe’s office called, told me to report to the studio the following day and be prepared to be away for a couple of weeks. I told Gaspar that I would be away for a while and all he did was look at me over the top of his Ben Franklin reading glasses and grunt.
I told my new wife Merly that I was going for s shoot and would be gone for a while. She packed up some shit for me and the next day I reported to the studio. When I got there, I saw a bunch of Coasters and buses parked all over the place. There must have been more than a hundred guys there! Every drunk from Ermita and Angeles City was there along with black mestizos, and a sprinkling of Aetas who weren’t full blown pygmies. There were a couple of active duty navy guys there. We talked for a while and they told me that if they got caught they would be in deep shit. I found out from Larry Franco that Francis had gone to Subic Naval station and asked the C.O. for help with extras. The C.O. sat and perused the script and after a while he went ballistic! He threw the script at Francis and wanted to kill him. It seems the C.O. had been in the Hanoi Hilton and was pissed off that Francis wrote a script depicting Vietnam as a war where American kids were being sent there as cannon fodder. He released a plan of the Day or POD as we used to call it, that no active duty personnel or dependants would be allowed to participate in film. If anybody got caught they would be in really deep, deep shit!
After what seemed like hours of waiting we were told to get on the buses. When all were aboard the order was given to pull out. The buses headed south towards Laguna province. We stopped after a while at the Rapids Hotel. We were at Pagsanjan Laguna, home of the famous boatmen. Later Pagsanjan got a bad rap due to all the pedophiles who turned it into a homosexual playground. I got off the bus to stretch my legs. I thought of getting a beer till I found out that they were 4.00 pesos. Fucking expensive, when you could buy from a store at 35 centavos. While hanging out, I walked around a bit. Production had built a Radio Shack in the parking lot and you could here the radio code being received. I peeked in the window and saw a radio operator sending code. These days the only place you can see that is on an old ship and the radio operators still use code by voice…
We were told to get back on the buses, and we headed for Caliraya. Caliraya is a man made lake that is used for hydro power generation. In the coming years we would often shoot there. You could swim in it, and the lake was stocked with bass, and had the usual catfish and Gobi. The Gobi was a much underrated fish. It was great fried and real easy to catch. It was late afternoon when we arrived at the staging area. It was raining and we were told to hang out. It was really weird. We were just below Lake Caliraya at and they had built a set that looked like part of a Firebase (it still stands today and is used as an Elementary School). There were real Vietnamese hanging out in authentic costumes, speaking Vietnamese, and extras dressed up in BDUs. I was getting dizzy thinking I had stepped into the Twighlight Zone. After a while a Asian utility vehicle pulled up and some locals started to unload boxes from it. We were told to get in line. They were passing out some burgers that were about an inch thick and the best I had tasted in a long, long time. I was able to go back for seconds. I didn’t give a rat’s ass if somebody else wouldn’t get one as I was really fucking hungry. One had to use his best survival skills back in those days. There weren’t any Mickey D’s around, nor were there any Burger Machines ( A local franchise I like to call Rat Burgers). We waited some more after that. I was used to that shit as the military was always “hurry up and wait”! So I chilled. Later a couple of local AD’s herded us over to a 2 story wooden structure. We were issued some BDUs and jungle boots. We got on some Philippine army 6×6’s and in a convoy we went up to the lake where they had the Hao Phat set.
I was assigned to an area around the stage to set up sound systems. Me and this mestizo guy by the name of William worked together. After a while they called a lunch break. It was about midnight. They had been doing the scene where Martin Sheen’s PBR came into dock, and we were just background atmosphere. The chow was first class. A Scottish chef had cooked up a bunch of Roast Beef and there was mashed potatoes, rice, green beans, several kinds of salads. For desert there was home made ice cream! I couldn’t fucking believe it. After that we went back to the set, and did more of the same. Later we had a snack… Hmmmm, a long way from the fish heads and rice you would get on a Kinavesa set. Finally we wrapped for the day. It was about 3;00 am. Back on the trucks and the convoy headed towards Siniloan Laguna. We stopped at the elementary school there, and found that the classrooms had been converted into a barracks and that was maintained by a local Boy Scout Troop. Army cots and mosquito nets. The only place to take a shower was an artesian well out in the middle of a rice field. I wasn’t about to go out there in the middle of the night. Only God knew what was out there. The crapper was just that. It wasn’t designed for a hundred fake GI’s. The toilets were so full of shit that it was running over the top of both crappers. Most of the guys there had not adopted the Filipino style of just using water to wash your ass after a crap. All kinds of paper had been used and they were all hopelessly clogged up. We had been told that at 5;30 in the morning they would be shooting chopper sequences and anybody who wanted to do that would get an extra PhP350.00. I was too fucking tired. I collapsed into my cot and next thing I knew it was the next day. I went out in the field and took a shower. I had to take a shit and saw those fucking toilets full of shit and started to walk out again when Don Gordon came running in, he climbed on top of the deep sink a proceeded to crap in it.
I went across the street where there was a store that had an outhouse. I asked the owner if I could use the facilities. It pays if you can speak the dialect. After dumping a load, I went in the store and ordered a fried egg, some bread and a San Miguel. I must have had a few beers, and these two German guys came in and they sat down at my table. They both spoke English. One of them was pretty quiet and didn’t talk much. The other one was the talker. He told me that he repaired brick streets back in Germany. We talked and drank more beer, after a while the quiet one went to the counter and came back with a quart of rum. We polished that off, and they bought another one. I was roaring drunk by the time it was time to get on the trucks. By the time we arrived at the set I was making a scene and was really rowdy. I only have a vague memory of what happened. I was told the next day that I was a real party animal by many people… I couldn’t really figure out what I did, but I was sure it wasn’t good. The alcohol had released a lot of demons. I spent the rest of the next day apologizing to various people. What was weird, many people seemed to understand and didn’t think I was a bad guy. They said I was just having an episode. I guess that was an understatement. I was to have many “episodes” in the future.
We did the Hao Phat / USO show scene. Flash Cadillac played Suzy Q . I was still kind of half out of it. I snuck away from the bleachers where we had been blocked. I wandered down to an open area and saw boxes stacked upon boxes. Then I saw that they were filled with Box Lunches. They looked almost the same as the Lunch Boxes that the galley on the boat would prepare if you had to work away from the boat. They contained a boiled potato, a tomato, and a ham (?) sandwich that had spoiled long ago, along with the potato. The rest of the night went uneventful except for the odd lights blowing up when cold rain hit them.
A few days later, we did the beach at night bar b que scene… bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha I must laugh my ass off at this. Here is a scene all gone wrong. It wasn’t the actors and it wasn’t the crew but it was us extras. If I remember correctly, we ate before we started. Now this was a first. Usually you worked before you ate unless of course it was breakfast. But here it was early evening. We were allowed to pig out on roast beef or some such. It was great food. We were really going blue seal. After the feast we were smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee, soft drinks and whatnot. Ads came over and rounded us up, then told us to find a grill and sit next to it. When we arrived at the set, they had set up 55 gallon drums cut in half lengthwise with a grill on top. Next to that were stainless steel military food boxes. An SFX guy came around lighting the grills up and telling people to stay out of the food boxes.
Now how stupid can you get? You never ever tell somebody not to do something because, rest assured, they will always do what you tell them not to. Do you follow me? When the SFX guy disappeared from our line of vision, we opened the box and what did we see? The fricken box was full of steak! Immediately we had our steaks on the grill as did the other Grillites. Smoke was rising from the grills as the fat dripped on the hot coals. Well when they changed angles we were out of meat! Along came some sort of AD type of guy, screaming the usual question, “Who told you to put the meat on the grill”? Of course we couldn’t point the finger at ourselves, we simply pointed a finger out to the massive crowd, and said, “he did”! With a contemptuous grunt the SFX guy left our area in search of some elusive target in the crowd.
We settled down and cigarettes and joints came out and proceeded to chill out. After a couple of hours a Props person came by carrying a shish kebab with meat, onions and tomatoes on it, which he put on the grill. Then he handed each one of us a can of what looked like Budweiser beer. He just told us don’t eat the kebab as the meat was spoiled. We didn’t give the kebabs another thought but our attention was directed instead to the beer. Upon closer inspection we found that it was just a paper label on a can of coke! What an outrage! What were they thinking? These were the comments that were heard throughout the area. I might point out that people are never really happy, and extras complained just like we did in the military. You are certain that nothing will happen as a result of your complaint, but complain you must. We stopped shooting for a while and nothing was happening. However, a little bit later we heard the roar of a mighty diesel engine and the shifting of gears. From the darkness and into the light appeared a huge semi loaded with San Miguel beer. The plan was, get in line, and when you reached the back of you handed your cans over to the prop guy, who would then fill them up with beer for you. The extras who had left their cans unattended lost them to us marauders. We were in line, got our beer, then went back to the end of the line, started drinking the beer till we reached the back of the truck and got beer again. The same evolution happened again. After about three trips to the back of the truck, the Ads figured out was going on and sent us back to our areas. It did take several hours to get everything under control. It was getting light so we wrapped.
The next night, we went on to shoot the remainder of the beach scene. No food in the boxes and no beer. Hey that was okay. There were a lot of hooches on the set, and most had been turned into small sari sari stores. Many were getting ripped on San Miguel Gin while others were smoking weed. The shoot went on without a hitch, and the following day I had gone home never to return.
Not much fear, but lots of laughing and loathing!
I went on a hiatus from film for a couple of years. The experience at Apocalypse Now had left me with many brain snakes that I had to deal with on a case to case basis. I had gone on to get involved with the Philippine Constabulary. I was also managing a Security and Detective agency. Everything seemed boring till one day I met Donny Gonzales. He was working with Art Nicdao on production design and construction. They were doing two films. One for Bobby Suarez was searchers of the Voodoo Mountain and the other for Cinex (Now Puzon Films) Firebird Conspiracy. Donny told me, “Why don’t you go to Escolta and look for the Regina Bldg. Go up to Cinex and look for Jun Gallardo”.
A couple of days later I did just that. I took the bus from Quezon City where I lived and went to Escolta. Back in those days Escolta was a pretty cool place. It was happening there! I went to Cinex but Jun wasn’t there. A few days later Bugsy Dabao arrived at the small farm I was operating and wanted to shoot some stills. Ulysses Formanez was the stills photographer. They had Bruce Baron, Lenny Urso and Peta Whittle with them. I could see right away that Bruce was going to have a hard time with not only his eyesight, but getting along with the rest of the cast. Lenny on the other hand was a fun loving guy and saw the film as more of a goof than a job. Peta? Well she seemed to be having a ball. She ended up as the Godmother of my youngest son Daniel Kenneth. A little later a props truck arrived with fake weapons and costumes. I suited up and did some fight routines with the pinoy stuntmen. We were having fun and the day ended. I wasn’t giving much thought about Cinex but a few days later, I was asked to report to Cinex.
I reported and had a conversation with Jun Gallardo who hired me as an actor. Along the way I had become friends with Bugsy Dabao who was our 1st AD. He invited me to write a script with him and Paul Vance. We wrote Crossbone Territory at his brother Vic’s house in Santa Ana. Bugsy had become a born again Christian and both he and Danny Cabriera walked it like they talked it. They belonged to a group called God’s Commandos and they held the usual prayer meetings but also did exorcism rites. I was present when they did a number on Don Gordon. I will write more about that later. The script was for Tessie Monteverde of JPM Films. Don Gordon later was cast and rewrote the script. That was a good idea for him to do that as the script that we wrote was full of holes and needed a script doctor to keep it alive! Bugsy suggested that I hang around the Cinex office so that they would see that I was a useful kinda guy and they should hire me as staff.
After a couple of days Pio Lee called me in to his office and we discussed my pay as an actor as well as my fee for being the Military Advisor. Well, well, well, Bugsy was right on the money! After a few days Pio informed me that Boy Puzon, His wife, his brother Jimmy, Jun Galardo and myself would go down to Angeles City to buy props. This was always a treat! There was this huge warehouse in Dau, which had everything you needed to equip an army. I shit you not! I didn’t have far to go from there to buy actual working weapons and explosives. Most of the stuff was new or in pretty good second hand condition. Right away I picked out my boots and uniform, and then went about the mundane task of securing the costumes for the rest of the cast. We had a real cool day at the surplus joint. Most of the stuff was stolen or misappropriated. LoL! Who gave a shit? Nobody really and you could always count on finding what you needed.
A couple days later we had a costume fitting at the office, and our contracts were firmed up! I met most of the cast that day. What a motley cure we were, there I met Willy Williams. He became one of my best friends and was perhaps the funniest black man I had ever met. The only problem was Willy didn’t know it! He was still going through this racial faze and if you listened to it you would laugh your ass off. The there was Paul Vance and Berto Spoor. Both a couple of weird birds to be sure, both were gay and both were pedophiles. Berto was Dutch and Paul Flemish. Both spoke flawless English. Berto ended up keeping us supplied with weed for the entire shoot of 8 months. We also had a Swiss guy, Urs Hardegger who claimed “All Germans are square heads”! of course the Germans would say, “Ahhh you Swiss!!! You all speak German like little children”! Then we had an Italian Gabby Ferro. He was a likeable guy. Reserved in a spot all his own, Willie “Crazy Willie” Morales aka Willie Schober. Last but not least, Ronnie “The Kid” Patterson. A smoker, and fellow pervert sex maniac!
We finally had a start date. We were going to shoot at Fort Santiago. We went to the location and one could see that a lot of buildings and places in Intramuros had high fences around them. Fort Santiago was one of these places. Originally it was a Spanish fort to guard the mouth of the Pasig River, then, during Japanese occupation, it was used as a jail and execution site. There were still many scars of war inside. One could see shrapnel scars from bullets, mortars, and grenades. The place was in disarray as Curtis Smith was digging tunnels all over the place. He had been commissioned by (then) President Marcos to track down Yamashita’s gold. Some people think the gold was bullshit, but I for one actually saw it being hauled out of the ground. It has been said that there were more than 40 miles of tunnels below Manila. The Japanese constructed these tunnels the same way they constructed stuff throughout Asia, by means of slave labor. There is still a lot of mystery surrounding the “Treasure”. I had previously emailed Curtis around 4-5 years ago, telling him that I heard about a building called “El Hogar” located at Juan Luna St. We shot a film there, which I can’t recall the title of at the moment, but the old security guards told me that there was a basement which was flooded and had entrances to a couple of tunnels as this was one of the main HQ buildings for the Japs. Curtis told me he didn’t think there was anything to it and he worked from real Japanese maps. My thought was, “whatever”. I doubt if he has all of the maps that were made for treasure sites. That is way too convenient.
Our destination was the Dungeon. During WWII, the Japs crammed 600 Americans and Filipino citizens inside so that they would drown when the Pasig was at high tide. On top of the Dungeon, the Japs would execute people by means of beheading with a Samurai Sword. It was kind of creepy in there knowing that so many people died there.
The scene we were going to film was with Vic Diaz, and Dick Israel. As well as some torture scenes. Jun was thinking we needed some atmosphere, and Bugsy had failed to produce any, so I was enlisted to become a victim hanging from the ceiling with a chunk of my ass missing. So there I hung with my dick and balls tied up in a handkerchief, and facing a hole in the wall that opened into one of Curtis’s tunnels. I could see the workers as they hauled wooden crates which were filled with booty. We were later encouraged to look the other way.
During the course of the day, various tourists came down to take a peek at the shoot. There I was hanging with my package all tied up. Every fucking female tourist (there were Japs, European as well as American ladies) tittered every time they saw me. Gave me some insight that this may certainly have turned them on. Women have this secret fantasy that they would like us men tied up in this fashion. Oh well… so much for cheap thrills.
Nearby we did the scene where I am administering the Lie Detector test to Joonee Gamboa. Here is where I first heard Willy Williams start with the racial profiling complaints, which never stopped for as long as I knew him. It was always funny. Bugsy had brought the Lie Detector guy from the Philippine Constabulary at Camp Crame. Jun had told me to get with the guy and learn how to operate the machine and what type of questions to ask, and where to mark the graph. All of a sudden I hear, “Oh so the black man is too dumb and stupid to operate that machine”! We all turned to look at Willy as he continued, “Why is it always the white man doing the technical stuff”? I just said, “Oh Jesus Willy…” and Willy continued to complain to anybody who would lend him an ear and meanwhile we shot the scene. Willy thought that he was being discriminated against because he was black. Nothing could be further from the truth as Jun had promised me more screen time as I had hung from the ceiling of the goddamned dungeon for around 8 hours.
We wrapped up our scenes in Manila, and made preparations to go on location.
I was excited and couldn’t wait to get out of town and work on location. Laughing my ass off! It was like camping out in your own back yard! We went east of Manila to Antipolo Rizal, which was only a one hour jeep or bus ride away. We were booked in to this little resort called Las Brisas which means, The Breezes… go figure, Antipolo, Mountains etc etc. The management constantly complained about marijuana smoking, which fell on deaf/stoned ears. Bugsy was running around freaking out, and it made him even more upset that nobody was paying the slightest attention to him. I was rooming with Bruce, and another person that (sorry) I don’t have a hope in hell of remembering his name. I didn’t have any complaints about Bruce as a roomie. He was okay. I have been doubled up with worse, as you will read about.
Every morning we climbed in the vehicles and headed over to Rizal Cement which wasn’t too far away. I doubt if many of the readers have ever been to a cement quarry let alone shoot in the 115f degree weather. All you can see is the white limestone rocks. Some as big as houses and some just tiny rocks but they were all white and reflected the suns heat. We worked pretty hard and I was forever thirsty. This whole area was riddled with caves. But then again, you the “reader”, didn’t come here for geology lessons. I will talk more about caves later (the fun stuff).
During the course of the day, Jun was knocking off establishing shots, action sequences, explosions and everything else you would need in a action film. We would run to and fro. Dive into foxholes while explosions went off, run some more and shoot our weapons at Viet Cong. A few extras were killed off after a couple of days. One of the “dead’ was Willie Schober. Willie also used the name Morales and would tell people that he was Mexican. Here was a real character. A Korean war vet, and also a former POW. There were scars around Willies ankles from where he had been hung upside down by wire by the North Koreans. If you were able to get close to Willie he was a very interesting person and so damn funny. He would go around and tell people, “I lie so much I have to sleep standing up” or “I would rather hear a young boy fart than a pretty girl sing”! A few years later he was murdered in Ermita by a drive by shooter who was never identified or apprehended. Some say it was the work of a politician who wanted to close down the red light district for his own personal gain. I might tend to agree with that theory. Willie had come up with a plan. He decided that he would hang out at the hotel, bum grub from the guys and try and crash in somebody’s room. Bugsy gave him his walking papers and expected Willie to get on the vehicle going to Manila. Willie wasn’t moving and the next thing you know, Bugsy had two of our Philippine Marine escorts in tow and they were headed for a table where we were all sitting. Bugsy then told the sergeant, “if Willie doesn’t get in the vehicle, shoot him and then dump him somewhere”. Willie moved like greased lightning and was in the vehicle. He was whining about how they didn’t need to sic the guards on him, yada yada yada and all of that…
We were moving towards our escape from the enemy. The idea was we would all make a run for this 6 x 6. Those that got on board first would provide covering fire for those still outside. It was at this point that one of the funniest things in this film happened. While we were running towards the truck Willie Williams was in front of me and behind me was this Italian kid named Mauriccio (sp). He was the son of one of the architects who helped design the older Mla Int’l Airport. He was a rich kid who hung out on the same party circuit as Lenny Urso who was responsible for getting Mauriccio a small part. He was kind of a showoff so early on I gave him the Pig (M-60 MG) to carry. Shit! He loved it! So anyway, we were running towards the truck and Mauriccio was firing all the way there. Willie hopped into the truck first, then grabbed my arm and pulled me up in the back. Mauriccio then handed the pig over to Willie who continued to fire the weapon while Mauriccio climbed aboard. Now mind you, the barrel was getting cherry red due to all the rounds being fired. Mauriccio then tells Willie, “Gimme my gun”! He then reached across and grabbed the weapon by the barrel. I could hear a sizzling sound, then I could see white smoke or steam coming from between Mauricio’s fingers. He let out a howl of shear pain. He pulled his hand back and some of his skin was still cooking on the barrel. Oh an! We all started laughing our asses off, and continued to do so for a long time.
I had started to notice a fat faggy kind of young man hanging out on the set, and drinking coffee with Joonee Gamboa at the hotel… Seems he was hired as a Producers Representative by Boy Puzon. Little did I know that he was engineering Jun Gallardo’s demise, that would turn a four week project into a epic eight month piece of shit!
We finished the scenes in the quarry, and our next destination was Tanay Rizal.
I have a lot of mixed memories about Tanay. East of Manila and situated on the edge of Laguna De Bay. The lake itself is an ancient volcano caldera. Laguna province is part of a huge volcanic system and still has a couple of volcanos that didn’t blow themselves to bits at any point in history. However, Tanay is a bunch of Limestone Mountains with caves and waterfalls all over the place. One particular cave system that film companies always used was Calinawan Cave. The land was owned by Nana (mother) Tale. Her mother was know as the Santa of Tanay. She was around 113 years old when she died. This area was full of history and I still kick myself in the ass for not recording a lot of it.
The many times I shot films there, I always found time to talk with the old lady. Nana Tale would tell me not to pay any attention to her, claiming that she was senile. On the contrary, I found her to be lucid with a good clear memory. She and her husband had walked from the Bicol region and found the caves. A real long time ago and bought the mountains dirt cheap. The area wasn’t populated at the time we were filming there. Little by little, the mountains were sold to cement companies who quarried the limestone. The Santa was head of a weird religious cult who believed that the land was God and you had to respect the land. Her followers were all women who wore white robes and had amulets in the shape of a triangle with an eye in the center and latin inscriptions along the sides.
Many times I would be waiting for a scene and the Santa and I would talk. It seems that during WW II, she and her husband had joined the Huk Bulahap movement and cared for downed American pilots. Nearby was a quarry where a mango tree stood at the entrance. She told me that the Japs had captured 3 American pilots and had them tied to a large branch. It seems that the Japs were stripping the flesh from them while they were still alive and eating it. Her husband couldn’t take the sounds of them screaming for their mothers so he found a good vantage point and shot all three thru the head to put them out of their misery.
Santa and her husband planted crops such as yams and mango trees. Every time I shot there, if mangos were in season the old woman would give me a sack full. I was a sad camper indeed when I found out she died years later.
In Tanay, at that time there were only two places to stay. One could check in to a motel that was once the field office of Ayala Construction. At that time it wasn’t all that bad and there was ample pussy available. The other place to stay was at the Sacramento Resort located at Sampaloc Tanay, very near to Camp Capinpin which was home to the Philippine 2nd Infantry Division and the Philippine Army Scout Rangers.
Sacramento was a cool place back in the early days. It had a huge swimming pool and tennis courts. Frequent quests besides film people were the army officers from nearby Capinpin. Rooms were cement blocks with nipa roofs. They were air conditioned, but rarely did you use it as the location was the mountains of Tanay and the air was always fresh and cool. You did have to watch out for the fuck you lizards. That was the sound they made. They are known here as Tuko, and are actually huge gecko lizards. They hang out in the rafters and are good insect control. The only drawback was they would shit on you. Ice cold lizard shit isn’t a great way to be woken up by. The owners had a monkey they kept in a cage in front. That guy and I became buddies. Everybody else would taunt him and mistreat him, on the other hand I treated him decent and probably gave him dental cavities with all of the mini Cloud Nine candy bars.
Jun Gallardo and I would often sit on a low wall in front of the monkey cage. He was a real nice guy to talk and work with.One morning Jun sat down next to me and we ate our breakfast. He was telling me that he observed some weird shit happening the night before. I asked him what he was talking about, he then told me, “I saw Paul and Berto sucking on some young boys, while they masturbated themselves, in the back of the Production Jeep. My thoughts were, that there were a lot of weird motherfuckers around and just let it go at that.Later we would often see Berto and Paul, going off into the jungle with a couple of young boys in tow.At te time, there was no law protecting kids, so these two and a few others like, Mel Davidson got away with it. Berto was later deported from the Philippines and is now black listed here.
Shooting that week went by without any hitches till later in the week when Jun told me that he would probably be on the way out and Vitt Romero would replace him. I wasn’t too happy but there really wasn’t anything I could do!
We went back to Manila and prepared for our next location wich would be Mt. Makiling rain forrest in Los Banos (the baths), Laguna province. I had always loved Los Banos! It was home to University of the Philippines Forrestry school as well as the Livestock and Vetrinary Medicine Schools.
As you approahed the town, stalls lined both side of the street selling Buco Pie. Buco is the fresh young coconut with suculent sweet meat. I could eat a couple of those pies at one sitting, especially after sharing a couple of joints with Berto Spoor. When you reached the town proper there was a Dairy Outlet from UP and you could buy quarts of fresh or chocolate milk. They also sold a kind of white cheese that was like mozzarella and light on the palette. Having secured gas and munchies it was on to the Campus.
Mt. Makiling is an old volcano. Some would say it is extinct. I would call it dormant as the whole area is full of hot springs! And when you reach the rain forest, there is a boiling mud pool that is rimmed with sulfur! Back in those days it was a beautiful place. Banyan and mahogany trees all over the place as well as trees I don’t know what their names are/were. A variety of orchids with as many different colors inhabited the forest canopy. There was an abundance of wild life as well. A couple of different varieties of Cobra and McGregor Vipers and let us not forget reticulated pythons. Wild pigs and small Asian deer. Scorpions and centipedes were also in abundance. You could find insects there that other people only see in books. It was a real trip to be there! Now the p[lace is ull of Kaingeros (slash and burn farmers). However in the old days there were people who lived near the summit and rode on small ponies with fruit and coconuts that they would sell at the market in town. They didn’t destroy the forest like the Kaingeros did.
We started to shoot on location and it didn’t take long for Bruce Baron to meet his demise. He was becoming uncontrollable. At the same time Vitt was making his presence known. I had a feeling that it wouldn’t be too long and tempers would flare and egos would do battle. After a couple of days Bugsy, Jun and Pio Lee took me aside and asked how could kill off Bruce. I told them that we could have the group go thru a minefield. There would be an explosion and all would hit the deck. We would give the troop a count of 10 seconds and Bruce a count of 30 seconds. The powers that be liked the idea. Gapo was told to set up a bast, and we did the scene. Everybody except Bruce got up and they were told to react to his death. When Bruce got up, I don’t think he had an idea that he had just been fragged and was out of the picture.
That day we returned to our digs, The Makiling Inn (or Lodge) next door to the City of Springs. They had a huge pool as well as private hot spring pools. It was really nice to soak in the hot pools after a hard day shooting. Pussy was in abundance there, and you could get ice cold San Miguel. Down the street was the Municipal Hall, Police and Fire Station and a small restaurant where you could get fresh Tilapia roasted, fried or any other means of cooking. This whole area was on the shore of Laguna de Bay, a fresh water lake that was actually the caldera of some ancient volcano that blew itself to smithereens.We ate our evening meal and were hanging out. I noticed that the powers that be were in Bruce’s room. Later they all emerged and got into a vehicle. I can only surmise what Ruce’s reaction was. i knew he wasn’t happy with the way things were going on the film. All around it was for the better that he left. Later we were told to get our gear together as we would return to Manila to look for a new Captain Beck.
We went home and Bugsy told me to go to the office the following day as he wanted me to look at a new prospect for Beck. I spent some time with my family, crashed and headed to Escolta the following afternoon. I was hanging out in the office chating with other crew members till Bugsy walked in and said, “Nick come with me.” so I went with Bugsy down a couple of floors to a beauty parlor and there was this poor guy laying in one of those reclining chairs for shampooing. Meet Steve Rogers! Rhoda the gy make up artist had been working on him all day. When I arrived they had put this black tancho tique on this hair and mustache. Tancho is a stick made of vegetable fat (or so they say). We used it for dirt effects. Steve’s head looked like something out of a wax museum, or worse, he now lookded like an Arab Terrorist!
Steve Rogers and i exchanged looks. he looked abused and I looked amused. Steve and I would go on to be best friends till this day. He made some comment That I can’t recall but it sent me snickering. Rhoda was doing his best, yet so many people were saying this and telling him to do that. He looked like he was ready to rip eyeballs out! At the end of the day it was decided to get Steve’s hair as close a color to Bruce’s as they could and we would work with it. Plans were made to go back on location a couple of days later. I was happy as I would see my girlfriend Bette Elorde who probably had the wettest pussy I ever had the pleasure to dip my wick in.
So it was back to the Makiling Inn and the Rain Forrest. Here is where it started to get screwy. This would be Jun Gallardos last week on the picture and Vitt Romero would take over. I had a feeling of impending doom and I was right. We started shooting with 2 units. It was time to pare down the cast. Booby Traps were made and we would shoot somebody getting creamed by a trap and then do reaction shots. Jun was doing the action sequences and Vitt the dramatic shit. Yep it was pure crap. I remember that somebody was getting impaled as another person was getting fucked up nearby. The rest of us were blocked into position, and Vitt started to direct the scene. It was hilarious to say the least. We were told to react to one guys death, then react to another. We went to Magnatech in Quezon City to watch the rushes and my God! It was some of the best comedy I had ever seen. Jun did a great job on the death scenes, but the onlookers with reactions was pure crap! I swear, we looked like we were watching a Wimbledon Tennis Match! We would look one way, then another! It looked like we were following a tennis ball in flight till it got whacked by a player. I knew then that my predictions of doom were spot on.
Food on the set wasn’t the best and when we got back to the hotel, people were complaining. One of the most vocal was Gabby Ferro and It was decided that he would cook a huge spaghetti dinner for all. We all thought this was a capital idea since Gabby was Italian. We all chipped in some cash and the caterer was sent to the market. When they returned with the supplies Gabby rolled up his sleeves and went to work cooking. Meanwhile the rest of us were drinking cold San Miguel, smoking joints and enjoying the evening. Finally word went out that Chow was ready and to come and get it! And we did… Poor Gabby didn’t have the foresight to set any food aside for himself and when everybody had their trays loaded, no spaghetti was left and Gabby was left pouting and whimpering that he didn’t get any. The fucking idiot! Oh well, that is life on a B Movie set with a tiny budget.
If I remember correctly Gabby went home the following day as he was one of the guys to die a horrific death at the booby traps. In actual fact, I think we all went home the following day as preparations were to be made for a ridiculous dolly shot that Vitt had come up with. He had the right idea as movement of the camera and actors is basic cinematography. We came back yet again to Makiling but were in another hotel this time. Obviously money must have been getting short as it was worse than the Makiling Inn.
We ended up again in the rain forest doing travel shots. We rode in a deuce and a half till pne of its leaf springs broke, then we walked around the rain forest. When we went back to the hotel, there was a group of carpenters working on some wood planks. They were at it all night. Hammering and planing, theen loading the finished pieces on top of a jeepney. It took me a while to figure out that they were making a Dolly Track. My next thought was that that Dolly shot was going to end up a can of worms somehow. As usual, I was spot on!
The following day it was more travel shots in the morning and the Dolly Shot in the afternoon. WOOT! The rationale was the sun would be just right filtering thru the forest canopy and it woud look really cool. Shit! They could have used gobos and saved a lot of time and got the same effect. Carpenters had been up all night, and all day. They were assembling the Dolly. Meanwhile we were taking a break so Steve and I wandered off to smoke a joint and read from Hawk Moon, a very bizarre book. It seemed fitting since we were on a very bizarre shoot! The two people involved in the scene was Peta and Steve. two fatal errors reared their respective ugly heads when they tried to shoot. During rehearsals it was found that there was a huge fucking tree in the way, and the camera jerked around so much that it looked like it was hooked up to a concrete vibrator! So the shot was postponed and we went back to doing travel shots and general fucking around. Vitt, Bugsy and the DP ( couldn’t remember which one as we went thru 8 DP’s) went on a location hunt to find a place more suitable for this epic 100ft Dolly Shot! Finally a wrap was called and back to the hotel. The carpenters had to break down the track again, and it was back to the hotel and these guys were once again armed with their trusty planes and now had voluminous amounts of sandpaper. Again they spent the whole night working on tose stupid tracks. One could have easily rented proper dolly tracks from salon Films or any other film unit, but we used wood planks… Meanwhile it was smoking more dope and drinking more beer for us. The hotel had a reasonable looking pool, however a couple of our Marine Escorts went for a swim and one of them got a nasty gash on his foot from a broken tile. So everybody decided not to go in the pool.
One might wonder, why we had Marine escorts. Here is where shades of Tropic Thunder come into play. There were elements of the communist based New Peoples Army all over the place. So… we had had escorts. I have shot in most of their strongholds, and we never had problems. But the producers felt it would be prudent to have escorts since we carried a shitload of live weapons. Oh well… On with the Dolly Shot.
The following morning we set out once again to the rain forest. We did more fucking around, and more travel shots. At the appointed time in the afternoon it was over to the Dolly Tracks and try for another attempt at the shot. The poor carpenters had somewhat fixed the bumps and dips in the track, and while waiting for the sun to it’s mark, Steve and Peta rehearsed their blocking and dialogue. Things seemed to be looking better. The actors were ready, the sun was ready, the DP was ready and Vitt was getting ready to do the shot! Just as Vitt was going to scream ACTION, Bugsy went up to Vitt and told him that they couldn’t find a 35mm film box that was an essential prop! Talk about meltdowns… shit! Vitt blew a gasket! A concentrated search was put into motion and they couldn’t find the fucking prop! WRAP!
We finally got our shot and went back to Tanay after about a week in Manila. I think that Vitt was rewriting the script as we went along, and this also gave Boy Puzon and Pio Lee more time to get additional funds as we were already in the red. How do I know this? Because when we went back to Tanay, we stayed at Green Acres. I mentioned previously that this was the old field office for Ayala Construction. This was owned by a distant cousin of my wife. Manay Nina or Lita was pretty cool. She was the mistress of some Constabulary Colonel and he funded the thing for her. It was mostly used as a “Short Time” joint. If you lived in Tanay and wanted a two hour fling with some Babe for a couple of hours, this is where you went. It wasn’t too far from the caves and the waterfalls and not too far from the town proper. Nothing really dramatic happened this time out. We did some funny shit in the river. The most exciting thing were the whores that hung out at Green Acres. Steve and I shared a small room with one bed, and we had a couple of girls sleeping with us. Steve had one we called Taga (Tagalog for “chop”) because she had a long scar on her face where somebody had hacked her with a machete when she was younger. I had another girl who I can’t remember her name, but I do remember an incident one night. The four of us were in bed, and Steve was out like a light. He had worked hard that particular day and was beat. So I embraced my girl and was trying to initiate some sex. She didn’t want to claiming she was shy due to the other two people in bed. So I let go of her and rolled over and embraced Taga who responded favorably to my advances. We decided to go into the crapper and do it there. When we closed the door my girl woke up Steve and told him, “Steve! Steve! May ahas!” which meant, Steve there is a snake! She was referring to me! Stve looked around, snorted and went back to sleep. Anway, Taga and I were in the bathroom which had a door to our neighbors room where Rino, the 12 year old boy who played Joonee Gamboa’s son, was staying with his mother. I had laid out my BDU top and Taga was laying on that and had one leg up on the wall, and I was eating her pussy. Everything was going ok, then all of a sudden, Rino opened the door, and I closed it with my foot, and went back to what I was doing. A few moments later, both Rino and his Mom opened the door and were watching. Rino was no starnger to sex as his mother had been pimping him out to faggot pedos and getting him acting jobs. At that point in time, my dick was hard, the pussy tasted good and I didn’t give a rats ass who wanted to watch. So, Taga and I continued our eating and fornicating. When we finished, we went back to bed and smoked a joint.
If I recall, we were doing dialogue stuff in the caves and the river. We spent most days just drinking beer and smoking weed in the caves. Often times Taga and the other girl would come up to the caves and we would spend some time fucking as well. One day Steve and I were in one of the caves and There were two chambers. I had my girl in one, and had her jeans and panties down to her ankles and I was screwing her from behind. All of a sudden Dick Israel walked in with a piece of Styro board looking for a place to crash. He walked in on us, and made some funny comment, then walked over to the other chamber where Taga was giving Steve a blowjob! He made some comment about a full house and left to find some other digs.
We went to the river where we would meet up with Robert Lee. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any stuff on the net about Robert. A few years after Firebird, Robert was diagnosed with Stage 4 Cancer, and he committed suicide. I know that at the time he was going thru some excrutiating pain. He was a real nice guy and a good friend. So as I said we were at the river and again, this is a limestone area and the river was no exception. Steve and I were on point and we took refuge under a small waterfall in the river because we saw some movment ahead of us. If you knew Vitt, you would have seen that he was the perfect guy to fuck with. Steve had discovered a mini cave under the waterfall that could fit the both of us and you could disappear from view. When we were told to get in the water, we would back into that little spot and Vitt would be forced to get in the water and look for us. We played that game for most of the day.
The next scenes were at Robert Lee’s base camp. This was at Calinawan Cave Complex. Art Nicdao and Donnie Gonzalez had built a set of buildings made of Bamboo, Ipil Ipil logs and Nipa roofing. They had even built a hanging bridge. Along the way Vitt added a new character who was supposed to be a CIA agent. If I am not mistaken, his name was Peter Barker or Parker. Anyway, later after the Firebird Abortion was finished Peter and Peta got married and I haven’t heard from them since.
We spent a few days there and everyday was a fuck up of one sort or another. We were supposed to be under attack and one of the explosios set the roof on fire. We tried to keep shooting so they could use the scene. Any fire scene is a potential money shot. But somehow, people got their signals mixed and we were jumping scenes, so the powers that be decided to put the fire out. This was a night shot, and lunch was called. During lunch Vitt and Bugsy came up with the plan that we do a scene where we were at this so called fence and we would be defenders against an attack. Well, the fence was about two feet high and you couldn’t kneel in front of it as a mjor portion of your torso was exposed. So we all laid down behind it and on the signal we would do a sit up and start firing! What ensued was chaos! Rehersal was not part of the equation. Picture this: There were only a few openings between the bamboo where one could stick the muzzle of a weapon thru. We all laid down, and the camera was on the other side of the fence. Bugsy checked around with camera, sound and us actors. The call for “Motor” was shouted by Vitt, then the sound guy shouted “Speed” and next came “ACTION!” Oh boy!!! We all sat up and it was a mad first come, first serve at the holes in the fence. We all ended up bumping our noggins together and laughing our asses off! Vitt was furious! He told us to go back to first position and screamed at us, “Find your hole and stick it in”! This sent us into gales of laughter and he screamed at us again “You are a bunch of rascals!”. He was on the verge of tears…
The next day, we did some dialogue stuff. Then early afternoon a wrap was called. So we got on our service jeepney and headed back to Sacramento. At this point, I should explain that this was not a normal shoot where you would get a call sheet with the actors needed and what scenes were scheduled. With Vitt it was always a big mystery wich always came back to bite him on the ass later. So, as I said we went back to Sacramento thinking that we were wrapped for the day. Some elected to go to their rooms, spome went to the pool, the rest of us elected to play monopoly near the front desk. It was me, Steve, Paul, Peter, Peta and I forget who else. While we were playing, Peta noticed some new bottles of Gilbeys Gin behind the counter. As Usual, we were all broke and Peta set up a deal with the front desk and we got a credit line. By this time, the whole cast were there. Some were playing, some were watching, but all of us were drinking! We really hadn’t anything to eat for most of the day, and since we weren’t yet paying, we kept ordering more and more gin! It was now early evening and we were toasted! All of a sudden, our service vehicle drove up and we were told to get on board as we had night shots to do. There was the usuall drunken complaints and a lot of laughter, but what the hell… The game was after all, getting out of hand and there were a lot of good sleeping spots at the location, so we got on the Jeep and off we went.
When we arrived at the location, we were met by Bugsy who almost shit his pants when he saw what condition we were in. He ran down the trail to confer with Vitt. These were big scenes that they had planned. Explosions and a lot of running. I was wandering around the location near the road smoking a joint and trying to get my head together. Bugsy came running up a trail that is fifty feet down vertically from the upper cave. He was shouting that they needed me down at the hanging bridge to do the first scene. I took off running the wrong way and ended up airbornand landed with a sickening thump on my chest. I was dazed and confused and in terrible pain. I had roken three ribs. Well I finally get to my feet and was steered to the bridge. There was supposed to be a mortar attack and while Paul and I were running a mortar would go off wounding aul. I was then supposed to pick up Paul and carry him out of harm’s way. Oh Lord! Vitt alled action, we started to run, the explsion went off we both dropped. I got up and tried to lift Paul but due to the pain I collapsed. It was decided to skip that scene. Vitt and Bugsy were arguing about why we were all drunk. I didn’t give a fuck. I found a a quiet place to sit down and smoke a joint.
It was decided to move on to the “Big” scene where we were supposed to be evacuating from the mortar attack on this big hill behind the big cave. Camera, Viit and Bugsy were on another hill with three cameras. Gapo had set up blasting pots all over the place. We were getting blocked for the shot which wasn’t easy since we were all toasted. One person would be set in place and when the AD went over to another person, the previous actor had wandered away from his spot. This went on for the longest time. Finally, when everybody was in position, the AD retreated from the area and we were left standing, waiting for instructions. From the other hill, Vitt finally screamed over the hailer, “Ready”? and at that moment Paul collapsed at my feet and started to throw up! I screamed back, “No! We’re not ready! Paul is puking”! Vitt threw another shit fit and finally we were ready to do a take. Action was called and chaos once again ruled supreme. Explosions started going off! People that were supposed to die, didn’t people weren’t supposed to die did! Some instead of running towards the top of the hill, ran instead to the bottom. I was a giant clusterfuck! I think we reset 2-3 times before finaaly calling it a day.
Well after the fiasco of the big scene, we went back to Manila. Personally I needed a break from Tanay, the bad food, and smoking too much grass. Yes there are indeed, limits to what one can take. Plus I missed my family and TV!
I think it was on a Saturday that we were asked to go to Magnatech to watch the rushes. I think the reason we were asked to come over was perhaps Vitt thought we would all get reamed out by Boy Puzon when he saw we were all toasted during the “Big Scene”.
Well we all sat in the big studio number 1 which was like a small movie theater. I used to live down the street and I would often go there to see my Pinoy buddies and drink beer across the street at the White House. It was a regular bungalow that was rented or owned by Romy Susara and had been turned into a drinking place with Darts, and pool tables. Best of all, most of us had a credit line there.
Anyway, I digress. We were all in the Orchestra seats and Boy Puzon, Pio, and Vitt at the upper seats. Lights went down and it was showtime. We started looking at takes that looked absolutely ridiculous and were met with gales of laughter. Then all of a sudden one of the big scene takes came on. Vitt started trying to get Boy’s attention, ” Kuya Boy! Kuya Boy! There’s those drunken brats”! Now boy had been looking tat and talking with Pio. By the time he looked at the screen, another scene was playing. Of course we were all laughing our collective asses off, and Vitt was really tourqued but nobody really gave a flying fuck as he never earned our respect. A little bit later the scene once again appeared on the screen and it was once again a Tke 2 of what happened earlier. The same dialogue from Vitt, and exactly the same response from Boy! We never got any negative feedback from Boy and we then took a week off and then went back to Los Banos to do more jungle tracking shots.
I think it is prudent at this time to mentionone of the cast whom I never talked about. The DOG. All throughout this Joonee and his two kids also had a Dog! I think it was a bastrad breed Jack Russel that was treated really badly by it’s owner/trainer. They had a home made box as a travelling cage and a couple of teenage boys who were the caretakers. If the dog started to bark, they would wail on it with a stick. I felt sorry for this dog. He was an integral part of the film as he was supposed to have some microfilm lodged in his stomach cavity. He was almost the undoing of my buddy Steve!
We went up to Baguio City which is 5 hours north of Manila and a cool place to be if you have money. Of course we were all broke as we all got really low pay even by local cinema standards. But, at the end of the day it was a movie and that is what we did. However we did manage to have some fun.
Our location was Black Mountain Mining along Kennon Road. This location was a real motherfucker. We were shooting in a gorge and it was a long long way down. We were dropped off the side of the Highway, and there was a tiny trail that went down. We were expected to walked down. Sheeeeit! It was near to impossible as it was so steep! The first day, Steve and I figured out the best way was to slide down on the seat of your pants, which we continued to do the rest of the shoot. Getting out was another story. On the opposite side of the river there was a sheer wall of concrete. Somebody made a ldder out of scrap lumber and you would climb part to the way up that, then there was a knotted rope that you pulled on while you scaled the rock face, and finally a trail you could walk up and finally to a parking space. Food was sent down in a box on a rope. The food was shit and it was in plastic bags. No forks or spoons.
It was at this location that a lot of stupid shit happened. This is where we were supposed to be trapped by Dick Israel’s NVA troops. Give up the Firebird and we were free to walk. Joonee Gamboa and I constantly joked about the Firebird and what the fuck was it? Often times I wish I had a picture of Mickey Mouse that Joonee could pull out from under his shirt and say, “This! This is the Firebird”! However it just remained a private joke. At one point I searched all over Manila for a Superman costume that I could wear and at the appropriate time, shed my BDU’s and stand there as Superman… Oh well…
Anyway, as I said, we were supposed to be trapped. We were at this river in the gorge that only God knew how much mercury from a couple centuries of gold mining was in the water, and fresh mine tailings were always present! There was a huge rock outcrop where Steve was supposed to be talking with Dick who was down below and holding me hostage. First they were cheating the scene and had the camera below the outcrop. Our BDU’s were rotting and the material wasn’t too sturdy. First thing that happens, Steve kneels down and all of a sudden the sound a sheet makes when ripped! And there it was in all of it’s glory, Steve’s package is fully exposed ( he went commando back in those days). Vitt went, “WOW”! Peta giggled, and Rhoda just stared drooling! Things seemed to go downhill fast.
The next thing that happened was Vitt and Peta got into a shouting match. You have to remember that we had been shooting this fucking movie for months with no end in sight. Tempers were really short. Vitt screamed and Peta, “You’re nothing but a bunny”! (Peta was indeed a Bunny from the Playboy Club) Whereupon, Peta responded, “Yeah? And you’re nothing but a big fat walrus”! Vitt then threw the hailer and it smashed on the rocks! After that he had to scream out instructions till he lost his voice.
At one point, there was supposed to be a dangerous (and it was) river sequence. We were crossing some rapids.Steve had to carry the poor dog, and the dog didn’t want anything to do with Steve or the fucking movie. It bit Steve and they both fell into the rapids. Efforts were made to save the dog and fuck Steve. Finally a stuntman (some idiot I never saw again) threw a huge fucking rope in for Steve which hit him in the head and got him all tangled up! He almost died because of all of these idiots who were supposed to have worked out things before hand.
Next, I had to run in the river, and I slipped on the rocks and went down. I put my hand out to break my fall and ended up breaking my hand! I then used my hand to chamber a round in the M 16 and that set the bone right. I finshed the scene and Bugsy wanted me to continue to shoot some other stuff! I told him, ” Bugsy! I broke my fucking hand”! he replied, “Oh it’s nothing serious, let’s finish the shots and I will take you to a hilot ( a cross between a witchdoctor and a chiropractor)”! I said, “Bugsy!!! Are you out of your fucking mind? It’s broken!!! I need a fucking doctor!!!”
Jimmy Puzon had seen what happened as did Totoy Torres who was brought in to help Bugsy as Bugsy was out of his league on this! I don’t remember how I got out of there with one hand, but I did. I was really pissed off! Jimmy took me over to Baguio General Hospital and the fucking doctor was telling me I would need an operation and a pin and it would cost around PhP15,000. I told the doctor to get a ball and an ace bandage and to go fuck himself. He got the bulb of a broken blood pressure thingy and put it in my palm, them wrapped it up with the ace bandage.
I went back and finished my scenes then called it a day. The next day Jimmy got me some money and I took the bus to Manila. Upon arrival, I went straight to orthopedic hospital. Doctors took an x-ray, said the bone looked like it was set the right way. I explained what happened and what the doctor in Baguio had said, and he asked me if I got the name of the doctor. I told him I didn’t. He just shook his head and muttered, “Unbelievable! Fucking quack!”. Anyway, He sent me to the botica to buy a Plaster cast and an ace bandage. He just made a half cast, then wrapped it to my hand and arm with the ace bandage. The total cost for everything was Php187.00! A big difference of 15k.
Well, everybody came back to Manila. We met up at Robert Lee’s house for a few beers. Then a couple days later there was a meeting at the office. Vitt was showing some photos of the Bell Tower Church in Trindad Valley just outside of Baguio. He was telling Boy Puzon that it looked just like Vietnam. I then asked him, “How the fuck would you know? Have you been to Vietnam”? The room went quiet. Vitt then told Boy, “If his hand is like that, I can’t use him”! Fine with me. I go a chance to stay home and spend much needed time with my family.
But it was too short. They came back from Trinidad and we went to Tanay again to do some pick up shots. While in Tanay, Totoy Torres came up to me and told me that I should visit Premiere Productions in a couple of weeks and he would be 1st AD on a new film. I told him I would and we continued to shoot.
One night I had talked one of the drivers into driving to a nearby town to score some weed. So we hopped in the Jeepney and off we went. We got what we wanted and on the ride back my driver told me there was a disco in the town of Tanay and I told him ok, let’s go there. We went in and saw a couple of the crew and our staff nurse Susan. We sat down and ordered some beer. Jimmy Puzon was there and he ordered a couple of ptchers of beer and a whole fried chicken for us. He told me he had to go back to Green Acres where we were checked in. So we were sitting there, I rolled a joint and smoked it. Nobody paid any attention. A little bit later one of our Philippine Marine escorts sauntered over. I greeted him and as he was about to sit down, my driver who had gone to the restroom came back. All of a sudden, the marine kicked my driver in the stomach for no reason at all. I got pissed off and grabbed him. I had him in a headlock and was beating his head in with my cast. Finally one of our Army escorts came in got us separated, then we went out to the vehicle. The marine in front with Iking the army Sgt and I was in back. The next thing that happened was the marine was trying to get a hold of Iking’s .45. There was plexiglass separating the front from the back and I was trying to break it with my cast, but that just turned into dust.
We pulled into the parking lot and the asshole jumped out while we were still moving, ran in the hotel and came out with an M16. He took a couple of shots at me and I got grazed on the neck. His fellow marines disarmed him and took him to his room, and I went to mine. Steve had been sleeping and was trying to figure out why I was so pissed off and who I was gonna kill. I was looking for my KBar so I could cut the fuckers throat! Then a marine sgt appeared at the door and was trying to find out what was going on. I screamed that I was gonna kill him and his whole fucking detachment.
Well the door got closed, Steve was trying to pacify me, but I kept trying to sneak out the window. Meanwhile Jimmy Puzon sat in front of our door in the hallway with a loaded .45 to make sure nobody got me. The following day I was sent back to Manila and the Marine back to Fort Bonifacio. He was thrown into the stockade by the commandant to cool his heels. I never saw that fucktard again.
That was pretty much the end for me on Firebird. Steve and the rest ended up going to Pangasinan for some final shots. They went to this place called Snake Island. Go figure, sea snakes would go there at night and the whole place was crawling with them. Evidently,after a couple of days, they ran out of food and money. Vitt left them there to go to Manila to get some funds. So everybody was in a pickle of supreme magnitude. Steve got together with Gapo the SFX guy and they started using the black powder bombs to do a little dynamite fishing. So they had fish some wild bananas and tubers. After they ran out of black powder, the marine escorts started using grenades.
Finally Vitt came back and they continued to shoot. According to Steve, they used the floating hull of some half made freighter that had no ballast and rode badly in the water. Mostly everybody got seasick, but they finally finished the shots and it was a wrap.
This had to be the worst film I had ever worked on. Eight months and Eight cinematographers and two directors. Three broken ribs and a broken right hand and permanent loss of my sanity.
Fun and Not So Much Fun with Cirio
Well having been cast off from Firebird (or so I thought) I now had time to pursue other films. I went to Makati to visit Totoy Torres at Premiere. I found the place and went to the Premiere office. I walked in the door and was met by Dick Reyes who was Cirio’s Casting Director. He was trying to be a bit of a hard ass and Totoy saw me and butted in and said I was one of “them” (whatever that meant). Anyway Dick softened up a bit. He proceeded to introduce me to his assistant Henry Strzalkowski. Well, Henry and I spent the day reminiscing about Apocalypse Now and smoking dope. I was given a schedule and went home feeling all right!
A couple of days later and we went to shoot at a Country and Western bar located at Kamias in Quezon City. The name of the film was “The Destroyers” aka “Kings Ransom” While working that day I got two pay raises. We did a couple of fight routines and everything was cool. It was so different than working with Vitt! It was worlds apart! The next thing I knew I was nw part of Crofton Hardester’s “Growers Group”, and scheduled to go to Baguio. Don Gordon (I must mention that he got religion, but not here.), Steve Rogers, Bill Kipp, myself were the core group. Henry I think was a deputy. We rode the Victory Liner bus up to Baguio and we were checked in to the Victory Inn on Marcos Highway. This place was built on the side of a mountain and the parking lot was on the roof. You went in the lobby, and from there, stairs went down to rooms and a nite club.
The Victory was owned and operated by this infamous Chinese doctor by the name of Pai Seng who was known as an abortionist. He also owned and operated the Chaparral Fun City which was also down the street from the Victory Inn and across the street from the Sikat Hotel where the crew would always stay. The Chaparral consisted of several nite clubs and massage parlors. These were not legit massage parlors. If you paid the girl the right price you could fuck her or if you were a cheapskate, she would jack you off.
We started out with shots in Baguio City proper which was really cool. You would think that you were someplace in northern California. The Session Cafe was still open and you could get a great feed while listening to the old expat miners tell stories about the old days. They made their own bread and had a huge coffee brewer
I think I should go back to Lake Caliraya. Well we had had three major locations. Caliraya, Baguio, and Binga Dam. Every location was fun for us. This film was also the birth of “Pigs In Space”. I remember sitting with Steve, Henry, and Dick Reyes. I kept thinking about the Muppets and Pigs in Space and in actual fact we were, PIGS IN SPACE! I think Steve said it best in his interview with Andrew Leavold. There was no criteria. Either you were or you weren’t! That was it! Anyway, Caliraya, yes, good ole Lake Caliraya. We did a few days there. It was always fun as we would go swimming, and did some fishing there as well. At this point I am going back to Baguio!
We were shooting at Black Mountain Mining again. We had hooked up with a friend and we purchased a shitload of weed! Every day we went to location I had 30 -40 joints in my pocket. During slack times I would head off to the bushes, soon Henry would follow, as did Steve, Don Gordon, then other people would follow. Joe Z and Cirio would see us and Joe Z would start doing the Ride of the Valkyries bumpa pa pa pom etc. People would start giggling as everybody knew what was going on.
I think at this point I will talk about some of the Hollywooders (that’s what I still call the actors from Hollywood, hehehehehehe) We were part of Crofton Hardester’s group of growers. Crofton was a real nice guy and I thought he was an excellent actor as well. He treated me pretty decent unlike Terrance O’Hara who was a pompous prick. Kaz Garas was a lot of fun as well, though he and Crofton got into it with each other about mid shoot. After that Kaz used to call him Hardcrofter Canister! I had a look at IMDB to refresh my mind, and surprise, surprise the credits were all fucked up, and that was done on purpose. This was never done again though. I think some legal eagle told Cirio he could get into trouble for doing that. We never ever signed any release forms at Premiere. None of us really had any reason to give Cirio a hard time (at least at that time).
Living at the Victory was pretty cool. The staff were all really laid back and the housekeeping staff kept our rooms clean and our weed was always policed up. Henry and I shared a room which became “Pig Central” We had a shitload of good weed that we got from Rafael Schulz. We would roll joints and smoke and inevitably weed would drop all over the place and the same went for the roaches when we were done smoking. We would go out to the Orange Julius in town and I would usually eat about six burgers and drink twice as many beers.
One night Steve, Don, Henry and I went down to the club in the hotel. They had what was called a “Shower Show” where a girl would come out on stage, strip, then take a bath! After one of these shows Don invited the girl to come and sit at our table. Her name was Evelyn and she was kind of pretty with a great body. Don ordered her a ladies drink (drink where she got a commission) and then he was all over her and telling her in graphic detail how he would like to fuck her. She wasn’t too happy with this and she got up and moved ext to me. I ordered her a couple more drinks and we just talked. Later I invited her to my room and she agreed.
We got back to the room, and Henry crashed and Evelyn climbed in bed with me. She was fucking hot! She had nipples like pencil erasers and a juicy pussy. I ate her, I fucked her and always wanted more. From then on, she would come to the room every night. Sometimes she would bring me a burger and sometimes some fried chicken. In the morning I would walk her back to the Chaparral where she was staying and then go out and shoot.
Eye of the Eagle
This was one of my favorite films. I got to work with a lot of my friends and made some new friends here. This was a good start for Robert Patrick’s career. We shot this at Valenzuela Bulacan which is where most of Cirio’s family lived. The mother’s side owns a tannery there as well. But we had set up a base camp near the church on the same street where his cousins lived. It was cool and we had a place to relax at Ricky Tolentino’s house. They let us use a small hut in their backyard to relax in. The other time, we spent time at Corregidor Tanay and Mt. Makiling, Los Banos where we found a giant poop at the base of a Banyan tree that quickly became the set controversy for many days and I still vivdly remeber to this day.
I remember that Henry and I went to find a smoking site away from the set and we went to this Banyan tree and as we moved to the side not visible to the set, Henry said, “Holy Shit Pare, look at that!” and he was pointing at a fresh pile a poop that was fucking huge! I would guess that the diameter was at least 3″ and it must have been no less than 3 feet long kind of coiled up. You wouldn’t think it was possible for a human to take a dump like that, but there it was complete with a couple of pieces of tissue that were used to wipe this super humans butt! It was times like this that I kick myself for not bringing a camera with me to capture this oddity. Throughout the day various people went over to that tree to look at that magnificent piece of shit and speculation ran wild with, “Who did it!?!” A lot of people pegged Gloria from wardwrobe as the culprit, others claimed it could only have come from her brother Lino who was gay, and made our coffee. Nobody ever claimed it, but, it was talked about for years! It ell you, it was fucking scary!!!
Anyway, as I said earlier this is kind of where Robert Patrick’s career took off! Bett Clark was supposed to be the lead but he ended up wimping out. There was a minor stunt where he was supposed to jump from the roof of a 3 storey building into some boxes below. He chickened out and we told Robert to tell Cirio that he could do it. Well he did, and he got the stunt and the film suddenly focused on him. We were quite happy about that! Robert was a good guy and real fun to work with. He was thus inducted into the “Pigs in Space”!
Los Banos was always a cool place to shoot due to the fact that we would always stop at the Dairy outlet for UP Los Banos and we would load up on chocolate milk and Keso Puti which was a kind of fresh mozzerella cheese. Also we would purchase Buco pie which was a pie made with young tender coconuts.
On this particular film, it was much like any other Cirio movie in the sense that a lot of running was involved, not too mention explosions and gunfire. We did all of this and inbetween we smoked weed and did some exploring. We weren’t too far from the boiling mud spring as Mt Makiling is a volcano. Hence, Los Banos means “the baths” there is a lot of geothermal activity in the area and I still believe that this sucker will pop it’s cork one of these days.
Above is a picture of Me, Ed Crick and Robert Patrick in makeup on Mt. Makiling Below is Steve Rogers and myself doing some of the “running and shooting”.
Nothing really interesting happened here. We shot some fun stuff at the Valenzuela set. I don’t have any pics from there. The real stuff happened at Tanay and Correigidor.
We went to Mariveles Bataan which is now a Sweatshop for footwear manufacture and BASECO which is the Bataan Sipyard. We stayed at the Hilltop Hotel which was a pleasant place to stay. Food in the restaurant was edible. Me, Henry and Steve cracked up one night while we were there. Brett demanded that food served to him by our catere should be steamed. No fried foods at all as he was on a strict diet. Holy Jebus! One night we walk into the restaurant and who do we see? Brett! And.. what was he eating? A whole fried chicken with a huge plate of french Fries! What a fucking joke!
Anyway, in the morning we would get on a jeepney which would take us to the pier at BASECO and from there we would ride a boat going to Corregidor.
Above is me, Mike Soques and Steve Rogers on the boat. It was a nice ride over to the island. Once on the island we would get situated, find the coffee, and adjust our attitudes. The rest of the day was filled with more running, gunfire and explosions. Cirio loved explosions. The bigger the fireball the better. We all had survived numerous encounters with these blasts. Henry has a photo of us going up the stairs of one of the baterries on Corregidor where he and Ed Crick are engulfed by a fireball. The thing is, before doing a scene, if we see a red flag, we check it out. We look to see how big is the powder charge, then how much gasoline is being used, then we guide ourselves accordingly. Unfortunately for Ed Crick, he didn’t do his homework before the scene. He lost his eyebrows and got 2nd degree burns on his face. Steve and I were in front of Henry and Ed and we hauled ass going up the stairs and our heads looking away from the blast. Henry did the same thing, but Ed was just looking forward. he learned fast and it didn’t happen to him again.
I think it was our first day there at Corregidor that we were met by our buddy Bill Steis. He and the other hollywooders had already been shooting a couple of days. Henry, Bill and I quickly started to explore the area. We crawled in between the magazine walls, up and down the gun batteries. We were all oer the place! No matter where you went there were spent bullet casings all over the place. We took a piss at the entry of one of the gun batteries and uncovered a pile of .30 cal machinegun casings. I Can only imagine what it was like when the US Army retook Corregidor from the Japanese. There were bomb craters within bomb craters. The US Army Air Corps pounded the shit out of the island before dropping paratroops. There wasn/t a living tree or bush left on the island. later the island was seeded with Ipil Ipil seeds. After that It was Ipil Ipil Trees, Birds and cobras. It is said that the waters around the island are shark infested. We never went swimming there to find out. (To be continued!)
One must wonder where all of our cast came from. Well the Pinoys of course came from local cinema and stage. The expats however came from various sources. Clark Airbase and Subic Naval Station. O the other hand, most of the extras and bit players came out of Ermita Manila. Our Central Casting was for the most part out of three different places. Raymonds Fast Foods and across the street, Rol’s Fast Foods.
Raymond’s was located on the corner of Sta. Monica and M.H. Del Pilar, directly across the street from the original Firehouse. It was the cheapest place to get drunk and often times we would Shanghai drunks passed out at their table. They would wake up in the Rain Forest in Los Banos or the quarry at Binangonan.
Raymonds was perhaps the most bizarre place in Manila. You had people like Godfrey Hazelton, or the Israeli prick David Deutch, or even more weird was Patrick this Dutch guy. I remember walking into Raymonds one day and saw Patrick sitting at a table with a pocket sized bottle of Tanduay Rum in front of him and he was slitting his wrists. Blood all over the table, and take note, the place was full, yet nobody batted an eyelash. He continued to drink and slice while whores of every description either hustled or drank themselves silly. But this is only part of the story.
Other areas included the famous Firehouse which was across the street from Raymond’s, and the convenient Romansa Lodge in back. Going down the street was the Blue Hawaii, Rosie’s Diner, The Australian Club, and Fischfang (Which means “Fishing”) German restaurant. These were the locations where one could look for extras and where bit players would hang out. For the mainstream Filipino Goons, it would be the Sunburst Fried Chicken at Escolta, but for expats, Ermita was the place.
Most places were open for 24 hours which was good. Rol’s had a little more class than Raymond’s in the sense you could sit and have a fairly good meal of grilled chicken, squid, pork, or fish. They even had the good sense to put up a blackboard where you could post current projects and what you needed as far as cast went. The whores seemed to have more class and so did the atmosphere. Everybody knew us so you could actually feel at home. We even had a “Tab” at many places. They knew that you were helping to keep them in business, by keeping money in the pockets of their customers. One hand fed the other, so on and so forth!
One of the most well known denizens was Godfrey Hazelton. I first met Godfrey during the filming of Heated Vengeance back in 1985. Unfortunately, I had to share a room with him and a Muslim whore that he brought along for company. The girls wasn’t bad but Godfrey was a fucking pig! I had to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. I went in, closed the door and hit the light switch. About a foot from my face, hanging on a nail in the door was Godfrey’s shorts and shit stained briefs! He must have been wearing them for a couple of weeks and there were shit stains on top of shit stains. The next day I told his girl to wash that stuff as If I saw it again I was gonna burn those fucking rags. Godfrey was one of a trio. I never got the names of his pals but everybody knew Godfrey. Sometimes he and his pals would get enough cash together to buy one bowl of chili at Rosies, which they would all share.The one who put in most of the cash got to eat the slice of cheese on top.
You had to be vigalent when you were drinking or eating at Rosie’s! Often times I have seen people go to the restroom during mid meal, only to come back to find that their plate had been cleaned and their beer glass and bottle empty. Godfrey would lay in wait. By God, he was quick! I could probably write a whole fucking book about Godfrey but the good Lord knows I can’t tell the stories like Big Keith Nielson could. Big Keith was just, “BIG” He was a Kiwi Seaman who while in-between ships would work with us in films. He was one of the nicest people I had ever met but could break you in two if he had a mind to! Many a day or night he had me pissing my pants while telling me the latest hijinks of Godfrey. I think the most bizzare story was about him and his girlfriend Mercy! Mercy was a former dancer at the old Firehouse who went around the bend and had too many Jokers in her deck. She was way out there! One time I woke up next to her in the Siesta Curt motel and I freaked. I had been really fucked up one night and I had picked her up, though, I don’t remember how it happened. I woke up, saw soe light around an aircon, and realized I was in a strange room. My head was fucked up and I slowly sat up, looked at who was in bed with me and I freaked! She told me, “You tried to fuck me last night…”, Well, I wondered how successful I was, and asked her, “Well? Did I”?!? She shook her head no, then wandered outside just wearing her dress with no bra or panties, which were on the bed. Her dress was clean and had a lot of cigarette burns. Her undies were clean and normal. I got dressed, walked out of the room and gave her fifty pesos. The room boy told me we were square and I went home, still in a state of shock with a massive hangover!
Anyway, it seems that Godfrey and Mercy were living together. One day Godfret went home (more on this in a while) and started to fuck Mercy and got a jolt of reality. She was dead! So, Godfrey, being the upstanding citizen that he was, went to Police HQ over on UN Avenue, where he was no stranger and reported her death. It seems that he told the Desk Sgt that he wanted to report a death. he Sgt asked him, “Who died Godfrey”? He replied, “Me girlfriend Mercy”! “Oh yeah”/says the Sgt., “How did you know she was dead”? Well Godfrey tells him, ” I was having me way with her and I noticed her hair was moving”! The Sgt.asks him, “What o you mean her hair was moving”? Godfrey say’s, “Well it was moving because of the maggots”! At this point a small audience of cops had formed. They were all aghast at what he had been narrating. They knew him quite well, but this incident took the fucking cake!!! They then asked him, “Where is the body Godfrey”? He tells them, “She’s in me tree house”! All the cops look at each other then ask, “What tree house? Where? Then he says, “My tree house over at Luneta Park’ Well they all go over there and sure enough she’s been dead a couple of days. A couple of days later Godfrey had posted some signs around the area, “Airy flat for rent with great view of Manila Bay, Contact Godfrey at The Blue Hawaii”. Big Keith was incredulous and he asked Godfrey about the “Airy Flat”, so Godfrey narrated the whole story and in closing told Keith that he couldn’t bring himself to go back there. Well a few days later the Park management had gone over and dismantled the damn thing.
I could write volumes about Godfrey, perhaps a book in itself. Godfrey inherited some money and took up with a girl named Minnie. She was a tiny thing but she cleaned up Godfrey and they moved into a proper apartment. I remember Big Keith telling me how he passed by when Godfrey and his lady were moving in. Godfrey was sitting at a store below the apartment, armed with a cold San Mig. He was shouting directions to Minnie who was trying to get a washing machine up the stairs by herself. It wasn’t too long till some scammers were able to separate Godfrey from his cash. A few months later Godfrey was admitted to the Philippine General Hospital with Cirrhosis of the liver and pneumonia. It wasn’t long after that he died there all alone. A little while later we found out that Godfrey had a daughter in Australia who was a pretty well known Country and Western singer. She came over to take care of remains and met up with a few of the guys and treated all to drinks.
I must give credit to the Fischfang Restaurant and good ole Dieter Gruenberg. When you entered the place it was narrow and long. The Br was on the left side and booths were on the right. There were about three of them, then there was a long table with chairs before you reached the restroom. Between the 1st and 2nd booth was an aquarium that contained a vegetable eating piranha. The kitchen and living quarters were on the second floor!
The first booth was reserved for me, Philip Gordon, and our crew. This is where we could discuss things in peace and quiet, as well as catch up on the local gossip. I have seen more weird shit happen in this place. In the afternoons one would find a syndicate sitting at the long table. This was a group of Brits who worked for some Filipino scammers. The cashed stolen travelers checks, and shopped with stolen credit cards. They would sit in a huddle and divvy up the proceeds of a days work. Sometimes they would come rushing in out of breath as a couple of members had been busted by the NBI.
Dieter acted as manager for this place. He was a pretty nice guy who grew up in Hamburg during the fifties. At one point he had a real good job with some machine company, but came over here and ended up on the sauce. He never left here again. When we came in, he would always join us for a beer and update us as to what was going on with everybody. Unless of course, if there was a new German tourist who was eager to part with his cash. Dieter would then assist him till his funds ran out! He wasn’t a scammer like the rest, but he could help you spend your money on wine, women and food! Dieter worked with us as an extra or character actor all of the time.
Going back to Raymond’s…
Several notorius characters come to mind. I guess I will deal with this little Israeli prick by the name of David Deutch. I don’t know what it is about Israelis, but I have found most of them that I have worked with, PRICKS!!! David was no exception by any means.My first encounter with this idiot was on a Kinavesa shoot with Mike Cohen. David was engaging Mike in conversation and Mike was getting irritated. I started to listen in and heard, ” Ah so you are also a Jew? You should go to Israel!” Mike replied, “Why should I go to Israel?” David then told him, “It is your duty as a Jew to help Israel! You are wasting your time here! Israel needs you!” Mike replied in no uncertain terms for him to fuck off and what the fuck had Israel ever done for him. He had fought in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. Enough is enough! If David didn’t start to mind his own business, he was going to rip his ugly little Israeli head off and shit down the hole. Another time, I was riding back from some set in a production jeepney, and who did I see? Fucking David! Sitting across from him was this German guy named Hayco Puhe and his girlfriend who had enormous breasts and had a great GAF attitude. Anyway the girlfriend was sipping some orange soda thru a straw and all of a sudden David grabs the bottle out of her hand and starts to drink. The GF nudged Hayco and told him, “He grabbed my soda!” Hayco glanced over at David, then he told her, “Grab it back and hit him on the head with the bottle.| She looked at Hayco, then looked at David, then looked at me. I just shrugged my shoulders. The next thing I know, she has the bottle and clocked him on the head with it. I couldn’t control my laughter! The GF started laughing as well, and Hayco continued with his blank stare out the side of the Jeep! For the rest of the ride home, David kept his hands to himself and was very quiet. The problem with this asshole was he was a glutton for punishment. When we were shooting No Dead Heroes in Intramuros, there was a commotion and I went to see what was going on. I see David standing there with blood running profusely out of his nose and mouth. I look over to one of our armory guys and asked what happened as David wasn’t working with us. It seems that he was trying to penetrate our perimeter and was stopped by Sgt, Boy Labtang who was from NARCOM and was our security. David was insisting that he had to talk with me as I should give him a job.The Sgt told him that If I needed him, I would call him, and it was a closed set. David started to complain that he needed money and why didn’t I hire him. The Sgt told him that he had no idea and would he please leave the area. This went on for some time. Finally, the Sgt pulled out his wallet and handed David PhP20.00. David told him, “I don’t want your spare change! I am an actor(he wasn’t)”, and he proceeded to rip the twenty peso bill into little pieces then he spit on the Sgt. Well, Boy just slugged him twice in the face and then pulled his .45 and was going to shoot the prick. I told him I would count to three, and if he didn’t leave I was going to let the Sgt shoot his scrawny little ass! He looked at me then looked at Boy, and then he started to run away. A few months later, I was sitting in Raymonds and here comes the prick. He comes up next to me and tried to start some shit. I was getting agitated and Raymond looks over at me and tells me in Tagalog, ” If you kick his ass, I won’t mind!” The whores started telling me to kick his ass, so I did. I left him on the floor bleeding!
This is the David series. The next one we called Little Dave and I can’t remember his last name. He was american and was brought to Ermita by Barbara Dugan. Barbara was a sad story. She had been a nurse in a mental institution in Texas. She had a four year old son who went missing during a storm and was found days later dead from drowning in a sewer pipe. She became a junkie and was living off of her Social Security money over here. She knew how to write scripts for drugs and was always shooting up heavy shit with Mike Mills who was a former Marine. Barbara had met little Dave at Puerta Galera and told him she could get him into movies in Manila. So Little Dave soon became a regular on the extra circuit.He had way too many Jokers in his deck if you know what I mean. He was moved around one foster home to another in California, couldn’t read or write and generally did all kinds of stupid shit. To make extra income he would cook up fried meat pies and sell them on the set. He had fashioned a charcoal heater out of a five gallon biscuit tin and would use that to keep the pies hot. Dave would usually get somebody to write a sign for the oven advertising his pies. Most of the time guys would take pity on him and write a nice sign. Other times some asshole would write someting like “Shit Pies for Sale! Food Poisoning Guaranteed!”. Anyway if we weren’t shooting, Dave would sell the pies in the bars along the strip. The owners would let him do it as he was kind of pathetic, but, he wasn’t scamming anybody. So he sold his pies and lived with his girlfriend Emy who was a former stuntwoman with the SOS stunt group. I had ecome friends with Dave and Emy and I would always use him inany film that I could get him into.He would do stupid shit on the set at times like spark up a doobie in plain sight of cops and everybody else. Nobody would pay any attention to him. At one point Dave met this Aussie dude who took pity on him and gave him PhP50,000 to get a restaurant started. Imean, fifty grand in those days was nothing to sneeze at! Well the first thing Dave does is buy himself a pair of snakeskin cowboy boots! I mean, jeebus!!! Fucking cowboy boots!!! But then came the kicker. He went out and bought a huge fucking Pizza Oven! Where the fuck was he going to put the God damned oven?
Well, I heard that he had moved to Angeles City. So one time I go down to Angeles to do some casting and I stop into Rick’s Cafe owned by this former US Army Major, Rick Fry! Rick and I start talking and then I notice that he has pizza for sale. So I ask him about it and find that Dave has gotten a place near the entrances to Fields Ave not far from Rick’s. Rick tells me the Pizza ain’t half bad. So I go back down the street and sure enough Dave has a Pizza joint with a loft where he and Emy lived. So I ordered a pizzaand beer. Emy was telling me the saga of how they ended up there. I was fucking amazed. I spent the day with them. Later in the afternoon, Dave and I headed out to blow road to hand out some flyers. He had these made up by a local printer and they were actually good. he would hand them out and guys would ask, “Whats this all about?” Dave would just look at somebody and say “he’ll tell you all about it, I gotta go!” and off we would go.During the interim that I hadn’t seen Emy and Dave, they had moved to a new location. It was months later that I had the opportunity to go to Angeles again and this was after my heart attack. I had gone down to work in a boiler room (selling stocks and bonds). I was hired and didn’t have a place to stay. So a friend told me there were a couple of cheap places to stay near Blow Road (A place with small bars that were famous for the blow jobs that the girls gave at cheap rates).As We were walking past a place I heard Emy calling out to me. She asked where I was going and i told her that I had just been hired for a job and needed a place to stay. She wouldn’t let me go and insisted that I stay there at the “Dew Drop Inn”.This was something akin to a back packers hostel. Tiny rooms with a fan, and a common Bathroom at the end of the hall on the 2nd floor.On the ground floor there were 2 rooms for rent and some booths for diners. Rent was ultra cheap and Emy made a dynamite burrito that filled ya right up! It seems that Dave and Emy had to move out of their old digs as Dave got in trouble for selling weed and hash. They were being harrased by cops and got an offer from Owen Gibbons at the Dew Drop.Well they moved over there, and things were good, but Dave had ambition inspite of his reading, writing and mental problems. Dave was actually kind of on the lam. I remember him telling me a story about the last Foster Home he had stayed at. The foster father owned a junk yard, (the automobile kind of junk). Anyway, one day Dave saw his foster brother working under a car, with his legs sticking out and wide ope. Dave thought it would be great fun if he rolled a tractor tire up the poor guy’s crotch. So that is what he did. It crushed his brother’s nuts, and also caused him to bump his head on the car and got a nasty cut on his head. After screaming a few expletives, the brother grabbed a .22 cal rifle and took aim. Dave started to run and the brother shot him in the ass. Well that didn’t sit too well with Dave and a few days later he smashed his brother’s skull in with a Ball Peen hammer! I guess Dave was sent to the booby hatch for awhile and somehow got out and came over here to the Philippines.
Well back to Dave in Angeles! I noticed a distincy abscence of Dave and Emy told me that he had gotten into some trouble and was set up by some cops for selling weed and was sent to prison at Muntinglupa. Once a week Emy would go to Manila for a visit with Dave. She had made a lot of noise with the US Embassy and they finally started to give a small allowance to Dave and he had set himself up with a small eatery. This is allowed in the prisons here in the Philippines. Anyway, one night Owen and I were having a couple of beers and I asked him what did Dave do to bring the wrath of the cops down on him. Owen told me the whole story. As I mentioned earlier, Dave had ambition and he was good with his hands. He built a large push cart affair that was in the shape of a covered wagon. Somebody had painted a sign with Dave’s Chuck Wagon” and a menu. Dave was selling pastys, burritos and other chow along fields Avenue. He would park it in front of the “Ville” (Margueritta Station) and sell his chow. One day Dave pushed his Chuck Wagon down the street and when he arrived at his location he found that a Mercedes Benz was parked in “his” spot. Dave went ballistic which was dumb. He should have known that some bigwig owned the car and he should have chilled. But no!!! He went nuts. Screaming curses, and spitting on the car, Along comes this guy who owned the car and Dave starts telling him off. He was screaming that this was his spot, and who the fuck did he think he was to steal “his” spot. He continued cursing, screaming and spitting. Fatal mistake. The guy was the head of Immigration for Angeles. A couple hours later two cops pick up Dave, and drive him off to San Fernando, beating the shit out of him as they drove. They arrived at Camp Olivas and next thing they grab a couple garbage bags of weed from the evidence locker and make Dave handle them. They now had his prints on the bags and the rest was history. Twelve years to life. Along the way, one of the cops was eventually busted for setting people up and landed in Muntinglupa. he did not survive his sentence. I haven’t been back to Angeles and I imagine that Dave is now out of prison.
Last but not the least is Dave Allen. How do I begin? I first met Dave Allen on the set of Born on 4th of July. I was sitting at a table playing cards with a couple of paraplegic extras from New York, and Willem DaFoe playing cards. A discussion was taking place about non union films in New York. Dave was listening and told them he did a lot of non union work in New York. Both guys looked at him with some degree of skepticism and asked him what kind of films? Dave looked at them with a hint of a smile and said, Porn Films! I was a stunt cock!” as he said this he had his eyebrows going up and down. TBC
No Dead Heroes
Well, it seems that Jack came across this film, and I was deeply involved with this at the start of conception. I think I was originally approached by Donnie Gonzalez who is an associate of Art Nicdao. It seems Art was writing a script called “Blood Machines” with a Movie Reporter Asset Bernabe but they just couldn’t get their act together as both had a lot on their respective plates. So I was recruited to help write the script.
I lived within walking distance of Joey Pineda (Jun Cabriera’s half brother) and everyday I would go over there and write. It was a makeshift pre production office in Joey’s garage. It was kind of cool working there. The production design team was also there, so if things got boring there were people you could chat with and get past the writers block. Every afternoon Joey’s wife (Mother Silly’s sister) would whip up some snacks of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Noodles with soup. The other cool thing was we were getting paid as well! Back in those days, if you were writing, the producers would usually put you up in a Hotel with free meals and whatnot, but as I said, it was fun working at Joey’s place.
Sometimes Asset would drop by and he was hilarious. He was gay and it got to the point in the script where the characters were going into a briefing room which sent Asset into sexual fantasies about men in briefs. That is when I would go out in the street and take a “Smoke Break”. Things would go back to normal and I wuld continue to write.
At one point, things started to get weird. Art approached me one day and pulled me aside. He started to explain that he regularly received mystic messages via esp from spirits and he produced a notebook wich had a bunch of scribbles in it. He told me that the spirits had told him that I was going to ruin the movie. I think the reason that he did this was he was worried that I was going to cramp him ripping off the production. I told him that normally I minded my own business and didn’t give a fuck about him padding his expenses. Nothing more was said. But this should give you and idea of what I was up against! Holy Jeebus! Anyway the writing went on.
Construction was to begin on sets at the caves and waterfalls out in Tanay, and Donnie invited me to go out there for a week so I could write on location and get a break from Joey’s garage. Donnie had a big military tent set up and a messhall for his construction boys. So I spent the week writing and chatting with the old Granny “The Saint or Santa of Tanay”. She was happy to see me since I was the only person there who would listen to her stories. The food was rural but good and Donnie was always coming back from the jungle with some animal or snake that he caught. Interesting times to be sure.
Then it was back to Quezon City and Joey’s garage. There were some comments at AVManiacsabout a love scene in the film. At the time Tagalog movies were heavily scrutinized by Censors, and since this film was for export, we would not fall under their scrutiny. So Jun C and I put in a love scene so we could add some appeal to the film. We were getting close to ask for the “money” from the Chinese producer so Asset and I went over to Joey’s office in Sta Cruz Manila to put the script together. We literally cut and pasted parts of the script on typing paper then photocopied the pages. Later in the evening I did a reading for the producer. I read the entire script out load while he drank coffee. Well after I finished he and Jun went into a huddle. Jun came back to me and told me that we had a go signal to start shooting. The script wasn’t really camera ready but Jun said we would do it anyway and we could write as we shot. No arguments from me as I was ready to go!
About a week later we moved into a rented office space nearby, and pre-production went on in earnest. We had a complete staff by now as well as crew. Casting began and I got my buddy Max Thayer, and Hernan Robles recommended John Dresden who in turn recommended Toni Nero (good choice by the way). We were out at the Sacramento Resort and production tried to put Max and John in this huge treehouse kind of affair which was kind of cool but those two weren’t having it. So they ended up getting rooms in the hotel where Toni was staying. But they had to get up early everyday for the ride out to the set while we slept.
We did our first day at the Rizal Cement Quarry and Donnie was constantly fucking around with Toni to get still shots (ahem) of sexy poses. Oh well, I would tag along as she was a major babe and I hadn’t seen white skin in a long long time!
The film itself was directed by Jun C not Danny C. He was always involved with some religious pursuit. He and Bugsy Davao were involved with a group called God’s Commandos. Later when Bugsy passed away, Danny got involved with a Catholic cult group (oasis of Love) headed by Fr. Sonny Ramirez. Everybody who was a somebody in film got involved. Even mother Silly so she could be closer to the stars she needed for her 7/7 movies! Once, at an AD/PM Guild meeting, we were discussing a seminar aout Video Assist and the price for non-members was PhP500.00. A gay PM told everybody that the price was cheap considering that seminars at Oasis were PhP1,500.00 I responded with, “Religion is getting expensive these days!”, The PM then gave me the nastiest look! Hahahahahahahahaha, I didn’t give a fuck since all of those idiots were a bunch of self serving hypocrites! Anyway, I digress!
Action scenes were choreographed and directed by Baldomoro. He and Eddie Nicart are in the same league. Very capable and very easy to work with. We didn’t have any major problems with this shoot. It was a lot of fun since we did most dialogue impromptu. Here I must give a lot of Credit to Max Thayer. The title “No Dead Heroes” came from Max as did all of his own dialogue.
Unfortunately, Max was highly underrated in Hollywood. He was very professional and knew his craft! TBC
The Zombie 4 Story
Due to the request of my two loyal followers Fred and Jack, here it is…
I got a call one day from my close friend Juliet Lee to report to Los Banos at the City of Springs Hotel for a casting call. So off I went to the bus station, got on the bus and spent a pleasant three hours thinking about what kind of fun I would have there.
When I arrived at the hotel, it was like a zoo. There were Italian movie people all over the place. I quickly found Juliet and she ushered me into a room where I met Claudio Fraggaso the Director and Memo the Producer. We chatted for a while then Claudio said you are hired. A discussion with Memo followed and it was about a previous film where I didn’t show up. I had been hired by Allan Collins(aka Luciano Pigozzi Thanks Fred!) who was a real slimeball and he gave me a couple thousand pesos and had me sign a voucher with a pencil. Later he filled in a larger amount with a pen. We argued for a while, but I stuck to my guns. Memo, knew what the fuck had happened and ended up dismissing the whole thing as obviously they were interested in retaining me for the part. I was told to go home and return a few days later.
I returned and then began my sex, drugs but no rock and roll adventure. We started out with a cast meeting with Claudio, the script supervisor and us ( Myself, James Gaines, Adrienne Joseph, Candace Daly, Jim Moss and Don Wilson
We introduced ourselves to each other, though Candace was the only person we weren’t familiar with. Then we went over the script and I realized that the dialogue was pretty loose in the sense that the film would most likely be dubbed. It sounded fun though. I went back to my room and my girlfriend from Makiling Inn came up (She actually gave me a case of crabs). The following day we got on a bus to take us out to Lake Calraya where we would should our first scenes. While on the bus, everybody, and I mean everybody shared my grass and pipe.
Here we see James holding the “Pipe”. You may ask what is so god damned important about this fucking pipe, I will tell you. But, not yet! On with the story
As I had said, we were on the bus and my pipe and grass made it around the bus with everybody taking hits from it. I knew this was going to be a fun shoot since everybody seemed to be a kindred spirit! e arrived at the lake and found out we would be riding around in a boat for a while. I mean, come on! Where else can you get paid to fuck around on a boat all day? And… it was a beautiful day! We had fun! Later we had a lunch break. Now at this point I must say that the Italians really know food well, and they laid out a fantastic spread! This is what we called “Blue Seal” or 1st class! After lunch we did some traveling shots and then back to the hotel!
The only thing that I didn’t like was that I had to share a room with Don Wilson. He wasn’t a bad guy, but I hated having to share the room with him. Anyway, we spent evenings either hanging out by the pool drinking beer or up in James room doing sliders of methamphetamine or as we called it here, “Shabu”. James, me, and Juliet were constantly doing that shit! I look back on that now and it makes me shiver and my skin crawl! But at the time it was all the rage and better, we could shoot all night long without getting tire. Fuck! We were wired!
We went to Mt. Makiling to do shots at the mud pool. This bubbling pool of mud and sulfur seems to get bigger every year. I just wonder if this volcano will wake up again and if it does how bad will the eruption be? Anyway we went there to do the scene where Don Wilson does battle with a zombie and gets bitten and infected. Nothing really remarkable except for the location itself. Many people think the area is inhabited by spirits good, evil, who knows! While we were there nothing weird happened and I have been there a zillion times and have never noticed anything untoward. From there we did tracking shots to the boundry of Los Banos and Calamba to which at that time was a Philippine Constabulary camp that was WWII vintage.
An abandoned camp hosptital became our main location. This would be our “home” for about 3 weeks. At the begoinning it was kind of cool since it was only about 10 minutes from our hotel. Didn’t take long to get there nor to go home to the hotel. A deifinate plus factor! But there was soon to be a major negative factor. The day they blew up the dummy! I will never ever forget this as long as I live!
Franco Di Girolamo was living and working in one of the few suites at the hotel. He was a chubby jovial guy who we rarely saw. Every now and then he would come out of his room with rubber bats on a stick or some such and give everybody a laugh then he would disappear back inside. He had created this dummy that we would use for one of the scenes. The plan was to demonstrate that you had to shoot a zombie thru the head to really kill them. So, on the day that we were to do the scene the dummy sat in front of Franco’s room and the head was split in half. Early in the morning he sent somebody to the market to buy bean curd, chicken intestines and chicken blood. When the market dude returned, everything was chopped, mixed and put in the head along with a black powder charge and the head was glued together and Franco applied some make up. Now the dummy sat out in the sun from 7:00am till night. The whole day all of the shit in the head was percolating and deteriorating and rotting!
The photo above is of me, Jim Moss, Don Wilson, and the “Dummy” on the night of the infamous explosion!
Evening came around and we were on our way to the location. When we arrived we started doing set ups and everything was cool. I should at this point give you an idea about the layout of the hospital! It was a typical temporary wooden structure. A veranda ran completely around the building, with wide steps leading up the to the front door. On the right hand side there were large French doors made of wood with glass panes. There were a couple of large rooms and some smaller rooms inside. Between scenes there were a lot of areas one could hang out at and relax. Adjacent to the building was a soccer field with some benches around it. Hopefully that gives you an idea. If not, let me know and I will try to expand on it.
Anyway, we did various shots, and then Claudio made an announcement to one and all, “Hey! What you guys think? We eat lunch or we blow up the dummy, then eat lunch”? The response was unanimous which many were to regret later, “BLOW UP THE DUMMY”! So the DP set his camera up outside the veranda directly in front of the dummy. All of the cast and crew were gathering around the camera to get a great view. I myself was on my way to that location when James grabbed me and said “Hey man! Stay here”! he the pulled me to the side of the veranda and he opened the french door and pulled me behind it and said, “Shit is gonna fly all over the place and it will be nasty dude” I realized right away he was on the money. We started to laugh! A few moments later Claudio shouted. “Motore”! We could hear the whir of the camera as it cranked up to speed, then he shouted, “Actione”!
What happened next was the Torrente hit the detonator and Kaboom! Shit flew all over the place. The smell was awful! James and I cringed! When the smoke and spray settled down it was eerily quiet! Candace Daly had been right next to the camera and there was a piece of chicken guts hanging from the tip of her nose and it was wiggling! Suddenly she tossed her cookies all over the veranda and many followed suit. It was terrible! There was junk all over the fucking place. Perhaps James and I were the only ones who didn’t get hit with debris!
Lunch was called and James, me and Claudio were in line together to get food. I think we had veal Parmesan and pasta, some salad and Italian bread! We took our plates and ourselves over to the soccer field to eat. Fucking hell! You could still smell that horrible smell all the way over there! Anyway, we sat in silence and were eating. Next thing the DP came over with his food and sat down. He looked white as a sheet. I forget who was the first to talk, but somebody said something about the dummy, we started to laugh and the DP started to puke up all of his food which made us laugh even harder!
Later, the crew tried various ways to get rid of the smell, but it was no use. It wouldn’t go away. It stayed that way for the remainder of the shoot! We continued to shoot for a few more nights. While shooting we used HMI lights and one night Juliet came up to me and had a look of horror on her face. She said, “Damn Nick you look sick! You’re yellow”! Funny, I didn’t feel sick and I could not understand why she would think I was sick. She then proceeded to wander around and ask people to come and take a look at me. People came and went, soon a rumor was circulating that I had Hepatitis! What the fuck? I knew I could not possibly have the big H as I had been inoculated with an experimental vaccine when I was in the military. But nobody would listen.
Back at the hotel I was in James room with Juliet and Jame’s girlfriend. We were talking and James suddenly said, ” You know what? Symptoms for wome are different from men when it comes to Hepatitis”. Immediately I smelled a rat but kept my mouth shut. Jame’s GF then asked what do you mean? How”? James replied, “Well a womans nipples will turn yellow”! Juliet said, “Bullshit”! Then James said, “Well if you don’t believe me, it’s up to you…” We continued to sit there and smoke then James ‘s GF got up and went in the bathroom. She didn’t close the door all the way and we could see her standing in front of the mirror. She lifted her T shirt, pulled her bra down and exposed a tit! She carefully examined her nipple, then satisfied everything was in order, pulled her bra back into place pulled her T shirt down, and rejoined us. We continued to chat then Juliet got up, went in the bathroom and did exactly the same thing Jame’s GF dd. We couldn’t help but start roaring with laughter! Juliet came out and said something like “James! You motherfucker”! we laughed even harder!
Evidently James had come up with one of the most ridiculous plans I had ever heard. He wanted to get a bus, and take everyone, cast and crew to the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in Pasay City to get blood tests. It seems there was an ongoing panic with everybody since they had all shared my pipe! I was sitting by the pool in the morning when I heard this! I was totally fucking amazed! So I just sat there, eating my breakfast and drinking my coffee. Suddenly Romano Puppo (Thanks Fred!) comes up and sits down, then starts to tell me, “You know Nick, when Woody Strode shared an apartment with me in Rome, he got hepatitis”. I replied, “Oh? Is that right”? and he says, “Yes, he did. You know you will need to take some time off, stay away from people. You will experience becoming irritable.I remember Woody would drop his lighter, and he would curse. Nick I really advise you to get some medical help”! I thanked him politely, but inside I was seething! I ordered another cup of coffee and Chuck Stryker comes up to me and asks me if he could sit. I said, “Sure, go ahead and sit down”. He then started to talk in earnest about my so called condition, “You know Nick my Mom is a registered Nurse and I called her last night and…” He continued to tell me the evils of Hepa and how his Mom said this or said that. I listened politely and continued to drink my coffee and smoke. He told me I shouldn’t be smoking, or eating this or eating that. Motherfucker! Everybody was freaking out over this. For fuck’s sake! My shit was a healthy brown, and my piss was the usual yellow color. Oh well, we would go for this stupid blood test, then all would settle down.
After a while Memo told me that there was a new plan! Juliet suggested that I get a blood test first. If it was positive, everybody would go for a test. Memo had told transport to get a car ready, then Juliet, James and I went to Calamba, nearby to the Peprpetual Help Hospital. When we arrived, we walked into the ER. Finally a doctor walks in and looks at us. We were all silent. I didn’t know what to say and Julieyt was looking back and forth between James and me. Finally after a pregnant silence, the doctor says, “What can i do for you”? then another pregnant pause. Finally James points at me and said, “My friend here seems to be turning yellow”! The doc looks at me and said, “Not eating any carrots”? He then proceeded to extract blood samples from me and tested me for damn near everything he could think of. He then advised me not to eat anything and just drink bottled water.
It was a weekend and I went home to be with my family. The next day Juliet called to say that the test came back negative. So a day later I returned. It was Sunday, and I went to the hospital to see the doc. He told me I had pneumonitis and a slight heart problem. He gave me some prescriptions for various vitamins and an antibiotic. He then told me, “You have to start eating and eat anything you want. Lay off the beer and ‘other stuff’ you should be okay. Your body had -15 protein so that is why you were turning yellow. Remember, lay off that ‘other stuff’ “! So I knew, that he knew, I had been chasing the dragon with meth and hadn’t been eating properly.
There was a collective sigh of relief back at the hotel. People were once again seeking me out to smoke weed. That Sunday I spent the day beside the pool pigging out on fried chicken, fries, noodles, and anything else I could find on the menu! A little later one of the Italian crew came over to my table with a large bottle of Tanduay Rum and asked if he could sit. I told him by all means! Have a seat! We spent the afternoon drinking rum cokes and him telling me how expensive the stuff was in Italy. For the life of me, I can’t remember his name. For the most part, the Italians were the best people ever to work with. Except of course that asshole Allen Collins! What a prick!
We started to shoot again Monday night. This was the night of my fight routine I think. The pinoy stunt director came up and asked how I wanted to do it. I told him I would prefer a free for all. So we shot the scene! OMG! It sucked so bad because I was hitting people that were far away and you could see that my gun wasn’t connecting and People were reacting to getting hit. But, all was good as far as Claudio was concerned. He was an editor so I guess he figured he could edit it and fix the rough spots. However If one is to look at the you tube video below, you can see what I mean. By the way, thanks to Kevin Gates of Hydro Films for sending me that.
Then the next scene was me meeting up with Adrienne at the tree and getting bitten by her! Damn I was infected! Hahahahahahahaha! I didn’t realize at the time, what a pain in the ass this was going to be and what everybody else had been going thru! The following day I had to report early for make up as it took three hours to get all the make up on. Everyday afterwards it was going to be like that. A major pain in the ass!
The next few nights we did zombie stuff. It was pretty funny! They had these green fizzie tablets that you put in your mouth and a green foam would form. You would open your mouth and that shit would come out. I had to go back to the hotel once in make up and I scared the living shit out of the teenaged girlwho was at the front desk.
Nothing more remarkable happened on the film. I have read all of the comments at Youtube and IMDB. Some are really acidic or toxic yet others praise this film. Everybody is after entitled to their opinons. On the other hand, opinions are like assholes- evrybody has one. To those of you who praised the film I give my heartfelt thanks! To all of you negative pricks, fuck you and kiss my ass! Nobody twisted your arms to watch the fucking movie. If you can do better, put your money where your mouth is and go out and produce something! We didn’t have any script to work with, but yet we did it. .
TO BE CONTINUED…