Thrilla in Manila: On location with 'The Bourne Legacy'

Thrilla in Manila: On location with 'The Bourne Legacy'

Finally, a film that films Manila as Manila. Here’s a guide to the new movie's Philippines shoot locations
Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz spent nearly two months ripping through the streets of Manila to film "Bourne Legacy".

Hard-core fans of rogue CIA assassin "Jason Bourne" have already followed him through Zurich, Paris, Mykonos, Berlin, Goa, Moscow, Tangiers, Madrid, London and New York City.

But in just released "The Bourne Legacy," the fourth installment of the films based on the Robert Ludlum spy action thriller series, it’s less -- or rather, no -- Bourne (Matt Damon) and more legacy, in the form of agent Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner).

Cross travels through Alaska, Washington D.C. and New York, but he spends quite a bit of time in the Philippines, where the film's crew spent 45 days shooting around the streets of Manila. 

Big budget films have been shot here before. What has Filipinos excited is that it's the first Hollywood film to include the Philippines in location credits on the big screen.

“The Philippines has played almost any country -- Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Mexico, Panama, Cuba," says Lope “Jun” Juban, Jr., president of Philippine Film Studios, which worked on the "Legacy"  shoot. 

"It is only now that we are filming Manila as Manila, which is great for us.”  

Here's a quick guide to where some of the movie's key scenes were filmed.   

Shoot location: Remedios Circle

Jeremy Renner drops down "the chasm," built especially for a key scene near Manila's Remedios Circle.The scene: The cops chase Marta and she reaches a dead end, an entrance to a very narrow alleyway.

The action: According to Second Assistant Director Maricris Calilung, the very narrow alleyway -- called “the chasm” -- where Marta gets trapped by two cops was constructed in a vacant lot across Remedios Circle (a five-minute walk from the San Andres Market).

Remedios Circle used to feature some of Manila's most happening nightlife, with clubs, bars and discos pulsating from night to day.

While it's no longer as jumping as it was during its 1980s/1990s heyday, the idyllic circle still retains some of its bohemian, “come as you are” vibe.

Tourist fare: Café Adriatico (1790 M. Adriatico St.; +63 2 738 8220), which has been described as “the first true Filipino Café,” continues to serve classic Spanish and Filipino dishes in an old-world setting with a terrace perfect for people watching.

The Bar@1951, formerly Penguin Café, (1951 M. Adriatico St.) features live indie bands and exhibits.

A short distance away, Oarhouse (1688-B, Jorge Bocobo Street; +63 2516 7296), another Malate institution, founded by retired U.S. Navy pilot Charles “Chuck” Monroe, serves pub fare like fish-and-chips and chicken wings.

More on CNN: How to be a Manila local: 10 tips on faking it


Shoot location: Jones Bridge

Future 'Bourne' stuntmen? Manila kids jump off the Jones Bridge into the polluted Pasig River.The Scene: Motorcycle police pursue operative Larx-03 (Louis Ozawa Changchien), who jumps on one of the bikes and throws the cops off. 

The action: Aaron takes his bike up the stairs, across Jones Bridge, and down the stair rail on the other side.

Tourist fare: Formerly known as Puente de Espana (Bridge of Spain), this was the first bridge to be built in the country in 1623, spanning the Pasig River.

The Neoclassical Bridge was once hailed as the queen of bridges, but fell into neglect in the 1980s. 

Today, strolling or driving across the bridge offers a gorgeous view of the Manila Post Office and other parts of old Manila on one side.

The other side opens up to Binondo, one of the oldest Chinatowns in the world.


Shoot location: San Andres Neighborhood

From aging jeepneys to ramshackle rooftops, Manila's gritty streets play a starring role in 'The Bourne Legacy.' The scene: This is where Aaron (Renner) and Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) run, hide and seek refuge from Philippine cops. Producer Patrick Crowley described it to media as “one of the best chase scenes ever.” 

The action: The neighborhood’s ramshackle houses and dark alleyways are home to some of the city’s lower and middle income earners.

In "Legacy," rooftops in San Andres were replaced for the chase scene, and they hired hundreds of local technicians and drivers, rented a parking lot and “trained a core group of drivers to keep a straight line and not to flinch as Hollywood stuntmen and motorcycles raced past them with inches to spare,” says Crowley.  

Tourist fare: San Andres is home to the popular 400-square-meter San Andres Market, which locals claim is where you'll find some of the largest and most colorful selection of fruits in the country.

Mangoes, rambutans, pineapples, melons, apples, pears and durians are among the greats, and which can be arranged in fruit baskets for gifts at some stalls.

Bargaining is the name of the game here.

Getting there: Head for San Andres Street, in Manila's Malate district. 

More on CNN: The best of Manila


Shoot location: Marikina Public Market

Forget Bourne. Marikina's real claim to fame is its designation as the "shoe capital" of the Philippines. The Scene: When Aaron shoots at Larx, who is on a motorcycle, he crashes on a fruit and vegetable stall in the market.

The Action: One of the largest markets in the country, Marikina Public Market has been declared one of the cleanest, too.

Marikina residents say they love it because it's clustered into food groups, wet and dry sections, utilities and DVDs. The different sections also have covered walking streets to shade from the heat.

The market has been likened to an “un-airconditioned” grocery store because of its sanitary standards, and is closed regularly for cleaning.

Tourist fare: Manufacturing over 80 percent of the country's footwear, Marikina is the "shoe capital" of the Philippines. There's even a "Shoe Museum," featuring over 3,000 pairs of shoes, including 800 owned by former first lady Imelda Marcos (J.P. Rizal St, Barangay San Roque, Marikina City; +63 2430 9735).

Getting there: Marikina Public Market, E. De La Paz Street, Marikina City; +63 2646 1996


Shoot location: Navotas Fish Port

Over 80 percent of Manila's fish supply passes through the Navotas Fish Port. The scene: Larx hits a concrete post, and Aaron and Marta's motorcycle skids.  A fisherman sees them, and they ask him for help. 

The action: The oldest fishing port in the country, established in 1977, Navotas Fish Port supplies most of the country with fresh and quality fish, about 80 percent of Metro Manila’s demand.

"The Bourne Legacy" crew took over the port for a few mornings in January, replacing parts of the roof to let natural light in. They also had to scrub down the floors every day to make sure nobody slipped on fish guts. 

Tourist fare: More than 20 commercial fishing vessels unload at least 800 tons of fish daily from Laguna de Bay, Zambales and Palawan, as early as 6 a.m.

Come early but bring boots as the floors can indeed get wet and slippery. Haggling or bidding for the best price is encouraged if done discreetly. 

To get there, ask a taxi driver to take you to the Navotas Fish Port Complex, Navotas. 


Shoot location: El Nido, Palawan

Besides "Bourne," El Nido was also a pit stop on "The Amazing Race."The scene: There's a boat, it's the end of the film. That's all we'll tell you. No spoilers here.  

The action: It's “most beautiful place I’ve been to,” proclaims "Legacy" director Tony Gilroy.

Marbled cliffs, white sand beaches, limestone formations, prehistoric caves and waterfalls and crystal clear blue waters make Palawan one of the Philippine's top islands.

And if you've seen the competition, that's no petty achievement. 

Tourist fare: Wildlife like kingfishers, egrets, eagles and hornbills and bountiful flora like narra trees, mangroves and coconut trees abound. 

Located in the “coral triangle,” the global center of marine biodiversity, diving and snorkeling Palawan can boast colorful corals, reefs, parrotfish, clownfish, reef shark, stingrays, turtles, dolphins and the occasional whale shark.  

Getting there: Several airlines fly daily from Manila to El Nido, including SEAir and Island Transvoyager.

More on CNN: The Philippines best beaches and islands

"The Bourne Legacy" is now showing in cinemas worldwide.  

Cheryl Tiu is a magazine publisher/editor and newspaper columnist based in the Philippines. She is allergic to MSG and once developed a facial swelling in Mexico from eating too many chilaquiles at random side street taquerias. She still loves Mexican food, nonetheless.

Her website is www.cheryltiu.com; you can follow her on Twitter @cheryltiu and on Instagram @chertiu.

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