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Colonel Kurtz at Pagsanjan Falls
Francis Ford Coppola’s legendary film, Apocalypse Now, about the search for an officer gone AWOL in the midst of the Vietnam war, had its iconic final scene set in the Philippines. Pagsanjan Falls, in the province of Laguna, is some 80 kilometres south of the capital Manila. Surprisingly, the Falls setting as Apocalypse Now’s final scene is not particularly well known, and the majority of tourists visit Pagsanjan for other reasons. Although film buffs will no doubt relish being able to say that they have visited the site of Kurtz’s downfall.
The Falls are home to a sequence of fourteen rapids that flow down the Bombongan River. Local Filipino boatmen, known as bangkeros, are skilled at navigating the rapids in canoes, and charge tourists to be taken down the rapids. The experience is known as shooting the rapids. A trip down the rapids will cost around US$12, which is a snip considering the thrill of the ride.
Nearby is Lake Caliraya, situated at a huge 3050 metres above sea level. The views from the top are spectacular, taking in the blue tropical waters of Laguna de Bay and the sacred Mount Banahaw. Watersports are a popular activity on the lake, with windsurfing, kayaking and jet-skiing all available. Accommodation in the area is very reasonably priced, with hostels as little as US$3.
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