Always having a soft spot for the Philippines, Kevin Kwan, the author of the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, revealed he is keen to shoot his next movie in the Philippines, although there are no concrete plans. 

Recently in Manila for the 21st World Travel & Tourism Council Global Summit with Academy Award winning Hollywood producer, Lawrence Bender, Kwan gave a booster shot to tourism marketers in the Philippines when he said, “This is my fourth trip and it’s always a pleasure to be back.”

“It’s a country with so many amazing locations, cultures, flavors, and of course, people,” Kwan explained with enthusiasm. “It’s always surprising – I never know what will happen, but it’s always a grand adventure.” Sounds like It’s More Fun In The Philippines.

Columnist Charles Lim flanked by movie moguls Lawrence Bender (left) and Kevin Kwan of Crazy Rich Asians fame.

The sight of these two entertainment celebrities in Manila were enough to start the celluloid rumor mills running overtime. Unfortunately, this column just does not have any details of their what, where and when, we can only hope your child, neighbor and even your mom and pop may land themselves as extras in a Hollywood production filmed in, let’s say, Camiguin, Cagayan de Oro with white water rafting scenes, Centrio Mall, Seven Seas Waterpark or enjoying a steak in Bukidnon.

What we can safely assume is that the Philippines, through the assurances of Tourism Secretary Berna Puyat, will support the location filming of Kwan and Bender. Secretary Berna must know the impact of what footages of Camiguin, white water rafting, or Bahay na Bato with pancit molo being served can do in promoting the country in a very tough destination competitiveness.

Thailand hosted the filming of The Beach in 2000 which starred Leonardo DiCarpio, in Ko Phi Phi Leh. The idyllic scenes at Maya Bay drew crowds, by the thousands, each day and remains a must visit attraction for visitors to Phuket, Phi Phi and Krabi. Ko Phi Phi Leh was also closed to the public following the example of Boracay to rehabilitate its eco ecosystems in 2018. Their closure took four years as compared to Boracay’s six months.

Here at home, in 1973, the movie Estebanwas shot on location on an unspoiled and unnamed beach in Panglao starring film icon, Fernando Poe, Jr (FPJ) with actress Alona Alegre, who became so popular with the Boholanos that they named the beach after her! Alona Kew.

Every visitor to Bohol, after the movie, made a beeline to Alona, Panglao. Resort developers followed and the rest, as they say, is history.

Crazy Rich Asians Book Cover and Film Poster

In Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians, Singapore as well as its umbilical neighbor, Malaysia, could not measure the exposure generated from the movie. In one rough estimate, it could only be running into billions – dollars or pesos, whichever you like.

Featured were the Newton Food Court, CHIJMES Hall, Marina Bay Sands, Tyersall Mansion, Gardens By The Bay and over the causeway to Penang and Langkawi. Today there are Crazy Rich Asians inspired tours visiting these locations, encouraged by the Singapore Tourism Board.

Teaming up with Film Producer Lawrence Bender would a sure blockbuster. Bender won 8 Academy Awards with 36 nominations including 3 for Best Picture. His works include Reservoir  Dogs, Good Will Hunting, Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained, and Pulp Fiction

Having Kwan and Bender in Manila at the same time could purely be accidental. Maybe, my brain script has rushed to another fictional episode.

Ah well, it’s worth a thought of one crazy poor Asian.


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