MANILA, January 11, 2012 (AFP) – The latest instalment of the Jason Bourne Hollywood spy franchise began filming in the chaotic Philippine capital Tuesday amid heavy security with the city on alert over a feared terrorist attack.
Police officers with bomb sniffing dogs scoured a warren of Manila alleyways where British actress Rachel Weisz and her co-star, Jeremy Renner, shot scenes for the much anticipated “Bourne Legacy” movie.
A 200-man crowd and traffic control team deployed by Manila authorities also blocked off a market road where the filming took place, while private security guards were in strategic places to thwart overzealous fans or strangers.
“We want to ensure that this film ends here without a hitch,” said Ed Untalan, head of the local Task Force Bourne set up to coordinate security.
Filming began just three days after President Benigno Aquino placed Manila security forces on alert over what he said was plot to bomb a Catholic procession on Monday not far from where the Bourne film is set.
The attack never occurred but the national police chief said on Tuesday his forces would remain on full alert because up to nine suspected Islamic militants who had been planning the attack were still on the loose.
But the mood among locals on Wednesday was one of excitement with fans jostling each other to catch a glimpse of Weisz and Renner as they shot scenes in dark, crowded alleyways near a sprawling slum.
“This is the first time I’ve seen a Hollywood actor at arms’ length and in person. My heart is still thumping hard,” said Elmer Rufino, 43, a sailor who had returned home for a vacation.
“I’ve followed the Bourne movies, and now I can tell my shipmates this was shot in my neighbourhood.”
Weisz plays opposite Renner, who takes the lead role from Matt Damon in the movie about the workings of a shadowy Central Intelligence Agency unit that trains super spies.
The filming in Manila will also take the cast to an old colonial Spanish fortress, a bustling fish port and a major thoroughfare infamous for its bumper-to-bumper traffic.
The Philippine production unit’s head, Jun Juban, said the tourism industry would get a boost from publicity, with some of the final scenes in the 40-day shoot set to take place on the picturesque frontier island of Palawan.
“They chose us because they said they felt more welcome here,” Juban said, adding that producers had initially looked at Indonesia and Vietnam as alternative sites.