LA TRINIDAD Mayor Romeo Salda confirmed that film director Joyce Bernal and her crew shot scenes in the town for the State of the Nation Address (Sona) of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Salda added the team pushed through with its shooting in Mt. Yangbew, a tourist destination that can be reached in 15 to 30 minutes from Baguio City and shows a 360-degree view of the valley.
On Thursday, July 9, the crew pushed through with its filming in Mt. Yangbew, and as of Friday, July 10, it is unclear if the team took some shots in Barangay Bahong, where flower farming thrives.
The team was advised to follow physical distancing and no contact of persons in the area while following health protocols against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
SunStar Baguio sources said a letter on July 3 signed by Bernal was forwarded to the municipality. It was addressed to "whom it may concern" asking for a permission for their 13-man team to film in lieu of the upcoming Sona.
The team is set to shoot in Mt. Sto. Tomas, flower farms in Bahong, Alphaland in Beckel, Mt. Kalugong and Mt. Yangbew, all in La Trinidad and Northern Blossoms in Atok.
"We are aware that most of these places are strictly taking precautionary measures as to the health crisis we are facing. We do guarantee that the production team underwent proper medical tests, are not experiencing symptoms related to Covid-19 and are adhering to the necessary precautions and complying with safety and health protocols of Baguio and Benguet," the letter stated.
It added: "We are assuring your office that there will be no filming that will be conducted in any public place nor shall we interact with the locals. We will be covering natural areas and locations. We also want to guarantee the safety of the place we intend to go to, thus, extra health and safety preparations and measures shall be done before, during and after the travel and conduct of the shoot. We will be using disinfectants and UV light sanitizer to sterilize our equipment and vehicles."
Tublay Mayor Armando Lauro confirmed on Friday, July 10, that he also received a call this week from a coordinator of the group asking to shoot in the town.
Lauro said he denied the request and did not allow the team to shoot as the town and Benguet province aare back in general community quarantine (GCQ), adding the group is welcome to shoot some other time.
The mayor also cited they cannot sacrifice the health of their constituents as there are currently two Covid-19 cases in the municipality.
Since the start of the community quarantine in March, tourism-related activities in all Benguet towns are closed to tourists.
Atok Mayor Raymundo Sarac said there are still no verbal and written intent for the group to shoot in the town but in accordance to the executive order, tourism is still suspended.
"If in case there are requests, the council and I would not permit them (to shoot) as we are not ready. It will create confusion if there will be someone to shoot there, that is already open," the mayor explained in the local dialect.
Tuba Mayor Clarita Sal-ongan said Mt. Sto Tomas is also under Writ of Kalikasan, and tourism activities, including shooting in the area, are not allowed.
"I don't care if other towns will accept them or not, but for Tuba, we will not allow," she said.
Benguet province has been placed back to GCQ from July 1 to 15 as ordered by the National Inter-Agency Task Force.