As of today most surfers are already familiar with the undying legacy of the film Apocalypse Now to Baler, Aurora. The famous “napalm” and “surfing” scene was shot at what would be known since then as “Charlie’s Point” and the crew left behind surfboards as the filming ended. After that everything else as they say, is history. Baler would go on as a hometown of brilliant Filipino surfers and one of the most sought after surf spots in the Philippines.
But what is that history actually. Now that everybody was gone, who were the locals that pursued the art of riding waves? Who were these pioneers that braved Baler’s pacific waves? Nearly 35 years ago and as we enter a new decade today, one question poses unfamiliarity as memory fades over time. Who started it all?
“During the shooting of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, two surfboards, intended to be used in the famous helicopter/surfing scene, are lost in an accident. A couple days later two rice farmers from the area were seen in their first attempts to surf themselves. This is how the sport got started in this remote part of the world.”
Those two rice farmers were Edwin Namoro (still surfing, owner of surfer’s inn Kahea’s Lodge) and Pawikan (no info). Told in a candid and amusing storyline, the film follows the pioneers along their path toward Baler surfing as told by Kuya Ed. It is a path that’s clearly off the beaten path. Three Foot Charlie also features interviews with Sgt Cl. Tony Schnabel, Military Advisor to Apocalypse Now and local Kuya Rodel who was a child-extra for the movie and also a Baler surf veteran.
Is the film true and honest? It does present a very plausible origin of Baler surfing. Nevertheless Three Foot Charlie is a must see for all Filipino surfers. Stories such as this are forever part of Philippine Surfing and so must be told again and again. Read more about Charlie’s Point here.