Celebrity Blast in the Philippines

The celebrity media producers have discovered the Philippines. Within the past several weeks I have carried out seaplane flights for a number of video productions.

East Palawan Islands near where the first episode of Dating Naked S2 was filmed

For starters, I was contracted by a production chief to do a flying scene at a small island north-east of Palawan island in the Philippines. Only after arrival I was told that I was also going to be flying a cast member for a popular US reality TV show called Dating Naked to a remote island.

Eastern Palawan Island Philippines



These days we’re supposed to be more “connected” than ever, but it’s actually harder than ever to truly connect. Online dates, blind dates, and the latest in ridiculous dating apps all make it hard to see people for who they really are.

A new social experiment provides daters with a radical dating experience where before they bare their souls they bare everything else first. Each week on a primitive island resort, far from the masks of modern society, daters will go on exotic dates and be naked every step of the way.

We will follow along as two primitive daters each go on a total of three naked dates, including their first date with each other. At the end of this experience they’ll choose which of their naked dates they would like to continue dating back home. Clothing will of course be optional.

via Dating Naked (TV Series) | Season 1 Episodes | VH1.

Shot in exotic Eden-like locations, “Dating Naked” features twenty-somethings stripping down for blind dates, accompanied by presumably fully-dressed camera crews.
Naked TV dating series heads into season two | Manila Bulletin | Latest Breaking News | News Philippines.

East Palawan Islands Philippines

My copilot asked me “Are they really going to be naked!”

In my naivety  I said “I doubt it – I think that means exposed, stripped bare, vulnerable in a metaphoric sense but not actually physically naked.”

Boy was I wrong. For the sake of clarity I will add that the seaplane pilots stayed fully dressed!


Gabriel Valenciano 

Gabriel and Tricia: Image courtesy of www.gvalenciano.com


Another fun video production was for an Asian company called Chatime Philippines who’s Managing Director, Michael Koa, hired actor/dancer/celebrity Gabriel Valenciano to develop an upbeat and lighthearted commercial. To be original they wanted to use the seaplane. I was invited to the pre-production “concept meeting” and advised on how we were going to be able to capture the seaplane shots.

It was a hell of a fun video to shoot mostly because Gabriel was so spontaneous and also because I got to fly to Boracay Island. We landed on the ocean near White Beach in Boracay and had to moor offshore in large rolling swells. While the plane rocked and rolled in the heavy swells Gabriel and his girlfriend/life-partner (and now wife) Tricia never missed a beat as they prepared to start the video production.

Shangri-la Resort Boracay Philippines


Shangri-la Resort Boracay Philippines

One of his friends got into the water with the GoPro while Gabriel dove off the floats and swam to the jetty. Tricia fell off the float, beautifully and very elegantly, with camera and cell phone in hand. You will see the Shangri-la Boracay Resort beach/jetty in the video.

Shangri-la Resort Beach in Boracay

You have to check out this guy’s YouTube channel. He is a living dynamo. He writes, creates and produces (and dances in) all his own videos. Check out Gabriel (and me piloting the seaplane) on the “Starting to feel the Summer Heat” Video which has had 229,408 views already, or click on the Chatime Philippines image below.



Drew Arellano

Drew Arellano the “Biyahe ni” Travel Guy on the GMA News Network seemed rather tame. He came to the airport and quietly went about the job of shooting the pre-takeoff scenes before our departure to Palawan. But as I found out later there is certainly more to him then his quiet and polite demeanor.

Judging by how excited our team was I realized he was a celebrity but he is more than that. Drew is a prominent triathlete and marathoner and even has his own brand of VAMOS socks. My copilot wore Drew’s brand name socks during the flight.

Drew handled the numerous twofies graciously until I finally had to get everyone on board for start up.

Drew Arellano

Terrific Places to Visit this Summer. The wing shot in this link was taken from the seaplane as we flew over Busuanga Island toward Northern Palawan.

Cessna Caravan Seaplane at Sunlight Resort

When you see the video of the landing at the Sunlight Resort you can tell I was “feeling” for the water just before I dropped it in. In order for the pre-positioned camera crew to best video my water landing, with Drew aboard, I elected to land “into-the-sun” on glassy water. Bad combination for landing, but a great angle for a “sun-behind-the-camera” video.

Living Large In Palawan: How to Get There GMA News. This link shows the seaplane taxiing in just after the glassy water landing. The images below are from after we moored.

Cessna Seaplane in Northern Palawan

The Sunlight Dancers gave Drew and crew a great show on arrival but they later danced a number for me so I could get these shots.

Sunlight Dancers


Sunlight Dancer

We left Drew and his crew here and departed for another island to pick up guests. Several weeks later the full TV show was aired on the local GMA News channel. Holly and I decided to watch the Friday night show at a local sports bar where I convinced them to turn off the basketball game, which no one was watching, and tune into my TV debut.

I was surprised to discover how much time was devoted to the seaplane and in particular the Captain. They video’d my seaplane safety briefing speech and followed me during the key segments of the flight. Once the bar crowd saw Drew and realized that the Captain of the flight was sitting in the bar with them they got very noisy. With all the hooting and hollering, mostly from me, I couldn’t hear how I actually sounded on TV.

I remember when the crew turned the camera on me during the safety briefing I forgot what I was supposed to say. On the TV I could visibly see my Adam’s Apple go up then back down as the camera started to roll. I will have to wait until the full episode is posted on GMA’s web site to find out if I have any future as a travel show host. Somehow I doubt it.

This link shows Drew’s “lead in” video, which has already had 53,000 views, of the TV program Living Large in the Palawan featuring yours truly and a cool into-the-sun-on-glassy-water seaplane landing. So CLICK HERE.

When the full video of the TV program is posted I will add a link to it as well.

Captain John doing the morning walk-around


Naked and Afraid

Just a few days later I flew a producer for the Discovery Channel reality TV show called “Naked and Afraid” to a drop off point for a remote island off Palawan where they were going to film the last day of the Naked and Afraid survivors getting off the island. I have flown past West Nalaut Island (not too closely) for the past several weeks without realizing the show was being video’d there all along. It may not look isolated in this picture but believe me it is – except by seaplane of course.


West Nalaut Island, just beyond the rainbow, is where the latest episode of Naked and Afraid was filmed.


The Philippines is still, for the most part, undiscovered. Getting to fly to these remote locations has been a blast and we have only just begun. Gentlemen – load your cameras.

Lighthearted Entertainment Crew at work


About John S Goulet

Air Transport Pilot, consultant, writer, blogger and photographer with 45 years in Professional Aviation.
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