Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Asia's Titanic (MV Dona Paz), First Locally Produced Documentary for National Geographic

When the MV Dona Paz sank back in 1987 it made a huge impression on me because my school was planning a field trip somewhere in the Visayas region and they originally planned for us to go on a ship. The plan kept getting delayed and was completely scrapped when the tragedy happened.

I only got information back then through the news and by looking at photos on the newspaper. It was scary and months after I found an oil-filled maong shorts on a reef in our beach in Bicol. Nakadampot ng ipot sa kalikutan. That's what my Tita said, so I've stayed away from reefs eversince.

That was 22 years ago and I was just 12 years old when it happened. I don't remember much about it except that many people died. I was surprised when I received an invitation to view the documentary "Asia's Titanic", the first-ever locally produced documentary for National Geographic Channel. (And yes, when I'm not watching my favorite telenovela chances are I'm probably on NGC).

MV Dona Paz is called "Asia's Titanic" because it is the world's worst peacetime maritime disaster with 4,000 deaths recorded. It's also the first in 5 major marine mishaps by Sulpicio Lines (see news story here), but this accident was blamed on the MV Vector, the vessel that collided with the MV Dona Paz.

The documentary was directed by award-winning director Yam Laranas (he did Sigaw). He recounted the gruelling process they went through to get approval from NGC and the three year work they did to produce the documentary.

The show was riveting and heartfelt. I've watched many disaster shows on NGC, but nothing compares to what I felt while watching this. Because it is our own. Laranas mentioned that the objective of the documentary is just to do a recount of what happened during that fateful night five days before Christmas. The facts presented on the film came from interviews with the survivors and investigators, congressional inquiries and available information from the news.

It was a very sad story, but I also feel proud that finally we have a locally produced documentary showing on NatGeo! Sana marami pa sumunod!

You may watch "Asia's Titanic" on the National Geographic Channel on the following dates:

August 25, Tuesday, 8:00 pm
August 26, Wednesday, 4:00 a.m./9:00 a.m./1:00 p.m./9:00 p.m.
August 30, Sunday, 9:00 p.m.
August 31, Monday, 1:00 a.m./5:00 a.m.
September 5, Saturday, 6:00 p.m.
September 28, Monday, 8:00 p.m.
September 29, Tuesday, 1:00 p.m.

And guess what! A rare moment! I won a National Geographic underwater camera!!! Weeeee! Thanks so much National Geographic :)


  1. Congrats on winning the camera! You're so lucky. I also got invited but sadly I couldn't come. Will just wait for this docu on TV.

  2. @Patrick Sayang! Sana you went :)

  3. hi aileen. thanks for the kind words.

    Yam's surname is Laranas :)

  4. @Andrew Thank you for the correction! Seems that it was misspelled on the pr =)

  5. Underwater camera won by attending a showing of a documentary about a sunk ship. is there a dark joke in there somewhere?

  6. I am sorry to bother about such a thing any chance did you take any other photos specifically of the model of "MT Vector" that was on display? (it looks identical to the recently discovered wreck, single anchor and everything so I assume its historically accurate), any other photos of the ships rear would clear a lot up!


  7. Hello! my name is Tanner, I'm a Canadian Naval Researcher and I was chance did you take any other photos of the Model "Vector" on display?...It is potentially the best reference we have for that ship as no photos of the real one exist, and the model was seemingly based on real blueprints as it matches up to wreck photos but after filming sadly the model was lost, thanks again and these are great and rare pictures!

    1. Hi Tanner, sorry just saw your comment. I'll need to check my treasure trove of photos.