World’s Most Dangerous Roads Philippines Serpentines Free Documentary

in the philippine jungle the so-called roads are mostly just sort of tracks [Music] serious accidents happen all the time but for the farmers of the fertile high plateau the hassama highway is the only possible route to deliver their goods in the valley [Music] whoever drives here must forget about fear [Music] [Music] [Applause] [Music] the hassama highway is situated in the northern philippines on the main island luzon the road is 166 kilometers long and runs through the high mountains up to an altitude of three thousand meters [Music] albert kiley earns his living by driving a jeepney [Music] he calls his passengers into his taxi by beeping the horn twice a day albert has a fixed tour from sagada high up in the mountains down to the valley it takes just short of an hour every tour is an adventure up here in the high mountains there is frequent fog and heavy rainfall we are used to these there's a lot of heavy rainfall and the fog is especially treacherous [Music] albert's jeepney is 20 years old and compared to local standards relatively new the vehicle is a replica of an american military truck you'll find these jeepneys all across the philippines they are the main means of local [Music] transport it's tiring if you have to drive every day if you're lucky you have a fast driver but some of them drive so slowly it's a time the killer expect the driver to drive fast safety comes second [Music] then in europe it's quite crazy you know but it was it was fine we were safe so you shouldn't be afraid to get on these old vehicles the locals earn very little money and so the ride to the next town shouldn't cost more than a few cents albert's cheap knee will be used until it falls apart the bad weather disappears just as suddenly as it arrived compared to philippine standards the climate in the mountains is extraordinarily chilly temperatures only very seldom rise above 25 degrees whoever wants to escape from the heat spends his holidays in sagada where it's cooler [Music] dennis being eel lives on the outskirts of sagada he's a bus driver [Music] before the journey begins we have to check the tires the screws and the air pressure you can tell by the sound whether they hold enough pressure if you don't have a puncture you're all set for the trip on the halsema highway dennis is responsible for 50 passengers before each trip he services the bus which includes checking the brake fluid as the hassema highway is steep you may run into an obstacle behind every curve dennis can tell just by hearing its sound whether the engine is running well [Music] as long as the engine is looked after well enough and the tires are new even an old car will manage the trip the older your vehicle is the more you need to look after it in order to safely make the journey on the highway on this morning jeepney driver albert is bringing a few tourists up the mountains albert loves these extra tours they are the icing on the cake for [Music] when i'm him i get to know different people and make new friends i like that it makes driving so much fun and sometimes i'm lucky and someone hires me for a longer trip the art student rocky and his friends have taken their seats on the roof they are heading for kalinga where a legendary tattoo artist lives it's very painful and afterwards your skin is very sensitive [Music] you have to be very careful with your arm for a few months that's a unique design for this region and what about you are you getting a tattoo kalinga is an isolated and remote village in the mountains to get there you must travel a track that branches off hassema highway for the last kilometers [Music] alber picks up a couple of students on his way they are happy to get a ride [Music] a few bends further up albert's jeepney comes to a halt this is where the road ends [Applause] rocky and his friends have to walk up the mountain the last few kilometers kalinga is a retreat for some of the philippine aboriginal natives their culture always has been rather warlike the tattoos were supposed to deter enemies fang odd is 96 years old her legendary reputation as the oldest living tattoo artist reaches far beyond her home village yes i'm in my 90s i still tattoo because we need the money otherwise we wouldn't have enough to eat we don't have any paddy fields i have no choice if no one supports me i'll have to keep on tattooing just needs a bamboo cane a needle and some coal back in the old days he used to get a tattoo like this if you went to war you'd get one if you killed someone too that's how our ancestors did it tattoos were mainly connected to warfare for rocky this is both a test of courage and a desire to closely experience the traditions [Music] as long as there is no road leading up to kalinga this place will remain remote so for another while the traditions will be preserved back in sagada dennis and his cross-country bus is already waiting for passengers [Music] every hour the buses drive from sagada all the way along the hassema highway to the city of baguio almost 150 kilometers away it takes them seven to eight hours [Music] bus driver dennis drives along the hasema highway every day you know what i'm liking i like that it's my home [Music] for the inhabitants of the mountains the bus is the cheapest way to cover greater distances no matter whether they need to get to the nearest city or even to manila dennis has been working as a bus driver for 25 years he never takes a break only if the bus breaks down would he take a day off he only gets paid if he drives [Music] the route leads from sagada down to the river valley of the chico river from there it leads on through the craggy mountains to buguyas [Music] in the meantime the halsema highway has been asphalted in most parts but up here coming down from sagada the road still looks the same as decades ago narrow bumpy and dusty there used to be hardly any hard shoulders a trip to baguio would often take more than 10 hours [Music] sandy is 21 and works as a bus conductor he sells the tickets on the bus a ride to bakuyo costs 220 pesos which is not even 4 euros for most of the locals it's half a day's wage the bus slowly struggles down the road there are an endless amount of roadworks on the way downhill the construction workers need to watch out for the many buses and trucks they are our permanent threat there are hardly any machines in use that the road works whatever the mixer spits out will be spread out on the road surface by the workers shovels hard physical labor if we get tired we slow down but if we have good food it means we're stronger if we have proper food for example beef we're happy and strong enough to even carry bigger stones and build walls works here has to learn to make the most of it sometimes there'll be no cement for a whole day which means sitting around all day and waiting but as they say somehow it always works out [Music] the many roadworks on the hasema highway have been obstructing the traffic for many years now the drivers have learned to be patient they hope that one day there will be a paved road leading down the mountain [Music] untiringly dennis battles his way down the road every day i knew back when the whole highway was like this you used to have only one lane and it was damn slippery just one false move one breaking error if you were at a dangerous spot you'd fall down the canyon during the rainy season typhoons and huge masses of water often lead to landslides and block the road at the dangerous spots the workers build supporting walls into the mountain to stop the slopes from sliding in some places the street is a construction site a road and the children's way to school all at the same time [Music] when dennis has finally passed the last major roadworks with his bus he arrives at a well-paved section of the halsema highway [Music] down in the valley the road follows the course of the chico river for a few kilometers during the rainy season it rises and turns into a torrent [Music] it takes courage and intuition to master the bridge across the chico for years it's been a patchwork bridge made of old logs and planks the same morning albert is driving his taxi along the chico river too [Music] he is driving a very special tour young musicians and dancers albert is taking them from their high school to a performance at the district town of bontak [Applause] if the jeepney is full the remaining passengers have to sit on the roof bontoc lies at only 800 meters altitude the temperatures down here are much higher and are favorable for the traditional cultivation of rice but bontoc is mainly a business and administration city and so most of albert's tours on the hansema go there [Music] the rest of the passengers had to get off at the outskirts of bontok in the city passengers are not allowed on the roof but making music is always allowed [Applause] the traditional culture and the tribal rituals are still very much alive here every school often has various groups who perform dances on the city squares [Applause] which are called warriors are our ancestors back then everyone went out hunting for boars deer or water buffalos [Applause] after the tour is before the tour albert has four kids his wife earned some extra money by running a little shop but that is just about enough to sustain the family that's the best i can do maybe i find a few tourists make some extra money i only have to be prepared then it'll work and so albert has to try his luck on the hasema highway every day anew [Music] the highway is named after its constructor the american engineer yusebius hassima it was first designed as a footpath in the 20s of the last century for the people living here the hassema is a blessing and a curse at the same time it helps develop the region but also claims many lives [Music] up until today it is considered to be one of the most dangerous roads in the world due to its bad condition for dennis and his passengers the hatsima is a true challenge every single time i think by now i know every single turn on the house with the amount of time i spent driving it the street has engraved itself into my memory i know the slippery parts the tricky slopes and the sections where the rocks come down many horrible accidents have claimed lives here and cars have fallen into the abyss this section might be the worst if you apply the brakes carelessly you start skidding immediately the passengers are aware of the dangers too this section of the street has so many bends horrible it's so high up it scares me i'm already exhausted and it's better if i just keep my mouth shut everyone here has heard stories of horrible accidents there are many reasons why so many accidents happen mechanical problem most of them happen because of technical problems with the old cars the weather also plays a role there's dense fog rain and worst of all typhoons and landslides that's the way things happen this road has claimed many lives but the hassema also offers economical opportunities a dozen small dealers make money in this village with the passing traffic more than 50 buses stop here every day so here we have nuts with the popular adobo flavor we buy it per kilo in the city and then put it in small bags this is garlic flavored and this is sweet peanuts business goes especially well on the public holidays that's when everyone working in the big cities drives back to their families in the mountains after taking a short break dennis continues to force his bus along the winding road the hassema highway also attracts tourists [Music] bikers from the capital city appreciate the winding ride on the legendary highway for a week this group is traveling the mountains with their historic british military motorcycles last night was a trial of courage for the motorcycle club from manila they had to ensure continuous rainfall with poor visibility for several hundred kilometers [Applause] this this road is not a joke actually it is my first time here and i'm lucky enough to have these guys with me the ride last night was fun adrenaline trails you cannot even see the the road because of the fog and it's raining and we are very very cold and it's nice landslide basically it's dangerous actually we're not saying it's a good thing to do after last night's wild ride the bikers are taking it easy today on their winding tour leading ever deeper into the remote mountains of the high plateau in the meantime dennis has already covered half the distance of the halsema highway he has arrived at the philippine salad bowl this is where all the vegetables for the region and the capital city manila are grown the hassema provides the farmers with everything they need for agriculture [Music] off the highway there are still almost only wild tracks though romeo cagayan is a farmer in order to reach his field which is three kilometers away he must endure a good shaking a strain for man and material [Music] when we arrive home after this stretch we can still feel the road today romeo and his helpers are harvesting radish and cabbage afterwards he has to drive the harvest directly to the central market at the end of the highway prices are higher if he sells fresh from the field his helpers have already started working there are no reapers everything is done by hand [Music] the radish is washed and packaged already on the field the wholesalers expect it that way [Music] romeo's job as a farmer has changed considerably over the past years the highway has become much more important for him [Music] i used to only be a farmer when i bought a truck i suddenly had two professions farmer and driver because i delivered vegetables for everyone i have employees that do the planting for me because i'm mostly driving [Music] julius curiab is a sales representative for a seed company there is strong competition and so he visits the farmers in the fields to find out what they need [Applause] on these narrow paths it's much quicker to take the motorbike this way he can visit up to half a dozen clients a day how are you hi i'm julius from seed works since you're growing carrots i've brought some seeds for you to try out this way romeo is able to order his seeds right in the middle of his field and we're used to these kinds of roads it's normal for us even if it's just a bumpy track we've romeo and his men must hurry if they want the goods to be on the market today they have only a few hours left romeo arrives too late he has to wait until the next day a great financial loss because the price will have gone down [Music] meanwhile dennis is still driving his bus through the salad bowl [Music] he and his passengers have already made it halfway time for lunch break the passengers leave the bus somewhat stiff-legged after the long winding journey they have 20 minutes to move around and quickly take a bite of something dennis has been loyal to the morningstar restaurant for 25 years now ever since he started driving the hassema the lunch costs 100 pesos almost 2 euros for most people it's a lot of money and not everyone can afford it dennis and his conductor sandy enjoy free catering after all their buses bring customers [Music] we always eat here we eat quickly so we can move on quickly and get home early eat quickly move on quickly and drive quickly they haven't yet made half their journey and there are still many bends to come [Music] [Music] [Applause] [Music] a few kilometers further on [Music] again and again severe accidents occur on the highway last year a school bus with 15 students crashed and fell 100 meters into the canyon 12 students died the others were badly injured this exercise is supposed to prepare paramedics for the many accidents we practice for emergencies as realistically as possible these horrible things happen here so we practice a lot to learn new techniques and get a feel for the situation situated directly at the highway from here it's not far to the fields and he can head off straight to the central market as always his wife tells him to drive carefully too much has happened and she knows that romeo is in a hurry to be at the market on time from bukuyas which is halfway down the highway it takes three to four hours to reach the city of boguyo with its 500 000 inhabitants romeo has been driving the highway for more than 20 years rain or shine even a bad typhoon couldn't stop him a couple of years ago once he had a brake failure and he just about managed to save his truck by driving into a wall romeo knows the old cars are always good for a surprise what happened broken no the filter was filled with dirt so i must have to repair oh this is a we will fix it there up no romeo is not only a farmer and a driver but also a car mechanic by now he owns several old trucks and one of them could always break down do not rely on others when it comes to fixing your own truck not such a big deal the air filter is dirty and romeo can clean it himself it doesn't even take half an hour to repair the damage things like these happen often here we're prepared but only if you fix it immediately you can save your goods i need to be at the central market on time or else my vegetables will go bad so now romeo will drive even faster in order to not have to queue up until the next morning and not to have to sleep over at the central market everywhere along the highway the farmers and their families have settled between the canyon and the road most of them own only small fields which are in fact illegal but the authorities let them be [Music] three years ago a typhoon dragged a few houses down into the canyon in the meantime the inhabitants have rebuilt them they want to stay on in spite of the danger since they have no alternative vilma and caprio kissman are harvesting [Music] they have grown their coyote fruits directly into the steep slope the selling of the fruits is their sole income [Music] we've decided to live right at the hasima because it's more practical that way we can harvest the fruits and bring them straight to the market [Music] they have to carry their meager harvest up the mountain on foot during the rainy season they can hardly set foot on their field without risking falling down the wet slope a sack of these pumpkin-like fruits brings them 300 pesetas a bit more than five euros [Music] [Applause] i wish there was somebody there to help us then we would immediately leave this place [Music] because it's really very very dangerous this is how we make a living [Music] [Music] foreign even if he's in a great hurry romeo stops the truck to visit them [Music] hi how are you sorry for being so late but i had a breakdown romeo knows how hard it is for the family and tries to help them by taking their fruit to the market [Music] it always tends to get foggy in the afternoon during the day the tropical sun warms the humid air it rises in the afternoon it condenses to fog in the mountains and it starts to rain within a short period of time the highway then turns into a dangerously slippery track [Music] sometimes there is a change in the weather from one mountain to the next dennis ended up right in the middle of this dense fog [Music] it gets foggy every afternoon sometimes it's so bad that you can't see the road anymore you have to be very careful to stay on the road farmer romeo was lucky he reached the valley before the fog did [Music] the bumpy tracks we usually travel hurts so much you can't even sleep at [Music] in the end romeo did make it he arrived in the city on time [Music] and he catches a stand with the cooperative from his village it organizes the sale of vegetables for its local farmers romeo is allowed to pass the queue but he too has spent whole nights queuing up [Music] the market is run by the state farmers from the whole region sell their products to the salesmen coming from the neighboring cities [Music] soon a potential buyer for romeo's harvest shows up [Music] do you like my vegetables we did let's see how much can you pay 80 i'll give you 18 per kilo come on a bit more i could sell it for more you know it doesn't work that way bro the customer buys the whole load for 18 pesos a kilo 35 cents if converted to euros and romeo has to wrap every single cabbage into newspaper twice and put them into sacks [Music] great i quickly sold my cabbage for a good price now he just needs to get rid of his radish to make this a really good day [Music] baguyo lies at 1500 meters and is normally seen as a summer resort but it's a fast-growing city and so traffic is growing too on some days the smog and smut make it hard for the people to even breathe dennis has been steering his bus along the winding highway for more than eight hours now [Music] i don't mind the driving seven to eight hours are normal for me the bus terminal in baguio this is where passengers from all over the country arrive dennis will spend the night here and sleep in his bus tomorrow he'll be back in his living room the haasema highway [Music] okay let's thank god for driving well and safe and without an accident [Music] you

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