The Good Guys vs. The Bad

Ruffino sat behind his captain’s wheel. He had spent most of his days over the past six months sitting in the same spot. His vessel once full of skip jack and yellow fin tuna had begun its journey from his home port of General Santos in the Philippines and then continued to Indonesia, before he took a risky move cutting back through the high seas and into waters of Palau’s marine sanctuary on the way to his home port. 

That was a long time ago - at least six moons had passed. 

Now, in June 2016, he was sitting under house arrest aboard his stationary vessel. His bounty of fish was gone. His wife, his family, were on his mind. They would be worried about his health, unsure of his return. His eyes swelled with tears for his loved ones and his face was twisted with an expression full of a fear, as he knew he was in a lot of trouble. 

In June 2017, we found Captain Ruffino sitting under house arrest at his skip's wheel in Palau.

In June 2017, we found Captain Ruffino sitting under house arrest at his skip's wheel in Palau.

He could just get up and flee. 

There were no bars keeping him trapped on the fishing vessel, yet he sat there patiently leaning on his captain’s wheel waiting for his punishment to end. 

The head of the marine sanctuary, Keobel Sakuma, was standing beside him, asking him questions about why he broke the law. 

Why would such a gentle, patient soul do such a thing? 

The park rangers slashed for hours on end through overgrown vines and palm leaves. 

One ranger led the way with a machete and each had a rifle or revolver hitched to their side. They walked briskly and purposefully. Lunch today would consist of peanuts, as it would on the next day.

There are just some memories you will never forget. 

Our sweat-drenched clothes, the mud, our moist toes, the ruthless biting-bugs; these are memories that will remain vividly in my mind.

Co-Director James Sherwood and I trekked for days through the jungle of Costa Rica’s Corcovado National Park in 2012 filming a documentary about the struggle between the idea of protecting places, and keeping them pristine, and that of human encroachment. 

We were on the chase for poachers. It was also a chase that turned into a joint mission for a time with police, who were on the hunt for cocaine traffickers on the run - the culprits had fled deep into the soul of the jungle’s dark interior. 

Despite the spooky feeling that comes with not knowing where danger lies ahead, and whether the jungle has eyes, we kept going under the cloak of darkness. 

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