COCO MARTIN: Out to prove good guys are cool

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“Bakit kapag matino ka, tingin sa iyo ng mil–lennials hindi ka cool?”

Coco Martin has taken the big leap of directing and producing his latest movie outing

Television and mo­­vie actor Coco Mar­tin’s rhetorical question above—roughly translated to why millen­nials think good guys are the opposite of cool—has defined, guided and effectively changed the course of his career in the last few years.

In 2015, Martin—dubbed the “King of Philippine TV series” for such top-rated prime time projects as the fantasy-drama “Juan dela Cruz” (2013) and period romance “Ikaw Lamang” (2014) among others—landed the plum role of adapting the late great Fernando Poe Jr.’s movie “Ang Probinsyano” as a series on ABS-CBN.

A box office hit in 1997, the action drama flick follows the life of an upstanding provincial policeman, who in the course of avenging his twin brother’s death, brings down corrupt and evil elements along the way.


As such, the TV adaptation initiated by then ABS-CBN president and CEO Charo Santos-Concio aimed to boost the morale of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, in order to “help them regain the love and respect of the people.”

Dubbed ‘The King of Philippine TV Series,’ the well loved actor continues to thrivein ‘FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano’ INSIDE PHOTOS FROM INSTAGRAM

Within weeks, the teleserye amassed a nationwide following and critical acclaim not only for elevating the stature of uniformed men and women, but most especially for promoting traditional Filipino values. And Martin, known to be down-to-earth, kind-hearted and a gentleman in real life, thrived in the role of Cardo—a staunchly principled Special Action Forces Trooper who shows respect for elders, value for family, chivalry, and concern for the community and the oppressed.

Today, Ang Probinsyano, still rules the airwaves in an extended second book, showing its viewers very real scenarios and how to choose the good albeit difficult path.

As he follows the footsteps of the late Fernando Poe Jr., Martinenjoys the full support of ‘Da King’s’ wife Susan Roces

“With the success of Ang Probinsyano—now on air for over two years—I knew that I was on the right track in my career by reminding viewers that in these modern times especially, we should hold on to our Filipino values and traditions. Kahit na sa tingin ng millennials sa umpisa hindi ka cool, sabi ko sa sarili ko, maninindigan ako. [Even if millennials initially think what I portray isn’t cool, I told myself, I will take a stand].”

Merger

Now past the decade and a half mark in show business, the multi-awarded Coco Martin—whose talent was earlier and quite ironically spotted in internationally acclaimed independent director Brillante Mendoza’s risqué titles like “Masahista” (2005) and “Serbis” (2008) among others—has found a way to merge his “cool advocacy” with the progression of his career.

“Nung nasa indie pa ako, naging pangarap ko nang maging direktor pero nahihiya akong sabihin kahit kanino, kasi parang ang taas naman ng ambisyon ko,” he chuckled. “Hindi naman ako nag-aral ng film, di’ba? Pero sa prosesong dinaan ko sa indie hanggang napasok na ako sa TV at mainstream movies kung saan napaligiran na ako ng magagaling na tao sa industriya—mga direktor, writer at mga aktor—lumalim nang lumalim yung pananaw ko sa pag-gawa ng pelikula. At tulad nga ng sabi nila, nagkakaroon ng natural progression yung career ng isang tao.”

Call him Director Rodel Nacianceno—focused and determined to deliver the best debut movie for his fans this Christma

["When I was doing indie movies, I started to dream about becoming a director one day. I didn’t tell anyone, embarrassed they might think me too ambitious. I never studied film either but in the process, I experienced in doing indies, and eventually moving to TV and mainstream movies, I found myself working with very talented directors, writers and actors. From there, my appreciation for the process of movie making became deeper and deeper, and as they say, one’s career will eventually go through a natural progression following such an experience.”]

That progression for Martin meant the leap toward acting, developing, directing and producing a movie all at once this year, with the revival of the epic Filipino superhero movie “Ang Panday,” an entry to the upcoming 43rd Metro Manila Film Festival.

He said he finally felt the time was right to step up his career in show business, and with another Fernando Poe Jr. classic as his vehicle.

In rebooting FPJ’s iconic ‘Ang Panday,’Coco Martin is determined to introducethe King of Philippine Movie’s legacy tothe new generation, and continue histradition of incorporating Filipinovalues in his productions

“With the success of Ang Probinsyano and what it stands for, I thought to myself why not do Panday?”
Philippine cinema’s newest producer-director related. “Nung tinangkilik ng tao Ang Probinsyano, napatunayan ko na hindi na boring para sa kanila yung makapanood ng tamang asal tulad ng dati. At ‘yun din ang ipapakita ng Ang Panday sa kanila dahil para sa akin, ang laki ng responsibilidad ng isang aktor, direktor at producer sa mga manonood—lalong-lalo na sa mga bata—na magkapag-bigay ng mabuting impluwensya sa kanila.”

[["When the public started watching Ang Probinsyano, it was proof that they no longer found value-laden programs boring like before. And this is also what Ang Panday will show them because for me, actors, directors and producers have a huge responsibility to provide their audience—especially the young—a positive influence.”]p>

FPJ factor

With tales from Martin’s childhood how he enjoyed watching movies of the still unreplaced King of Philippine Movies, Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ) with his grandmother, The Sunday Times Magazine asked how much of the showbiz legend’s own career had influenced his decision to explore filmmaking beyond acting.

For his official MMFF entry, Martin—as actor, director, producer—pulled out all the stops in delivering a top notch live action-fantasy movie withhigh tech visual effects, training from Chinese fight experts, and his heart and sould in bringing Flavio 3rd to life

It will be remembered that FPJ also branched out into directing and producing his movies for the most part of his professional life.

“Malaki,” was Martin’s immediate reply. “Halos lahat naman ng action star sa Pilipinas si FPJ ang inspirasyon. Sabi ko nga bakit ko ginawa Ang Probinsyano, Ang Panday, kasi gusto ko maipakilala sa bagong henerasyon yung legacy ni FPJ, ano yung kuwento ng mga pelikula niya, lalo na yung mga values sa bawat pelikula niya na Pilipinong-Pilipino ang pagkakagawa.”

["["His influence on my career is very significant besides the fact that almost all Filipino action stars idolize FPJ. If you ask me, why did I do Ang Probinsyano, Ang Panday, it’s because I want to introduce FPJ’s legacy to the new generation, the stories of his movies, and most especially the Filipino values he shows in each of his films.”]

And so, if his idol had directed movies using a different name in Ronwaldo Reyes [a[a com[a combination of FPJ’s real name Ronald Alan Poe; a masculine take on the last syllable of his good friend and de facto dean of Philippine Entertainment journalism Ethelwolda Ramos’ first name; and a tribute to his mentor and action star Efren Reyes] too is using another name for his filmmaking debut.

“I’m using Rodel Nacianceno, my real name,” he explained.

Moreover, Martin has also patterned the label his movie company after “Da King’s” use of his screen initials in FPJ Productions. Martin’s is CCM Film Productions.

“Sabi ko nga, ang pinaka-guideline ko sa career ko, lahat ng mga pelikula ni FPJ. Definitely, sundan mo lang yun, OK ka na,” the loyal fan declared. “Isa pa, si Tita Susan [R[Roces[Roces, FPJ’s wife]nasa likod ko para paalalhanan ako sa lahat ng bagay, lalo dito sa paggawa ng Ang Panday.”

[["Li["Like I said before, FPJ’s films are my guide in my career. Definitely so long as I follow his lead, I’ll be OK. Another thing is that Tita Susan is always behind me to guide me, especially in making Ang Panday]gt;

Challenges

To lighten the interview, The Sunday Times Magazine asked Martin how he feels whenever someone calls him “Direk.”

Sinking a little bit into his chair with a sheepish grin, he replied laughing, “Nahihiya… pero paninindigan.” [It [It make[It makes me feel shy… but I’ll see it through.”]ent on to admit that he found it difficult to be a director and more so a producer.

In taking on the director’s chair he said, “Nahirapan ako sa pagiging director pero kapag gusto mo yung ginagawa mo, kahit mahirap, na-e-enjoy mo pa rin lahat ng ginagawa mo.”

[“["It["It’s difficult to be a director, but hard as it is, if you like what you do, you’ll still enjoy everything about it.”]being a producer, he joked his hand almost fell off signing checks to finance the project. Simply choosing to describe the budget of Ang Panday to as “sobrang laki po” [extre[extremely[extremely costly], Martin explained, “Sabi ko nga ito na yon eh—ibubuhos ko na. Gusto ko talaga pag lumabas ang mga tao sa sinehan masasabi nila na sulit talaga. Ayoko nang tipirin kaya humanap kami ng pinakamagandang effects, kumuha ako ng fight director na Chinese, nag-import kami ng mga double from China, kasi ang purpose talaga namin pasayahin ang mga tao sa Kapaskuhan.”

[“I ["I said["I said to myself, ‘This is it; I’m going to go all the way producing the movie.’ What I want is for people to come out from the cinema saying it was worth their money so I didn’t scrimp on anything. We looked for the best effects, hired a Chinese fight director and imported Chinese doubles because our purpose is to make the viewers happy this Christmas season.”]urther explained that while the movie’s promotional materials show that Ang Panday is a three-way co-production among CCM Films, Star Cinema and Viva Films, he bankrolled the entire project initially by himself.
“Sa umpisa pa lang sabi ko kapag nag-direct ako ng pelikula ako ang magpro-produce. Kasi first movie ko yun at walang kasiguraduhan kung mababawi ko ‘yung puhunan at kikita siya. Sabi ko, ako na lang muna ang pro-produce para if ever hindi magustuhan ng mga viewers, wala akong ibang sisihin kung hindi sarili ko, at wala akong madadamay,” he elaborated.

[“From["From the["From the very start, I decided that I will produce my first directorial job on my own because there’s no certainty that I will recover my investment. I don’t want to have anyone but myself to blame in case the movie fails, nor do I want any other producer to suffer the losses.”]fers from both Star Cinema and Viva on the table even before he started shooting, he insisted they see the finished product first before investing to make sure they believe in the project.
“Thankfully they did and I’m very lucky to have their support,” Martin added.

Seemingly more excited than nervous over his first movie venture as actor, director and producer, the 36-year-old artist-cum-businessman does not hide the fact that he is proud of Ang Panday and can hardly wait until opening day on December 25.

Updated Flavio

In this 2017 comeback of Carlo J. Caparas’ iconic superhero Ang Panday, Martin plays Flavio 3rd, grandson of the original Panday whose life suddenly turns upside down when he realizes that his bloodline is destined to save humanity from his grandfather’s immortal and evil nemesis Lizardo. Portrayed by Jake Cuenca, Lizardo resurfaces from the world of darkness to bring havoc anew to the human race.

With Flavio 3rd unaware that only he has the power to destroy Lizardo, he finds himself scouring different worlds to earn the right to use the mythical and legendary sword of Panday.

And just like his grandfather, Flavio 3rd meets pivotal characters in his journey in situations that call for the ideals of truth and justice.

“Of course, good will always triumph over evil,” enthused Philippine show business’ poster boy for decency and sincerity.

With Ang Panday poised to become a box office hit come the Metro Manila Film Festival, it is almost certain that Coco Martin made the right decision to take the road less travelled in his career. For indeed, no one can argue that he has gained the adulation of millions of Filipinos, young and old—millennials included—for being a good guy.

* * *

Filmography
Coco Martin’s current action-drama television series FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano is the most watched program on Philippine television today. Movie-wise, he has done 34 films in total, the most notable of which are as follows.
YEAR TITLE
2005 Masahista
2007 Nars
2008 Serbis
2008 Jay
2009 Kinatay
2010 Noy
2010 Sa’yo Lamang
2012 Captive
2012 Born to Love You
2012 Sta. Niña
2012 24/7 in Love
2013 A Moment in Time
2014 Maybe This Time
2014 Feng Shui 2
2015 You’re My Boss
2015 Beauty and the Bestie
2016 Padre de Familia
2016 The Super Parental Guardians

* * *

Awards and Nominations
Coco Martin is considered one of the best performing actors of his generation and the entire Philippine movie and television industry. He has gathered close to 80 acting awards since starting his career in 2005, and over 30 nominations from prestigious award-giving bodies. Below are just some of his most important recognitions.

YEAR TITLE AWARD
2009 Tayong Dalawa PMPC Star Awards for TV Best Drama Actor
2010 Kung Tayo’y Magkakalayo 19th KBP Golden Dove Awards Best Drama Actor
2012 Minsan Lang Kita Iibigin Gawad Tanglaw Best Performance by an Actor in a Drama Series
2012 Walang Hanggan PMPC Star Awards for Television Best Drama Actor
2013 Juan Dela Cruz PMPC Star Awards For TV Best Performance by an Actor in a Drama Series
2014 Juan Dela Cruz 12th Gawad Tanglaw Awards Best Performance by an Actor in a TV Series
2015 Ikaw Lamang 13th Gawad Tanglaw Awards Best Actor
2016 FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano 14th Gawad Tanglaw Awards Best Performance by an Actor
2016 FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano 18th Anak TV Awards Top Male Anak TV Makabata Star
2016 FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano 30th PMPC Star Awards for TV Best Drama Actor
2017 FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano 25th KBP Golden Dove Awards Best TV Actor in a Drama Program
2017 FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano EdukCircle Awards Best TV Actor in a Drama Program for

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