Significant series blows the lid off patronage politicsBy Nestor U. Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
We’re SO happy that, with the elections fast approaching, some TV channels are giving viewer-voters pointers on how to choose the best and most deserving candidates.
All too often, however, the tips are perfunctory, cursory and shallow summaries of candidates’ “motherhood” promises, so they aren’t all that helpful.
Imagine our relief, therefore, when we watched the first telecast of the “political drama” series, “Bayan Ko,” on GMA News TV last week. Unlike other programs about politics that dispense mostly “motherhood” statements and advice, “Bayan Ko” has a well-researched script that is full of persuasive details about the realities of patronage politics and corruption, Pinoy-style.
We have watched other political dramas in the past, but most of them lose their edge and bite, and eventually focus on predictable melodrama and emotions for emotionalizing’s sake. Happily, it looks like “Bayan Ko” isn’t going to go down that desultory path.
Adolf Alix Jr.’s relevant and significant series blows the lid off local patronage politics by telling its story through the eyes of a principled young mayor (Rocco Nacino) who has to deal with all sorts of festering problems and anomalies on his first few months in office, but eventually succeeds in reforming the system.
He and his principled assistants have the toughest time contending with the province’s governor (Pen Medina), a past master at making a fortune while pretending to serve the people. Will the principled mayor be able to beat the corrupt system that “Gob” has put in place? We sure hope so!
More to the point, even if he does occasionally falter, his earnest odyssey will take him and the show’s viewers through the gamut of political excesses and malpractices that make reforms on the local scene so difficult to effect.
Aside from the series’ eminently believable scripting and direction, “Bayan Ko” boasts of memorable and committed portrayals by Nacino, Medina, LJ Reyes and other gifted players.
They don’t do star turns but play their characters with acute believability, so viewers empathize fully with them.
Indeed, when we were watching their scenes at home, we would sometimes ask, “How would these scenes play out if so-and-so (a popular star) did them?” —And, most of the time, we concluded that they would have come off as hokey and ickily melodramatic.
So, the fact that “Bayan Ko” has no big stars isn’t a liability, it can even be an advantage, because it gives us, not self-consciously “stellar” performances, but acutely believable portrayals that make the series—the best TV drama in town!
In fact, “Bayan Ko” is so good that we urge GMA to also telecast it on GMA 7, so many more viewer-voters can benefit from its insightful and convincing depiction of elections and politics, Philippine-style!
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