When we watched the premiere episode of “Bayan Ko” on the GMA News Channel, we wrote glowingly about it, categorically citing it as the best TV drama in town. Privately, however, we fretted that, as usually happens in these parts, the hard-hitting political drama could end up being watered down, or losing its firm focus, or resting on its laurels.
Happily, as we watched the series from week to week, our fears proved to be unmerited. The show tackled various aspects of local politics’ endemic culture of corruption, abuse and incompetence, rising to its climax with a feistily detailed look into log smuggling—and a terrible flood!
We’re told that the series could be winding up its storytelling this week, so be sure to catch it tomorrow night to see what all the well-deserved fuss, furor and clamor for more is all about!
The show’s artistic and thematic vigor and pertinence have done wonders for the career of lead star, Rocco Nacino, who used to be just another promising starlet.
Instead of revealing his limitations, the challenge pressured Rocco to measure up to his difficult role as a principled young mayor—and he has succeeded beyond expectations.
It would have been easy for him to come up with the standard “inspiring” portrayal, but Nacino chose the tougher route of going into the nitty-gritty—and “earning” his character’s inspirational cachet.
“Bayan Ko” is also a success story for director Adolf Alix Jr. Adolf was one of our workshoppers when he was still a teenager, so we’ve kept an eye on his career through the years.
He always did good work, but we occasionally fretted that he was becoming too “experimental” for comfort, particularly when he would slow down his storytelling and go in for arty, excessive and self-conscious “detailing.”
In “Bayan Ko,” however, Adolf does none of that, and the strengths of his staging and storytelling convincingly shine through.
We can even say that “Bayan Ko” marks the emergence of Adolf as a maturing TV-film artist, and we hope that he sticks to this powerfully communicative and naturally empathetic writing and directing style from here on in!
“Bayan Ko” has other strengths, like the performances of its other leads, so we hope that GMA heeds our request to air the series again on GMA 7, even at a late hour, so that many more viewers can benefit from its unblinking depiction of patronage politics, Philippine-style.
Even better, after the elections, GMA should continue telling the story of the series’ principled young mayor, as he faces more confounding challenges in his effort to prove that genuine public service is not an impossible dream!