Expect the unexpected: Coco on what will set ‘Batang Quiapo’ apart
Let’s make this possible,” said actor-filmmaker Coco Martin as a call to local producers to make the global audience their target market when making films and teleseryes.
Martin, who started as an indie actor, said his ultimate wish is for Filipino products to finally be appreciated abroad the way Korean films and series are currently being patronized. “We made indie films out of the very little budget that we had. We sent these films abroad to compete, and they were appreciated. A lot of them even won awards. These days, we also make telenovelas and I hope that we will also be given a chance to share our own stories and our culture to the world,” he pointed out.
“Filipinos are extremely talented. I’m proud not only of our artists—I’ve also done other things abroad. I once worked as a janitor. I can say that Filipinos are also creative and intelligent. They only need to be given that good break in order to prove their worth,” the actor told reporters recently.
After the seven-year run of “FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano,” which Martin coproduced, directed and starred in, he has now moved on to another action series that many hope would match its predecessor’s success, ratings-wise.
“I can’t tell if ‘FPJ’s Batang Quiapo’ will air as long as ‘Ang Probinsyano’ did … only the audience can dictate that. We never planned for ‘Ang Probinsyano’ to last as long as it did. It just got extended again and again,” he recalled. “Whenever I would talk to management about the extensions, they would always say that it’s not just because it was rating well. We also noticed that the show had a surprisingly positive effect on Filipino viewers.
“People say that the story provided inspiration to those who felt hopeless, that it is able to put smiles on the faces of those who are sad or depressed. More than how much it earned, we realized that the audience held on to the show because it was able to offer something new and interesting to them. If this is also the path that ‘Batang Quiapo’ is supposed to take, then we will be ready for it.”
Martin continued: “It’s true that, while doing ‘Ang Probinsyano,’ we reached a point when we felt drained mentally and physically, especially when we were already taping episodes in the morning that were supposed to be aired at night. We survived it all because we saw how the audience was enjoying our product. I just hope that the love and support that Filipinos gave to that show would also be given to ‘Batang Quiapo.’”
Asked to talk about what the audience can expect from his new action series, Martin said: “Honestly, this is a tough question. We were very conscious of this while we were conceptualizing ‘Batang Quiapo.’ I don’t want viewers to say, ‘I’ve already seen this before!’ ‘Ang Probinsyano’ ran for seven years. What else can we do here that we’ve not done in the past seven years? I assure the audience that this will be totally unexpected, in terms of my character, the other characters in the series, the main story and all its subplots. It’s Pinoy na Pinoy.”
Martin was then made to recall how he ended up from being “just an actor” to a TV producer-director. “The journey was long and difficult. I am humble enough to admit that I relied on a lot of people to get to where I am now. When I entered the world of show business, I knew nothing, as in zero. The only things I had back then were guts, perseverance and a little bit of arrogance. When I became certain that I also wanted to become a director, I started observing people and asking them questions about the craft,” he stressed.
Martin said he also made sure to never forget his humble beginnings. “My grandmother, who would often send me from Novaliches (in Quezon City) to Blumentritt (in Manila) to collect the money loaned from her, has always been my inspiration. She didn’t have enough financially, she didn’t even finish school, but that was never a hindrance for her to work in order to improve the lives of her loved ones. She took care of everyone. Now that I’m sort of the padre de pamilya, I always try to think and behave like her.”
Martin said that, for many years, his goal was to “fix” his family, to improve the living condition, particularly, of his siblings. “Now that everything is OK with them, I know that it’s time for me to share my blessings with others,” he said. “Back then, I wished for all of my siblings to have a good life, for us to have a secure future and roof above our heads. I didn’t want any of them to feel left behind. Now, I can confidently say that when the time comes for me to leave our home and build my own family, my siblings will be OK.
“My life experiences really helped me become strong—I had to be for my siblings. I worked hard. I worked nonstop. It’s now time to care for myself, because only after then can I say that I’m finally ready to have a family of my own,” Martin mused. INQ
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