Charo Santos on working with Coco Martin: He creates magic
“He creates magic. You just have to go along and create it with him,” said actress and former network executive Charo Santos-Concio as a way to describe Coco Martin as her coactor and director in the ABS-CBN action-drama series “FPJ’s Batang Quiapo.”
Charo plays Tindeng, grandmother to Coco’s character, Tanggol, in the TV adaptation of the 1986 action-comedy film that featured the late Fernando Poe Jr. as lead actor.
She was discussing how different it was to work on the “Batang Quiapo” set, especially because Coco is always multitasking. “He gives the lines of his actors and blocks them for the camera. Coco does this even while he is also the show’s lead actor and line producer. That is so hard to do, but Coco is such a gifted person,” Charo told reporters recently.
She said the fact that they are taping the entire show without any script forces actors like her, as well as the production team, to be quick on their toes. Charo’s more seasoned coactors, particularly Tommy Abuel, Christopher de Leon, Irma Adlawan, Cherry Pie Picache and John Estrada also admitted that they had to adjust to the show’s unique setup.
“There has to be a change in mindset, especially for the more seasoned actors on the set. Most of us grew up in a very structured world. We were trained to study everything before going to the set, particularly the character background and the script and then memorize our lines,” she began.
“For this particular show, it’s important that you understand your character and its intent, as well as the circumstances in the narrative and your relationship with the other characters. From there, you just have to give it your best. Coco, as a director and creator, makes magic. You just have to go along and create it with him,” she said.
Charo, who also had a short stint in Coco’s previous show “FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano,” then recalled the time she received the offer to become a part of the new program. “I got a call from Coco about ‘Batang Quiapo’ while he was filming in Los Angeles for his MMFF movie (‘Labyu With an Accent’). I said ‘yes’ right away. Of course, he gave me a description of the character but, immediately, he had my trust as a creator of content. This was because I already got to work with him.”
The actress continued: “It was just a short appearance. I was initially asked to tape for three days, but because Coco is such a charmer, I couldn’t say ‘no’ to him. What was supposed to be a three-day taping got extended to seven. I didn’t mind because I was really happy to be on the ‘Probinsyano’ set. Bitin pa ang experience. The energy on Coco’s set is very contagious. You really see his passion and commitment to his work.
He is also very single-minded in what he wants for the program. He knows all of the characters very well.”
When asked what message she would like to give Coco, Charo, who also produced movies and TV shows in the ‘80s, said: “All the good things that everyone shared about Coco are true. He has to really take care of his health because he is doing so many things at the same time. I also wish for a world full of many more Coco Martins who are kind-hearted, generous and grounded. This last trait is really important. I’ve been there, done that. I know that in this business, nothing lasts and everything fades.”
She was referring to the weekly drama anthology “Maalaala Mo Kaya,” which ended its 31-year run in December 2022. “MMK has touched the lives of millions of Filipinos and people from other countries who have had the opportunity to watch the program. I’m proud of the beautiful true-to-life stories we were able to share. These stories are of hope, courage and strength of character. MMK has been such a blessing and the show has been honored with the appearances of many great talents. I’m grateful for the support of Filipino audiences through the years,” she said.
“These days, I’m an involved, committed talent and a cast member of ‘Batang Quiapo.’ I’m proud and honored to be a part of it,” Charo said. “The action genre used to be very strong on the theatrical scene. However, with the rising cost of production, it had to take a back seat. I think it was Coco, through ‘Probinsyano,’ who brought back the action genre to Filipino entertainment.” “Batang Quiapo,” which also features FPJ’s daughter Lovi Poe as lead actress, is codirected by Malu Sevilla. It began airing in February on the Kapamilya Channel, as well as on TV5 and A2Z.