By this time, people must think that Coco Martin is used to potraying iconic roles, especially those of his idol Fernando Poe Jr. After all, he lords the prime-time block with his prime-time series FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano on ABS-CBN, a role the Action King portrayed 20 years ago.
But he still felt daunted when he was told he will be the new Panday. After all, Coco is quick to admit he can never hope to equal nor surpass what FPJ had achieved in local showbiz.
In Coco’s mind, FPJ is forever his idol, that’s why mentioning him and the late action star in a single sentence still brings him goosebumps.
Yet, Coco was up to the challenge of portraying the beloved character Panday, which was popularized by FPJ and created by writer Carlo J. Caparas and Steve Gan. In fact, he even stepped it up several notches higher as Coco himself directed the movie Ang Panday (under his real name Rodel Nacianceno). You got to hand it to Coco because while he was starring and helming Ang Panday, he was also taping for Probinsyano, with the TV show having been extended to next year. But Coco seems indefatigable. He would work almost nonstop. He would always be first on the set of Panday, being the director who needed to plan the shots and the scenes to be filmed. A few hours after calling it a wrap for the day, he would rush to the Probinsyano set.
Coco admitted he did feel exhausted. He is human, after all. “Pero ang nag-motivate sa akin, kahit gaano ako kapagod, e ang pagmamahal ko sa ginagawa ko ’yun ang nag-inspire sa akin—na kahit pagod at puyat ka, tuloy-tuloy ka pa din kasi ’yun nga, mahal ko ’tong ginagawa ko at mahal ko ang industriya,” Coco said.
In Panday, Coco plays Flavio III, the grandson of the original Panday whose life will suddenly be turned upside down when he realizes that his bloodline is destined to save humanity from the evil doings of Panday’s immortal evil nemesis Lizardo (Jake Cuenca), who comes back from the world of darkness to once again bring havoc to the human race. With Flavio III not knowing that his bloodline is the only one capable of destroying Lizardo, he will have to scour different worlds to be able to gain the trust of the mythical power of the legendary sword.
Directing a movie seems to be a natural move for Coco. Before making his directorial debut, he was actually a creative consultant on Probinsyano. This is not some position he demanded just to add to his resume, or some figurehead title that means nothing. Coco is actually very hands-on with the program and everyone can attest to his active involvement. Armed with this and his invaluable experience in the indie circuit, as well as his mainstream projects, Coco is giving the best of both worlds in helming Panday.
But one advantage Coco has over the others in directing an FPJ project is that, Coco himself tries to emulate what the Action King stood for. In a previous interview I had with him for the launch of Probinsyano, Coco said that he loves helping people around him. “Gusto ko bigyan sila ng opportunity para kumita, tulad lang ng mga ibang tao kung paano nila ako tinulungan nung ako ang nagsisimula pa lang sa showbiz. Madami talagang tumulong sa akin hindi lang para magbigay ng opportunities, pero tinulungan nila ako itaguyod sarili ko. ’Yan ang aking natutunan at ’yun ang gusto ko din gawin para sa iba.”
Spoken like a true action king.
Ang Panday opens on December 25 and also stars Lito Lapid, Eddie Garcia, Michael de Mesa, Gloria Romero, Jaclyn Jose, Dimples Romana, Jeric Raval, Jaime Fabregas, Julio Diaz, Mariel de Leon, Awra Briguela, Dennis Padilla, Carmi Martin, Albert Martinez, Agot Isidro, Kylie Verzosa, McCoy de Leon, Elise Joson and Jhong Hilario.