Coco Martin on Brillante Mendoza’s ‘Apag’: Like in ‘Parasite,’ “ibang putahe”

More than grateful — that’s how Kapamilya actor Coco Martin, tagged as ‘Hari ng Primetime’ after the long-lived ‘FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano’ and now with the running action-drama series ‘FPJ’s Batang Quiapo,’ sees his latest project with his mentor, Brillante Mendoza.

Many a time has the multi-awarded filmmaker been asked how he perceives the superstar given his current status in showbiz, and he never fails to give a different answer: “Hindi nagbago si Coco Martin.”

The two in-demand artists have a long track record for doing great works together. The 2023 Summer Metro Manila Film Festival official entry ‘Apag’ serves as the first of many more to come as far as their much-awaited reunion projects are concerned. They have harmoniously lifted each other up and catapulted their respective careers in the international scene, starting with their first one — ‘Masahista’ apart Cannes favorite ‘Serbis’ among other titles.

Mindset in filming ‘Apag’

At their press conference held right after the red carpet premiere of ‘Apag,’ Coco shared the influence brought about by the South Korean black comedy thriller film ‘Parasite,’ which, after multiple critical acclaims and dozens of awards, took the top prize at the Oscars for being the Best Picture at the time.

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“Noong ginagawa ni Direk Dante ‘to, ang mindset niya, [pang-]abroad…” he explained. “Kasi alam naman namin, pag abroad, iba ang [line of] thinking, lalo na ang European countries. Iba, iba! Iba ang panlasa nila pagdating sa pelikula. Yun ang… mindset namin. Tapos, sabi ko, ang nakikita ko kasi dito, kung natatandaan niyo ang pelikulang ‘Parasite,’ di ba, ginulat lahat tayo na gano’n [ang ending].”

He also said that there is nothing to be afraid about when it comes to offering something different to the Filipino audience.

“Saka, bakit tayo matatakot? Lalong-lalo na si Direk Dante e kilalang napakatapang niyang filmmaker. Bakit ka matatakot e napakaraming venue na ngayon lalo na sa Netflix. Ang inaano ngayon, yung kakaiba, ano yung makaka-catch sa ‘yo ng attention.”

On having different audiences on TV, films

Coco further shared his thought after watching their first-ever screening in the Philippines.

“…Sa napanood ko ngayon, bakit ko siya gustong-gusto? Kasi iba siya sa mga pelikulang ginagawa ko. Iba siya sa soap operang ginagawa ko.

He recalled his entry to the latest Christmas edition of the film fest, Star Cinema’s mainstream film ‘Labyu with an Accent,’ where he is paired for the first time with Kapamilya actress Jodi Sta. Maria (fresh from the success of ‘The Broken Marriage Vow,’ the Filipino remake of UK’s ‘Doctor Foster’ and South Korea’s ‘The World of the Married’).

“Last Metro Manila Film Festival, gumawa ako ng pelikula. Rom-com. Siyempre, as an actor, gusto ko [na] gumawa ulit ng kakaiba naman. Di ba? Yung parang ‘Ano’ng ibang putahe? Ano yung bago kong makikita? Ano yung makakapag-come on sa ‘kin para bumalik sa sinehan?’ Yon ang hinahanap ko.

“Kaya no’ng pinanood ko yung pelikula kanina, masayang-masaya ako, hindi dahil [sa] kung ano yung collaboration namin ni Direk Dante, kung hindi [dahil] iba naman ang pelikulang mapapanood ko. Dahil kung ang pelikulang mapapanood ko ngayong [Summer] Metro Manila Film Festival ay mga pelikula ring napanood ko noong December, ulit lang, sayang.

“E ngayon, nakita ko, ang ganda ng lineup ng mga pelikula e. Kadalasan puro mga indie film, malalalim, bago. Bagong approach. bagong mga director, marami ring mga bagong actor na kasali. E di maganda ngayon: iba yung timpla sa December, iba rin yung timpla sa Summer…”

“Dahil kung ang pelikulang mapapanood ko ngayong [Summer] Metro Manila Film Festival ay mga pelikula ring napanood ko noong December, ulit lang, sayang.”

— Coco Martin

‘Apag’ as reunion, homecoming

‘Apag’ also serves as a bigger reunion of sorts with ‘Serbis’ co-stars Jaclyn Jose, Julio Diaz, Mercedes Cabral, and Ms. Gina Pareño. They are joined by Gladys Reyes and Sen. Lito Lapid, who are both first-timers under the helm of the 2009 winner of Best Director at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.

Other cast members of ‘Apag’ to note are Shaina Magdayao, Joseph Marco, Vince Rillon, Ronwaldo Martin, and Mark Lapid.

‘Apag’ tells the story of the lives of two Kapampangan families intertwined by an accident. It explores their shared suffering which eventually bonds them just as much as how food bonds them at the dining table, which is ‘hapagkainan’ in FIlipino, from which the title is derived other than the Kapampangan word for ‘feast’ itself.

After having premiered at the Busan International Film Festival in South Korea and having competed at several international film fests (such as in Warsaw, the World Film Festival in Bangkok, Vesoul in France, and Asian Film Festival in South Korea), ‘Apag’ comes home to the Philippines through the most special fashion: with a different cut fit for the Filipino audience for the first-ever Summer MMFF.

The film is produced by Hongkong International Film Festival Society and Center Stage Productions.

Don’t miss it at this year’s first edition of Summer Metro Manila Film Festival slated to run in all cinemas nationwide from April 8 to 18.

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