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By Wilbur Hernandez

While this government’s mantra is failing to fulfill its promise to every Juan and Juana, we see at least through Coco’s performance, he is bent, as portrayed in his teleserye, on effecting correctness to society.

Ang Probinsyano
Image: abs-cbn.com

Everybody believes acclaimed actor Coco Martin when he states repeatedly, “Hindi ko po inaasahan na magkakaron ako ng ganitong tuloy tuloy na blessings. Dati ang gusto ko lang magkaroon lang po ako ng isang regular na trabaho, ayos na sakin. Sa loob man o kahit sa labas ng showbiz.”

But because the acting chops he displayed in a number of independent films he did under internationally awarded film maker Brillante Mendoza, earned raves from preview audiences and critics worldwide, the actor indeed rose to prominence, only to wane just as fast and decided to look for greener pastures in North America while the mid-2000s was progressing.

Not totally shunning the limelight, he came back in the later part of 2009. Composed and more calculating in his returm in moviedom, he initially accepted roles this time, and like a new door to enter, in teleserye.

Paloma
Image: abs-cbn.com

When clamors of his appearances became unstoppable, and his name hasten to be a trending byword in the pages of “who’s who,”  “who’s hot?” and “people are talking about” table talks, moguls agreed the boyishly handsome and smooth moreno skinned actor who displays depth and sensitivity combined in his characters, is a new leading man. Thus, it was a new book for Coco’s acting career.

A decade later, everybody now confirms that Coco is the actor whose crossover from Indie Film Circuit to Mainstream Cinema became very successful. Still looking credibly youthful than his actual age of 33, he also did not disappoint viewers of any age bracket and demographic over what a reliable thespian he is. Whether playing as an obsessed ex-lover Carlo (Nagsimula Sa Puso), a menacing figure Ramon (Tayong Dalawa), lost and found vendetta-hearted Emil and Daniel (Walang Hanggan) and now SPO1 Cardo Dalisay in Ang Probinsiyano, one of the most memorable movies of the late Fernando Poe, Jr. that is now raking in new viewership, and whose climactic scenes equate its stratospheric ratings.

The entire three week run of Ang Probinsiyano proved not only the diligence of Coco Martin to step into new clothes, no pun intended , but prefaced his label as a truly versatile actor. Unafraid to laugh at himself, he even parodied his less proficiency in the English language yet balancing his acting scale against an already predictable Vice Ganda in the 2015 MMFF top grosser Beauty & the Bestie.

But it is Coco’s surprising transformation in Ang Probinsiyano that is grabbing attention. A transformation not only for viewers to see a new Coco in a very new role, but fuels our televiewing habit that comes off as a great pleasure to watch and anticipate, if only to relieve us from the callousing slogan ‘daang matuwid’. This he does by shedding of his police uniform, blending with people like office workers and students; going undercover, and dressed as an alluring woman, like Paloma.

Paloma
Image: abs-cbn.com

Aware that the police force is facing an elusive opponent, like a prostitution syndicate, script brainboxes of the action-drama series that makes a truly unpredictably wonderful ploy to dress up their main actor. With Coco having a beautiful male face, appropriate shades of makeup is discerned to match his skin tone and likewise appear as natural under television klieglights, however, the story credits his acquaintance, a beauty parlor owner, blond-wigged and coy Justin Cuyugan who transformed SPO1 Cardo to sultry Paloma. Ungifted of height, his Paloma blends well with women who we all know mostly have the regular petite Pinay height that is 5-foot and 4 inches below.

His initial wig was a neck-length bob cut and swanking a leather jacket bustier for his initial undercover as a call girl. This time, before he boarded an FX taxi cab with loquacious shopping mall employees, Paloma donned an employee uniform and a shoulder length wig, but with the constant soup bowl bangs that make the actor look even more la mujer bonita.             Maintaining a little talk behaviour is duly acceptable for Paloma who must keep his voice lilting, if at all falsetto, for doubtful looks not to start from his co-employees. However, what became an irritating presence is the FX driver’s uncanny behaviour, and equally annoying Jason Francisco.

Can any automobile owner explain how a driver can even make uneasy glances and look to someone seated in front when he should be focusing on the driveway? He’s even driving on a highway! However, what can become out of kilter is the scene where fellow police officer Maja Salvador, almost caught his Paloma while she instructed passengers to unload themselves after a highway mishap where the driver bumped a coconut vendor’s wooden rolling cart. Being the last passenger to vacate the jeep, Paloma was wary his Cardo might be recognized by Maja, thus he unboarded the vehicle and walked out in backward steps. Alas, he escaped. Now that can only elicit laughter!

In his pursuit to investigate and pin down the syndicate of prostitution, Paloma joined a barangay beauty contest, paraded in full drag regalia, and eventually caught the eye of Madam Olga (Gina Pareño) who bid her “girls” to rich sleazy businessmen. Paloma took the stage like storm and received approving smiles, nods and delighted expressions from the audience. Granted that Coco’s handsome features are soft and feminine, thus, easy to make him look like a woman, the viewers’ attention is now usurped by his gorgeous transformation.

His Paloma, while everyone was transfixed to her,  became a scene-stealing physical appearance that seemed to compromise the equally wonderful thespian’s impressive performance in the serye, except a constantly flat Richard Yap as Olga’s prized “client”. While the 46 year old TV hearthrob  can still entice televiewers, he cannot seem to channel a new character that his delivery always brought us back to his strictly cold Sir Chief of Be Careful With My Heart, only this time he’s coldly antagonistic and unlovable. The setting of Ang Probinsiyano has been realistic from its pilot airing.

The fast-paced and not pragmatic over its male lead, and the episodes basically tackled how a righteous man of law discerned his moves to curb crime. Cardo is the heroic figure. Therefore, Paloma’s presence should start to cease in the teleserye’s following episodes.

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