Coco saves the day for Direk Brillante

March 28, 2023 Mario Bautista 460 views


DIRECTOR Brillante Mendoza has an entry in the coming Summer Metro Manila Filmfest, “Apag (Feast)”, starring Coco Martin in the lead role. He reveals that the role was originally meant for Aljur Abrenica. Both Coco and Direk Brillante are Kapampangans and the movie is filmed using the Pampango dialect.

“He said yes to the project then a few days before we started the shooting, biglang nag-back out,” Direk Brillante says about Aljur. “Walang sinabing reason, basta wala na siya. But according to his manager, natakot daw. Kasi when he spoke daw in Kapampangan sa kanila, pinagtawanan siya ng mga kapatid niya. He must have felt insecure. I wasn’t expecting at all that he would back out.”

So he had to immediately call his former talent who gained fame because of him, Coco Martin. Brillante gave Coco his screen name as his real name is Rodel Nacianceno. He was also the one who gave Coco his breakout role as a masseur in the acclaimed indie film, “Masahista” in 2005, which won an award in a filmfest in Switzerland.

Coco made many more well-received indie films after that, including the BL film “Daybreak”, the movie about an old theater “Serbis” shown in the Cannes Filmfest and the highly acclaimed Cinemalaya entry, “Jay”, which gave him several best supporting actor awards. For Brillante, he did “Kinatay” and it gave him best actor awards.

“Marami kami talagang pinagsamahan so noong nataranta ako, kasi naka-set up na ang shooting, tapos biglang walang lead actor, siya agad ang naisip kong tawagan,” adds Brillante. “Kasi kapag may problema siya sa set noon ng ‘Probinsyano,’ he calls me up. So ako naman ang tumawag sa kanya, Sabi ko, may problema ako. ‘Yung artista ko, biglang nag-back out.”

It’s really a blessing that Coco is very sympathetic with him. “Sabi niya, bakit, ano nangyari? So nagkuwento ako. Sabi niya, naku, kundi lang ako nagte-taping, ako na gaganap diyan. Pero may break kami sa taping, kasi magpa-Pasko. Sabi ko, ‘are you serious?’ He said, ‘Oo, aayusin ko ang schedule ko.’ So ayun, nag-shooting kami bigla na kasama siya kahit Pasko. Wala siyang naging Christmas vacation from his taping. Godsent talaga siya para sa ‘Apag’. Naging blessing in disguise ang pag-back out ni Aljur with Coco no less as his replacement.”

“Apag” is a family drama about guilt, justice, faith and forgiveness. Coco plays Rafael, the rich owner of a successful Pampango restaurant. In a vehicular accident, he kills a lowly tricycle driver. Afraid of going to prison, it’s his father Alfredo (Lito Lapid), who owns up to the crime and goes to jail.

Feeling so guilty about it, Coco becomes depressed, then hires the widow of the man he killed, Nita (Gladys Reyes), to work for him and give regular income to the orphaned family. But as we all know, no secret can remain concealed for long. Gladys eventually finds out who the real culprit is in the death of her husband.

After directing and producing a number of sexy films for Vivamax, it’s like “Apag” is Brillante’s way of making up specially now that it’s Holy Week and this will start showing on Black Saturday. The movie has a compelling religious flavor, with each chapter preceded by a quotation from the Bible.

Brillante says the word Apag really means “hapag” or ‘hapag kainan- dining table’. Written by Ayu Martinez, it is Brillante’s personal homage to Philippine culture, specially to his own roots as a Pampangueno. The film highlights sumptuous Kapampangan dishes and also pays tribute to traditional family values.

The impressive big powerhouse cast also includes Jaclyn Jose (who won the Cannes Filmfest best actress award for Brillante’s “Ma Rosa”), Gina Pareno, Julio Diaz, Shaina Magdayao, Vince Rillon, Joseph Marco, Mark Lapid, Mercedes Cabral and Ronwaldo Martin.

“Apag” has been exhibited and won acclaim in various international film festivals, including Busan in Korea, Warsaw in Poland, Bangkok in Thailand, Vesoul in France, and others. Don’t miss it when it is shown as an official entry in the Summer Metro-Manila Filmfest that starts showing on April 8. Let’s all support the local movie industry.