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How Coco Martin’s Reunion with Brillante Mendoza Gave the ‘Apag’ Movie a new Ending

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Back in the latter part of 2000s, whenever there’s a major Brillante “Dante” Mendoza project, Coco Martin is expected to be part of it. His breakthrough role was being the lead actor in the 2005 indie film ‘Masahista’ (The Masseur) directed by Mendoza.

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

Mainstream fame happened for Coco, and he last worked with the multi-awarded director in 2009 for ‘Kinatay’. ‘Apag,’ a crime drama in a family setting, is their reunion project. “Napakasarap sa pakiramdam na nagkasama-sama kaming lahat sa pelikulang ito,” said Coco. “Hindi naman ako tumatanggi kapag Direk Brillante. Hindi nga ako nagtatanong,” he added as he chuckled.

In the movie, Coco plays Rafael Tuazon, the son of a rich Kapampangan entrepreneur, Alfredo (Lito Lapid). Rafael gets involved in a head-in collision and accidentally takes the life of the victim Matias (Carlos Canlas), the husband of Nita (Gladys Reyes).

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

The ‘Batang Quiapo’ actor-director wasn’t the original choice to play the lead in ‘Apag.’ It was another Kapampangan, Aljur Abrenica.

Coco recalled how Brillante called him to ask for the number of Roi Vinzon, who he wanted to cast for the project. However, the latter is still busy as Coco’s actor in ‘Ang Probinsyano’ so he straight up told his mentor that he won’t be giving the number as Roi is still busy, but will recommend other actors instead. After the exchange, Brillante called him up again lamenting that the lead actor backed out. “Di sanay nang walang script,” said the Kapamilya leading man. “Alam mo Direk, kung nasa Manila lang ako, ako na ang gagawa niyan eh,” said Coco on that call. Brillante then proceeded to ask him if he wants to, then Coco said: “Kung mahihintay n’yo ako”. Their schedules matched somehow and Coco ended up with the role of Rafael.

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

Coco described working with “Direk Dante” again as starting afresh, wherein you have to take supplementary workshops to reach the level of the skill set needed even if you’re an experienced actor, and then there’s the constant feeling of being nervous. “Kapag may bago kaming mga kasama, kinakausap namin kung ano ung style niya [Brillante],” explained Coco.

“Gawa lang ng pangangailangan sa buhay,” joked the ‘Batang Quiapo’ actor regarding juggling his many projects. “Pag gusto mo at minamahal mo ang ginagawa mo, gagawan at gagawan mo ng oras para magawa mo yung pelikula, he added.

Photo from Buzz Beat Media

He confessed to missing doing indie films in general, and considers it a great privilege for actors to be part of film of this caliber. Since Coco has been directing steadily from 2015, did he perhaps give directorial inputs to Brillante for this film? “Hindi, takot ko lang diyan,” exclaimed Coco during the red carpet interview prior to the special screening.

Like before when he was just starting out as a neophyte in the independent film industry, the Coco wasn’t just there on the film set to act, but also to observe and learn from his mentor Brillante.

Coco’s co-actor in ‘Ang Probinsyano’ and ‘Apag’, Shaina Magdayao, remarked on the effect of Brillante on the former. “Ngayon po, alam ko na kung saan nakuha ni Coco ang kanyang style…kung kanino po siya nagmana…kay Direk Brillante po pala,” she said. “Buti na lang po na-train ako ni Coco sa ‘Ang Probinsyano’ kung di baka nagkautal-utal ako sa set ni Direk Brillante,” added Shaina.

Center Stage Productions

However, at the media conference which happened right after the screening was done, the cat’s out of the bag. Coco did contribute greatly to the film’s alternate ending, which changed the meaning of the whole film entirely compared to what was screened in the international film circuit.

Brillante explained that MMDA reiterated that ‘Apag’, which premiered abroad, can still be a MMFF finalist, if there would be additional scenes which are not part of the one shown abroad, hence the two different endings of the film.

Center Stage Productions

Coco, Brillante, and many of the main cast members of the movie were present during the Grand Float Parade. Coco was even seen by netizens really elated when he saw Kylie Padilla and Gerald Anderson. He gave away lots of T-shirts to the onlooker while on their float bedecked with flowers.

Center Stage Productions

‘Apag’ will be shown in selected cinemas nationwide starting April 8 as part of the first Summer MMFF.

*Cover Photo/Thumbnail Photo from Buzz Beat Media

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