Coco Martin back to indies in Cinemalaya film

By Reyma Buan-Deveza, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Jul 18 2012 12:47 PM | Updated as of Jul 19 2012 04:38 AM

Coco Martin in a scene from "Santa Niña." Photo: Handout

MANILA, Philippines -- Actor Coco Martin returns to his original passion -- doing independent films -- with "Santa Niña," an entry to this year's Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, which opens this Friday.

Martin, who began his acting career doing indie films, mostly for director Brillante Mendoza, has since achieved mainstream success in television, particularly with his latest hit, the primetime ratings blockbuster "Walang Hanggan."

In fact, he said he had to find time to shoot "Santa Niña" as he was at that time also finishing the Star Cinema hit "Born to Love You" with singer Angeline Quinto, as well as taping for "Walang Hanggan."

"Pero never kong naramdaman ang pagod kasi kapag passion mo wala (ang pagod), ginagawa mo ito kasi nage-enjoy ka," Martin said in an interview on Tuesday.

Martin admitted that he initially felt nervous about doing the indie project.

"Actually natakot ako kasi sabi ko baka mamaya mahirapan akong bumalik kasi ibang-iba talaga ang paggawa ng indie. Pero noong first day ko, hindi pala ako nawala, kasi naramdaman ko kung paano gawin at atake ng paggawa," he said.

According to Martin, "Santa Niña" tells the story of 2-year-old girl who died in Bacolor, Cavite. After 10 years, her body has still not decomposed, leading many to believe that her body is miraculous.

Directed by Emmanuel Palo, the film also stars Alessandra de Rossi, Angel Aquino, Irma Adlawan, Leo Martinez, Nanding Josef and Anita Linda.

"Ang aming pelikula ay tungkol sa isang ama na naghahanap ng sagot sa kanyang mga katanungan tungkol sa milagrong nangyari sa kanyang anak at tungkol sa isang ina na naghahanap ng kapatawaran sa kanilang perceived na kasalanan na nangyari ng nakaraan," the movie's supervising producer Susan Tagle, said at the recent Cinemalaya launch.

"Ang inspirasyon po ni Manny (Palo) sa pelikulang ito ay ang kanyang kinalikhan na probinsya ng Pampanga at ang kanyang pagnanais na ipakita ang naging pagbangon ng kanyang bayan ng Pampanga matapos ito masalanta ng lahar," Tagle added.

Indie roots

Martin was discovered when he appeared in the indie movie "Masahista," directed by Mendoza.

After the movie's success, Martin appeared in other independent films, many of them directed by Mendoza, including "Kinatay," which won the best director prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

With the increasing popularity of independent cinema, many mainstream actors have also started to do indie films, including Piolo Pascual, who starred in "Manila."

This year's Cinemalaya entries feature several mainstream stars, such as Judy Ann Santos in "Mga Mumunting Lihim," Dennis Trillo in "Ang Katiwala" and veteran actor Eddie Garcia in "Bwakaw."

Asked of his reaction, Martin said, "Nakakatuwa kasi marami, lalo na sa mga gustong mag-artista, nagiging inspirasyon ako pero sabi ko nga dati halos walang pumapansin sa amin noong gumagawa kami ng indie. Tapos dumating ang point na halos lahat ng artista gusto gumawa ng indie."

"Nakakatuwa na nagbunga ang pinaghirapan namin kasi siyempre noong nagsisimula kami mangilan-ngilan lang kaming gumagawa ng indie. Kumbaga 'yung mga panahon na 'yon, parang ang tingin sa amin 'eh magulo ang istorya niyan, hindi ko maintindihan, madilim 'yan, low-budget 'yan. Pero ngayon tumataas ang quality. Ang daming gustong tumulong o gumawa ng indie, so nakakatuwa na parte kami doon para sa simula ang indie sa Pilipinas," he added.

Martin said his "Walang Hanggan" co-star Dawn Zulueta just finished her indie film "Ang Nawawala," which is also part of the Cinemalaya festival.

"Nakaka-excite, actually. Nagkukuwentuhan kami every time kung kailan siya magte-taping kung ano ang role niya. Sabi ko nga sa premiere night niya, sana makapanood ako at sana ganoon din siya sa akin. Nagtatawanan nga kami kasi lumalagare kami, nagso-soap kami tapos gumagawa kami ng indie," he said.

Asked is he expects another best actor award for the film, Martin said: "Sana kung palarin, thank you. Pero sabi ko nga ginagawa ko ito kasi gusto kong gumawa ng makahulugang pelikula."