Coco Martin beckons that massive following on any weeknight, leading to high-pitched acclaim with every teardrop, cute smirk, or in those gripping action sequences never before seen on television.
On FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano, he enlivens a legendary character close to people’s hearts, with downright efficacy and impact bringing the whole nation stay glued to their TV sets for any fateful incident that will make or break him.
He is surely the man of the hour, with nearly half of the country’s total viewership each day watching and marveling at his every move.
What makes him soar as the country’s primetime king, which has been further validated this week when he handily thrashed supernatural folklore in the ratings game, is very much deeply rooted to his humble beginnings and his eventual journey as a person and as a thespian.
For an aspiring indie actor, crossing over the mainstream isn’t an easy feat; it’s not an impossible task either. We’ve seen a bunch of them come and go, while others get a lucky break. But what Coco has done is a testament to hard work; a spectacle that we rarely see in the world of Philippine entertainment. As the old saying goes, basta may sipag at tiyaga, may nilaga–and he’s not even done cooking yet.
Meet Rodel Nacianceno
Born Rodel Naciaceno, Coco Martin’s humble beginnings are as humble as it gets. An ordinary man with extraordinary ambitions, Deng grew up in the busy streets of Novaliches and was raised by grandmother. In an attempt to find an answer to the call of poverty, a young and driven Coco dived into unusual jobs, which included being a trainee waiter, a coffee shop barista, and even a push boy assigned to give out candies in a gasoline station.
Geared with a mindset to work abroad, he also took up Hotel and Restaurant Management at the National College of Business and Arts. He even worked as a janitor in Canada for a good nine months until ultimately realizing his calling. While it was never his plan to lean on the show business to help out his family, fate is something you can never escape. It wasn’t long before he discovered his reel side.
The Underground Hero
Before dipping his toes in the mainstream, he was hailed as the “Prince of Philippine Independent Films.” Though his first official gig was a role in 2001’s LuvTxt (the actor was a part of Star Magic’s Star Circle Batch 9), it was the indie scene that paved the way toward his cinematic path. Taking cues from two international breakthrough superstars of the 90s–namely Coco Lee and Ricky Martin–Rodel Nacianceno broke into the film industry as Coco Martin.
In 2005, the actor caught the eye of Brillante Mendoza and casted him as the doe-eyed lead in Masahista. He even bagged the best actor trophy from the Young Critics Circle for the director’s critically acclaimed hit. Then the projects started kicking in. Independent films like Ataul: For Rent, Condo, Daybreak, Serbis, and Kinatay plastered Coco Martin’s name on their posters. As TV execs started to notice this young talent, Coco had successfully risen from the underground.
A Lover and a Fighter