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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Mar 27, 2023



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 Aljur 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,” he says. 

“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 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 the one Coco his breakout role as a masseur in the acclaimed indie film, “Masahista” in 2005, which won an award in a filmfest in  Switzerland. 

He made many more 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 walgn 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 sa taping niya. 

"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 the pivotal role of Rafael, the son of a rich owner of a successful Pampango events place and we're sure Aljur will regret it he didn't get to play this very significant role. 

In a vehicular accident, Coco 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 so he can 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, leading to some complications.

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 religious flavor. In one scene, we hear Lito Lapid while in prison, reading a direct quotation from the Bible about the devil tempting Jesus Christ. 

Brillante says the word Apag really means “hapag” or ‘hapag kainan- dining table’. 

Written by Arianna Martinez, it is Brillante’s personal homage to Philippine culture, specially to his own roots as a Pampangueno. 

The film highlights sumptuous, mouth-watering 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”) as Lito's wife, Gina Pareno as Lito's mother, Shaina Magdayao as Coco's ex wife,  plus Julio Diaz, Vince Rillon, Joseph Marco, Mark Lapid, Ronwaldo Martin, and Mercedes Cabral in a very significant role.

 Mercedes has very few lines but you know she's important as the camera keeps on focusing and lingering on her so it's easy to guess she is up to some kind of mischief.

“Apag” is handsomely crafted. 

It 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.