Coco on FPJ’s Batang Quiapo New Chapter

With “FPJ’s Batang Quiapo” now in its second year, the show’s torchbearer, Coco Martin, treats the series’ fans to exhilarating plot twists and a bigger ensemble cast.


A new world for Tanggol

Based on the show’s anniversary trailer, Coco’s character, Tanggol, decides he wants to escape prison through the help of a new character played by Nonie Buencamino, Marcelo, who is actually Olga (Irma Adlawan)’s former flame and Bubbles (Ivana Alawi)’s biological father. He will mentor Tanggol in the ins and outs of the underground business.

Despite his new circumstances, a part of Tanggol’s core will remain unchanged, as his journey continues to revolve mostly around Quiapo, and within his heart still burns his desire to avenge Mokang (Lovi Poe)’s death.

As the captain, Coco considers the viewers as part of his ship, which is why he listens to their opinions. He is aware of the audience’s feedback about the sudden demise of Lovi’s character in the story, and he hopes they will understand that unforeseen changes can happen during filming. However, he assures them that the part of the previous trailer featuring Mokang’s character, which viewers highly anticipated, will still be incorporated in the forthcoming episodes. Fans need only wait to see how he’ll manage to do it.

For Coco, such changes are only redirections. One notable trait of his is his quick thinking, which has enabled him to swiftly devise ways to keep viewers invested despite Mokang’s departure. And his solution was to introduce Bubbles’ character.

With talent and vision sharpened through years of directing his past project, “FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano,” Coco can identify areas for improvement and correct what he thinks was lacking or his mistakes from his previous series. One key lesson he learned, which he now applies in “FPJ’s Batang Quiapo,” is the importance of fully developing existing characters. He ensures that all characters are melted well; their motivations and backstories must be thoroughly established before introducing new ones.

As a director, he strives for organic storytelling. He aims for spontaneity in incorporating his ideas directly into the script, making use of his surroundings and impulse creativity in crafting each scene; hence the natural flow that resonates with the viewers.

Apart from his skill, Coco is fortunate to be surrounded by the right people and an exceptionally talented cast of actors.


New characters

When selecting cast members, Coco has two primary considerations. First, he aims to provide a platform for seasoned artists who have been out of the limelight to make a comeback on television. If someone expresses a desire to be cast in the show, he will make every effort to accommodate him or her. This was exactly how he cast Ynez Veneracion and Dinky Doo for their special guest roles. They just bumped into him individually and they expressed their wish to be included in the series. Coco promised he would make a way. And, as we all know by now, what he promises, he fulfills.

Secondly, he carefully considers the overall narrative of the story. For instance, he aimed to fully utilize the talent of Charo Santos, who portrays Tindeng, his grandmother in the series. However, he realized this wouldn't be possible if Tindeng's character remained confined to Quiapo. To address this, he sought an actress who could match Charo's talent and star power. This led him to think of Tessie Tomas, whom he worked with in "Tonyong Bayawak" in 2010, and admired her performance in "Dirty Linen."

Jaime Fabregas, beloved by viewers as Coco’s grandpa in “FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano” is also back in his team. This time, Coco wants to revive the old days when Jaime would play the bad guy in Fernando Poe Jr.’s movies. The veteran actor is pleased, as this marks his return to playing a villain since “May Bukas Pa” (2009).

When asked how he convinced Nonie to join the cast, he shared, “Si Tito Nonie, inawitan ko ‘yan sa telepono talaga.” He elaborated on the significant role he envisioned for him, believing that only an actor of Nonie’s caliber could effectively portray Marcelo’s character, which is instrumental in Tanggol’s new journey.

He has already filmed several scenes with Nonie, and he can confidently say that it's an entirely new experience acting alongside him. At times, he finds himself challenged by Nonie's performance, but he views this as a motivation perfectly suited for the portrayal of their characters.

“Si Tito Nonie kasi iba ang bitaw, parang naglalaro sa sobrang husay. May iba siyang binibigay sa akin. May iba siyang pinaparamdam sa akin. Kaya ‘pag-uwi ko, feeling ko, ‘Tama ba ‘yung ginawa ko?’ Unpredictable ‘yung binibigay niya sa akin, kaya ‘pag sinasalo ko, nalo-lost ako,” shared Coco.

He also considered introducing new and young stars to the series, with Elijah Canlas quickly coming to mind. He commended him for his humility and eagerness to learn, noting that although Elijah is already a talented actor, he’s still willing to participate in workshops like the rest of the cast. Coco ensures that every actor in the cast is well-baked for their roles, hence he insists on training and workshops for all.

Another young star joining the show is Ara Davao. Coco recalled meeting Ara, the daughter of Ricky Davao and Jackylou Blanco, for the first time at the birthday party of veteran actor Tirso Cruz III when Ara was still very young and not yet in showbiz. They were reintroduced at the ABS-CBN Ball.

Coco always remembers Ara for her striking beauty, reminiscent of her mother Jackylou, which he believes is perfect for the new character they are introducing. During their meeting for the series, he told her to draw inspiration from her mother's role in "Hihintayin Kita Sa Langit." He knows he’s made the right choice to cast her, knowing that talent runs in her blood, alongside her captivating visuals.

He’s excited for the younger actress, especially since the acting coach for the cast sees her great potential. He looks forward to Ara being surrounded by brilliant, established stars, confident that their presence will greatly contribute to her growth as a thespian.


Genuinely Grateful

"FPJ’s Batang Quiapo" has enjoyed a successful year. While fans express hopes for the show to last as long as "FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano," Coco doesn't dwell on such thoughts. For him, the key is to continue as long as viewers remain engaged. He only sees the success of his previous show, as well as any competition, as motivation to strive for improvement.

Happy Anniversary, “FPJ’s Batang Quiapo”!


*Photo credit to cocomartin_ph IG