Coco Martin never thought that he would become the big star that he is today. “All I wanted was to have work, to earn enough so that my family can have a more comfortable life. I didn’t even aspire to be famous,” he told us during a recent conversation.
Perhaps, borrowing from a song in The Sound of Music, somewhere in Coco’s past, he must have done something really good to have now be so bountifully blessed. “I’m not even sure of that. I was just an ordinary guy with very simple dreams.”
You’re My Boss, Coco’s movie pairing with Toni Gonzaga, is reportedly doing very well at the box office, having secured the Black Saturday opening-day slot that local producers always aspire for.
I met Coco even before he took on his first lead role in the Brillante Mendoza film Masahista. I remember Coco was slouched on a monobloc chair when my talent manager-friend Ed Instrella introduced me to him. The then-lanky boy stood up to shake our hand. His body seemed tired, his eyes soulfully sad. I was told at the time that Coco was problematic. He tried to give a faint smile, and uttered, “Kumusta po?”
That was the same night I learned that his screen name was given by Ed, inspired by the guesting of Hong Kong singer Coco Lee in the Asia leg of Latino singing superstar Ricky Martin’s world tour. Initially, Coco wasn’t even aware of the origin of his screen name. He thought it sounded good and had easy recall. “It is certainly much better than my real name: Rodel Nacancieno,” he said.
Even with the new name, Coco’s life and career were like a roller-coaster. Back then, he’d refer to his projects as “raket,” a term still being used to this day for mere income-generating projects.
The Coco then was not afraid to bare onscreen, having no matinee-idol image to protect.
Coco met different kinds of people in the industry. There were those who were truly sincere in helping him. There were also those who were like hyenas, waiting to prey on vulnerable newcomers like him. Then, there were those who helped him quietly.
But with every work assignment he got, Coco poured his heart and soul. He was lucky to have worked with good filmmakers and competent actors. These experiences brought improvement, and he slowly learned to love acting as a job.
When ABS-CBN opened the big door of television for him after a slew of small guest roles, Coco was apprehensive. He had to convince himself that, yes, he was the chosen one, and the big break was at his doorstep. All he knew was that he was armed with natural acting skills and ready for whatever role the network would give him. Slowly, Coco’s star shone—and shone brighter and brighter after every project. It also helped that he was sincerely pleasant, always with a ready smile.
Oh, yes, there were many among his batch of acting hopefuls that were much better actors, some even with showbiz royalty lineage to boot. But Coco was different from them. He had charisma. He was polite. Even if he has some speech problems that are already difficult to correct at his age, it did not matter to ABS-CBN and his growing fan base. His sunshine personality and good-heartedness made up for whatever he lacks in the speaking department. When we watch Coco on the big and small screen, he becomes a bigger persona.
I’m truly happy for Coco and the person that he has become. His family and loved ones are living comfortably now. He has also learned to love himself. His sprawling 2,000-square-meter property in Fairview is testament to that. He is his own boss now.
“I’m very blessed. I never forget to give thanks and give back. I have also learned to forgive,” he said, sharing his thoughts with me recently. And that makes Coco a real winner.
A MOTHER IS A BLESSING
Sharon Cuneta is, first and foremost, a mother. During the Easter break, she and her husband Francis Pangilinan flew to Los Angeles with their children to spend some quality family time.
From time to time, she’d post updates on her social-media account about the places they visited, where they dined, shopping at outlet stores—normal things that families enjoy during offshore trips. She also posted about missing her pet dogs.
Sharon was elated to share how happy she was seeing her daughters and a niece being part of the audience on The Ellen Degeneres Show.
We love Sharon for managing her time very well as a homemaker and as a celebrity.
After a long absence from the limelight, Sharon made a big splash by coming back to ABS-CBN, and accepting the new talent show Your Face Sounds Familiar where she serves as a judge.
Despite this new assignment, she made time to be with her family during the Lenten break, maximizing every day that she could spend with them before going back to work.
In one of her recent posts, she poured a little of her heart out, suggesting that she was contemplating on retiring and living in the US with her children. Part of her post read: “I love the Philippines but maybe it is always in the back of my head that all this gulo in our country might become scary[-ier] na and I fear for my children’s Philippines, their future. I love God, my children and my country. In that order. I am, after all, their mother, and my commitment is to take care of them as best I can.”
That is one mother I adore.