DISCLAIMER: If you’ve read my The Pedestrian’s Guide to Tuwid na Daan in the Philippines, then you know that I like to stretch ideas. Enjoy 🙂
The vicinity was conducive to almost erudite, potentially profound conversations: gray skies drizzling acid rain in between great braches of trees, empty seats beside a closed Museum café, and a pizza in a box waiting to be consumed. (How long since we last met here?)
“I have a theory about Ang Probinsyano!” I was talking to a small group of three, with one more than enthusiastic to chip in his thoughts with his 2-year background working for the TV station that showed the remake of the late FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano.
“I think it’s actually promoting—”
“Poe,” his tone was final, his eyes serious; but he cracked with a curt laugh. The familiarity of it was adorable that I actually stopped then realized that I was attempting to propose a theory here “—Duterte.” The word was drowned out by his laugh while he casually tapped our friend on her shoulder. “Duterte,” I said again; more assertive this time.
He heard it and allowed me to explain.
“I mean, Coco Martin is,” I was trying to fumble with the right words, “the attitude, the-”
“Well, yeah,” he saved me from further stuttering. “He’s like a vigilante,” he exchanged looks with our two friends better explaining who Coco Martin was.
The FPJ attached to FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano (1997) is the acronym for Philippine Cinema’s late action king, Fernando Poe Jr., who also happened to run for president in 2004. For next year’s election, his adopted daughter, Grace Poe, is trying to run for presidency. Unlike the image of her adopted father though, Poe seems quite – well, for lack of a better word – non-action-packed. So, despite the eponymous and direct connection of the Poes, it was highly unlikely for me to think that the TV station was promoting this candidate.
What tingled the theorist in me was the semblance of this vigilante cop to a provincial mayor who is also running for next year’s presidential seat: Rodrigo Duterte. Now, I’m no proponent of this – let me go for euphemism – unapologetic man. But, the much celebrated heroism of Cardo (Coco Martin), the protagonist of the show, is rooted on disobedience to authority, skepticism toward those in power, and courageous improvisations during the real but uncanny incidences in the Philippines (i.e. helping a mother give birth during traffic, helping fulfil the wishes of a suicidal man, etc.), which seems to parallel Duterte’s real life (– not that I know if he has ever helped someone give birth in a traffic jam).
“Plus, he’s from the province.” I tried to end smart.
Let’s take it one step further.
The Philippine government has a lot of secrets, and I think most of those who work inside government offices have learned to just believe that these secrets have never been real at all. They just keep their mouths shut when told. There are also some who are in higher position who abuse their power and use it for their own benefit. In Ang Probinsyano, this is very clear in Joaquin’s (Arjo Atayde) character.
(Probably a bad translation: Joaquin is unlike Ador in the responsibilities of being a man of the law. Ador is true to his responsibilities, but Joauin is a protector of a big international syndicate. In the police academy, they competed against each other. He would do everything to tease Ador into the dark side. Yeah dark side.)
He became a policeman to protect their family business, which is – if I get it correctly, child trafficking. I think with all that’s nasty in this country, it’s safe to say that there are really those like this in real life. I mean, c’mon, this wouldn’t get very high ratings if this won’t break the fourth wall.
This show has very interesting story arcs that reveal how drug syndicates, child trafficking, traffic scams, and mystical stealing powers work. And if you’ve been watching this and have not taken the hint, then trust me, Rudy Duterte is not your president.