August 20, 2019
Presence still strong via ‘Probinsyano’ on 80th birthday
Corruption was a recurring theme in the movies made by Fernando Poe Jr. or FPJ to probably millions of his fans whom the commercially and critically acclaimed actor had thrilled or inspired in his signature role as defender of the oppressed and nemesis of the crooked.
The theme lives on in “Ang Probinsyano,” reputedly the longest-running series on local prime-time television that is based on the 1997 FPJ film of the same title and brought to life on the small screen by actor Coco Martin, who struggled in indies before bagging the iconic part that was coveted by other youthful contemporaries.
The series, which first aired in September 2015, arguably resonates well not only with couch potatoes but also with the government at present as the protagonist, Kardo Dalisay, battles drug syndicates, among other scums, eventually wiping them out if only for reel.
“Ang Probinsyano” (literally, “The Man from the Province,” although subtitled in English as “Brothers”) the movie featured FPJ as the twin brother of a police officer killed in a drug bust whose superior convinced Kardo to assume the identity of his slain sibling Ador and ferret out the drug rings and corrupt policemen who were behind the latter’s death.
The TV series, a classic case of art imitating life, reached a milestone last August 8 when it unrolled its 1,000th episode ahead of its eighth season, not an inconsequential feat considering that past and present rivals of “Ang Probinsyano” last no more than two or three seasons.
The event came tantalizingly close to what would have been the 80th birthday (today, August 20) of FPJ, aka “Da King,” “Action King” and “King of Philippine Movies,” who married “Queen of Philippine Movies” Susan Roces in 1968.
Also arguably well-loved by the masses, who were said to really feel sad and cry out for vengeance when the on-screen bad guys get the measure of their idol, the actor from Pangasinan province passed away on December 14 five years ago to the real-time grief of ordinary Filipinos, whether fan or not.
It seemed that there would be no forgetting the impact that FPJ made on the psyche of the Everyman, at least through memorable, perhaps immortal, lines that flowed from his body of work as actor who, until today, remains an influencer even in death in pop culture and a cinematic legend with few peers.
Take this, for example, from one of his movies where a policeman is found to be an utter disgrace to the service for being a bribe taker, among other practices unbecoming an officer and a gentleman: “Hindi ako kumakain ng bigas, Major, isinasaing ko muna (I don’t eat rice grains, Major. I cook them first).”
Or this one, from another of FPJ’s hundreds of films: “Pinuno mo na ang salop, Judge, malapit na kitang kalusin (You have gone too far, Judge, I am this close to making you pay for it).”
It would be apparent that Fernando Poe Jr. was at least aware of the socio-economic and political circumstances of his times that he tried to capture — and successfully so — in his more than 300 movies over a legendary 46-year career.
FPJ, or Ronald Allan Kelley Poe in real life, read scripts, alright, but also arguably he knew as well how to feel the pulse of Juan de la Cruz.
Perhaps, that would be his legacy to future generations of Filipinos, movie fan or not — that he identified with them or was with them on-and off-screen.
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