'Home Along Da Riles' (1992-2003): The Kevin Cosme generation

- Antoinette Jadaone - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - I belong to the Kevin Cosme generation. We played patintero, agawan-base, Pepsi-7-Up and langit-lupa on the streets. We kept tiny scented kisses wrapped in cotton sprinkled with baby powder and waited for them to go forth and multiply. Our pencil cases came with push-buttons that instantly released erasers, rulers, magnifying lenses and sharpeners — and wow, they could keep pencils, too. Music piracy then was recording our favorite songs on a cassette tape as it was being played on the radio, and if we had to rewind the tape, we’d use a pencil. Our heroes were Shaider, the Power Rangers and the Spice Girls. And our favorite tatay? It’s Mang Kevin Cosme.

They say Dolphy is most famous for playing the jobless John Puruntong in John En Marsha. It was the longest-running sitcom in the country, airing for 17 years. Sad to say, I haven’t watched any episode of John En Marsha. I would always hear the shrill “Kaya John, magsumikap ka!” (I would later learn it was Doña Delilah, John’s wealthy mother-in-law), but I guess when you’re four or five, a sitcom on poverty and family life is naturally not top priority. I was six when John En Marsha ended in 1990, and while everybody was mourning the end of an era, I was busy playing Chinese garter and watching Bioman.

And then came 1992, and another era on Philippine TV began. Not surprisingly, it was Dolphy who would define it yet again. Home Along da Riles premiered on ABS-CBN in December. We met this single dad of five, living along the railroad tracks in a shanty that was on the brink of falling apart whenever the PNR train would pass. His name was Kevin Cosme, and our Thursday nights were never the same again.

Real-Life Conflicts

Home Along da Riles was our John En Marsha. This time though, Mang Kevin has a decent job as a janitor in a placement agency, he brings food to the table (albeit usually not enough), and he is respected by everybody — from the Sunog Baga Boys to even his own boss Hilary, “ang babaeng walang balakang” herself.

In every episode, life threw Mang Kevin one dilemma or another — be it about his only daughter Bing or his forever basted panganay Bill. There was the unrequited love Aling Ason had for Mang Kevin; the office controversies started by Steve, who hated Mang Kevin’s guts; the theft issues involving Mang Tomas and Elvis. We saw Mang Kevin resolve each of these in just one hour. He made us laugh during most of the episode, but at the 45th minute, Mang Kevin would effortlessly turn the mood around to drama. Sometimes, with the right music, we’d see ourselves crying, too.

The stories were pretty simple; they just mirrored real life’s conflicts, yet we were hooked. We would always be worried for Mang Kevin, even if in the end, we knew that he’d always save the day — of course, not without translating a Tagalog song to weird English with his friend Richy, and then hitting Richie with a newspaper after. Slaptick yes, but that’s how Mang Kevin rolled.

Growing Up

And then the Kevin Cosme generation grew up. We discovered MTV and boy bands and rock stars. We went to high school and got over ten-twenty and jackstone. Dawson’s Creek and Charmed became cool to watch. Teleseryes replaced sitcoms and changed our primetime viewing forever. Claudine Barretto left Home Along to do Mula sa Puso, and after over a decade of being on TV, Home Along da Riles aired for the last time in August 2003.

That was nine years ago, but I will always remember Dolphy as Mang Kevin Cosme. In my mind, he isn’t Facifica Falayfay or Fefita Fofonggay. He isn’t Omeng Satanasia or John Puruntong. He isn’t Father Jejemon, or the actor who endorsed Manny Villar. He isn’t the King of Comedy waiting for the National Artist award for the last several years. He isn’t the ailing old man with tubes up his nose. Heck, he isn’t even dead. To me, and perhaps to the rest of the Kevin Cosme generation, Dolphy is and will always be just Mang Kevin, forever a reminder of the happier and simpler times. Our Dolphy may already have passed, but Mang Kevin? For all we know, he’s just inside his home along da riles, hanging on to his dear walls yet again as another PNR train just passed. Mang Kevin, kumapit ka, kumapit ka, kung ayaw mong magkabukol.

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