The curious case of Coco Martin
ABOUT A BRO - Ralph Mendoza (The Philippine Star) - February 15, 2013 - 12:00am

Buti pa si Coco Martin, pinapasaya ako (At least Coco Martin makes me happy),” announces a friend of mine. She ends the tweet with a link to his Nescafé commercial “Cannes” where Martin compares coffee to caramel, smiles his Coco smile, and describes the experience as “yammy” instead of “yummy.” A case of mispronunciation or did he very strangely actually mean yam-flavored coffee? His fans don’t seem to care.

It’s been years since all that came out, true, but Coco Martin seems to reappear time and time again as a frontrunner in local crush races held in girls’ minds — which begs the question: What is it with Coco Martin and girls? Why the secret kilig? Why the doting eyes when he shows up on TV? Why are moms hypnotized into buying more of his instant coffee despite him calling brown sugar “brown shoogar”? Whatever the reasons may be, his appeal has gone from understandable to a little bit haunting. And here I am, overly curious.

“I’m not physically attracted to him,” shares another friend of mine, “But it’s cool he can show his d*ck in that one Brillante Mendoza film. If Brillante likes him, then there’s something cool about him.”

She probably meant 2008’s Serbis, where Martin plays Alan, a billboard painter for a fake film theater that operates as this gay sex den at night. It was also a controversial Cannes entry, which has since then caffeinated Martin’s career. This Mendoza-Martin formula somehow works in every movie they’ve made together. The director usually portrays Martin as an innocent-looking guy with a tainted other side and the rest is open to interpretation.

The realization is this: C-Mart’s approachable Pampangueño charm is balanced by accepting these oddball roles, which allows him to take risks as an actor. The risk is his niche. He can try doing wholesome movies but he won’t explode the same way he did for Jay, which won him a Gawad Urian Award in 2009. The status quo is Quo Quo Martin. Rodel Luis Cortez Nacianceno is now Coco Martin whether Rodel Luis Cortez Nacianceno likes it or not. Girls will joke about his accent and the way he may stretch the letter “e” in creamer, but it seems they have gone overboard with their teasing. I suspect closet Coco-holics always cross the line between enjoying Coco’s accent and enjoying Coco himself.

I guess one more thing that cements Martin’s appeal with women is the obvious: his looks. “Well, he’s got that boyish look that a lot of girls and gays like,” says copywriter Dompy Roldan. “Nice complexion, too. Very Pinoy. Acting-wise, he’s pretty good.” She quickly adds this, though, much to Martin’s disappointment if he ever found out: “But for the record, I like Daniel Matsunaga more than Coco Martin.”

Let’s not forget male attention, too, or the lack of it. While fan girls can secretly crush on Coco all night long, it’s either you tend to a) adore him as a gay man, b) approve of him as a straight, open-minded man, or c) toler-hate him as a basic bro. “Kung pusang kalye siya, matagal ko na siya isinako at ipinaghahampas sa pader (If Coco Martin were a street cat, I would have sacked and slapped it on the curb a long time ago),” says the surveyed Alpachino Kigan. “On a good note, he’s more bearable than that Bieber-wannabe Daniel Padilla. God, I will burn that pr*ck.” Pusakal violence aside, he goes on to settle that Coco Martin can act. “But that should be a given ‘cause that’s what he’s paid to do, right? So there’s nothing I appreciate about him.”

Still, there’s no way I can’t respect the guy. Martin may not possess the same urban cool as other actors, but he knows how to scratch that indie movie itch. He can be a guilty pleasure, regardless of your sexual orientation. He’s not just Brillante Mendoza’s chess piece; he’s a whole different board game all on his own. I don’t claim to have girls figured out, but C-Mart seems like already has. I now find myself curious as to how his new Amsterdam-shot movie A Moment in Time will turn out despite that cheesy poster.

* * *

Follow the author on Twitter @ralphmendo and ralphmendo.tumblr.com.

A MOMENT ALPACHINO KIGAN BRILLANTE MENDOZA C-MART COCO COCO MARTIN DANIEL MATSUNAGA MARTIN RODEL LUIS CORTEZ NACIANCENO
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