Shooting that went on for less than a week left the cast drained, but despite that, Coco explained that at the end of the day, he dedicated his portrayal to the fallen 44. (READ: Inside Mamasapano: When the bullets ran out)
“Para ito sa mga SAF, sa Fallen 44, talagang pinanindigan namin kung anong totoo, kung ano yung dapat ipakita sa buhay nila, ano yung mga dapat ikwento...ginawa namin talagang makatotohanan yung bawat eksena, yung episode namin, nung ginawa namin.”
(This is for the SAF, the Fallen 44. We really stood by the truth, and what should be shown about their lives, and the story that should be told...We really made all the scenes, the episodes, and our portrayals as real and as authentic as possible.)
The two actors shared their experience going into their roles, and their experience working with each other.
Coco Martin: Roles like these are why I’m an actor
Coco said that he was proud to portray one Special Action Force (SAF) member: the late Senior Inspector Garry Erana, a member of the 55th Special Action Company, a unit in the SAF responsible for relieving the 84th unit, whose purpose was to neutralize Zulkifli bin Hir, or “Marwan.”
However, he and 34 of his men lost their lives in the massacre, along with 9 other members of the 84th unit.
In order to prepare for the role, Coco spoke with the siblings of Erana and was further driven by the impact this character had on him.
“Mas nakakatouch kasi, dinalaw kami ng mga kapatid ni Sir Garry. Nagkwentuhan sila.
(It was more touching because we were visited by Sir Garry's siblings, and they told us their stories.)
Coco also said that roles like these give acting a deeper purpose.
“Siguro, ginawa akong artista kasi meron ding akong calling. Meron din akong reason kung bakit ako nandito, para mabigyan ko ng mukha yung isa sa mga hero natin. Siguro, yun din naging purpose ko [as an actor].”
(I think the reason why I became an artist was because I had a calling. I also have a reason why I'm here, because I will give a face to one of our heroes. Maybe that's my purpose as an actor.)
Now viewers can get a glimpse of Erana’s life before it was taken away, a life with his beloved fiancee Suzette (Angel Locsin).
When asked about working with Angel, he said, “Actually, nakakatawa nga kwento namin eh. Every time na magkikita kami, kahit anong party or kung anong occasion dito sa ABS-CBN, lagi kaming magsabi, ‘Trabaho naman tayo, trabaho naman tayo. Tara!’”
(Actually, it's a really funny story. Every time [Angel and I] see each other, be it a party or any occasion in ABS CBN, we always say, 'Let's work together, let's work together. Lets!')
He also added that Angel is a great person to work with. “Napakalaking kaligayahan yun po na kasama ko si Angel Locsin.[…]Kung ano yung pagkakilala ko kay Angel sa loob at labas ng pelikula o telebisyon, nung nakilala ko siya, ganun din siya ngayon. Napakabait, napakatunay na tao.”
(It's a joy to be working with Angel Locsin[...]Whatever I know of Angel in and out of the movies and television, and when I knew her then, she's still the same person now. She's a good and genuine person.)
Angel Locsin on playing Suzette
Actress Angel Locsin said she made sure to talk with Garry Erana’s fiancée Suzette before playing her on the two-part episode of Maalaala Mo Kaya.
“Sinugurado ko muna na makausap si Suzette before doing MMK dahil gusto kong malaman niya na nirerespeto ko siya, nirerespeto ko yung kuwento nila ni Garry, at kung may mga bilin, mga dos and don’ts,” Angel said at a separate press conference.
(I made sure to talk to Suzette before doing MMK because I want her to know that I respect her, that I respect her story and Garry’s story, and if she has advice, any dos and don'ts.)
Suzette Tucay is the fiancee of Erana, whose dream of becoming a lawyer sent her to Auckland in New Zealand to study. According to a report by ABS-CBN, Garry helped fund her studies there. They were supposed to marry sometime in 2016.
According to Angel, she saw Suzette as a fragile person when they met, but understood that she was a very strong woman.
“Pag mahal natin ang isang tao, huwag na tayong masyadong mag-isip ng kung anu-ano. Huwag natin masyadong gamitin ang utak natin kasi maikli ang buhay.
"Kailangang iparamdam natin doon sa tao na mahal natin siya, and at the same time ang sarap-sarap ng pakiramdam na nagmamahal diba? Ibigay mo na ng buong-buo kasi hindi mo alam kung kailan mawawala sa atin yung tao,” Angel said.
(If we love the person, let’s not overthink because life is short. We need to make them feel that we love them, and at the same time, it really feels good to love right? Give it your all because you’ll never know when the person will be gone.)
Angel said she really wanted to work with Coco.
“Nung sinabi nila si Coco, sabi ko okay na ako, okay na ako. Gusto ko talaga makatrabaho si Coco,” Angel said.
(When they said it was Coco, I said I’m okay. I am good with that. I really want to work with Coco.)
“Si Coco kasi napaka-creative na tao. Kung nagkikita kayo 'pag dinner tapos may concept na siya agad. ‘Gawa tayo ng pelikula.’ Nakakatawa siyang tao. Ever since nirerquest ko na makatrabaho ko si Coco pero dahil ma mga kanya-kanyang schedules din saka may mga ibang commitments…kaya [masaya ako] kahit sa MMK man lang makakatrabaho ko siya.”
(Coco is a very creative person. If you see each other and have dinner, he already has a concept. ‘Let’s do a movie.’ He’s a funny guy. Ever since I really requested to work with Coco but because of different schedules and other commitments…that’s why I’m happy that we worked together even if it’s only in MMK.)
As for her message to the grieving families and loved ones of the fallen officers, Angel said:
“Gusto ko sana makarating sa kanila na hindi ko alam exactly kung gaano kasakit yung pinagdadaanan nila... Sana ho sa ginawa ho natin tribute sa MMK, sana ho kahit papaano ay makatulong po sa mga nagdadalamhati na puso. At sana rin ho makatulong din eto para maka-seek ng justice kung ano man ang nangyari.
"Etong pagbibigay namin ng mukha sa dalawang miyembro ng SAF pinakikita ho natin na may mga pinagdadaanan din sila. Sana mas appreciate ng mga tao ang pagiging isang police.”
(I want them [the families of the Fallen 44] to know that we don’t know how painful it is what they are going through…but we hope that what we did, through MMK, we hope it would help them despite their grief. And we hope this will be able to help seek the justice they deserve. In showing the stories of the two SAF officers, we showed that they are also going through many challenges like us. We hope people will appreciate what it means to be part of the police.) – Rappler.com
The first part of the special tribute for the 44 SAF commandos in MMK airs this Saturday, April 25, 7:15pm, after Home Sweetie Home on ABS-CBN.