Almost every Filipino is familiar with Coco Martin, the face of Primetime in ABS-CBN’s teleserye lineup as the unstoppable Cardo Dalisay in Ang Probinsyano since 2015, but here’s a trivia: he used to be one of the many OFWs in Canada!
Before he struck gold with the long-running teleserye, he was most notable for his roles in indie films like Masahista (2005) and Summer Heat (2006). This earned him various awards and the title, “Prince of Independent Films”, making his mark as he transitioned into mainstream projects and staring in various other teleseryes and movies.
Coco also had his humble beginnings as an Overseas Filipino Worker in Canada, just when his acting career was about to take off. His first step into stardom was when he was introduced as a part of Star Circle Batch 9, landing him various supporting roles, but not quite meeting up to his expectations. Having finished a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from National College of Business and Arts in 2002, he decided to pursue the path originally laid out for him, for a while. In Canada, he spent a grueling time trying to stay, but failing in his unusual methods. He alternated working as a janitor at a Bingo Parlor and a personal aide, waking up at odd hours and cleaning for customers.
Despite having to leave after just a year of working because of the lack of permanent jobs and failing to secure legal documentation, the experience taught him about perseverance and good work ethic, evident in his success as an actor today. He is no stranger to poverty then and what it means to go abroad to provide for the family. In a tell-all interview published in Star Studio Magazine back in 2012, he spoke of his time as an OFW in Canada and as a struggling actor trying to find his way, “I told myself, that’ll do as long as I have a job. I knew I was street smart. Whatever happens, I’d be able to land on my feet in any situation.”
As many may know, Canada has been a haven for many Filipinos. At present, Filipinos are the third largest Asian Group in Canada, and being an OFW can feel like a shared experience especially when so many people and families are familiar with it. There is beauty in the struggle, but definitely also a reflection of what kinds of improvement are needed to be put into progress by the government, regarding labor issues.
Meanwhile, back in the Philippines, Coco is regarded as one of the most successful young actors in ABS-CBN. Fans of his teleserye, Ang Probinsyano, are optimistic despite the ongoing broadcast franchise renewal issue that the media network is currently facing. Coco Martin, along with some of his peers in the acting industry, attended a prayer rally outside the headquarters on the 1st day of March 2020, to show support to his career’s home. With the franchise expiration being on May 4, 2020, and personal issues between the President and the media network being ironed out, they are seeking for Congress to grant them another 25-year broadcast franchise.
Much like how Cardo Dalisay fights for what he believes in, Coco Martin follows suit in real life. An inspiration for many people, Filipinos and Canadians alike, he is a living proof that with enough faith and determination, the things that do not work out will pave the way for things that will do. While Coco Martin is better off with the stars in his projects in ABS-CBN, he is humbled by the hardships he went through as one of us in Canada, and there is comfort in knowing that he has let the experience shape him for the better.