On May 17, 2011, Coco Martin personally received his Aktor Ng Dekada award from the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino at the Gawad Urian 2011 awarding ceremony.
He was one of the three recipients of the award, including premiere TV and film actresses Cherry Pie Picache and Gina Pareño.
Coco was overjoyed to be named as one of the decade's best actors by the prestigious award-giving body. (CLICK HERE to read story.)
But some critics were quick to express their disappointment to the Gawad Urian saying that Coco does not deserve his award. According to them, compared to Cherry Pie and Gina, he is still much too young to be given such recognition.
PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) recently caught up with Coco and he shared his sentiments about the issue.
He admitted that he, too, felt that he's still too young to receive such recognition.
"Sa 'kin, wala naman. Kasi, actually nga nung sinabi na nabigyan ako ng ganung parangal, and then siyempre dekada yun, [sabi ko] parang ang bata ko pa.
"Parang napakataas yata ng award na 'to. Tapos Urian pa 'yan."
He also explained the reason why Gawad Urian chose him to be one of their awardees. He cited that age and longevity in the business are not exactly part of the criteria.
"Nung binigyan na kami ng award, in-explain na parang ang criteria nito, hindi dahil mahaba ka na sa show business. Hindi yun ang basehan.
"Kumbaga, sa sampung taon, ilang pelikula ba ang tumatak sa mga manonood?
"I think local or international, parang ganun yun ang [basis] nila. Which is yun yung nag-explain."
Coco began to recount his film career showing the scope of work he has done.
"2005 ako nagsimula. And then, 2011 pa lang ngayon.
"Sa 2005 na yun, yung first year ko sa indie, that time na hindi pa ako nagti-TV at hindi pa ko nagme-mainstream, sa isang buwan, halos apat na pelikula ang ginagawa ko."
His first indie film was Masahista, by award-winning director Brillante Mendoza, which came out that same year (2005).
It was followed by Kaleldo, also by Mendoza, in 2006.
This led to a series of other films which were released later in 2007 including Foster Child, Tirador, and Nars.
"Sa apat na pelikula na 'yon, minsan, sa international festival pag pumunta ako dun, tatlong pelikula ko ang magkakalaban.
"And then dito sa local, almost start ng 2006, mula 2006 hanggang 2011, never naman akong nawala sa lahat ng award-giving bodies.
"Kumbaga, sabi ko sa sarili ko, siguro yun yung dahilan ng Urian kung bakit kahit bata ako, binigyan nila ako ng ganon kalaking award," he said.
Coco has already won several best actor and best supporting actor trophies from various award-giving bodies such as Star Awards for Movies, FAMAS, Golden Screen, and even the Gawad Urian.
MORE INDIE MOVIES. Now that he is busy taping his current soap opera Minsan Lang Kita Iibigin on ABS-CBN, Coco's presence in the independent film scene is no longer as strong as it used to be.
"Wala, e. Sabi ko nga, nalulungkot ako hindi na nila ako kinukuha, e."
Is he still willing to do independent film projects in the future?
"Oo naman. Ako pa!" he quipped.
"Pag pinag-usapan ang indie, hindi ako [tatanggi]. Wala sa 'kin [yung bayad].
"Mula nag-start ako, never pag-uusapan kung magkano ang presyo.
"Kumbaga, ako pa ang mag-a-adjust ng schedule, lahat, kapag gusto kong gawin yung project."
But due to his busy TV schedule and other projects outside his soap opera, Coco is forced to turn down most offers for indie film projects.
However, he remains very supportive of the industry, especially now that Cinemalaya—one of the biggest independent film festivals in the country—is about to open its seventh edition this July.
"Sobra akong naglu-look forward everytime na [maimbitahan ako].
"Kung hindi man ako kasali sa mga pelikula nila, at least nanonood talaga ako.
"Kasi, sabi ko, dito ako nanggaling, e. Ito yung core ko, so laging nandito ako para sumuporta."
Aside from that, Coco cites another reason why he keeps indie cinema close to his heart:
"Kakaiba kasi yung pakiramdam pag nandun ka.
"Alam mo yung parang feeling ko, bumabalik ako. Dati nag-a-audition ako sa bawat pelikula na alam ko puwede ako, pasok ako.
"Nakakalungkot nga kasi dati, pag nag-a-audition ako, hindi naman ako natatanggap. Pero nakagawa naman na ako sa Cinemalaya.
"Kumbaga, dinaanan ko lahat ng proseso."
Coco said he won't be gone from indie for too long. In fact, he revealed plans for his next indie film project.
"May pinaplano kami ni Direk Dante'ng gawin. Sana matuloy," referring to director Brillante Mendoza by his nickname.
"After siguro ng soap ko, gagawa ako ng isang indie saka isang mainstream [movie]."