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Torre, Buencamino Make Honesto Great Primetime Viewing

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Yes, I like ‘Honesto,’ the primetime series currently running on ABS-CBN. Who doesn’t? It will not win any originality awards as, indeed, its Pinocchio-ish premise is something everyone who had a childhood already knows all about.

If you’re coming from off a hard day at the office, the series is perfect for easing away all the stress-driven toxicity flowing in your veins. Raikko Mateo, the young boy who stars as Honesto Galang, is an angel. His face alone is enough to induce a smile from even the most stressed-out people.

The story is light and simple but packs a punch. Honesto is descended from a clan of people in a far-off fictitious place called Sitio Katapatan. The members of the clan suffer from an allergy – their noses inflate whenever they tell a lie. This is asinine but cute.

The simplicity of the plot and the focus on honesty shames anyone who does not have it in him to tell even the most simple of truths – and this is what makes the series so relevant in the present day of pork barrels, bickering politicians and the inability to swiftly deliver relief to calamity-stricken citizens.

I stayed with Juan dela Cruz from start to finish but was just waiting to see the series through towards the end. With Honesto, I hope the writers keep the hilarity coming because Torre and Buencamino have risen to the challenge and made the series fun primetime viewing.
One wonders how much simpler – not to mention more pleasant – living in this country will be if everyone has the allergy.

Charming, though, young Raikko Mateo may be as the lead character, he is frequently overshadowed by the often insanely hilarious performances of Joel Torre as Hugo Layer, the villainous thief-turned-politician; and Nonie Buencamino as Cleto, Hugo’s sidekick and frequently the village idiot.

Both Torre and Buencamino are listed as supporting cast but frequently upstage everyone else, even the seasoned actors Eddie Garcia and Janice de Belen. The characters of Hugo and Cleto are overacted; but in a cartoon-ish way that is hilarious rather than annoying.

In last Wednesday’s episode, for instance, Cleto had volunteered to avenge the public humiliation Hugo suffered at the hands of Lemuel Galang, the character portrayed by Garcia.

He went to great pains to conceal his identity by dressing up ninja-style for a night-time assault on the Galang residence; only to be seen and instantly recognised by Honesto through an open window even with his mask on.

I was laughing so hard from the sheer idiocy of the scenario. Out of ideas, Cleto pretended to have been scouting the food on the table and even had the audacity to let himself in.

To think that Buencamino played a vengeful father in the recent afternoon series Dugong Buhay! In that series, he was Simon Bernabe, the farmer whose wife and child were killed by his enemy Enrique de Lara.

He kidnapped and raised de Lara’s child as Victor with the sole intent of using the child to exact revenge upon the entire de Lara family. As Simon, Buencamino brought to life a hard and unforgiving man who saw the world through his burning hatred and anger.

Torre, of course, is among the country’s most respected character actors, frequently seen in gripping dramas. He was last seen in the fantasy primetime series Juan dela Cruz, for which he played the character Mang Pepe, head of a secret society called the Kapatiran which fought aswangs.

He was also seen in the internationally acclaimed film ‘On the Job,’ for which he played the role of Tatang, a convict hired from prison to execute assassination jobs.

For Honesto, both Torre and Buencamino are in off-beat roles that bring out their versatility as performers. Their facial expressions when they cook up a fiendish plot or when they are on the verge of getting caught are trademarks of masters of their craft.

Ranting and raving, such as when his housing project scam was exposed by Lemuel Galang, Hugo Layer as portrayed by Torre is quite hilarious. The character is miles different from those that Torre is frequently seen portraying; and I am certain without a shade of a doubt that Torre is enjoying himself as Hugo Layer.

It shows in his performances.

Then there was this episode when Cleto had to load stolen gold from crates hidden inside a cave onto a car, only to have to pick up Honesto – of all people – as a passenger and even suffer a flat tire on the way home.

The way Buencamino as an extremely fatigued Cleto tried to load the last bag of gold onto the car was just simply brilliant! I am sure he is enjoying himself as much as Torre is.

One has to give credit to the writers for thinking up scenes that allow performers like Torre and Buencamino, among others, to bring out the best in themselves.

I just hope that Honesto avoids the route taken by Juan dela Cruz, which started as a charming light comedy but then deteriorated into dragging dramatic scenes towards the end as the producers tried to milk the ratings.

I stayed with Juan dela Cruz from start to finish but was just waiting to see the series through towards the end. With Honesto, I hope the writers keep the hilarity coming because Torre and Buencamino have risen to the challenge and made the series fun primetime viewing.

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