The return of Puto

THIRTY years after the release of the comedy-fantasy film Puto, its main character is returning, this time on television.

The 1987 comedy-fantasy film, Puto becomes a television series on TV5 with magical adventures, and new and a few original cast members.

The film followed the shy young Ivanhoe “Puto” Dela Cruz who was bullied by his classmates. The TV series is set 30 years later, Puto is now a father and tries to save his son Uno from the same fate he suffered as an unpopular kid in high school. The fantasy aspect of “comedy-fantasy” comes from the involvement of Filipino mythical creatures in Puto and Uno’s adventures.

TV5’s Puto stars Herbert Bautista, reprising his role as Puto (who gets his nickname since he sells puto or steamed rice cakes).  “I think it is still as relevant as it was [from] 30 plus years ago…,” Mr. Bautista said in an online press conference on June 16 via Zoom. “I had to watch [the movie] again, so that I can relate myself as the father of Uno.”

The teenage Uno, played by dancer and actor McCoy De Leon (who previously starred in an episode of TV5’s Wanted: Ang Serye), finds himself struggling to find acceptance among his peers at school. “Mahilig ako sa mga lumang comedy. Iba ang atake ng comedy dati, tumatatak talaga (I am fond of old comedy. The comedy landed differently before),” Mr. De Leon said. “Ang sarap makagawa ng ganoong proyekto na may halong napapanahon na istorya. (It is good to create a project with a timely story).”

The comedy-fantasy series will show the dynamics of Filipino families.

In the TV5 reboot, directed by Raynier Brizuela, Puto and Uno embark on new adventures as their lives are intertwined with creatures of the duwende (dwarf) realm. Lassy Marquez, MC Calaquian, and Chad Kinis play The Mamitas, the three elves rescued by Puto in the movie who now take on human form and help care for Uno. The Mamitas serve as Uno’s mother figures growing up.

As the series unfolds, Uno will realize that he is half-duwende and is born with magical powers which could either lead to something good or bad.

Joining the new cast are Rafa Siguion-Reyna as Uno’s professor; Andrea Babierra and Bob Jbeili as Uno’s best friends; Carlyn Ocampo as Uno’s love interest; Andrew Muhlach as the school bully; Caleb Santos and TJ Valderrama play good duwendes; Billy Villeta plays the bad duwende; and Giovanni Respal plays the leader of the bad duwendes.

The series also brings back performers from the original movie: Janno Gibbs reprises his role as Puto’s best friend Juanito; Gelli de Belen as Puto’s former schoolmate Mindy who is now a cook in the school canteen; and Bing Loyzaga as Tere, now a life insurance agent and self-proclaimed plantita.

“Ang conversation naming original cast is more about buhay namin noong araw at kung ano yung buhay namin ngayon, and yung mga challenges bilang mga magulang (The conversation of the original cast revolves around our live then, and our lives now, and the challenges of being a parent),” Mr. Bautista said.

His character, Mr. Bautista said, remains the same. “He still lives by the principle of hard work,” Mr. Bautista said, adding that Puto has now expanded his business. “Hindi siya malayo sa nakaraan pero yung (It is not far from before), [but the] flavor is very different from 30 years ago.”

Puto will air on Saturdays, 6 p.m., on TV5 beginning June 19. Replays air on Sundays at 5 p.m. beginning June 20 on the Sari Sari Channel, available on Cignal Ch. 3 and SatLite Ch. 30. Viewers can also watch via TV5’s livestream on the Cignal Play app which is available for iOS and Android users. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman