Here is another one to chalk up for a minor production that premiered years ago on a local streaming platform, only to get noticed and find a new lease on life with a major streaming playground. Granted, this streaming original produced by Dreamscape Digital and Rein Entertainment, which premiered online back in 2019, was not exactly obscure in its home platform of iWant. But being picked up by Netflix to add to their still rather massive international media library is always something to celebrate, as is the case for “Bagman,” which starred Kapamilya actor Arjo Atayde who is understandably excited.
The Philippine Star reports that Dreamscape Digital’s 2019 iWant Original series “Bagman” will soon be streaming to a much bigger audience this coming weekend courtesy of Netflix. Its lead actor, ABS-CBN talent Arjo Atayde, noted in an email interview with the Star that he thinks highly of the socio-political thriller narrative from the drama series, praising the high concept developed by Dreamscape and how it showed the corrupting nature of political practice and maneuvering, and how it could turn well-meaning people into dangerous, untrustworthy individuals.
“I hate to think it’s reality but it’s definitely something we’re all turning a blind eye to,” says Arjo. The Kapamilya star related his first reading of the “Bagman” script, where he went the course of having trouble believing its reality to worry if he could effectively portray the main character. Said antihero, a small-town barber, reluctantly accepts a job offer from the Governor of Magdiwang province to serve as his titular bagman – courier of sensitive and potentially illegal materials – to save his business from being wrecked by urban redevelopment. Witnessing the dark underbelly of provincial politicking spurs Atayde’s character Benjo to seek and hold onto personal power, ostensibly for the sake of his family but gradually for his own.
Arjo Atayde had no idea how real-life bagmen did their thing, but he remarks that the creative team behind the show helped him pull together the compelling characterization of Benjo, for which he would win Best Actor for “Bagman” at the 2020 Asian Academy Creative Awards in December 2020. This achievement, trumping other Asian actors from China and Southeast Asia, was made sweeter by how he got it before turning 10 years old in Philippine showbiz. Fans who have seen “Bagman” however should not expect a repeat of that character archetype from Arjo, as he is always looking to grow further in the acting industry.
“Bagman” begins streaming on Netflix Philippines this coming July 9. Atayde is currently active at the Kapamilya Channel on cable, and is slated for another project on iWant (now iWantTFC). He has also had a recent guest role in a sitcom for rival network GMA7.
Image courtesy of ABS-CBN News