Opinion

Ang Probinsyano Demystified: How Cardo Dalisay Hypnotized the Nation

‘Ang Probinsyano’ is back on national television.
IMAGE ABS-CBN Entertainment
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Just when you thought ABS-CBN’s shutdown was the final nail in the coffin that ended Ang Probinsyano, Cardo Dalisay comes back to life once again, like the many times he did on the four-year-old show. According to ABS-CBN, Ang Probinsyano is making a comeback on various cable television platforms

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More than a thousand episodes on, Filipinos are still captivated by the action-drama series, which managed to stay on top of primetime ratings. It centers on the life and work of policeman Cardo Dalisay played by Coco Martin, who helped improve people’s trust rating of the Philippine National Police. In fact, Filipino’s fervent belief in Cardo and Ang Probinsyano resulted in the election victory of two party lists named “Ang Probinsyano” in 2019.

But why is the series so captivating? It is a drama that has performed exceptionally well despite it not being romantic and lacking the star power of love teams that do so well for ratings, and its themes of crime, corruption, and violence are nothing new to Philippine television.

Throughout its four-year run, Ang Probinsyano has kept a simple yet intelligent formula for success, and it is backed by Science.

Filipinos have an overwhelming devotion to family, and Ang Probinsyano shows it.

Family ties is the most powerful value among Filipinos. A number of surveys shows family is the most important thing for Filipinos. It is the reason why millions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) endure hardships abroad so they can provide for their families back home.

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Ang Probinsyano’s themes are all centered on the Filipino’s need for family ties and the powerful culture of extending our familial bonds with those who are outside our bloodline. Take note of how Cardo and Lola Flora (played by Susan Roces) took in two orphaned kids Onyok and Makmak as their own, and how household helpers are treated as family. These are not uncommon realities in Filipino society, and many viewers are able to connect with these.

But that is not all. Throughout the episodes, Lola Flora emerges as the matriarch who reprimands and hands out advice to Cardo and the rest of the household. Her character is an accurate depiction of our mothers and grandmothers who incessantly nag us about safety and good habits. She is the constantly worried lola who would turn to her rosary beads and spend sleepless nights praying for all her family members. But she is also a leader—she plays the role of a highly capable barangay captain who is beloved and respected by everybody in the village.

This strong matriarchal theme in Ang Probinsyano is a mirror of how Filipinos lean toward a matriarchal society. In global studies, the Philippines has consistently topped rankings on gender equality. The country even topped the study on the most number of women in top business positions.

By accurately depicting these two most important values in Filipino society, Ang Probinsyano remains in perfect synchronicity with the mind and soul of Filipinos. Viewers always relate and identify with characters and situations portrayed in the series, which also finds ways to smuggle current events in each season.

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Cardo Dalisay is a stubborn ideologist, but in all his struggles against crime, corruption, and the forces of malice, his faithfulness to family ties is what makes him truly immortal.

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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