Coco Martin hopes Padre de Familia will help people understand the hardships of being an OF

Coco Martin talks to us about the hardships of being an overseas Filipino worker ahead of the release of Padre de Familia.

The Filipino Channel continues its TCM at the Movies season with Thursday's release in selected Vox and Novo Cinemas of the Coco Martin and Nora Aunor starrer Padre de Familia, a family drama in which Pinoy icon Martin plays a Filipino expat in Malaysia struggling to support his mother and family at home in the absence of a traditional father figure.

The story is sure to ring true with thousands of expat Filipinos, including those in the UAE, and Martin says he drew on his own experiences as an overseas Filipino worker in Canada for the role: "I would probably be still here, fighting for a chance at life," he told The National from Manila. "There came a time I gave up when I was overseas. No matter how many times I tried working on my visa, I wasn't able to. When I went back to the Philippines, I still wanted to return to Canada despite the difficulties I encountered. It's sad to admit but the opportunities here are not enough for us Filipinos – opportunities to help the family. When I was in Canada, the opportunities were huge. For every place I went to, I dreamt of bringing my family too. When I ate at restaurants, I wished could let my family experience the food I ate too. Back in Canada, I used to gather bottles and in a month, I raised as much as 100 Canadian dollars. That's what I sent to the Philippines because I didn't want to spend my salary. I devoted my salary to my rent and for opportunities to start again. I tried looking for the right connections. I shared all these in the movie. When you watch the movie, your family will appreciate what you go through as an OF (overseas Filipino). It's a mean feat to be an OF."

The movie opens across the Gulf on Thursday February 18, with screenings in the UAE, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain, and also opens in Europe next week.