MANILA, Philippines — American culture is very much ingrained in Filipinos and one solid proof to this is their love for a staple Western dish, the fried chicken. They partner it with rice for different meals of the day, and never get tired eating it!
So when Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) introduced its first Filipino Colonel here in May, Filipinos could not help talking about it! They wholeheartedly welcomed veteran actor Ronaldo Valdez, who now portrays the iconic face and founder of the fast food giant, Colonel Sanders.
A tough competition
But before Valdez took the coveted role, he first faced a tough competition from fellow veteran actors Leo Martinez and Pen Medina. All had unique personalities and acting abilities.
Valdez, who is distinguishable by his mestizo looks, rose in show business as a charming leading man. With five decades of acting career, he has become a top choice for dramatic, paternal roles in both television and film. In real life, he is father to singers Janno Gibbs and Melissa Gibbs.
Martinez, meanwhile, is a comedic actor famous for his satirical characters with distinct Batangueño accent. He is also an acting teacher who shares his broad background in theater, TV and film to young actors. He currently serves as director for the Film Academy of the Philippines.
Lastly, there is Medina who is a critically acclaimed TV, film and theater actor who practices method acting. This is apparent whenever he is playing intense roles. He is also the father of Karl, Ping and Alex, the next generation of Medina actors in the industry.
They gave life to the Colonel distinctly and differently. Valdez had a charming portrayal, Martinez, a humorous take, and Medina, with an explosive rendition.
Their phenomenal auditions released on Facebook saw Filipinos choosing their bet among the three veteran actors. Online discussions were made among the eager viewers who scrutinized why Valdez, Martinez or Medina should get the role.
In the end, only one took the honor of being KFC’s first Filipino Colonel and it was Valdez.
KFC Philippines made the much-awaited revelation on May 29 through a Facebook video that has now reached over 6.6 million views. Valdez was sworn in as the Filipino Colonel in front of thousands of fried-chicken loving Filipinos gathered at what appeared to be the Quirino Grandstand in Manila.
“I, the Colonel, do solemnly swear to fulfill all my duties to the best of my ability. I promise to uphold the fresh, hand-breaded quality in each piece of KFC original recipe chicken. Because in KFC, all parts are created equal,” Valdez said at the ceremony.
As the Filipino Colonel, he also promised to protect KFC’s secret fried chicken recipe, and pledged to push for fried chicken innovation.
“So help me gravy!” added Valdez who was dressed in an all-white suit, black bow and black leather shoes. And just like Colonel Sanders, Valdez also wore those iconic pair of black-rimmed eyeglasses.
His first innovation
Keeping true to his oath, the first Filipino Colonel immediately put forth his first “egg-xecutive order,” which was a new fried chicken dish to be added to KFC’s menu.
After teasers that raised everyone’s excitement, the Filipino Colonel finally announced this as the KFC Salted Egg Yolk Chicken. His first innovation concocted a rich salted egg yolk sauce that coats the hot and crispy chicken of KFC. The result was a unique twist on the classic fried chicken.
What can be next on the Filipino Colonel’s plate? KFC fried chicken lovers can only wait and see.