Balance

Who is the next Darna?

angel locsin as darna
Angel Locsin as Darna | Image credit

Last April 8, my mother, sister, my kids—Sasha and Adele—and I watched the 19th Antipolo Cityhood Parade. This year’s theme was Pinoy Komiks. We’ve seen our own barangays’ versions of Dyesebel, Flavio of Ang Panday, Barok and Gundina, Lastikman and of course, Darna.

My kids loved the huge floats. I think this was the first time they’ve seen something like this.

I, myself, is a big fan of Pinoy comics. I grew up reading Funny Komiks and Liwayway. I look forward to Saturdays not because there’s no school on that day, but also because we can go to the plaza and buy the latest Funny Komiks.

On Sunday papers, my first stop is always the comics section. I like Pugad Baboy and its satires about the government, politics and other nonchalant issues that we Filipinos are facing today.

I even read the comic strips on Bazooka’s wrapper. Hehe.

Watching the floats pass by, I remember my fondness of Pinoy comics. There is something so gratifying to see the live versions of those comics characters especially Darna.

Hey, who doesn’t love Darna!?

Who is Darna anyway?

Created by Mars Ravelo, Darna is a Pinay superheroine. Ravelo conceptualized Darna in 1939 as the female counterpart of Superman, which explains her powers and capabilities. However, it was not until 1947 when the Filipino comic readers caught a glimpse of Darna. The character wasn’t even called Darna then but Varga, a deceased extraterrestrial warrior that magically manifests herself through Narda, with the help of the white stone, of course. Varga’s mortal identity was-guess who-Narda! Darna was an anagram to Narda.

Ravelo has to leave Varga behind after a falling out with the editors of Bulaklak Komiks, Varga’s publisher. So, Darna (the Darna we know today) was first published in 1950 by Pilipino Komiks. Nestor Redondo illustrated Ravelo’s retooling of Varga as Darna. Right from the start, Darna was pitted against her archnemesis, Valentina, the snake goddess.

Darna ran for 28 issues, and a movie was made even before the comic series ended. In 1951, the first Darna movie, which was directed by Fernando Poe Sr. (and the last film he directed), graced the Philippine cinemas. Vilma Santos, or Ate Vi to her fans, wore the iconic Darna costume four times between 1973 and 1980.

While she’s a fictional character, Darna is considered a cultural icon in the Philippines. She’s one of the most celebrated characters in Philippine comicdom, if not the most famous.

Going back, as I watched the parade, I remember Darna, with Angel Locsin as the main protagonist; a local TV adaptation in 2005. The telefantasya was shown on GMA-7. Angel epitomized Darna. To this day, I think it holds the record for the highest TV rating at 52.1 audience share. It was on the night when Angel first transformed to Darna.

[There were even rumors that some areas in the metro experienced a brownout/blackout.]

I also watched that of Marian Rivera’s in 2009.

I vividly remember the movie versions too, although I’ve only seen the movies with Nanette Medved and Anjanette Abayari. I love the simplicity of the plot of both movies and the characterization of both actresses to think they have very different physical features.

Angel, Marian, Nanette and Anjanette played their role well.

In 2012, the ABS-CBN Management bought the rights to produce Darna. A movie is slated this year or the next. And according to the network executives, they would love to see Angel fly again as Darna, but she cannot. She experienced back pain twice while training for the said role.

While there’s a clamor for Angel to play Darna again, sadly, she already announced that she could no longer do Darna. She is currently suffering from a health condition—a disc bulge in her spine—that prevents her from reprising the role. Her doctor advised Angel not to engage in any extreme physical activities as they would lead to permanent damages to her spine. Ouch!

So, who will be the next Darna? Who will be the next one to shout, “Ding, ang bato!?”

Fans are rooting for:

Liza Soberano

Erik Matti, who will direct the movie, wants Liza to play Darna because her Pan-Asian features suit the physical characteristics of the heroine. Liza said she would be honored, but is not ready to wear the sexy costume.

Nadine Lustre

In a short teaser released and shown in cinemas in 2015 during the Metro Manila Film Festival, the narrator sounded like Nadine, the fans took notice. Nadine herself wants to play the role, but she said she’s not ready.

Jessy Mendiola

Sometime in 2015, fans thought that she was chosen as the next Darna since she posted pictures of her wearing the costume. It turned out that is was for a spoof segment on Banana Sundae. For Erik, Jessy has the built, but she is not Darna-like as she’s ‘maputi masyado.’

Maja Salvador

Maja once said she wouldn’t say no if the Darna remake will be offered to her. She added while laughing that that’s too big a responsibility for her.

Kim Chiu

Kim wore the Darna costume in 2013 during a performance in ASAP. She has yet to comment on the possibility of portraying the heroine.

Arci Muñoz

Arci said the wouldn’t pass playing the role of Darna if it’d be offered to her. Erik wants to see her personally though before he gives any observation.

Pia Wurtzbach

Miss Universe 2015 has the features of Darna. However, she’s too stunning to be Darna. Erik comments that Darna is a regular Pinay woman, not a beauty queen.

[UPDATE: It’s final: Pia won’t play Darna]

Yassi Pressman

Although no offers are made yet, Yassi mentioned that it was such an honor to be included in the list of those the management is considering for the role.

Julia Montes

Julia has the physical features suitable to portray Darna. Not to mention, her acting prowess.

Above are some of the names of the actresses that their respective fandoms want to play the next Darna. Their names are the pinakamatunog although some other stars emerge from time to time.

Bea Alonzo
Anne Curtis
KC Concepcion
Kristine Reyes
Jane Oineza
Sarah Lahbati
Jennylyn Mercado
Sanya Lopez

As for me, I am vying for Liza, Jennylyn and Sanya, pero malabo for the last two names. Liza is too young; she’s not even doing kissing scenes, so I guess the costume will be too much for her to take. Jennylyn or Sanya would be perfect for the role. But they aren’t a Kapamilya that’s why they cannot do the role. Awww…

[Or maybe there’s a possibility. Jennylyn made a movie with John Lloyd Cruz, right?]

Whoever will play Darna, it’s safe to say that the movie is a highly-anticipated one. It’s exciting enough to see Darna soar again on big screen. As the anticipation builds up, let’s all satisfy ourselves with the fact that whoever will be chosen, she must be the one.

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