Filmography: Darna at Ding (1980)

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Basic Information: Directed, story, screenplay: J. Erastheo Navoa, Cloyd Robinson; Cast: Vilma Santos, Niño Muhlach, Celia Rodriguez, Marissa Delgado, Veronica Jones, Max Alvarado, Panchito, Angie Ferro, Bayani Casimiro, Rez Cortez, Teroy de Guzman, Moody Diaz, Paquito Diaz, Ike Lozada, Lily Miraflor, German Moreno, Palito, Don Pepot, Jimmy Santos, Al Tantay, Tsing Tong Tsai, Donna Villa; Cinematography: Hermo Santos; Film Editing: Eduardo Jarlego Jr.; Production Design: Ruben Arthur Nicdao; Sound: Luis Reyes

Plot Description: Darna at Ding, Vilma’s fourth and final portrayal of Darna, takes her to another wild adventures, this time with her younger brother Ding. When a mysterious rock falls into the hands of Narda, she has no idea that it will change her life forever. Later, she finds out that the rock is an amulet that gives her super power. This is the start of the many adventures of Darna, that have her battling with the evil sorceress Lei Ming and Hawk Woman. A whole new adventue with the popular Philippine heroine, Darna at Ding is another classic worth watching! – Kabayan Central (READ MORE)

Narda (Vilma Santos) and her young brother Ding (Niño Muhlach) find a glowing stone that has fallen from that sky and when swallowed by Narda turns her into a superwoman. From then on, the tandem of Narda and Ding embark into adventures of saving the world from evil. Together they fight the avenging German woman scientist (Marissa Delgado) who turns healthy people into zombies by injecting them with microbes that is transmittable through their saliva. Then Narda and Ding stay with their aunt in Chinatown, Manila where a Chinese witch is kidnapping children. But Ding is made ill by the witch’s sorcery. Will Darna’s power be effective to save her brother against black magic? – TFC Now (READ MORE)

Film Achievement: The last of the four Vilma Santos Darna films; Official Selection: 11th FilmAsia (2015) Czech Republic

Film Review: “…The climax of this “Darna vs. the Dragon Lady” part of Darna At Ding sees Lei Ming conjure up an evil double of Darna to keep our heroine busy while, elsewhere in her lair, a towering robot bears menacingly down upon Ding. It’s a suitably whiz-bang finale to this loopy, kitchen sink confection, and one that makes the long, strange and circuitous route that we’ve taken to get to it seem perhaps less arduous in retrospect. Still, at a solid two hours, Darna At Ding is an example of a movie that pulls out all the stops, but perhaps shouldn’t have. While it’s combination of horror movie chills, superhero thrills and slapstick spills might have been catnip for the Filipino audience of its day, for the rest of us it might prove mildly exhausting. Nonetheless, I find Vilma Santos so appealing in her role that it’s hard for me to imagine hating any Darna movie that she appears in, and this one’s no exception.” – Todd of “luchadiaries” (READ MORE)

The movie started on how Narda got her power as Darna. As soon as Narda transformed into Darna, she quickly started her adventure with Ding fighting the Hawk Woman. And soon after Darna and Ding found a giant and both lost the fight to Darna. As the story unfold Dr. Vontesberg pretended as a good samaritan with an evil plan to destroy the towns people who killed her grandfather mistakenly accused as a devil worshipper. Dr. Vontesberg summoned the dead and terrorized the townspeople. Narda was captured by the mad Dr. Vontesberg and showed her how she operates her plans. Ding got on time to rescue her helpless sister and they both stopped Vontesberg evil plans. Then, Darna and Ding flew their way to the city. And on their way, they captured a bunch of loose prisoners, after this scene was a long lots of talking non-action scenes. Finally, Lei Ming and Darna measured their strength and powers. Lei Ming created an evil Darna to destroy the real Darna. At the end Lei Ming lose and took her own life. – Super Heroes Lives (READ MORE)

“Due to the Internet, one day soon I’m sure information on all of the cinematic obscurities of the world will be available to us, but at the moment it’s still wonderful to uncover a country’s hidden pop culture hitherto unnoticed by the rest of the planet. Take Video48, a mind-shattering trip into the uncharted realms of Filipino cinema, featuring a menagerie of stills, posters and articles from films I never even dared to dream existed! I stumbled across home-grown super-heroes such as Mars Revelo’s Darna a few years back, and Eric Cueto’s fansite provided a wealth of information on her cinematic adventures, (whilst also revealing tantalising glimpses of her on-screen contemporaries), but I certainly hadn’t realised the extent to which comic book characters pervaded the Philippine big-screen. Chances are the country was second only to Turkey when it came to cinematic Super-heroes – Darna herself has starred in 14 films and two TV series, which certainly puts Wonder Woman to shame…Sadly most of these fantasy films are unlikely to have survived – the condition of the Vilma Santos’ early Darna movies is supposedly so wretched that a DVD release has been permanently canned, and ancient VHS copies of Darna & the Giants and Darna & the Planet Women are jealously guarded by the few collectors who salvaged them from rental shops. Just as in Turkey, these films were probably considered to be as disposable as the comic books on which they were based – but I for one would go ga-ga for a double bill of this years The Dark Knight with 1973’s Fight Batman Fight (fair enough, my brain might melt out of my ears afterwards, but what a way to go…” – Poptique (READ MORE)

Most Popular Darna “…Ding, ang bato!” yells Narda, the adolescent country lass, to her younger brother. Ding obligingly hands over a shiny pebble which Narda swallows to turn herself into the vivacious super-vixen, Darna. Mars Ravelo’s superheroine, clad in crimson bikinis and knee-high stiletto boots, may perhaps be the most famous local fantasy character given life on the silver screen. Though not actually considered a career-defining role, portraying Darna is, nonetheless, highly-coveted. Darna has been portrayed by no less than nine actress in 12 feature films. Rosa del Rosario first wore the scarlet two piece in May 1951. She reprised the role after three months. Liza Moreno, Eva Montes and Gina Pareno followed her. The inter-galactic pebble found its way to Vilma Santos’ throat in 1973 via the flick “Lipad, Darna, Lipad!” Santos, now a two-term mayor of Lipa City in Batangas, is probably the most popular Darna, with a total of four movies in a span of seven years. Some of these were made known to younger generations through afternoon airings on television in the late ’80s. Maybe RPN 9 should do that again so that even younger generations can marvel at Darna’s greatness, albeit antiquated, in such movies as “Darna and the Giants” and “Darna vs. the Planet Women…” – Armin Adina, Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 06, 2003 (READ MORE)

“…That’s not to say that there aren’t fun moments to be had in this twelfth Darna outing – quite the contrary. The opening is fantastically absurd [I really dig those forced perspective giant effects], as is the Darna-versus-Darna battle that serves as the climax. But for every moment of overt glee there are twenty or so more in which nothing happens at all. It’s a pity, really, as the potential for entertainment is certainly there, but remains woefully un-tapped. From a production standpoint Darna at Ding was better than I anticipated, and there was obviously at least a little money put behind it. Special effects were about as good as I expected, and work well enough without becoming entirely embarrassing. The cast is quite good too, paltry as the material they have to work with is. Vilma Santos is always a pleasure to have on screen, and Nino Mulhach never becomes tiresome or annoying as Ding. The giant who sees such little action is familiar as well – Max Alvarado, who would go on to play Columbus, one of the multitude of villains in for y’ur height only. The soundtrack is groovy but of dubious legality. I recognized much of what was played, but could only pin down Pink Floyd’s Time for certain…” – Kevin Pyrtle, WTF-FILM (READ MORE)

Darna is Not a ‘Rip-off” of Wonder Woman – “…Because of the character’s immense popularity, several other studios would license the character and produce more Darna movies throughout the next several decades. After Rosa Del Rosario, Vilma Santos (who first played Darna in 1973’s “Lipad, Darna, Lipad”) would be the most well known and the most in demand to play the character. She starred in a total of 4 Darna movies. Her 4th and final one being in 1980. For years after that, no more Darna movies were produced…” – Raffy Arcega, Comic Book Movie (READ MORE)

Intergalactic Warrior – “…There were comic-inspired franchises that never travelled beyond their own borders, such as the Darna series from the Philippines in the 1970s – she was an intergalactic warrior disguised as an earthling – and which helped actress Vilma Santos turn the fame she achieved into a political career that still sees her serving as governor of Batangas province…” – Matt Scott, South China Morning Post, 20 April, 2014 (READ MORE)

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Filmography: Ikaw Ang Mahal Ko (1996)

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Basic Information: Directed: Tony Cruz; Story: Fernando Poe Jr. aka Ronwaldo Reyes; Screenplay: Pablo S. Gomez, Manny R. Buising; Cast: Fernando Poe Jr., Vilma Santos, Maritoni Fernandez, Bob Soler, Paquito Diaz, Max Alvarado, Dencio Padilla, Boy Alano, Bella Flores, Odette Khan, Melisse Santiago, Tony Bernal, Gamaliel Viray, Ruby Rodriguez, Jimmy Santos; Executive producer: Fernando Poe Jr., Susan V. Tagle; Original Music: Jaime Fabregas; Cinematography: Ver Reyes; Film Editing: Augusto Salvador; Production Design: Ben Payumo; Film Poster: Video 48

Plot Description: The King of Philippine movies and the Star for All Seasons team up in this hilarious and heart-warming romatic comedy. FPJ is Pilo, a mild-mannered bodyguard whose only daughter considers every single woman she knows as a prospective new mother. Vilma is Miling, an old-fashioned probinsiyana who stows away when she learns that her aunt has bethroted her to the richest man in town. They meet in the most bungling of situations and they become fast enemies. But when two people are meant to stay together, it doesnt really matter if their first meeting was disastrous. – FPJ Production

In this highly entertaining action flick, Fernando Poe Jr. plays Pilo, a widow driver whose only daughter yearns for a mother. Vilma Santos stars as Miling, a beautiful but combatant single lady who comes to Manila to escape an old man who wants to mary her in the province. She lands a job in a department store owned by Pilo’s employer, Bianca, played by Maritoni Fernandez. The first time Pilo and Milling meet, it starts with a kiss and ends in jail. Pilo’s blunder makes Milling hate his guts, and she demands almost the impossible for her to forgive him. But for Pilo, it’s nothing that cannot be worked out. Bianca starts to notice Pilo’s growing interest in her newly-hired saleslady. Driven by jealousy, she makes life hell for Milling. Things take a turn for the worse when a group of men hunts her down for something she unknowingly possesses. Amidst the chaos, Pilo fights for her life, hoping that this woman he loves will also capture his child’s heart. – DVD Covers

Film Achievement: The last film of FPJ and VSR.

Film Review: “…In 1996 Vilma Santos did “Ikaw Ang Mahal Ko” with the late FPJ. The film did not do well, both critically and commercially. This year also was a bad year for the local entertainment industry as Ishmael Bernal died on June 2nd. It was reported that he was scheduled to direct a film about the life story of Lola Rosa Henson, the comfort woman during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines. The project was also reportedly offered to Vilma Santos. From 1997 to 2009, Vilma Santos completed 6 full featured films, two were considered record breaking films and almost all gave her acting recognitions including two international best actress recognitions…” – RV (READ MORE)

“…Memories! I started reminiscing instantly. I want to ask Ate Susan (Roces, FPJ’s wife) nga for DVD copies of our three movies. I was only 21 when we made “Batya.” Ninety percent of the movie was shot in Hacienda Luisita (Tarlac) where we stayed for two months. He taught me how to swim in the hacienda’s swimming pool. We were with (co-star) Lorna Tolentino then. I admit that I didn’t know how to swim when I did “Dyesebel.” But the most memorable scene [from “Batya”] was the ending, where I ran after him, while he was aboard a train…” – Vilma Santos (READ MORE)

“Fernando Poe Jr. and Vilma Santos were chosen the Box-office Actor and Actress for 1983 by the Metro Manila Theaters Association during the First Cinehan Awards held at the Philippine Plaza Hotel ballroom.” – Simon Santos (READ MORE)

“Action King Fernando Poe, Jr. and Vilma Santos were awarded the Box-Office King and Queen in 1974. That year, both stars starred and appeared in the movie, “Batya’t Palu-Palo,” a sensational hit.” – Simon Santos (READ MORE)

After more than a year’s absence, Vilma Santos is back to where her heart really belongs – show business. “This is my life.” she told us at an informal dinner last Saturday. “I can’t imagine myself not making movies, or being on television.” In fact, the ‘star for all seasons,” as Santos is endearingly referred to, is very visible promoting Ikaw Ang Mahal Ko, the movie that officially signals her return to the big screen. She is reunited with Fernando Poe Jr. 20 years after Bato Sa Buhangin, their second team-up after the box-office smash Batya’t Palu-palo. The multi-awarded actress quit television and the movie last year when she and her husband Batangas Rep. Ralph Recto decided to have a baby. ” I just had to do it because I don’t want other people to accuse me later that I didn’t give importance to my marriage,” she explained. “That’s how I love Ralph so much, I can give up so many things for the sake of our marriage.” At one point, Santos almost gave up hoping that she could have another baby. She had one 15 years ago, Lucky, by then husband Edu Manzano. “But I prayed so hard that I even made a promise to Him to attend Mass every Sunday,” she recalled. I am so glad the Lord answered my prayers.” And, as if to return the favor, the Recto couple named their newborn baby Christian.

Santos remembered being house-bound for almost a year. “I am still lucky I wasn;t totally bedridden,” seh said. “My doctors allowed me some physical movements, although these were vey minimal like bathroom privileges or a short walk around the room. It was so boring I turned into a couch potato. Napanood ko na yat lahat ng palabas sa TV.” But even before she gave birth, she was already being besieged with offers. Santos said she never really intended to quit show business permanently. She studied all those offers carefully during her delicate pregnancy. When she finally emerged from her self-imposed leave, she found herself facing the cameras again. There is a whiff of anticipation in Santos’ eyes, especially on how the audience would react to Ikaw Ang Mahal Ko. Many are expecting to see her onscreen in a dramatic role something she is quite famous for. But to her, playing a light romantic lead to the country’s action king is just the right preparation for heavier stuff in the future. In a way, she is excited about this reunion with Poe. Despite having been together in just two movies, both had ignited a different kind of excitement among their respective fans. Poe feels the audience is ready for another one.

The Last Pinoy Hero – Come to think of it Philippine cinema has only one remaining screen hero – Fernando Poe Jr. His movies no matter how similar the stories and the characters he plays are, have always drawn moviegoers to the theaters nationwide. Many Filipino men look up to him as their role model. Women find him more than just a screen hero. He is to a lot of them, an enigma who subtly seduces them to watch him. Poe is possibly the only actor this side of the world that can slug it out in the local box office with Hollywood heavies like Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenneger or Bruce Willis, and, perchance, even survive an alien invasion. He rarely goes on a promo blitz to generate interest in his movies. His leading ladies do the job for him.. But, cash register figures always prove his indubitable and formidable stature as the country’s box-office king. Remember Ang Syota Kong Balikbayan? Every industry doomsayer predicted its plunge in the tills. A least-promoted project, Ang Probinsyano similarly earned a dark forecast. Both, to every pseudopsychic’s shame earned more than what FPJ even expected. Now, will the FPJ enigma woek once again with Ikaw Ang Mahal Ko? Vilma Santos hasn’t made a movie for almost two years and her fans are eagerly awaiting her return. Poe’s fans apparently still enjoy watching their idol terminate his onscreen foes with the now-patented left-hand-multiple jab. – Isah V. Red, Manila Standard, Nov 27, 1996 (READ MORE)