In Appreciation of Mars Ravelo

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Mars Ravelo (born October 9, 1916 in Tanza, Cavite, Philippines – September 12, 1988) was a Filipino graphic novelist who created the characters Darna, Dyesebel, Captain Barbell, Lastikman, Bondying, Varga, Wanted: Perfect Mother, Hiwaga, Maruja, Mariposa, Roberta, Rita, Buhay Pilipino, Jack and Jill, Flash Bomba, Tiny Tony, and Dragonna among others. He started out as a cartoonist, then as a writer, and later on as editor -in- chief for two publications houses and for several film companies. He later established his own company, RAR. Ravelo created the characters of Darna the super heroine, Dyesebel the love-lorn mermaid, and Captain Barbel the super hero, Facifica Falayfay, and the duo of Jack & Jill. He also created the drama about a young orphaned girl named Roberta for Sampaguita Pictures. Ravelo wrote the movie adaptation of Alicia Vergel’s Basahang Ginto. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Style of Drawing – “…In my interviews, Ravelo revealed that “sa abot ng natatandaan ko” (as far as I can remember), his first published works were “Ponchong” and “Bemboy.” And had not Liwayway magazine turned him down on his Varga (Darna’s predecessor character), history would have put Darna’s origin inside Liwayway’s pages instead of Bulaklak, and she would have been the Philippines’ first komiks superhero (Yes, at least one-a-half years ahead of Wonder Woman’s first comics appearance!)…Varga is another casing point of Ravelo’s early style of drawing. True to his accounts, Varga’s illustration is a cross between McManus and Fleischer. And based on his story, the timeline of Varga should be put around 1939 and not 1947. To quote Ravelo: “Alam mo naisip kong gawin yung Varga para itapat kay Superman. Lalake yung sa mga Amerikano, babae yung sa atin. Di ba ayos?” (You know I thought of creating Varga as a counterpart of Superman. Male on the part of the Americans, female on our part. Isn’t that okay?). It can also be noted that Varga was a character archived twice. By some twist of circumstance, the name Varga became the ownership of Bulaklak magazine (during those times, intellectual property right is not yet in effect) and when Ravelo left the publication in 1949 after a falling out with its editor, Varga stayed behind. Ravelo took Varga’s personality, revised her costume, and brought her to Pilipino Komiks, and renamed the character Darna. For more than six decades the character Varga was lost, never again to be seen until ABS-CBN Channel 2 made it into a TV series which started on August 2, 2008. The character portrayed by Mariel Rodriguez, however, was very different from the original creation of Ravelo. The superheroine’s costume was change, as well as her origin and beginning. The name of her alter ego was also change – from Narda to Olga…” – Ernee Lawagan (READ MORE)

Number One Janitor – “…Only a very few know that Mars is Marcial, but 20,000,000 komiks readers will swear that Ravelo is one of the greatest things that ever happened to the local komiks industry. For his were the ideas and innovations that defied what were then regarded as “sacred institutions” in the profession and influenced the course of the komiks industry in the Philippines. Oddly enough, Ravelo’s initial foray into the local komiks field was for a man of lesser guts extremely discouraging. It would have been more than enough for the average neophyte to call it quits. But Ravelo is made of the stuff that makes champions. The young (33) Ravelo that confidently presented his first cartoon strip to a vernacular magazine editor that fine day in 1949 was already a “fighter”. He was then drifting from one low-paying menial job to another but even then, his innate desire to excel was evident. When he was a janitor, he says, he was “number one janitor”. He was also to say many years later in a magazine interview that he became “number one” in the komiks field because “I’ve always hated to be number two!” At that time, he already knew that he could write and draw well – as a matter of fact, “better than most of those already in the komiks profession.” But the magazine editor apparently did not think so; one quick glance at the comic strip presented by Ravelo and he pronounced the death sentence: “Hindi pa puwede!” (Not good enough)….” – Komiklopedia (READ MORE)

Mass Culture – “…To understand Darna is to understand Filipino mass culture. Created in 1949 by Mars Ravelo, Darna has zoomed in and out of the imagination of three generation of Filipinos. Darna, who is the local hybrid version of Wonder Woman and Supergirl first appeared in the Pilipino Komiks in the late 40’s. Nestor Redondo, considered by many in his profession as one of the unsung heroes of Filipino illustrations, gave graphic life to the original Filipina libber then named Varga. Over the years Darna has appeared and re-appeared in so many episodes, that Ravelo himself forgets the exact number, to do battle against a wide and weird array of baddies, from Valentina who sports a Medusa-like coiffure and the Babaeng Lawin to the impakta and engkantados, creatures unique to the Filipino’s supernatural hierarchy. Darna symbolizes the two principal characteristics of our mass culture: the supernatural powers that allows a great number of people to engage in never ending fights of fantasy and the dormant militance, the latent commitment to fight injustice wherever it can be found. But above all, Darna is the concrete expression of the cultural schizophrenia that besets us. The superheroine’s creater, Mars Ravelo, really admits that it was the prevalence of a colonial mentality among many readers that compelled him to create a comic strip hero that approximated the stature and powers of the then most popular American heroes, Wonder Woman and Supergirl. Ravelo says, “Naisip ko noon, gayong sikat sina Wonder Woman at Supergirl, bakit hindi ako gumawa ng isang karakter na may mga powers na katulad ng mga ito at ilagay sa situwasyong Pilipino.” Indeed this tendency to go along with trends set in America was and still is true for many comics strip writers. Ravelo, however, had more than mere imitation and lumping into the superhero bandwagon in mind. Ravelo goes on, “Naiisip ko kasi noon since nadito na rin lang yang colonial mentality why not work around it. Kaya naman kung mapapansin nin’yo I try to inject certain amount of relevance to Darna’s adventures. For one thing she talks, thinks, and feels in the vernacular. She exhibits idiosyncrasies that are distinctly Filipino and she fights characters that are unique to the Filipino milieu. Besides the kinds of conflict that she gets involved in and the caused she fights for are those that masses themselves can identify with.” Like all superheroes, however, Darna is one of the best examples of escapist entertainment. Even Ravelo admits to this when he says, “I don’t like writing fantasy. Pero anong magagawa ko? I personally would like to write about real, down-to-earth characters and situations. But the masses just won’t but that! Kasi, kahit na mataas nga ang literacy level ng mga Pilipino alam natin na functional literacy lang ito. Huwag lang masabing ‘no read no write…” – Bill Davidson, TV Times March 13 – 19 1977

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)

Mars Ravelo and Vilma Santos

Ging is a poignant story of a poor gifted girl, trying to make both ends meet by singing and dancing in crowded streets and cafeterias. – Komiklopedia

“…Even at the early age, it was clear that she was already brimming with talent. Vilma, apparently, was born into this world to perform, entertain and make people happy. She was utterly convincing in the dramatic scenes and thoroughly graceful in her musical numbers. Listang-lista – as we’d say in the vernacular. Even then, she was already living up to her showbiz title of “Star for All Seasons” because her performance in “Ging” is not only brilliant, but timeless as well…” – Butch Francisco, People’s Journal 04 March 1999 (READ MORE)

Trudis Liit (lit. Little Trudis) is a Philippine drama produced by GMA Network, and part of that station’s Sine Novela series. Trudis Liit marks the 21st and final installment of the Sine Novela series based on the works by Mars Ravelo. Like all Sine Novela installments, Trudis Liit is based on a movie; this one made in 1963, starring Lolita Rodriguez, Luis Gonzales, Bella Flores and Vilma Santos. – Wikipedia

“…Makulit na ako no’ng time na ‘yon! So, anyway, tinawag ako ni Doc Perez [of Sampaguita Pictures] at that time. Pinaarte ako. Nag-adlib-adlib pa ako. Nakuha naman ako. So, when I started, dalawa kaagad ang pelikula ko—Trudis Liit at Anak, Ang Iyong Ina [1963]. Ang naaalala ko lang tungkol sa maaga kong pagpasok sa pag-aartista, parang laro lang sa akin iyon. Parang naglalaro lang ako noon kaya hindi trabaho sa akin iyon, e. So, very-very memorable sa akin iyon. At saka no’ng Trudis Liit, every lunch, lagi akong may apple. Lagi akong may chicken. Every lunch talaga ‘yon…” – Vilma Santos (READ MORE)

Darna is a fictional character and Filipino comics superheroine created by writer Mars Ravelo and artist Nestor Redondo. In her more popular incarnations, she is a deceased warrior from another planet manifesting herself through a girl from Earth, named Narda. She first appeared in Pilipino Komiks #77 (May 13, 1950). Darna is a retooling of Ravelo’s earlier character Varga, whose stories he wrote and illustrated himself. She first appeared in Bulaklak Magazine, Volume 4, #17 (July 23, 1947). Ravelo left Bulaklak due to differences with the editors. – Wikipedia

“…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…” – Armin Adina, Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 06, 2003 (READ MORE)

Dyesebel is a popular mermaid character in the Philippines. The comic book character was originally conceived by the Filipino comic book illustrator, Mars Ravelo. Dyesebel is a prominent character in Philippine cinema and television. – Wikipedia

“…In the 1973 Dyesebel movie, Dyesebel lives in an undersea kingdom of mermaids far from the land of humans because the humans believe that the mermaids are the cause of misfortune. Dyesebel fell in love with a male human being. In order to be with the man that she likes, she swore to find a way to be transformed into a female human being. In the movie, “Si Dyesebel at Ang Mahiwagang Kabibe,” the role of Dyesebel was played by Vilma Santos and Fredo was played by Romeo Miranda…” (READ MORE)

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Eternally Films

ARTICLES - Eternally Films 1

Eternally (1956) – Direction: Armando Garces; Story: Mars Ravelo; Screenplay: Luciano B. Carlos; Cast: Gloria Romero, Juancho Gutierrez, Tony Marzan, Delia Marcos, Pacita Arana, Jun Aristorenas; Executive Producer: Jose O. Vera; Original Music: Nestor Robles; Production Co: Sampaguita Pictures; Film poster: Video48

ARTICLES - Eternally Films 4“…Akala ng kanilang fans ay sila ang magkakatuluyan. Ngunit ang talagang napusuan ni Gloria ay si Juancho Gutierrez, na ipinakilala sa isang movie niya, “Prince Charming”, as Mr. Number One. Ang naging ka-love team noon ni Juancho ay si Amalia Fuentes, na nahirang namang Miss Number One sa star search para sa pelikulang “Hindi Basta-Basta” na si Gloria rin ang bida. Ikinasal si Gloria kay Juancho noong 1960 at nagkahiwalay sila noong 1969. Pero muli silang nagsama and Gloria took good care of Juancho until he passed away after a debilitating stroke. Kahit kasal na sila ni Juancho, patuloy siyang gumawa ng movies with Luis na tinangkilik pa rin ng publiko…” – Showbiz Portal (READ MORE)

ARTICLES - Eternally Films 2

Eternally (1971) – Direction: Leonardo L. Garcia; Screenplay: Rico Bello; Cast: Edgar Mortiz, Vilma Santos, Ven Medina, Tita De Villa, Pedro Faustino, Precila Ramirez, Jingle; Original Music: Danny Subido; Film poster: Video48

ARTICLES - Eternally Films 3“…The loveteam of Edgar Mortiz and Vilma Santos endured a stiff competition from teeny bopper love team of Nora Aunor and Tirso Cruz III and came up with equal success with string of hit films during the musical era of the 70s. Together they did forgettable but commercial hits and also some hints of the years to come to Vilma Santos’ long career. The most notable one: Dama De Noche. Total Number of films with Vilma Santos – 25 (Young Love, Teenage Jamboree, Songs and Lovers, Renee Rose, My Pledge of Love, Mga Batang Bangketa, Love Is for the Two of Us, I Love You Honey, From the Bottom of My Heart, Baby Vi, Love Letters, The Wonderful World of Music, The Sensations, The Young Idols, Sweethearts, Sixteen, Leron-Leron Sinta, Edgar Love Vilma, Don’t Ever Say Goodbye, Dama de Noche, Anak ng Aswang, Because You Are Mine, Kampanerang Kuba, Kasalanan Kaya, Karugtong ang Kahapon)…” – RV (READ MORE)

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Inspirasiyon/Inspiration

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Inspirasiyon (1953) – Produced by Sampaguita Pictures; Released on October 27 to November 5, 1953 at Life Theater; Story: Mars Ravelo; Screenplay and Direction: Armando Garces; Cast: Carmen Rosales, Norma Vales, Vam de Leon, Katy de la Cruz, Rosa Mia, Pedro Faustino, Jose de Villa, Rebecca del Rio, Panchito Alba, Aring Bautista, Horacio Morelos, Pablo Raymundo and Introducing Ricardo ‘Ric’ Rodrigo. – Simon Santos, Video 48 (READ MORE)

Januaria Keller (1918–1991) was a noted pre-WWII Filipina actress better known as Carmen Rosales and Mameng and is noted for her skill in acting and sweet voice. A native of Pangasinan born to American father and Ilocana mother, Rosales’ film debut was in the 1938 movie Ang Kiri which she made a double to Atang dela Rama. When her friend brought her to Quisumbing the man rejected Rosales because the young woman did not have an aura of an actress. But she became the most famous Filipina actress of the 1940s and 1950s and rivaled Rosa del Rosario at the box-office. She is famous for her sweet voice and recorded numerous songs. Rosales made her first debut in Ang Kiri aka The Flirt under Diwata Pictures. She starred in her first leading role opposite Jose Padilla Jr in Arimunding-Munding 1939. She became the most bankable star in Sampaguita Pictures and the highest paid actress of the 1940s and 1950s. Her unforgettable roles as a martyr lover of Rogelio dela Rosa in Maalaala Mo Kaya 1954 and a club-singer in Ang Tangi Kong Pag-ibig. She got her first Famas Award in 1954 via Inspirasyon opposite Van de Leon and a strict auntie in 1960 movie Estela Mondragon. She garnered fame in a hacendera role in Pablo Gomez’s version of MN. Her last appearance was in Inday Badiday’s Eye to Eye. Arguably, she was the undisputed and lone reigning Queen of Philippine Movies in the 40s. Her films, topbilled by her, were once vehicles that ushered the emerging popularity of Gloria Romero, Amalia Fuentes and Susan Roces, who all later became movie queens themselves decades after. Her royalty has been immortalized by naming a barrio in Rosales, Pangasinan after her, now currently divided into two barangays, Carmen East and Carmen West. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

“…Her career spanned five generations of stars and superstars, in this wise: pre-war years – Rosa del Rosario, Rogelio de la Rosa, Leopoldo Salcedo, Jose Padilla, Jr., Fernando Poe, Sr., Angel Esmeralda, Ely Ramos, Corazon Noble, Mona Lisa, Rosario Moreno, Arsenia Francisco, Elsa Oria, Rudy Concepcion, Norma Blancaflor and Paraluman; second generation – Anita Linda, Lilia Dizon, Celia Flor, Lillian Leonardo, Alicia Vergel, Erlinda Cortes, Linda Estrella, Rebecca Gonzales; third generation – Gloria Romero, Nida Blanca, Delia Razon, Nestor de Villa, Tessie Quintana, Charito Solis, Edna Luna, Ric Rodrigo, Rita Gomez, Eddie Rodriguez, Ramon Revilla; fourth generation – Amalia Fuentes, Susan Roces, Marlene Dauden, Barbara Perez, Lita Gutierrez, Mina Aragon, Daisy Romualdez, Romeo Vasquez, Eddie Gutierrez, Jose Mari, Liberty Ilagan, Bernard Bonnin; fifth generation – Josephine Estrada, Rosemarie, Gina Pareño, Blanca Gomez, Loretta Marquez, and others. Carmen’s last movie was Gintong Recuerdo produced in early 1965. She co-starred with the then “Stars ‘66” of SPI. She was still billed above the title, ahead of her co-stars. But Mameng’s most memorable movies, today considered as classics of Philippine movies, in point of prestige and box-office records are Arimunding-munding, Señorita, Probinsiyana, Ang Guerrilyera, Takip-Silim, Debutante, Maalaala Mo Kaya, MN, Kamay Ng Diyos (directed by Eddie Romero), Hindi Kita Malimot, Sandra and Inspirasiyon. The last-mentioned movie won her a FAMAS Best Actress trophy in 1953. Like most artists any where in the world, La Rosales also had a “temper” on the set. “I hate co-stars who arrive late on the set. I arrive early or on time fully made-up,” she said. “I also hate scene-stealers. Kapag frame mo, kahit extra ka lang sa pelikula, e ibibigay ko. Pero kapag frame ko na, you better give what is due me!” But she is a natural scene-stealer. She can steal a scene with just a wink or movement of her eyes – this according to the late Doc Perez…” – Manny B. Fernandez, Pelikula, Atbp. (READ MORE)

“…She quit toward the mid-’60s because she wasn’t getting any younger and had to throw in the towel (she had been on top since the pre-war). However, she kept the public interested in her by being a recluse, a la Greta Garbo and everyone kept speculating about her (did she age gracefully or was she in dire straits?). She refused interviews for both print and television and that all the more added to her mystique. For about a quarter of a century, she kept everyone guessing how she looked by hiding (no photographs, please!) from public view. Oh, she would be seen in Uni-Mart from time to time, but it was only people of her generation who recognized her, or maybe they didn’t anymore. The last image moviegoers had of her was when she was still a glamorous movie queen, and she kept it that way. She agreed to a VTR shoot for the FAMAS in 1983, but on the condition that it was just going to be a silhouette shot. But before she passed away in December 1991, she allowed herself to be interviewed by German Moreno and Inday Badiday in 1987 and the curious finally saw how age had caught up with her (she looked like a glamorous grandmother). But the mystery that she allowed to envelop her lustrous Carmen Rosales: First bona fide local movie queenname worked to her favor for more than 25 years and to this day, she is still regarded as the first bona fide movie queen of the local big screen…” – Butch Francisco, The Star, 09 Oct 2010 (READ MORE)

Related to Vi and Chato – “…Si Mameng ay Carmen Keller sa tunay na buhay, bunso sa apat na magkakapatid. “Ang mother ko ay Constantino ang apelyido kaya’t kamag-anak ko sina Charito Solis at Vilma Santos. Constantino ang lola ni Vilma at gan’on din ang lola ni Charito. Kamag-anak ko rin ang direktor na si Felicing Constantino.” Sa ngayon ay masaya na raw siya sa takbo ng kanyang buhay. “Kinatutuwaan ko ngayon ang mag-alaga ng mga manok,” aniya. May mga limang manok nga kaming nakita sa paligid. Parang pets ang pagtingin niya sa mga ito. Ang isang puting tandang ay mabulas ang tindig at pinangalanan niya ng Peter. “Mabagsik ‘yan,” kuwento niya. “’Yan ang watchdog ko rito.” Nang dumating nga kami ay agad itong sumugod at akmang manunuka kundi pinigilan ng katulong. Busy rin si Mameng sa pagtatatag ng bible reading at charismatic movement sa pook nila. “Satisfied ako sa buhay ko at masaya ako sa paggawa ng mga gawaing bahay,” dagdag pa niya. Hindi na ba siya muling magka-comeback sa pelikula? “Last year, may offer sa ‘kin si Atty. Laxa ng Tagalog Ilang-Ilang. Pero tinaasan ko talaga ang presyo ko. Sabi naman niya sa ‘kin, “I cannot blame you, Mameng. You really deserve that much.” Pero ngayon, naisip kong ayoko na talagang bumalik pa sa pelikula. I retired while I was still on top at mataas pa ang rate ko. Gusto kong maging maganda ang alaala kong maiiwan sa publiko. Wala na naman akong dapat pang patunayan kahit kanino…” – Mario E. Bautista, Jingle Extra Hot Magazine (READ MORE)

Inspiration (1972) – Directed: Ishmael Bernal; Story, screenplay: Nestor Torre Jr.; Cast: Vilma Santos, Jay Ilagan, Carlos Salazar, Merle Tuazon, Geena Zabian, Lilian Laing, Richard La Torre, Mercy Sta Maria; Original Music: Danny Subido; Cinematography: Avelino Peralta (READ MORE)

“…In a musical era of 1970s, “Inspiration” was quite an experimental film, with no musical numbers, better screenplay, well-written characters. Nestor and Bernal works well in establishing the character of Jay and Vilma. Their dialouges are not “corny” and very realistic. There is no over the top dramatic scenes inserted between musical numbers here. The parent played wonderfully by Merle Tuazon and Carlos Salazar were convincing. Although both Vilma and Jay played their roles effectively, Lilian Laing steals the film as Lola Jane. She was bubly and funny, a sex-starved, karate black belter, polo game afficianado, who loves life and considering she playing the old grandma who is also the solution to all the complication in life. Bernal was on his element here, a good story teller, pre-”Dalawang Pugad Isang Ibon, Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga and Relasyon.” Although he is directing a light comedy, written by Nestor Torre Jr., he managed to established all the characters without relying on corny dialouges common in this era…” – RV (READ MORE)

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FILM REVIEW: TRUDIS LIIT

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The Plot: Ang Trudis Liit ay isang pelikulang Drama kung saan inaapi ang kaawa-awang si Trudis (Vilma Santos) ng kanyang madrasta (Bella Flores). Ito ay ipinalabas noong Pebrero 21, taong 1963. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

The Reviews: “This is, of course, Vilma’s first film and it has all the elements of a melodrama – the good guys and one extremely bad woman (Bella Flores). This early, you can already tell that Vilma was to the acting profession born. (She won FAMAS Best Child Actress for this film). She doesn’t allow herself to be eclipsed by her veteran co-stars: Luis Gonzales and the Lolita Rodriguez. But with due respect to Vilma, even if she is the one who plays the title role here and is undeniably good in this Sampaguita Pictures box-office hit, the one who leaves a really lasting impression in the minds of most viewers is the character played by Connie Angeles – Oreng. After all, wasn’t it this girl who gets chewed up by a German Shepherd in the film?” – Butch Francisco, Newsflash.org Feb 2004 (READ MORE)

“Nakihalo lang ako doon sa mga nag-a-audition sa Trudis Liit [1963],” pagbabalik-tanaw ng aktres kung paano siya napasok sa showbiz at naging bida nga kaagad sa nabanggit niyang proyektong iyon. Hindi ako dapat talaga doon [sa audition na iyon]. Nakipila lang ako. Pagpila ko, tinatawag ako ng mommy ko na, ‘Hindi ka diyan! Sabi ko, ‘Andito na, e!’ Makulit na ako no’ng time na ‘yon! So, anyway, tinawag ako ni Doc Perez [of Sampaguita Pictures] at that time. Pinaarte ako. Nag-adlib-adlib pa ako. Nakuha naman ako. So, when I started, dalawa kaagad ang pelikula ko—Trudis Liit at Anak, Ang Iyong Ina [1963]. Ang naaalala ko lang tungkol sa maaga kong pagpasok sa pag-aartista, parang laro lang sa akin iyon. Parang naglalaro lang ako noon kaya hindi trabaho sa akin iyon, e. So, very-very memorable sa akin iyon. At saka no’ng Trudis Liit, every lunch, lagi akong may apple. Lagi akong may chicken. Every lunch talaga ‘yon. Parang… Siguro bata, so ibibigay nila ‘yong gano’ng ano sa ‘yo. Parang may prize ka, gano’n. So, memorable sa akin iyon.” – Vilma Santos (READ MORE)

“This is, of course, Vilma’s first film and it has all the elements of a melodrama – the good guys and one extremely bad woman (Bella Flores). This early, you can already tell that Vilma was to the acting profession born. (She won FAMAS Best Child Actress for this film). She doesn’t allow herself to be eclipsed by her veteran co-stars: Luis Gonzales and the Lolita Rodriguez. But with due respect to Vilma, even if she is the one who plays the title role here and is undeniably good in this Sampaguita Pictures boxoffice hit, the one who leaves a really lasting impression in the minds of most viewers is the character played by Connie Angeles – Oreng. After all, wasn’t it this girl who gets chewed up by a German Shepherd in the film?…” – Butch Francisco, Philippine Star November 3, 2005 (READ MORE)

“Throughout the years, the local film industry saw a continuous parade of child actors and actresses who eventually became adult performers to take their rightful places in the pantheon of movie stars. Hereunder are some of those phenomenal thespian-turned-stars:..Vilma Santos—She was the original Trudis Liit in 1963. Paired with Edgar Mortiz as a loveteam, they appeared in Our Love Affair, My Love at First Sight, Don’t Ever Say Goodbye and Young Love. But her filmography is filled with outstanding films directed by top-notch directors. Her unforgettable films included: Bata..Bata..Paano Ka Ginawa? (Chito Rono) which won for her a best actress award from Belgium directed by Chito Roño; Anak (Rory Quintos); Dekada 70 (Chito Rono) with Christopher de Leon; Pahiram ng Isang Umaga (Ishmael Bernal); Relasyon (Ishmael Bernal) which gave her a gand slam of all local best actress awards from FAP,FAMAS, Star; Broken Marriage (Ishmael Bernal); Hahamakin Lahat (Lino Brocka); Rubia Servios (Lino Brocka); Kapag Langit ang Humatol (Laurence Guillen); Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-Itim ng Tagak (Celso Ad. Castillo); Burlesk Queen (Celso Ad. Castillo) and Sister Stella L. (Mike de Leon)…” – FAP (READ MORE)

“…Contravida Queen Bella Flores was featured in “Showbiz Central’s” Most Influential segment as she plays a big part in GMA Films’ new movie with Rhian Ramos and Aljur Abrenica, “My Kontrabida Girl.” It’s also a tribute to Bella as she’s celebrating her 60th anniversary in showbiz. The screen name Bella Flores was given to her by the late Sampaguita Pictures’ boss Dr. Jose Perez. “I was so glad when I was told it means beautiful flowers,” she said. Her real name is Remedios Dancel and she was born on Feb. 27, 1936, which means she turned 76 yesterday, Monday (Feb 27/2012). She was only 15 when she did her first villain role maltreating child star Tessie Agana in the blockbuster “Roberta.” She recounted that Vilma Santos auditioned with her for her first movie, “Trudis Liit,” in 1963. “Natakot siya at tumakbo dahil nakita niyang pinahirapan ko ‘yung ibang batang nag-audition,” she said. “Ngayon, governor na siya. Sina Roderick Paulate at Gina Alajar, sa’kin din nagsimula as child stars sa ‘Kaibigan Kong Sto. Nino’…” – Mario Bautista (READ MORE)

“Ang pelikula ni Ate Vi na Trudis Liit ay tandang tanda ng maraming Vilmanians. Nagdulot ito ng unang karangalan para kay Ate Vi at sa murang edad ng siyam. Sa mga Vilmanians ang maraming madramang eksena ni Vilma rito’y natanim sa ating alaala. Ang sabi nga ng isa sa ating Vilmanian na si Henry Llaneza, “the first movie I’ve seen in Black & White TV mula sa bintana ng kapitbahay ay ang “Trudis Liit” na napaiyak ang lahat ng nanonood dito nagsimula ang lahat…” ng kanyang pagiging isang Vilmanian. Katulad ni Henry, dito rin nagsimula ang aking paghanga sa star for all season. Galit na galit ako nuon kay Bella Flores dahil sa pang-aaping ginawa niya kay Trudis. Sa pagkapanalo ni Ate Vi ng FAMAS Best Child Actress sa pelikulang ito, sinundan pa ng Sampaguita Pictures ang tagumpay nito sa pamamagitan ng pelikulang Ging. Dito makikita ang malinaw na talento ni Ate Vi. Hindi lamang sa kanyang hindi pilit na pag-iyak kundi sa pagkanta rin. Dito rin sa pelikulang ito’y nakipagsabayan siya sa pagganap ni Olivia Cenizal at sa pang-aapi ni Carol Varga. Ang dekada ng sisenta ay patuloy na nagbigay ng maraming pelikula kay Ate Vi magmula sa pagiging isang batang artista hanggang sa isang teenager. Umabot ito sa unang karangalan niya bilang isang hindi na batang artista sa pamamagitan ng pagkanominado niya sa Best Supporting Actress muli sa FAMAS at ang kanyang pagkapanalo ng parehong titulo mula naman sa San Beda College…” – RV (READ MORE)

“…Vilma was talking about Trudis Liit, the ’60s Sampaguita tearjerker in which she played the title role, with Luis playing her father, now US-based Lolita Rodriguez her mother and Bella Flores as the kontrabida. Luis, whose real surname is Mercado, died of complications of pneumonia at 11:30 Thursday night, March 15, at the Makati Medical Center where he was confined for the last time (he had been in and out of the hospital). As in the case of movie greats, Luis’ age is confidential and maybe not even his wife Vina Concepcion, who belongs to the clan that owns Concepcion Industries, and their three children can be forced to reveal it. After Trudis Liit, Vilma would star with Luis years later when she was already a teenager, in Iginuhit ng Tadhana and in Pinagbuklod ng Langit, produced by Sampaguita Pictures, believed to have helped Ferdinand Marcos win when he ran for President and then for reelection. In both movies, Luis plays Marcos, with Gloria Romero as First Lady Imelda Marcos and Vilma as Imee Marcos (now Ilocos Norte Governor). In the second, Gina Alajar plays as Irene Marcos (Mrs. Greggy Araneta), Now-Sen. Bongbong Marcos plays himself in the first movie (it was Jonjie Aranda, ex-husband of Sen. Loren Legarda, who plays Bongbong in the second). “I shot Palimos ng Pagibig (a Viva drama, with Edu Manzano and Dina Bonnevie) at Luis’ house,” added Vilma. “I remember him as sobrang kalog, palabiro. Ang tawag namin kay Tito Luis palengke kasi nga Mercado ang real surname niya. I was nine years old then and he always reminded me to just enjoy everything. We were always shooting dramatic scenes at parati akong iyak nang iyak, but after every take, tawa na kami nang tawa because Tito Luis would start cracking jokes…” – RicoJr (READ MORE)

Filmography: Darna vs. the Planet Women (1975)

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Basic Information: Directed: Armando Garces; Story: Mars Ravelo; Screenplay: Armando Garces; Cast: Vilma Santos, Rosanna Ortiz, Zandro Zamora, Bentot Jr., Eva Linda, Lita Vasquez, Liza Zobel, Diana Villa; Executive producer: Espiridion Laxa; Original Music: Carding Cruz; Cinematography: Amado De Guzman

Plot Description: She is just a simple woman- a lady gifted with disability that she cannot leave her crutch. Narda/Darna (Vilma Santos) is very much contented with her life – having the company of her little brother and their grandmother not to mention her someone special who already accepts and love her for who she is. She has a greatest dream of helping and touching the lives of many but buried that in her heart given the situation that she has. Who would imagine that she will be chosen as the saviour of the Mother Earth against the dangerous attempt of the aliens from other planet? She was chosen to be strong and powerful “Darna”, a local superhero whose role is to depend the people and stop the plan of invasion from women in another planet. They want to use the earth as the extension of their planet by killing its people especially the experts in all areas such as metal, nuclear, moral and others. Darna has to act and who knows how much she is going to sacrifice with the given MISSION… – Kabayan Central (READ MORE)

Film Achievement:   Vilma Santos’ third successful film as Darna.

Film Review: In this 1975 film (the 3rd in a 4 Darna film franchise), the story of Darna is rebooted as this new installment is NOT a continuation of the 1st and 2nd films. In this revamped version, Narda (Vilma Santos) is a cripple who dreams of accomplishing great things for the betterment of humankind despite her physical limitations. One day, she discovers her suitor (Zandro Zamora) paralyzed after having been attacked by a UFO. Together with her brother Ding (Bentot Jr.), she prays for help and offers to sacrifice herself for the sake of her suitor’s survival. A voice from beyond answers and sends her an enchanted amulet of power. The power of Darna contained within the magic pebble. With her newfound powers, she battles The Planet Women- Alien Amazons who are trying to transport the Earth to their own star system. – Eric Cueto, Mars Ravelo’s Darna (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)

Vilma Santos returns as the Pinoy Wonder Woman in the third of her four Darna films. This time around Narda is a plucky, somewhat disabled village girl who prays for justice and mercy in a world beset by pointless brutality, represented here by a gang of fairly unambitious local bullies. When her boyfriend Ramon (Zandro Zamora) is frozen by a mysterious ray from a UFO her prayers are answered in the form of a magic pebble which enables her to transform into Amazonian superbeauty Darna. She rescues her boyfriend, who is being used by a gang of female aliens, the titular (heh) Planet Women, as a source of information on all the world’s leading authorities on nuclear power, metallurgy, and, er, morality (all of whom live within comfortable abducting distance of Darna’s village in the arse-end of nowhere) so that they, the Planet Women, can kidnap these elite thinkers and use their knowledge to steal the planet Earth and take it to their overpopulated solar system of Arko Eris. – MyDuckIsDead.com (READ MORE)

“…Darna may be easily dismissed by many as a cheap Pinoy knockoff of Superman or Wonder Woman, but there’s much more to her. Since her first appearance in the burgeoning komik industry in 1947, she captured the imagination of the komik-reading underclasses: Narda is an innocent country lass who has superpowers thrust upon her transforming her into the costumed Darna to protect the world, the Philippines, her village, her family, and most of all, her younger brother Ding. It’s wish fulfilment for girls, pure cheesecake for boys, and after sixty years – her first film appearance was in 1950, the last TV series three years ago – Darna is still a much-revered staple of Philippines pop culture. Vilma took over the role in 1973 in a crazed, Mad Magazine style satiric reimagining called Lipad, Darna, Lipad, and over four appearances in the next seven years, would arguably become the actress most associated with the role. Darna vs The Planet Women from 1975 is the most fun and certainly most colourful of Vilma’s stint, thought strangely enough it’s as if the previous Darna adventures had never occurred, or had slipped into a Black Hole where most of the Philippines’ lost cinema must also exist. Instead we are reintroduced to Narda, unremarkable country lass with a heart of gold and serious limp. Her two great loves, it seems, are chubby little brother Ding, and her awkward beau Ramon. An altercation with the local goons ends with a flying saucer suddenly appearing over a field, and Ramon is beamed aboard. It’s a ship piloted by Elektra (Rosanna Ortiz), blue leader of a pack of painted space floozies clad in primary colour wigs, shower caps and AM radios strapped to them. Narda feels bad about losing her guy to a space sorority, but a kindly voice tells her to stop worrying, and plonks a magic stone in her lap. On the cry of “Darna!”, Narda transforms from unglamorous barrio girl – unassuming, with very little makeup – into gaudy statue of pure womanhood. No wonder poor Ding’s eyeballs are almost dropping to the ground like marbles. The Planet Women, it seems, are here to study human behaviour- whether they like it or not – and are intent on kidnapping the world’s leading scientists. Not so, says Darna, who flies into their space ship to play the jealous girlfriend bit. She gets back Ramon, but it won’t be the last time the Planet Women gain control over the weak-willed boob. It’s a real battle of minds: desperate kung-fu kicking Star Slappers against the self-righteous Darna in an escalating series of face-offs and showdowns for the ultimate prize – the fate of the Universe itself…” – Andrew Leavold (READ MORE)

“…Darna Vs. The Planet Women is the third film in the franchise where Santos was the superhero. The first two were Lipad! Darna! Lipad! and Darna And The Giants. Currently, I have three of the four Santos as Darna films, which includes the Darna At Ding film minus the Lipad! Darna! Lipad! movie. And the funny thing about this is that I am not even a Darna fan. Maybe I just enjoy the nostalgia and novelty behind it. Though I reasonably enjoy the acting in the seventies. Fairly slow and predictable but can still be digested without the help of any liquid. With the seventies having the bombardment of local films, a movie like this can tell that this was actually immortalized and currently sold to the public meaning a few or a lot of people could’ve clamored for such film, though this point greatly contradicts to my earlier statement, my apologies. But I am sticking to my own disagreement. It would’ve been nice if this film garnered cult status. You can really see the similarities of the villains of this film versus the villains in Zsazsa Zaturnnah. It feels that the creator of Zaturnnah took something from this fantasy film and eventually understands that he or she could’ve paid homage to this movie. Such film is a definite for the Darna fan and anyone who adores screaming drag queen outfits and such…” – Pinoy Film Zealot (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)

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: Ophelia and Paris (1973)

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Basic Information: Directed, screenplay: Celia Diaz Laurel; Story: Mars Ravelo; Cast: Victor Laurel, Vilma Santos, Marissa Delgado, German Moreno, Rodolfo Boy Garcia, Mary Walter, Subas Herrero, Jose Villafranca, Joonee Gamboa, Andres Centenera, SOS Daredevils, Celia Diaz Laurel, Ronald Remy; Executive producer: Victor Laurel; Original Music: Ryan Cayabyab

Plot Description: No Available Data

Film Achievement: The first movie of Vilma Santos and Cocoy Laurel, the other films are: Disco Fever and Pinay American Style.

Film Review: “…As an actor, he has an enviable filmography. Among his films are “Pinay, American Style” (1979), “Disco Fever” (1978), “Waikiki: Sa Lupa Ng Ating Mga Pangarap” (1980), “Bawal: Asawa Mo, Asawa Ko” (1974), “Ophelia at Paris” with Vilma Santos, “Oh, Margie, Oh” with Margie Moran, “Impossible Dream,” “Till Death Do Us Part” and his last movie, Huwad Na Mananayaw…” – Gypsy Baldovino (READ MORE)

“…Mars Ravelo’s Ophelia at Paris: Prinsipe Paris Walang Kaparis (December 10, 1973) ay handog ng VL Productions na tinampukan nina Vi, Victor Laurel, Marissa Delgado, German Moreno, Rodolfo Boy Garcia, Mary Walter, Subas Herrero, Joonee Gamboa, Celia Diaz Laurel at Ronald Remy sa direksiyon ni Celia Diaz Laurel…” – Alfonso Valencia (READ MORE)

Filmography: Lipad Darna Lipad! (1973)

“Ding, ang bato! dali!” – Narda/Darna

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Basic Information: Directed: Emmanuel H. Borlaza, Elwood Perez, Joey Gosiengfiao; Story: Mars Ravelo; Screenplay: Joey Gosiengfiao; Cast: Vilma Santos, Gloria Romero, Celia Rodriguez, Liza Lorena, Eddie Garcia, Marissa Delgado, Ernie Garcia, Dick Israel, Ruel Vernal, Angie Ferro, Angelito, Nanette Lizares, Rod Dasco, Cloyd Robinson, Mary Walter, Adul de Leon, Bobby Roldan, Edgar Oira, Karlo Vero, Francisco Cruz, Chanda Romero, Gilda Gomez, Ellen Esguerra, Oskar Peralta, Urduja, Louie Acosta; Executive Producer: Victor Gosiengfiao; Original Music: Jonas Sebastian, Demetrio Velasquez; Cinematography: Rodolfo Diño

Plot Description: After a long period of absence, Vilma Santos resurrected the Filipino version of Wonder Woman, Darna, in a fantastic trilogy. Despite the lack of height familiar with previous Darnas, Vilma Santos’ bubbly youthful portrayal as Darna and the alter ego character Narda radiated the screen against Philippine cinema’s senior screen queens, Gloria Romero as the “Babaing Impakta (Vampire Woman),” Celia Rodriguez as “Babaing Ahas (Snake Woman),” and Liza Lorena as “Babaing Lawin (Hawk Woman).” The film was release on March 23, 1973 to a massive crowd in Metro Manila. Tagalog Ilang Ilang Production who produced the film reportedly distributed Darna dolls and Coca-cola drinks to the moviegoers. The film was a trilogy that focuses on the fights scenes between Darna and her nemesis with great effect and with the help of Darna’s equally perky young brother, Ding portrayed by child star, Angelito. The special effect that was considered way ahead of its time were in full displayed in this film. The goriness make-up, particularly Gloria Romero’s was a proof that Filipinos were creative and talented, way ahead of Hollywood or even Bollywood. – RV

Film Achievement: Top Record-Breaking Box-office Film of 1973; The first of four Darna films starring Vilma Santos; One of Vilma Santos and Gloria Romero 13 films – (Anak ang Iyong Ina, Iginuhit ng Tadhana, De Colores, Pinagbuklod ng Langit, Anak ng Aswang, Lipad Darna Lipad, Happy Days are Here Again, Karugtong ang Kahapon, Nakakahiya?, Hindi Nakakahiya, Makahiya at Talahib, Saan Nagtatago Ang Pag-ibig?, Kapag Langit Ang Humatol) – RV (READ MORE)

Film Review: In the Silver Age era of Darna, the movie “Lipad, Darna, Lipad!” (“Fly, Darna, Fly!” 1973), played by the lovely Vilma Santos, made a new version of the story. In this time, Narda was a teenager in her late teens. She discovered the magic stone after the event of a falling star landed near her home one night. She discovered that the magic pebble gave her superpowers that made her Darna. She and her brother were the only ones who knew the secret and their grandmother was not aware of it in this version. Narda herself becomes Darna and were not two different characters. She was also not from Planet Marte but was just a champion warrior of the forces of light. Every time Darna turns back to her mortal self, the magic stone reappears in her mouth and she takes it out and hides it until she needs it again. Every time the need arises, she has to swallow the pebble again and say Darna to transform. – Silver Age Darna, Supersexyheroines website

In 1951, 2 Darna movies were made starring Rosa Del Rosario, followed by another two starring Liza Moreno in the early 60’s, one by Eva Montes and one by Gina Pareno in 1969. But it was not until 1973’s “Lipad, Darna, Lipad” starring Vilma Santos when “Darna mania” would be rekindled and made this version the highest grossing Darna movie of them all. A feat that has not been equalled to this day. In these 1970s films, Darna’s origin was slightly tweaked with a new twist yet remained faithful to Mars Ravelo’s vision. No longer a little girl, Narda was now in her late teens. Also, she herself becomes Darna, unlike the original where she just “channels” her. Only Ding knows her secret in this version unlike the original where both Ding and their Grandmother knew the secret. Also, the stone comes out of Narda’s mouth every time she changes back from being Darna; she has to swallow it every time she wants to transform (This became standard for following versions). Darna is not specified as coming from Marte, just as a “warrior of Light”. This version of Darna became most people’s idea of the character for about 3 decades. A famous catch phrase by Narda popularized by the movies and NOT the comics version is “Ding, Ang Bato!” (“Ding, the Stone!) – Nostalgia Manila blog site

LIPAD, DARNA, LIPAD (1973) – The quintessential action-fantasy Pinoy flick that appeals to all ages, from generation to generation. This movie is a major milestone for Vilma because it proved that she could really carry a solo movie and bring in the dough (up to now of course!). Vilma’s Darna franchise is the most memorable and successful of all Pinoy fantasy-action genres. Imitated but never equalled, Vilma’s Darna lives on. Unforgettable. Memorable. It grows on you. No Pinoy kid ever grows up without being a part of the Darna magic. The enormous success of Lipad, Darna, and Lipad led to three more Darna movies with Vilma Santos. As a result, the star for all seasons became the star for all Darnas—Santos played her four times, more than any other actress in the super heroine’s history.

Lipad, Darna, Lipad! were thus divided into three separate segments, directed by three different directors. In Darna’s case, the three directors were Maning Borlaza, Joey Goesiengfao, and Elwood Perez—three names that promised an adventure that could do Andy Warhol proud.

First episode: “Ang Impakta” Starring Gloria Romero as Miss Luna, Narda’s school teacher who has a dark secret. She is actually a flying blood sucking creature at night. In this thrilling episode she knows the secret identity of Narda. The most memorable part was when Ms. Luna asked Narda to help her with some paper works. Little that she know, while she was busy checking the papers Ms. Luna excused herself, she then went to the next room and transformed into a scary vampire.

Ding found out that Ms. Luna is the vampire and Narda forgot to bring the magical stone , he rushed to her sister who then was being strugled by the monster. As soon as he got there, he threw the stone to her much terrified sister and she immediately changed to Darna. Followed was the famous aerial fight scene. Nanette Medved and Bing Loyzaga tried to copy the infamous fight scene in 1990 Viva films Darna. Episode one was directed by Maning Borlaza.

Second episode: Vilma also had to battle with Celia Rodriguez, who played a campy Valentina, a supermodel by day and a snake priestess by night. One scene has the actress naked in bed being caressed by a dozen snakes. Indeed, with the likes of Gosiengfao, Perez, and Borlaza at the helm, Darna is sure to get stuck in grotesque situations reminiscent of the Rocky Horror Movie. Their take on Darna is sometimes too risqué and violent for little children; but as a camp fest, the movie works.

In this episode Valentina, tried to steal Narda’s magical stone. Also, there was a scene where Valentina dressed up as Darna. I love the exciting part where Darna and Valentina battled on top of a high rise building. Darna, was almost a no match to her mortal enemy. Dangerously armed with lazer beams coming out from Valentina’s eyes, Darna was helpless and knocked down several times. Until, she stumbled upon into a piece of broken mirror and used it as a shield againts Valentina’s deadly lazer beams. Darna quickly made her looked in the mirror. Her lazer beams bounced back and she turned into a stone. From the roof, Valentina fell hard on the ground and broked into shattered pieces. Anjanette Abayarri and Cherrie Gil almost did the same scene in ” Darna, Ang Pagbabalik! ” Second Episode was directed by Elwood Perez.

Vilma Santos with co stars Ernie Garcia and Celia Rodriguez as Dr. Valentina Vrandakapoor, Phd in reptilian zoology from the University of new Delhi. Not to be overlooked is Darna’s arch-rival Valentina. Celia Rodriguez breathed new life to the term antagonist with her classy portrayal of the serpent-haired villainess. Rodriguez set a new standard by which evil women are to be judged.

Third episode: The final& episode was “Babaing Lawin” ( Hawk Woman), starring Liza Lorena as Babaing Lawin. I barely remember this one, there was this scene where Narda and Ding got caught and almost drowned in a quick sand. In Hawk Woman’s cave there’s this stream, that can make her wings disappear by walking across to it. There was also this character named Agila, a bird man played by Rod Dasco, he’s like the Hawk Woman’s mate. There was some fight scenes in the cave between Hawk Woman and and Darna. At the end of the story Darna and Hawk Woman, mend their ways. – Eric Cueto (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)

“…Vilma, now 20, still looking virginal and sweet kicked 70’s phenomenal superstar Nora’s butt at the boxoffice and earned her box-office wings via this monumental hit. The Emancipation of Baby Vi. Mariah Carey could not agree more. There was no turning back since then. The Fantasy Queen was born. Forty-three year old Tita Gloria gamely and bravely accepted the role of Ms. Luna, teacher by day and Manananggal by night. Movie Queen Gloria was deglamorized and became the evil incarnate as a vampire. Amalia Fuentes was the original movie queen who bravely accepted a daring role such as a vampire that won her a FAMAS statuette in Gerry De Leon’s Ibulong Mo Sa Hangin, and changed her goody-two-shoe image forever. Was she the original queen of reinvention that gave Vilma an idea to do the same via the landmark movie Burlesk Queen? Hmmm…for the first time, La Santos was billed above La Romero. Times have changed. The tables were turned. Vilma Santos is the New Box-Office Champ and Tita Glo and Company could only “bow” to the Reel/Real Queen: Ms. Rita Gomez, Helen Gamboa, Boots Anson-Roa, Barbara Perez and others did not have second thoughts to do a movie with the resurgent Vilma. Who wouldn’t want to be famous again and have fun working with the most hardworking and versatile actress? In my book, the aerial Good versus Evil fight of Vilma and Gloria as Darna and Impakta was one of the most thrilling and unforgettable scenes of my movie-going life. How I wish the movie resurfaces from Indonesia or from Timbuktu and my Vilma collection will be complete. That will be heaven! Where, oh, where is that classic movie? The Manananggal episode of Lipad, Darna, Lipad was so good that the two have to followed up their success via Anak Ng Aswang…” – Mario O. Garces (READ MORE)

“…This four-time FAMAS-winning actress is best remembered for her role as the slithering Dr. Valentina Vrandakapoor in the 1973 film Lipad, Darna, Lipad. In the iconic movie, she donned the reptile headdress for the Medusa-inspired character and gave Darna (Vilma Santos) hell. Although she’s been appearing in less villainous roles, Celia Rodriguez is still active in both movie and television these days. She played a supporting character in Darna’s latest TV incarnation, with Marian Rivera as the superheroine…” – Spot.ph (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)

“…And so, yielding to the theory that “misery loves company,” the two failures teamed up. They picked up from where they had left off. Backed up by some enterprising businessmen who firmly believed the duo would make good next time (they were joined by Joey’s brother, Victor, and movie scribe Douglas Quijano and others), they formed Sine Pilipino and turned out the three-episode “Lipad, Darna, Lipad.” Joey and Elwood directed two of the episodes. In an interview, the two directors intimated that, depending on public reaction, it could have been their last stint in the movies. Miracles of miracles, Lipad, Darna,,,broke existing box office records at that time! But alas, despite the movie success, Sine Pilipino closed shop due to “mismanagement.” Undaunted, Elwood and Joey formed another company, this time the Juan de la Cruz Productions. Just the same, the budding outfit folded up because it had a rough time with the Board of Censors. By then, the drive against bomba movies and smut publications were massive and sustained, and the guidelines were different to those of today…” – Manny B. Fernandez, Expressweek, July 12, 1979 (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)

Gina Pareño – “…Mara­ming naging Darna sa kani-kanilang panahon pero ang unang inabot naming lumabas na Darna ay si Gina Pareño. Aba, kung nakita ninyo si Gina noong panahong iyon, ang ganda talaga niya at hanep ang katawan. ’Tapos ang maraming Darna movies na napanood namin, ang star ay si Vilma Santos, na nagsimula sa Lipad, Darna, Lipad. Iniba ang title dahil ang sinundang pelikula na Takbo, Vilma, Dali ay naging isang napakalaking hit din noong panahong iyon. Aba, isipin ninyo, noong panahong iyon ay nakakagawa ng isang pelikulang black and white sa halagang P120,000 lamang. Eh kinse pesos lang ang sine noon. Ang Darna ni Vilma kumita ng tatlung daang libong piso sa Metro Manila pa lamang at kakaunti pa ang sinehan noon ha. At kung titingnan naman ninyo si Vilma nung nag-uumpisa — maganda, sexy, at maputi. Kung negra ka, ano ang hitsura mo kung magsusuot ka ng costume ni Darna? Baka mapagkamalan ka pang lumilipad na tuko? Pagkatapos ni Vilma, marami ring naging ibang Darna, pero honestly ni hindi na namin napanood ang mga pelikula. Hindi dahil nagsawa kami sa Darna movies ha. In fact, hanggang ngayon mahilig pa rin kami sa super heroes. Nanonood nga kami ng anime eh. Pero hindi namin nagustuhan ang iba…” – Ed de Leon, Pang-Masa, 08 Oct 2013 (READ MORE)

Valentina – “…Iba talaga si Direk Maryo J. dahil he brings out the best in his actors,” says Katrina, whose daughter Katrence turned one year old last Wednesday. “Dito sa ‘Magkano Ba ang Pag-ibig’, tatlo kaming aktres na nag-Valentina ang nagkasama-sama. Una si Tita Celia Rodriguez na nag-Valentina kay Gov. Vilma Santos sa ‘Lipad Darna Lipad’ in 1973. Then si Alessandra de Rossi na nag-Valentina on TV to Angel Locsin’s Darna noong 2005, at ako na nag-Valentina kay Marian Rivera sa 2009 version ng ‘Darna…” – Mario Bautista, Journal, 23 September 2013 (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)

Sa paggawa ng pelikula, kung maringgan man ng pagdaing si Vilma Santos ay bihirang-bihira. Nangyayari lang ito kung ipagpalagay nating siya’y may dinaramdam, hapong-hapo at talagang hindi na makakaya ng katawang humarap sa kamera kahit ibigin niya. Gayon man, kung nagkataong napakahalaga ng eksena at kinakailangang gawin niya, khait anong sama ng pakiramdam niya’y humaharap siay sa kamera. At sa pagtungo niya sa set o location, lagi siyang nasa oras. Kung maatraso ma’y saglit lang. Ganyan ka-professinal si Vilma Santos. Ngunit sa Lipad, Darna, Lipad ay dumaraing siya. Hindi sa hindi niya enjoy gawin ito. Ang totoo’y sa pelikulang ito lang siya na-involved. Ibig na niyang matapos na ito’t makita ang pinagpaguran niya. Talaga palang mahirap gumawa ng costumes picture. Lalo pa’t kung tulad nito! Una ang naging suliranin namin ay ang Darna costumes ko. Kasi kinakailangan maging maliksi ang kilos ko bilang Darna, kaya kailangang alisin na ang padding. Kaso nga lilitaw naman ang malaking bahagi ng aking katawan. Mabuti na lang at sumang-ayon ang aking fans. “Pangalawa, nag-aalala ako sa mga eksenang bakbakan namin nina Gloria Romero, Celia Rodriguez at Liza Lorena. Kasi baka masaktan ko sila nang di sinasadya. Ang pangatlo ay ang likas ng pagkatakot ko…sa mga ahas. Kasi may bahagi roong tungkol sa Babaing Ahas, si Valentina. Dito, laging kailangan ang ahas sa mga eksena. Mga sari-saring ahas. Maliliit at malalaki. At makamandag! Ang pinakamahirap sa lahat ay ang pag-su-shooting. Kailangan naming tapusin ito anuman ang mangyari. Kaya nasasagap ko ang lamig ng gabi at init ng araw. At ang suot ko nga’y labas ang malaking bahagi ng katawan! At alam n’yo namang kailang lang ay naospital ako dahil sa respiratory defects!” Ito ang daing ni Vilma Santos sa pinakamahirap niyang pelikula, ang Lipad, Darna, Lipad. Ngunit mahihinuha naman ninyo na ang pagdaing niya’y parang paglalambing lang. Dinaraan pa nga niyang lahat sa biro. Pagka’t ang tutoo, mahal na mahal niya ang pelikulang ito. Dahil ito nga ang pinakamahirap. At sa isang artista, kung alin ang pinakamahirap ay siya namang pinakamasarap! – Cleo Cruz, Love Story Magazine, 1973

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