FILM REVIEW: Kampanerang Kuba’s religious rituals and miracles

Kampanerang Kuba started with Andang (Vilma Santos), a hunch back bell-ringer running away from the people in the market. She was accuse of stealing. When she got back from the church (where she lives and work), she was confronted and physically assaulted by Tateng (Celia Rodriguez) for no justifiable reason. Thankfully, Father Damian, the old sick priest intervened. He has long been her protector. Andang felt sad when she found out that Father Damian is leaving. On his absence, a young priest, Father Agaton (Edgar Mortiz) will take over. Aside from ringing the bell, Andang clean and feed the piglets (owned by Ellen and Tateng, they are the church’s caretakers). She normally eats with her bare hands while talking to her patron saint, Saint Martin. She talks and treats the idol along side the church’s bell towers like they are humans. Meanwhile, Tateng, the daughter of the head caretaker, Ellen (Patria Plata), is a sex maniac who loves to abuse Andang. She also seduce men in exchange of material things like jewelry.

One time Andang caught Tateng having sex with Crispin (Dindo Fernando) inside the church, when Tateng found out that she was around, she physically abuse her. Then the following day, while feeding the piglets, Tateng verbally abuse her. Andang retaliate and the two had mud-wrestling inside pig pen. Tateng’s mother Ellen was about to join the fight when Father Agaton arrived and intervened. The next day, a group of women arrived and accused Tateng of accepting gifts from their husband that they own. When Tateng overheard the loud complaints, she quickly went to Andang and pretended she wanted to make amends and gave her a necklace. When the group of women finally faced Tateng, she lied and told them to look for the jewelry at Andang.

The women then went to Andang and accused her of stealing. Afraid of her safety, Andang went to the church’s roof telling them that if they will not stop, she will jump. Tateng convinced Andang not to jump and that she is her friend. The trusting Andang came back and was welcome by the women with physical assaults. They tied her down with a long rope and dragged her on the ground until Crispin, who riding the horse (where Andang was tied down) reached the town’s mountain hill where he threw Andang’s lifeless body. When Andang miraculously regained consciousness, she was seen talking to her patron saint, Saint Martin. He blessed her and was able to bring her back to the church. There, she was blessed by the Virgin Mary. A holy miracle happened, flower petals falls down from the sky and holy lights beams Andang. She slowly changed from the ugly hunch back girl into a beautiful woman. As turned out she became Sandra Belmonte. A woman long gone and who were once the topic of town gossips. Sandra’s two sister found her into the church the next day. Surprised and very thankful, they brought her back to their big home. Andang now assumed the identity of Sandra. Sandra as it turned out has suitor, Roel (Ernie Garcia) who she didn’t like. She also discovered that she missed her life as Andang and now sure that she is in love with Father Agaton.

Can’t control her feelings anymore, she went to the church for the Catholic ritual of confession. And with Father Agaton, she confess her love for him. Tateng overheard this, and coerced the priest to have sex with her in exchange for her silence but failed. In retaliation, she spread this information to the town’s people. Headed by Tateng’s admirer, Max Alvarado, the priest was confronted by the angry people. The priest denied the affair. The town’s people decided to tied the priest into a post and burn him. This is because the priest doesn’t want leave the church. When Sandra who was with Roel, discovered what was happening, she luckily escape madness and went inside the church to pray to Saint Martin. Her pray were answered by the sudden ringing of the church’s bells followed by a loud thunder. It started to rain killing the fire and saving the poor priest. It was a miracle. Tateng’s sinful mind cleared and she ask Father Agaton’s forgiveness, who gladly obliged. Father Agaton then search for Sandra when her suitor Roel appeared. They both went to the church tower and saw Andang instead. The end.

Kampanerang Kuba’s convoluted long story maybe attributed to the original comics material written by Pablo Gomez. A good director should iron out all the unbelievable plots specially all the one-dimensional characters. For example, Celia Rodriguez character, Tateng. She is so masochistic that viewer might wonder why she is so mean. Also, with her tower-nesque beauty, why she decided to remained in a town where everything seems to be so trivial and everyone seems loves to gossip, even the men. Nilo Saez (with Jose Flores Sibal wrote the script) failed miserably in this regard. Shot in Nagcarlan Laguna, Kampanerang Kuba showcased the old Filipino beliefs in patron saints, religious rituals and miracles. It also demonstrates that people can be so cruel, can passed judgement, and can asked for forgiveness that quick when confronted with truth. All will be forgiving without taking into account all the harm that they have done. In the real world, these people will be punished. Celia Rodriguez seems to be wooden in so many scenes but equally infuriating when she started to do her verbal and physical abuse of Andang. With limited dialogue, a young Dindo Fernando portrayed Tateng’s lover convincingly. All the other supporting roles including Perla Bautista, Ernie Garcia and others gave forgettable performances. About the two main lead, Edgar Mortiz and Vilma Santos, both did what they can to portrayed their respective roles. Edgar Mortiz seems to be trying very hard to be effective as the priest but acting is clearly not his forte. Would this be different if Jay Ilagan did this role? Vilma Santos succeed more with her solo scenes, talking to the patron saints and the bell tower, eating with her bare hands and trying to beautify her ugly face. She appeared to be gearing up for more versatile roles that requires her not to sing but to act. – RV

RELATED READING:
Kampanerang Kuba (1974)
Pinoy Classics Review: Kampanerang Kuba (1973)

Filmography: Phantom Lady (1974)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Basic Information: Director: Leonardo L. Garcia; Writers: Cora M. Crisol (story), Nilo Saez (screenplay); Cast: Vilma Santos, Nick Romano, Paquito Diaz, Rodolfo ‘Boy’ Garcia, Cristina Reyes, Max Alvarado, Angero Goshi, Angel Confiado, Bino Garcia, Greg Lozano, Francisco Cruz, Angelito, Steve Alcarado, Pons De Guzman, Edward Torres, Jack Montes, SOS Daredevils, Pmp Commandos; Music: Tito Arevalo; Cinematography: Ricardo Herrera; Production Co: Silver Film Productions; Released Date: 28 February 1974 (Philippines) (IMDB)

Plot Description: Blind Vilma fights bad guys as Phantom Lady!

Film Achievement: Box Office Hit of 1974

Film Review: “…There was a time in the 70s, particularly in 1973 and 1974, when a spate of Pinoy fantasy films featuring Pinoy superheroes graced our big screens. I think it was Vilma Santos’ Lipad Darna Lipad that started it all. It ushered in this wave of so-called trend in fantasy movies. Besides Darna, Vilma came up with Wonder Vi (1973), Phantom Lady (1974) and Vivian Volta (1974); Nora Aunor had Super Gee (1973) based on a popular komik serial; Superman and Batman had their local counterparts in Zoom, Zoom Superman (1973) with Ariel Ureta and Fight Batman Fight with Victor Wood. Vilma came out with another sequel of Darna titled Darna and the Giants, also in 1973; Dolphy had his own version of Captain Barbell in Captain Barbell Boom (1973). It was the movie, Supergirl (1973) which starred Pinky, that made a major impact among the moviegoers that time. It was a surprise hit that year. It was reshown several times due to insistent public demand…” – Simon Santos (READ MORE)

Filmography: Kampanerang Kuba (1974)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Basic Information: Directed: Nilo Saez; Story: Pablo S. Gomez; Screenplay: Nilo Saez, Jose Flores Sibal; Cast: Vilma Santos, Edgar Mortiz, Celia Rodriguez, Dindo Fernando, Rosanna Marquez, Perla Bautista, Max Alvarado, Ernie Garcia, Tony Santos, Jr., Patria Plata, Metring David, Greg Lozano, Joaquin Fajardo, Steve Alcarado, Romy Luartes, Francisco Cruz, Carmen Romasanta, Danny Rojo, Edwin Cruz, SOS Daredevils, P I Boys; Executive producer: Espiridion Laxa; Original Music: Tito Arevalo; Cinematography: Benjamin L. Lobo

Plot Description: Kampanerang Kuba (lit. Hunchbacked Lady Bellringer) was a fantasy soap opera television series broadcast by ABS-CBN in the Philippines. It was inspired by 1973 film with same title, which was starred by Vilma Santos and Bobot Mortiz. It was tagged as Pinoy Disney. It was originally based from a comic book series written by Pablo Gomez. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Film Achievement: Film adapted from comics written Pablo S. Gomez; Illustrated by Alex Nino for Planet Komiks, 1971; Remade into TV series in 2005 by ABS-CBN and starring Anne Curtis, Luis Manzano, Jomari Yllana with Edgar Mortiz and directed by Wenn Deramas, Andoy Ranay.

Film Review: Kampanerang Kuba’s convulated, long story maybe attributed to the original comics material of Pablo Gomez. A good director should ironed out all the twists and turns and all its one-dimenssional characters. For example, Celia Rodriguez character, Tateng. She is so masochistic that it is just right to know why she is so mean and that with her towernesque beauty, she decided to remained in the town where everything seems to be so tribial. Nilo Saez (with Jose Flores Sibal adapted the script) failed miserably in this regard. Shot in Nagcarlan Laguna, Kampanerang Kuba showcased the old Filipino beliefs in patron saints, religious rituals and miracles. It also demonstrates that people can be so cruel, can passed judgement, and can asked for forgiveness that quick when confronted with truth. All will be forgiving without taking into account all the harm that they have done. In the real world, these people will be punished. Celia Rodriguez seems to be wooden in so many scenes but equally infuririating when she started to do her verbal and physical abuse of Anda. With limited dialouge, a young Dindo Fernando portrayed Tateng’s lover convincingly. All the other supporting roles including Perla Bautista, Ernie Garcia and others gave a forgettable performances. About the two main lead, Edgar Mortiz and Vilma Santos did what they can to portrayed their roles. Edgar Mortiz seems to be trying very hard to be effective as the priest but acting is clearly not his forte. Would this be different if Jay Ilagan did this role? Vilma Santos succeed more with her solo scenes, talking to the patron saints and the bell tower, eating with her bare hands and trying to beautify her ugly face. – RV, (READ MORE)

“Despite of (or perhaps because of) her hideous appearance, she is held dear by the parish priest Padre Damaso but abhorred by the church caretaker, Edeng who maltreats her at every opportunity. Andang is ugly, ugly, ugly and deserves all the pain she can get…don’t think Mang Martin will give the miracle for free. Vilma emerges as the ugly hunchback Andeng! Sandra is gone! Death to fantasy!…” – Silver Screen Surfer, (READ MORE)

Feast for Eyes, Soul – “With only a little over an hour spent on the road, Lenten pilgrims can explore the heritage churches of Laguna province for the traditional “visita iglesia” (church visit) today. Laguna has 86 Catholic churches, 26 of these built between the 16th and 19th centuries. The churches give pilgrims glimpses of the Catholic faith’s beginnings and its role in the spiritual and cultural development of Laguna. Jerry Gaela, 51, a parish priest administering St. Paul the First Hermit Cathedral in San Pablo City, said that while visita iglesia was not a required practice among Catholics, it was “additional devotion for personal and spiritual growth.” Visita iglesia is traditionally done on the night of Maundy Thursday when the Blessed Sacrament is displayed in the churches. People used to visit seven churches, but now, they would go to as many as 14 churches and pray at the Stations of the Cross. The spirit is “to accompany the Lord in his Passion,” Gaela said. These are seven of Laguna’s heritage churches worth a visit today…San Bartolome Apostol Church, Nagcarlan town, The baroque church, 15 km from San Pablo, was first built in 1583 using light materials. It was in 1752 when the second church was built from stone and brick. However, the structure was damaged by a fire in 1781. A choir loft was added when the church was rebuilt in 1845 by Rev. Vicente Velloc, who also built the nearby Nagcarlan underground cemetery. The church was featured in the 1974 film, “Kampanerang Kuba,” starring now Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto, and the film’s 2005 television remake of the same title, starring Anne Curtis…” – Kimmy Baraoidan, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 13 April 2017 (READ MORE)

Filmography: Vilma and the Beep, Beep, Minica (1974)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Basic Information: Directed: Romy Susara; Story, screenplay: Nilo Saez; Cast: Vilma Santos, Nick Romano, Romeo Miranda, Ramil Rodriguez, Rudy Fernandez, Max Alvarado, Angelo Ventura, Joaquin Fajardo, Elizabeth Ramsey, Renato Robles, Ruben Ramos, Romy Luartes, Romy Medalla, SOS Daredevils; Original Music: George Canseco; Cinematography: Tommy Marcelino

Plot Description: No Available Data

Film Achievement: No Available Data

Film Review: “…She was also a hit in “Dyesebel” and the thrillers “Takbo, Vilma, Dali” and “Hatinggabi Na, Vilma.” She also did other fantasy films like “Phantom Lady,” “Vivian Volta,” “Wonder Vi,” and “Vilma and the Beep Beep Minica…” – Mario Bautista (READ MORE)

“…Rodolfo “Rudy” Valentino Padilla Fernandez, screen name Rudy Fernandez[1] (March 3, 1952 – June 7, 2008), also known as “Daboy”, was a multi-awarded Filipino actor and producer. He came to prominence as an action star in the Philippine cinema during the 1980s up to the early 1990s…” – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Filmography: Teribol Dobol (1975)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Basic Information: Directed: Luciano B. Carlos; Story, screenplay: Bert R. Mendoza; Cast: Chiquito, Vilma Santos, Walter Navarro, Caridad Sanchez, Lorlie Villanueva, Roderick Paulate, Tony Carrion, Robert Miller, Jesse O’Neil, James O’Neil, Raquel Montesa, Nympha Bonifacio, Joe Garcia, SOS Daredevils; Executive producer: Emilia Blass; Original Emie Munji; Cinematography: Ricardo Periodica

Plot Description: Teribol Dobol is a classic comedy movie. Maritess (Vilma Santos) asked for help from Frankie (Chiquito) a private investigator to investigate her father, who’s foolishly in love with a young lady. This lady & her family only wanted the wealth and fortune of her father. They will plan to poison Don Cosme (father of Maritess) and accuse Maritess for the caused of his death. Will they succeed to bring Maritess to jail? – Kabayan Central (READ MORE)

Film Achievement: No Available Data

Film Review: “If one is not enough, two can’t be too much!…..” Teribol Dobol (June 27, 1975) ng Lea Productions na pinangunahan nina Vi, Chiquito, Walter Navarro, Caridad Sanchez, Lorli Villanueva, Roderick Paulate, Tony Carrion, Robert Miller, Racquel Montesa at Nympha Bonifacio sa panulat at iskrip ni Bert R. Mendoza at sa direksiyon ni Luciano B. Carlos. – Alfonso Valencia (READ MORE)

“Lights…camera…action…yan ang sigaw ng mga film director kapag nagsushooting ng pelikula. Masasabing ang film director ang tumatayong “captain of the ship” dahil sila ang responsable sa camera angles, lens effects, lighting at set design. Sila din ang nagsisilbing story teller. Malaki din ang role ng film director sa post-production ng pelikula. Ngayong buwan ng Agosto…..sa ating ALAM NYO BA? Part 74 ay bigyang daan naman natin ang mga naging director ng Star for All Seasons na si Ms. Vilma Santos sa kanyang mga naging pelikula. Sa mahigit sa apat na dekadang pamamalagi sa larangan ng pelikula…..humigit kumulang sa dalawang daang pelikula din ang nagawa ni Vi sa mahigit na pitumpong direktor na nagdirek sa kanya…Nakagawa din si Vi ng pelikula na si Luciano B. Carlos ang direktor at ito ay sa mga pelikulang Pag-ibig Masdan Ang Ginawa Mo (1969), Teribol Dobol (1975) at Let’s Do The Salsa (1976)…” – Alfonso Valencia (READ MORE)

Filmography: Ophelia and Paris (1973)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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: Dyesebel At Ang Mahiwagang Kabibe (1973)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Basic Information: Directed, screenplay: Emmanuel H. Borlaza; Story: Mars Ravelo; Cast: Vilma Santos, Romeo Miranda, Divina Valencia, Mina Aragon, Rossana Marquez, Chanda Romero, Joseph Sytangco, Elizabeth Vaughn, Patria Plata, Lito Calzado, Ricky Valencia, Greg Lozano, Chris Santos, Dave Esguerra, Romy Luartes, Doming Viray, SOS Daredevils; Original Music: Tito Arevalo; Cinematography: Benjamin L. Lobo; Editing: Gervacio Santos; Art Direction: Honorato Dela Paz; Sound: Angel Avellana

Plot Description: A Mars Ravelo classic about a young mermaid named Dyesebel who lives in an undersea kingdom with other mermaids. They are outcasts, not wanted on earth, believing their presence is bad luck. But when she falls in love with a human being, she vows to do everything yto have legs and become a part of her earthly love’s world… even if it means risking her life. – Kabayan Central (READ MORE)

One of the most popular and best-loved creatures of local folk mythology, Dyesebel is reincarnated in the person of winsome superstar Vilma Santos. The mermaid is driven from the deep sea literally into the arms of a mortal ashore, the good-looking and moreno Fredo, played by singer, Romeo Miranda, whose fascination for her turns to love. Against all odds, their love for each other is put to a series of tests as they face a shocked and disbelieving human society and the dangers and intrigues in dry land. A funny, sad, suspenseful, wonderful and infinitely entertaining movie. Also starring Ike Lozada, Mina Aragon, German Moreno, and Divina Valencia. Produced by Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions under the direction of Emmanuel H. Borlaza. – Trigon Video

Film Achievement: 2nd Top Grosser of the 8th Manila Film Festival; Best Sound Recording – Angel Avellana

For the record: – “…FPJ Productions’ Ang Agila at ang Araw with a total gross receipt of P561,128 was adjudged the top grosser of the festival. Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions’ Dyesebel at ang Mahiwagang Kabibe, the first day top grosser came in close second with P499,463. Roda Productions’ Nueva Vizcaya was third with P461,405…” – VIdeo48 (READ MORE)

Film Review: “…On Darna and Dyesebel. “Darna (she did four Darna movies) and Dyesebel were very difficult to do. I wore body stockings underneath the Darna costumes. Just before I was presented to the press in my Darna costume, Douglas Quijano, Alfie Lorenzo and William Leary convinced me that the body stockings didn’t look good and there was nothing to be afraid of because, I had good skin. I took off the stockings and since then I wore the Darna costume without them. Dyesebel was harrowing. It took 10 people to help me into the costume and out of it. If I needed to go to the toilet, they created a hole on the costume to make my life bearable. When I did these movies, we weren’t as wired as we are today. In Darna, I was tied and lifted to simulate flying. It was physically punishing…” – Boy Abunda, The Philippine Star, July 31, 2009 (READ MORE)

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. – Jun B (READ MORE)

“…1973’s Dyesebel (aka Si Dyesebel at ang Mahiwagang Kabibe, or “Dyesebel and the Magic Conch”) is what would today be referred to as a reboot, with beloved Filipino star Vilma Santos taking over in the title role. Mars Ravelo would make 1973 a very busy year for Santos, as she had also made her debut as Darna that year, in Lipad, Darna, Lipad!, and would go on to complete a second Darna feature before the year was out. As did the Darna pictures, this Dyesebel benefits greatly from the undeniable raw charm of Santos, who, in place of Edna Luna’s ethereal glamour, provides a likeable and approachable portrayal of the mermaid heroine as a loveable and trouble prone naïf. This new Dyesebel, directed by Emmanuel H. Borlazza, takes even further than its predecessor the idea of the mermaids as something feared and reviled by the human world. This is illustrated in a scene where a group of them comes ashore only to be met by a maniacal, sword-and-pitchfork wielding mob. A graphically violent fight follows, with much blood spilled and many a fin brutally slashed (I think that would count as “HMV” for “Human on Mermaid Violence”, for those keeping track.) In addition to this bracing infusion of gore, Dyesebel also welcomes us to the 1970s with a generous display of boobs (none of them Santos’s) and an absurdly confident rolling out of bush league special effects. Among these last are a giant seahorse upon which Dyesebel and Fredo (Romeo Miranda) ride during a romantic interlude and an adorable giant octopus from which Dyesebel is saved by a helpful swarm of puppet electric eels…” – Todd, Die, Danger, Die, Die, Kill! (READ MORE)

“…The mermaid character, presumably inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen classic fairy tale The Little Mermaid, was conceived by Mars Ravelo, serialized in Pilipino Komiks in 1952-53 and illustrated by Elpidio Torres. It has nothing to do at all with the 1938 Hollywood classic Jezebel (starring Bette Davis) except that the titles are soundalike. The first Dyesebel movie was made by Manuel Vista Production/Premiere Productions in 1953, with Edna Luna in the title role, directed by Gerardo de Leon. The leading man was Jaime dela Rosa as Fredo. If memory serves, Hollywood has so far done only two mermaid movies, Splash, with Darryl Hannah in the title role and Tom Hanks as co-star and an animated feature. Other actresses who have played Dyesebel include: Eva Montes in Anak ni Dyesebel (1964); Vilma Santos (1973); Alma Moreno in Sisid, Dyesebel, Sisid (1978); Alice Dixson (1990); and Charlene Gonzalez (1996). On TV, Marian Rivera played it, with Dingdong Dantes as leading man. In the ABS-CBN version, Dawn Zulueta will play Dyesebel’s mother with Sam Milby and Gerald Anderson as leading men. The Fredo character has been played by Romeo Miranda (with Vilma), Matt Ranillo III (Alma), Richard Gomez (with Alice) and Matthew Mendoza (with Charlene)…” – Ricky Lo, The Philippine Star, 10 Jan 2014 (READ MORE)

“…Aside from the three most popular characters from the pages of “Komiks,” Ravelo is also behind the superheroes Lastikman, Dragonna, Flash Bomba, Tiny Tony, Trudis Liit, Kapitan Boom, and Jack and Jill, among others. Since her 1947 comicbook debut, Darna has been played by over 15 different actresses in TV and films, with Vilma Santos’ 1970s portrayal considered to be the most iconic take…” – ABS-CBN News, 12 Jan 2014 (READ MORE)

Filmography: Darna and the Giants (1973)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Basic Information: Directed, screenplay: Emmanuel H. Borlaza; Cast: Vilma Santos, Helen Gamboa, Loreta Marquez, Rosanna Marquez, Romeo Miranda, Desiree Destreza, Florence Aguilar, Ike Lozada, Pepito Rodriguez, Cesar Ramirez, Zandro Zamora, Max Alvarado, Renato Robles, Protacio Dee, Chris “Bhuda” Cruz, Jing Caparas, SOS Daredevils, Greg Lozano, Ricky Valencia, Dave Esguerra, Robert Miller, Karlo Vero, Lorelei, Carina Zawalsky, Lorna Locsin, Nita Lincoln, Elizabeth Vaughn, Christine Soriano, Danny Rojo; Cinematography: Ben Lobo

Plot Description: The second film after the massive success of Lipad Darna Lipa (Fly Darna Fly), Vilma Santos returned as Darna/Narda in Darna and the Giants. Directed by Emmanuel H. Borlaza, Giants was about X3X (Helen Gamboa) who infected ordinary people with serum that made them giants. The giants played havoc to the city and thank goodness Darna eliminated them before demonic X3X conquered the whole world. Now paired with Don Don Nakar as Ding, Vilma radiated the screen for the second time. Kudos to the tricky special effects that made the giants realistic. Ike Lozada stole the film though. His scenes were the funniest in years. Darna used a huge church bell to defeat him. It was unclear why the fat giant, Ike, were allergic to the sound of the church bell. Darna rung the bell to great effects, making the giant Ike felt excruciating pain in his ears. Darna then threw the bell on Ike’s head suffocating him to his immediate death. That alone made everyone’s theatre tickets worth every penny! And lots of pennies as the film became the top grosser of the 1974 Christmas festival. – RV

Vilma Santos Stars in “Darna and the Giants” – Darna fights Alien Invaders and battles “X3X”, an intergalactic Warrior-Queen whose science performs genetic engineering on earthlings and turns them into Giants to bring the Planet Earth to it’s knees. Until Darna eventually kicks the crap out of her and the Giants. – International Hero (READ MORE)

Film Achievement: Top Box Office Film of 1973 Metro Manila Film Festival

Film Review: Sine Pilipino got then hot young star Vilma Santos to essay the role of Darna. But the problem was, Vilma was hesitant to wear the two-piece costume. So, during their photo shoot for the publicity photos of the new Darna movie, she wore the Darna costume on top of her body stocking. Vilma was finally convinced by producers Douglas Quijano and William Leary to lose the body stocking and wear just the costume on the day of the press conference. The press people were surprised on seeing how sexy Vilma was in her Darna costume, which was back to the original red bikini and gold stars. Lipad, Darna, Lipad! (1973) is the first and only trilogy of the superheroine.

It was a box-office hit on its first day of showing and considered a turning point in Vilma’s career. It was also the first Darna movie where Darna and Narda was played by the same actress. Unfortunately, there is no existing copy left of this classic film. Vilma starred in three more Darna films: Darna and the Giants (1974) and Darna vs. the Planetwomen (1975), which were both under Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions, and Darna and Ding (1980) under Niño Muhlach’s D’Wonder Films. Darna and the Giants was the continuation of Vilma’s first Darna movie and Darna again wore the gold bikini costume, while Darna vs. the Planetwomen was a rebooted version of the Darna origin, with Vilma’s Narda this time portrayed as a crippled teenager who was given a magical stone by a mysterious source. The costume is back to red this time with the stars on Darna’s bra also colored red and the headpiece, all gold. Darna and Ding was the last time Vilma played Darna. Her costume this time was sexier and more revealing. In this movie, she was joined by Ding who now has his own superpowers. – Rico J Rod (Read More)

“…Unang ginampaman ni Vilma Santos ang papel ni Darna sa Lipad, Darna Lipad! (Sine Pilipino, 1973). Isang pelikulang may tatlong kasaysayan kung saan nakaharap nito ang palagiang kalabang sina Valentina, Ang Babaeng Lawin at ang Impakta. Sa pagkakataong ito ay mga higante naman ang kinaharap ni Darna. Masasabing, sa pagganap ng aktres bilang Darna tuluyang bumulusok ang kanyang kasikatan. Tunay na akmang-akma dito ang pisikal na kaanyuan ni Darna. Nabigyan din ito ng panibagong bihis nang umpisahan ng aktres ang paglabas sa papel ni Darna. Sa mga naunang pelikula, kadalasa’y dalagita si Narda, at nag-iibang anyo lamang ito kung nilunok na ang batong nagbibigay kapangyarihan bilang Darna. Dahilan sa si Vilma Santos ang naatasang gumanap bilang Darna ay kinailangang ito rin ang lumabas bilang Narda. Sinimulan ng nobelistang si Mars Ravelo ang pagsusulat ng Darna taong 1947 sa magasing Bulaklak. Unang isinapelikula ito ng Royal Films noong 1951 na nagtampok kay Rosa del Rosario samantalang ginampanan naman ni Cristina Aragon ang papel ni Valentina at si Mila Nimfa naman ang gumanap na Narda. Masasabing tanging si Vilma Santos lamang ang nag-iisang aktres na gumanap bilang Darna sa apat na pagkakataon. Isang uri ng pagganap na tunay na nagluklok kay Darna bilang malaking bahagi ng kulturang Pilipino. Sa bawat pagkakataong ito ay tunay na inangkin ni Vilma Santos ang katauhan ni Darna na patuloy na nagbigay aliw sa mga manonood ng sineng Pinoy.” – Jojo Devera, Sari-saring Sineng Pinoy (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)

“…The film was released just two years after president Ferdinand Marcos instituted martial law in the Philippines. The resulting censorship of opposition opinions in the media (scripts for films had to be screened by the government before production was allowed to begin) would have prevented direct opposition to Marcos’ methods to be espoused, but the simple story of a 006giant army trampling on the rights of the general populace could easily have slipped by as pure fantasy. Even if not directly relatable to that contemporary situation, the conflict undoubtedly played well with a country occupied in the past by everyone from the Spanish to the English to the imperial Japanese. This was the big Christmas season release for Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions, and it’s obvious that a good deal of money was put into it. The plentiful special effects moments were devised by effects man Jessie Sto. Domingo and special photographer Tommy Marcelino. The giants are brought to life through simple photographic effects and, more frequently, the use of massive forced-perspective setups requiring hundreds of extras to run about in the background while the giants stand among scaled miniatures in the foreground. It all looks pretty quaint by the industry standards of today, but the shear enthusiasm of those involved is deserving of admiration all the same. I imagine this was quite a succesful domestic release in its time, the star power of the beautiful Vilma Santos being more the enough to guarantee healthy ticket sales. The rest of the cast is full of recognizable industry regulars. Divina Valencia [Pussy Cat, Queen of the Wild Bunch] receives second billing in spite of her few lines, but has definite screen presence as a giant in a Viking helmet. Max Alvarado, who seems to be in just about every Filipino film production since 1950, has a prominent role as a giant as well – a role he would reprise in the fantastic opener for Darna at Ding…” – 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)

RELATED READING:

Filmography: Anak ng Asuwang (1973)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Basic Information: Directed: Romy Susara; Story: Tommy Marcelino; Screenplay: Nilo Saez; Cast: Vilma santos, Gloria Romero, Daisy Romualdez, Rosanna Marquez, Lucita Soriano, Edgar Mortiz, Nick Romano, Leopoldo Salcedo, German Moreno, Larry Silva, Francisco Cruz, Pons De Guzman, Roger Saulog, Totoy Laki, Angel Comfiado, Romy Luartes, Chito Guerrero, Greg Lozano, Oscar Ramirez, SOS Daredevils, Elizabeth Vauchen, Lolet Garcia, Lita Rodriguez; Original Music: Tito Arevalo

Plot Description: Vampire Gloria Romero terrorizes Vilma Santos, veteran actor, leopoldo Salcedo played Vilma’s father.

Film Achievement: 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: “…featuring the Vilma/Gloria mother and daughter team had to be made. Gloria reprised her role as the vampire minus Darna. Vilma was her “doomed” daughter. Gloria was so identified as Impakta that when the second Darna flick cameabout she have to do do a cameo appearance!…” – Mario Garces (READ MORE)

“…Noong 1973 ay naglitawan sa mga tabloids ang allegedly nakitang aswang o bampira. Yun pala ay ipapalabas ang Anak Ng Aswang ni Vilma Santos. Kasama sa nasabing pelikula sina Gloria Romero, Daisy Romualdez, Rosanna Marquez at Edgar Mortiz…” – Tess Clarin, FAP, Nov 27, 2009 (READ MORE)

“Impakta” or an “Asuwang” Roles – “…Eric C: Vilma, You have done every role already except playing “Impakta” or an “Asuwang”. Would you consider playing a Darna villainess like what Gloria Romero did? Vilma: Yikes! Do I already look like a Vampire? (Laughs out loud) Actually I starred in a Vampire movie already “Anak ng Aswang” (Vampire’s Child) but I was not the Vampire. Gloria Romero played the Vampire. Actually I think that’s an interesting role and I don’t mind playing a Villainess as long as it’s a good story…” – Eric Cueto (READ MORE)

Nang ginagawa ni Vilma ang Lipad, Darna, Lipad sinasabi niyang marahil iyon na ang pinakamahirap at challenging pic niyang nagawa. Kasi, dito’y nabilad siya ng husto sa init ng araw. Nalubog pa sa putik. Alam naman ninyo ang balat ng top superstar…manipis, maputi at sensitive. Tinubuan siya tuloy ng skin rashes. Sa Lipad, muntik na rin magkaroon ng nervous collapse si Vi. Dahil sa pakikipaglaban niya sa maliit na sawa. Heaven knows na gaano na lang ang takot ni Vi sa tulad nito and other slimy, crawling things. And so, akala nga ni Vi ay ang Lipad na ang pinakamahirap niyang pic na nagawa. But she was wrong. Pagkat, sa Dyesebel ay lalong hirap ang inabot niya. Nabilad siya rito sa init ng araw, nababad pa siya nang todo sa tubig. Ang God! ang difficulties niya sa paglipat-lipat sa sets. Paano siya makakakilos e, naka-buntot siya? At matatandaan pa ba ninyo na ilang ulit na naospital ang top superstar pagka’t nanganib na mapulmonya? Kaya minsan pa’y nasabi ni Vi na ang Dyesebel na ang pinakamahirap na pic niyang nagawa. Nguni’t sa paggawa niya ng Anak ng Asuwang para sa Roma Films, tambak na hirap na naman ang inabot niya. Masasabi ninyong hindi naman gaano marahil. Pagka’t dito’y hindi naman naka-costume ang superstar di tulad sa Lipad at Dyesebel. – Cleo Cruz, Bulaklak Magazine, 1973

Filmography: I Love You, Honey (1970)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Basic Information: Directed, screenplay: Emmanuel H. Borlaza; Story: Justo C. Justo; Cast: Edgar Mortiz, Vilma Santos, Esperanza Fabon, Romy Mallari, Patria Plata, Mercy Oria, Scarlet, Gaston Garcia, Babette, Henry Cuino, Tweeny, Ely ventuz, Karlo Romano, Dick Israel, Pons De Guzman, SOS Daredevils; Executive producer: Espiridion Laxa; Original Music: Danny Subido; Cinematography: Rey C. Rose Javie; Film poster: Video48

Plot Description:  No Available Data

Film Achievement:  No Available Data

Film Reviews; “…By late 1969, movie producers had been tapping a Vilma Santos-Edgar Mortiz love team. Edgar was a Tawag ng Tanghalan winner. They started to be together in the movies, My Darling Eddie (1969) and The Jukebox King (1969)…In 1970, the love team of Vilma Santos and Edgar “Bobot” Mortiz was officially launched in the movie Young Love, together with the another popular love team during that time, Nora Aunor and Tirso Cruz III. The Vi and Bot love team went on to do 14 more movies in 1970—The Young Idols, Songs and Lovers, Sweethearts, Sixteen, Love Letters, Love is for the Two of Us, Mga Batang Bangketa, My Pledge of Love, Renee Rose, Baby Vi, Because You Are Mine, Edgar Loves Vilma, From the Bottom of My Heart, and I Love You Honey. All did well at the box-office…” – Rommel R. Llanes (READ MORE)

“…Noong Dekada ’70, ang mga young stars ay kailangang marunong kumanta dahil yun ang uso kaya naman nagtayo ng sariling recording company ang nasirang manager ni Vi na si William Leary dahil ayaw niyang pahuhuli sa uso ang kanyang alaga. Ilan sa mga naging recording artists ng WILEARS RECORDS bukod kay Vi ay sina Edgar Mortiz, Ed Finlan, Sahlee Quizon, Hilda Koronel at Esperanza Fabon. According to Vi, kapag nagrerecord siya ng kanta ay nakatalikod siya sa dingding ng recording company at si Bobot ang umaalalay sa kanya. Ang SIXTEEN, na sinulat ni Danny Subido ang unang recording na ginawa ni Vi at ito ay flipsided by It’s So Wonderful To Be In Love. Ang SIXTEEN ay agad naging gold record at dahil dito ay gumawa ng pelikula ang Tagalog Ilang Ilang Productions, ang home studio ni Vi at ito ay ginawa nilang pamagat katambal si Edgar Mortiz. Hindi nyo naitatanong, muntik nang manalo si Vi bilang most promising singer sa AWIT AWARDS noong early ’70s…” – Alfonso Valencia (READ MORE)

“…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)