MANILA - "Dyesebel," ABS-CBN's adaptation of the Mars Ravelo comics series, concluded Friday with the titular character portrayed by Anne Curtis bridging the once-warring worlds of humans and mermaids.
In the primetime series' final episode, Dyesebel sought to finally end the war between her people and those on land by seeking dialogue with the human government. This, after a string of casualties from the hostilities, including Stella (Gina Pareno) and Dante (Gabby Concepcion).
Now recognized as the rightful queen of the merfolk, Dyesebel led her kind to a cave where the first blood in the long-waged war was shed. Here, she negotiated with humans to put an end to their destructive ways of fishing, which has long been the reason for mermaids' animosity toward them.
In an attempt to sabotage Dyesebel's efforts, the ousted queen Dyangga (Eula Valdez) triggered fighting once more with the help of her henchman, Kanor (Baron Geisler).
Liro (Sam Milby), Dyesebel's childhood friend, was killed after taking a bullet for her. The loss of a loyal soldier pushed Dyesebel to make a desperate plea to stop the fighting, this time by physically tackling the warring sides and putting herself in harm's way.
When Coralia (Bangs Garcia), Dyangga's daughter who had bullied Dyesebel as a child, was caught in the sight of a human soldier, Dyesebel did not hesitate to plunge into the water to save her from a gunshot. Dyangga, captured by humans, could only look on as the mermaid she has hated for so long took a bullet for her daughter.
For Dyesebel, it was the ultimate sacrifice -- risking her life for the same family who had plotted the assassination of her father, Tino (Albert Martinez), to seize his throne.
With Dyesebel in critical condition, her human mother, Lucia (Dawn Zulueta), made a televised appeal to put an end to the war before there are any more casualties on either side.
After an apparent jump in time, Dyesebel was seen swimming in her kingdom and, later, freely walking on land -- a sign that a truce between humans and mermaids had finally been reached. Here, she was welcomed by Lucia and Fredo, as well as a little girl who appeared to be her own.
As the final scenes aired on Friday night, viewers of "Dyesebel" took to Twitter to air their reactions. Even before the credits rolled, "#DyesebelPagtataposNgKabanata" already ranked among local and worldwide trending topics on the micro-blogging site.
The strong buzz surrounding the series online -- thanks in part to Curtis' army of followers that numbered 6.68 million, as of writing -- was also reflected in its viewership over the last four months since its March premiere.
In June, "Dyesebel" averaged a national TV rating of 31%, according to multi-national market research group Kantar Media, making it the No. 1 scripted series in the Philippines for the month. Overall, it only ranked second to the reality singing competition "The Voice Kids," which registered 35.6% in average nationwide ratings.
"Dyesebel" was also consistently the No. 1 show in its time slot.
Produced by Dreamscape Entertainment Television, "Dyesebel" was directed by Don Cuaresma, Francis Pasion, Darnel Villaflor, and Jon Villarin. It also starred Ai Ai delas Alas, Andi Eigenmann, and Zsa Zsa Padilla.
Owing to the source material's enduring popularity, "Dyesebel" had been the subject of much speculation as early as April last year, when ABS-CBN won the rights to 13 Ravelo creations and characters, including the equally popular Darna and Captain Barbell.
Rumors of the casting swirled on social media for months, even up to the last minute before Curtis was literally unveiled -- she was ushered into a press conference under a cloth to avoid preempting the announcement -- as the second actress to portray Dyesebel in a TV series after Marian Rivera in 2008.
Mars Ravelo's 'Dyesebel' debuted in a 1952 issue of 'Komiks'. Image courtesy of film archive website Video48
Dyesebel, in the original comics released in 1952, is a mermaid born on land to human parents, her mother a former mermaid herself. As a child, Dyesebel is sent away to live at sea with other merfolk after being blamed by superstitious townspeople for a series of disasters.
Different takes on the classic tale made it to the big screen as early as 1953. Popular portrayals of the title character include Vilma Santos (1973), Alma Moreno (1978), Alice Dixson (1990), and Charlene Gonzales (1996).
New film incarnations of Dyesebel almost every decade made the character an enduring pop culture figure among the Filipino audience. Today, Dyesebel is considered a local literary icon, alongside other Ravelo creations.