MANILA, Philippines -- Darna co-stars Jane de Leon and Janella Salvador know they subverted expectations by developing not just a close friendship, but an "unexpected" love team during the course of the Filipino superhero series.
The pair appears in the cover of MEGA Entertainment's March 2023 issue, where they noted that they were being compared against each other even before the show went on air.
As Darna progressed, however, fans instead took note of the chemistry between the two actresses and began shipping their characters together. "Darlentina" emerged as the most popular pairing from the show, eclipsing even the main love team between De Leon's Narda Custodio and Joshua Garcia's character, policeman Brian Robles.
MEGA Entertainment's MJ Marfori said the pair "tease ... Garcia about the love team he's supposed to foster on the set of Darna," which has now taken a backseat in favor of "Darlentina."
Both de Leon and Salvador have repeatedly said that theirs is an unexpected pairing -- especially as in the beginning, fans were comparing them instead.
"Oh yeah, we were being pitted against one another," Salvador recalled.
"This industry can be toxic, especially if you have a lot of insecurities. It can really trigger you, because they can really put you against one another," de Leon added. "Iko-compare ka nila."
Those comparisons fell by the wayside soon enough. Instead, fans rallied around both Salvador and de Leon, rooting for their characters to end up together and campaigning for a follow-up project for the pair.
During the course of Darna's airing, their fandom produced three digital billboards -- the third appeared in Times Square in New York on the day of the show's finale -- while gaining attention for their creativity.
De Leon and Salvador are well aware of their passionate fans and have been nothing but supportive.
"We were joking about it lang before, and people started shipping," said Salvador.
"They can look at it in a platonic way or not. Whether friends or not, we are happy, we are comfortable about what they label our tandem," said de Leon.
For the pair, their tandem represents a shift in the mindset surrounding women in showbiz -- particularly those who play rivals in shows. De Leon's Darna, after all, is mortal enemies with Salvador's Valentina.
"[JaneNella] also represents a new generation, where people are more open," said de Leon.
"This is the first Darna for this generation na Darna and Valentina don't have to be enemies all the time," said Salvador. "They can help each other din, and as women, we can help each other din."
"They usually make girls compete, but it is different and nagsa-start sa amin ni Janella," de Leon said.
Both actresses have since expressed their willingness to do a follow-up project together, possibly in a "girls love" or GL series. Whether that comes to fruition has yet to be determined, but their fans continue to make it clear that they will support de Leon and Salvador in their future projects.
Speaking to MEGA Entertainment, de Leon revealed that she is entertaining movie offers, while Salvador is working on a concert this month.
MEGA Entertainment is available on Readly, Magzter, Zinio, and Press Reader, as we as on MEGA Magazine's March 2023 print issue.