MANILA — Vilma Santos has symbolically passed on Darna’s mythical stone to Jane de Leon, as the screen veteran gave her blessing to the new-generation actress on Monday, during the media launch of ABS-CBN’s adaptation of the pop culture icon.
In the opening minutes of the press launch of “Mars Ravelo’s Darna,” de Leon was surprised with a recorded message from Santos, who portrayed the Mars Ravelo character in four movies from 1973 to 1980.
Santos, 68, donned the comics character’s battle gear in “Lipad, Darna, Lipad,” “Darna and the Giants,” “Darna vs the Planet Women,” and “Darna at Ding.”
“Si Darna ay isang local heroine na [nilikha] ni Mars Ravelo — babaeng matapang at handang ipagtanggol ang sinumang nangangailangan. I’m lucky enough na makagawa ng apat na ‘Darna’ [na pelikula],” Santos said.
Wearing red, Darna’s signature color, Santos spoke of the enduring relevance of the character and what she continues to symbolize.
“‘Yung pagiging Darna, relevant ‘yan, e, lalo na ngayon na napupuno tayo ng challenges sa buhay. ‘Yung character niya ay nagbibigay ng inspirasyon sa mga tao, [and] faith that everybody can be Darna. As long as you’re willing to help other people, you’re considered a hero,” she said.
Santos’ statement reflects the ongoing campaign of the series, “Ikaw, Ako, Tayong Lahat si Darna,” depicted as a sprawling mural with everyday Filipinos shown to have Darna’s winged emblem on their forehead.
In her message, Santos addressed de Leon, first by pointing out that the role of Darna is coveted as much as it bears responsibility. She then reminded the actress to use her reach to inspire hope in others, and to be a good example.
“Maraming nag-aasam na maging Darna. Icon na ‘yung character. Malaking malaking karangalan ‘yan para sa isang artista na tulad ko na makaganap bilang isang Darna.
“Ngayon, Jane, na ikaw ang napiling Darna, bigyan mo sila ng inspirasyon na meron pa ring pagmamahal, meron pa ring tiwala, at meron pa ring pag-asa. Ang daming humawak ng batong ‘yan.
“Ngayon, Jane, na sa ‘yo ang bato. Pangalagan mo iyang mabuti. Maging ehemplo ka ng henerasyon ngayon. I wish you all good luck. Nandito lang ako to support you,” Santos said.
Santos ended her message by urging fans to rally behind de Leon as Darna.
“Ako po si Ate Vi, ang Darna ng mga nakaraang henerasyon. At ngayon po, inaanyayahan ko kayong suportahan ang Darna ng bago nating henerasyon, si Jane de Leon,” she said.
De Leon was visibly surprised by Santos’ recorded message, and initially only had a few words when asked for her reaction. “Ang aga!” she quipped, apparently referring to turning emotional.
“Maraming, maraming salamat po sa lahat ng mga nagtitiwala,” she said. “Actually, hindi ko ini-expect na meron akong message from Tita Vilma Santos. Gagawin ko ang best ko para sa inyong lahat. Maraming, maraming salamat po.”
“Ang aga! Hindi ko in-expect,” de Leon added.
Prior to Santos, other past “Darna” actresses who have expressed support for de Leon include Angel Locsin, Regine Velasquez, and Rio Locsin, who is also a cast member of the series.
Helmed by acclaimed filmmaker Chito S. Roño with Avel Sunpongco and Benedict Mique, “Mars Ravelo’s Darna” is finally set to premiere on August 15 on Kapamilya Channel, TV5, A2Z, Kapamilya Online Live, and iWantTFC.