MANILA — For the family of Filipino comics legend Mars Ravelo, ABS-CBN is the “best platform” for his characters, including the iconic superhero Darna, to come to life.
Ravelo’s son Rex spoke of his family’s partnership with ABS-CBN during the media conference of “Mars Ravelo’s Darna,” the TV adaptation helmed by acclaimed filmmaker Chito S. Roño and starring Jane de Leon in the title role.
“We signed up with ABS-CBN because we feel that it’s the best platform that we can have. Mataas ang expectations namin talaga. Having Mr. Roño as the director, iyon na ‘yun, e. It’s a dream come true. Hindi pa tumitigil ang goosebumps ko. This is like a dream,” he said.
The Ravelos first inked the deal with ABS-CBN in April 2013, granting the Kapamilya network rights to 13 titles or characters created by the comics master.
At the time, Rex Ravelo similarly referred to ABS-CBN as “an institution,” in explaining the estate’s decision to sign with the media company. “Based on their products, I think mas maganda talaga na sa kanila mapunta ‘yung projects. Hindi lang ABS-CBN ang option namin, but the best option is ABS-CBN,” he said.
At the media launch of the “Darna” series, Ravelo lauded the modern retelling of the heroine’s story, particularly its inclusion of Iza Calzado’s role as the “first Darna” who passes on the stone to her daughter, Narda. He explained that his father’s creation of the character was rooted from his experience of being raised by only his mother.
“A lot of people don’t know that my father grew up very poor. Kaya nagkaroon ng ‘Darna,’ dahil na-inspire siya ng nanay niya. Single mother ang nanay niya. Watching the mother raise them singlehandedly, with the inspiration of Superman, he created Darna,” Ravelo said.
Addressing de Leon, who was seated near him, Ravelo added: “So iyong twist ngayon ng nandiyan si Iza Calzado as your mother, nagkaroon ng twist ng family, na iyon talaga ang pinagmulan ng story ng Darna.”
In the ongoing series, Calzado’s character, the strongest warrior of Marte, started anew on Earth as Leonor to protect the stone that transforms her into Darna from threats from her planet. Chosen by the stone as its inheritor, Leonor’s daughter Narda would grow up as the unwitting apprentice of the first Darna, to prepare for her turn as the superhero.
Recalling the stone’s origin in the original lore of the comics, Ravelo said his father based it on the Filipino tradition of wearing or believing in “agimat” or an amulet with mystical properties.
“Iyong bato ay agimat. Taktak ng Pilipino. Ang agimat is really Filipino. Doon nanggaling ‘yung bato na nilulunok,” he said.
Swallowing the stone would grant Narda invincibility as Darna, but as the superhero flew to the big screen, this aspect of the transformation was modified with Mars Ravelo’s approval, his son explained.
“Originally, ang bato ay hindi na niluluwa, kasi walang weakness si Darna. ‘Pag nilunok niya ‘yung bato, iyong power niya has no limits. Sisigaw lang siya ng ‘Narda’ para bumalik siya sa pagiging Narda, pero ‘yung bato ay hindi lumalabas, pumupunta sa puso niya,” he said.
“The directors, the writers said hindi maganda na walang weakness si Darna, so ginawa nila na lumalabas ‘yung bato, para maging exciting sa movie na puwede siyang matalo,” Ravelo recalled.
Such was the case for Leonor, the human form of Calzado’s Darna, as seen in the August 16 episode of the ABS-CBN series. Battling Martean creatures without the stone — which was inadvertently taken by Narda — Leonor was turned into ash just as she caught the stone from her daughter. Witnessing her mother’s death would become a turning point for Narda, who had been hesitant to continue the mission of being the stone’s chosen protector.
That Darna’s story, not just of heroism but also family, will be seen by a new generation of viewers has admittedly been “overwhelming” for Ravelo, who also pointed out ABS-CBN’s wide reach overseas via digital and TFC.
“Inaabangan ito ng international audience na hindi nakakaintindi ng Tagalog pero papanoorin nila, kasi meron nag pagkakakilala ang Darna internationally. Maraming nag-aabang. Ito ay malaking, malaking plataporma na wala dati,” he said.