It has been three years since GMA-7 aired the 2016 requel (remake + sequel) of the Kapuso network's iconic telefantasya, Encantadia.
Considered to be one of GMA-7's most unforgettable series, Encantadia first aired in May 2005. Back then, Sunshine Dizon, Iza Calzado, Karylle, and Diana Zubiri played the lead characters called the Sang'gres or the royal diwatas of the kingdom of Encantadia.
The Sang'gres of Encantadia are four sisters who are the guardians of four elemental gems. Pirena (Sunshine) is the keeper of the fire gem; Amihan (Iza) is the keeper of the air gem; Alena (Karylle) is the guardian of the water gem; and Danaya (Diana) is the keeper of the earth gem.
The bond among the sisters was broken after the four Sang'gres battled it out to become the next queen.
Dingdong Dantes was cast as Ybrahim, the long-lost prince of one of Encantadia's kingdoms.
This fantasy series so was successful that its highest TV rating was 51.7%, according to AGB Nielsen, and spawned two more sequels: a prequel titled Etheria: Ang Ika-Limang Kaharian ng Encantadia, and a third book called Encantadia: Pag-ibig Hanggang Wakas.
In November 2015, the Kapuso network revealed that Encantadia would return to television in 2016, after attempting to revive it in way back in 2010.
It was later announced that GMA-7 decided to make Encantadia 2016 a requel: a remake and sequel of Encantadia 2005.
Finally, on July 18, 2016, Encantadia 2016 aired on television with new cast members breathing life to the Sang'gres: Glaiza de Castro as Pirena, Kylie Padilla as Amihan, Gabbi Garcia as Alena, and Sanya Lopez as Danaya.
Before Encantadia 2016 aired on television, the requel went through a long process: from conceptualization to casting to the actual shooting of the epic telefantasya.
As Encantadia 2016 celebrates its third anniversary, PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) looks back on the long journey of one of GMA-7's iconic TV shows:
Loyal GMA-7 viewers would know that the kingdom of Encantadia originated in the 2004 telefantasya Mulawin, starring Richard Gutierrez and Angel Locsin.
In GMA-7 creative head RJ Nuevas's scriptwriting lesson vlog, he asked Encantadia creator Suzette Doctolero to narrate the story behind Encantadia.
Suzette said that the idea came up during a GMA writers's summit held in Tagaytay City sometime in the early 2000s.
She said, "Ang binigay na peg sa akin, 'Gawa ka ng diwata stories, parang Maria Makiling, yun lang ang peg."
In Filipino mythology, Maria Makiling is a beautiful goddess living in Mount Makiling.
How did the Maria Makiling peg evolve into the kingdom of Encantadia?
"Ito yung first headwriting job ko sa GMA at sa gabi pa, parang big deal siyempre yung primetime. So sabi ko, anong klaseng headwriter ang gusto kong maging? Kailangan meron akong...alam mo yun...branding as a writer!
"Pero ito, sinabi ko na matutuwa ba ako na Maria Makiling lang na, siyempre, ang konsepto naman ng diwata ay nakaputing costume na long flowing hair na naglalakad tapos mawawala sa may puno, paglabas isa na siyang usa.
"So sabi ko, parang ang boring naman no'n. So doon na pumasok yung, 'What if ang mga diwata pala ay mga warrior women? Sila ay strong women.'
"Nandoon pa rin ako, bumabalik pa rin ako sa maka-babaeng theme.
"'Tapos ayun, isinubmit yung konsepto ng Encantadia tungkol sa magkakapatid na babae."
Originally, the show only had three sisters, but it was GMA-7 executive Annette Gozon-Valdes who suggested having four female characters in the telefantasya.
That was when the four elements became central to the story.
Suzette added, "Kinuha ko 'yan doon sa tubig, apoy, hangin, lupa, four elements plus yung horoscope.
"Ito yung fire sign, water sign, air sign. Madali siyang gawin kasi fantasy siya, ikaw gagawa ng sarili mong rules."
In late 2009, GMA-7 revealed its plans of rebooting Encantadia. Titled Encantadia: The Second Saga, the show was supposed to air in 2010 and was part of the Kapuso network's offerings for its 60th year. However, the plans were postponed.
Six years after those plans, GMA-7 finally felt it was time to release a reincarnation of Encantadia.
In an exclusive interview with PEP.ph in May 2016, Suzette discussed how she conceptualized the new Encantadia.
"Parang I think 10 years ago, supposed to be, book four [ang gagawin].
"Kasi yung pinalabas [noong 2005], book one, two and three, di ba? Yung two is Etheria. Yung book four ito yung new saga, supposed to be in 2010.
"Kaya lang hindi natuloy, maraming reasons kung bakit hindi natuloy.
"Relieved naman ako na hindi siya natuloy kasi at that time, hindi ko alam kung magwo-work siya."
Originally, the network executives wanted to do a fourth book of the series in 2016.
Suzette admitted, "Ang problema ko, because it’s eleven years ago, so merong bagong audience na hindi alam kung ano yung Enca [short for Encantadia].
"So ang sinabi ko, requel: remake plus book four, pagsasamahin."
When news about Encantadia 2016 first surfaced, people speculated about the stars who would bag the coveted Sang'gre and Ybrahim roles.
Sometime in February 2016, a photo became viral for showing the rumored cast of the show: Glaiza de Castro, Kylie Padilla, Gabbi Garcia, Ruru Madrid, Rocco Nacino, and a newbie named Sanya Lopez.
However, no one confirmed if they were, indeed, the cast members of Encantadia 2016.
There were some loyal fans of the original Encantadia who were not in favor of the new cast.
This prompted Suzette Doctolero to post in her Twitter account: "Dear Encantadiks, alam ko kung gaano nyo minahal ang mga sanggre. For most, they're your childhood heroes so I understand why may takot sa casting now. And I'm sure sino man ang mga makacast now, may takot at kaba din sila knowing they'll be compared sa original.
"Enca has defined your childhood 11 yrs ago, so please, let me and the staff, my director and the new cast redefine another generation's childhood.
"Casting wise, may tulong pag kilala mga artista. Pero don't you think maganda ring maging launching vehicle ito for other talents if ever baguhan man ang makuha?
"For me, it doesn't matter ke sikat o not. Ang importante, magawa nilang buhayin ang mga character na minahal ng lahat.
"So sinuman sila, give them a chance to shine. Ke mapatayo o hindi, Encantadia will still be Encantadia sa puso ng lahat na nagmahal dito. Yun lang yun."
When Gabbi and Ruru were interviewed during a press conference in March 2016, they admitted that they auditioned for roles in Encantadia, and they described what happened during the auditions.
Ruru said, "Lahat po ng nag-audition, pinagsuot po talaga [ng costume].
"Yung sa amin po ni Rocco [Nacino], parehas lang po kami nakablack talaga.
"Sa kanila po [Gabbi and other aspiring Sang’gres], iba-iba din yung sinuot."
Finally, on April 4, 2016, GMA-7 formally introduced the cast of Encantadia 2016.
Glaiza, Kylie, Gabbi, and then-newbie Sanya Lopez were tapped to play the Sang'gres Pirena, Amihan, Alena, and Danaya, respectively.
Ruru was assigned to play Ybarro, while Rocco Nacino was tapped to portray Aquil.
Other cast members of Encantadia 2016 included John Arcilla, Solenn Heussaff, Rochelle Pangilinan, Pancho Magno, Christian Bautista, Carlo Gonzales, Vaness del Moral, Ana Feleo, and then-newbies Klea Pineda, Kate Valdez, Mikee Quintos, and Migo Adecer.
Apart from Marian Rivera, Dingdong Dantes also had a special appearance in the pilot episode of the series.
Sunshine Dizon, who was part of the original Encantadia, was given a new role that was not part of the 2005 version.
The new series would still be directed by Encantadia 2005 director Mark Reyes.
During Suzette Doctolero's PEP.ph interview, she was asked to describe how the new cast members were chosen, especially the newbies.
She explained, "Aware kami na ang Encantadia can be a good star launcher. Good vehicle siya para mag-introduce ng bagong talent para pasikatin, hopefully.
"[Kapag] may mga name na, wala kang ma-a-achieve because may pangalan na siya, e. Pero pag nag-cast kami ng deserving, marurunong umarte, at deserving naman, wala pang mga name, may ma-a-achieve siya. Because kaya naman, e, di ba?
"Itong nanalo na apat, nagdaan sila ng maraming auditions, may mga call back. Hindi lang auditions ng acting, including doon yung physical na audition kung kaya nila humawak ng armas."
She also pointed out the strengths of each actress.
"Of course, given doon si Glaiza kasi wala akong maisip na Pirena. Kylie is good kasi sa martial arts, bagay yun as Amihan dahil yun naman talaga, warrior naman talaga siya, [and] of course yung built.
"Si Gabbi, may boses siya, e. Plus, maganda naman yung bata. Si Sanya, ako, nakita ko noong si Danaya, nilabas, di ba? Sexy naman yung bata, maganda naman yung bata. So kaya niya."
During Suzette's PEP.ph interview, she admitted that it was nerve-wracking for her to work out all the details of Encantadia 2016, especially since she had to fix all loopholes and at the same time, make deviations to match the taste of a new generation of viewers.
"Masakit siya sa ulo kasi para akong tailor na nagtatahi, at the same time tinitignan ko yung butas, yung kamalian sa first, tapos dito inaayos.
"At the same time, buo siya, maglalagay ako ng isang kwento na itatahi ko sa existing na. So medyo masakit siya sa ulo. In fact, yung scripting nito, matagal, e.
"So kung Encantadiks ka na nanood ka ng 2005, ito yung kwento niya. Pero kung isa kang bagong Encantadiks na manonood ng 2016, ito yung mapapanood mong version na iba rin.
"Nandoon yung familiarity ng kwento noong una, pero marami pa rin siyang bago."
On June 11, 2016, GMA-7 first released a teaser of Encantadia 2016. On that same day, the cast members of Encantadia wore their costumes for the first time when they graced ToyCon PH 2016.
On July 5, 2016, GMA-7 released a longer trailer with a rehashed version of "Tadhana," Encantadia's theme song performed by Bayang Barrios. The trailer revealed that Encantadia 2016 would finally air on July 18, 2016.
One of the major changes involved the character of Adhara, played by Sunshine Dizon. She was a former Sang'gre who expressed interest in stealing the four gems of Encantadia.
Another new, major character added to the series was Lilasari, played by original Encantadia lead star Lilasari. She was the adopted daughter of Cassiopea (Solenn Heussaff).
Lilasari grew up with hatred because of her curse: whoever stares at her beautiful face will be turned into stone.
Other additional characters not seen in the original version were V'shka, a mighty Sapiryan portrayed by Game of Thrones actor Conan Stevens, and Lakan, a Mulawin portrayed by Alden Richards.
Another deviation was the addition of a fifth gem, which got lost and was discovered by a mortal named Pao-pao. He eventually became the keeper of the gem.
But the biggest difference of Encantadia 2016 from its original version was the love triangle between Alena (Gabbi Garcia), Ybrahim/Ybarro (Ruru Madrid), and Amihan (Kylie Padilla). This led to the creation of two fan bases: AleBarro and YbraMihan.
In the original version, Alena and Ybrahim were a couple, although Ybrahim served as the father of Amihan's child.
This arrangement was supposed to happen in Encantadia 2016, especially since Alena and Ybrahim were portrayed by Gabbi and Ruru, one of GMA-7's prime love teams during that time.
However, there were viewers who rooted for YbraMihan when Alena entered the mortal world, and a budding romance between Ybrahim and Amihan ensued.
In the end, the creative team selected YbraMihan as the main love team in the series, with Alena as the third wheel.
The first time Encantadia 2016 had a viral moment was when viewers noticed the handsome Sapiryan who was killed by Pirena for her to conceive a child.
Because of his good looks, netizens called him the "lalaking sinayang ni Pirena."
He was later revealed to be GMA-7 actor-singer Ken Alfonso, who already appeared in previous TV shows such as Dading (2014) and Destiny Rose (2015).
His appearance spawned memes created by netizens. He was even one of the bets to play Matteo Do in GMA-7's 2017 remake of My Love From The Star. Though he did not get the part, Ken was still able to become a part of MLFTS as a kontrabida.
On March 3, 2017, Encantadia once again became viral when a netizen uploaded an outtake showing a monobloc chair inside the kingdom of Encantadia.
A Facebook page popularized a meme that had the caption: "NAPAKA-MODERN NG ENCANTADIA, KITANG KITA ANG MONOBLOC"
Suzette Doctolero was quick to defend her show in social media, and said in one of her tweets, "yung monobloc chair? Wala sa ep yun. Edit out yun. Ewan sino naglabas niyan."
Encantadia 2016's official Facebook page then released a clarification about the viral photo, explaining that it was an outtake and was never shown on television.
In terms of controversies, netizens would always compare and say that Encantadia 2016 is an imitation of the hit Hollywood series Game of Thrones (GOT), which debuted in April 2011.
When PEP.ph asked Suzette about this during an August 2016 interview, she first answered: "Hahahaha."
Suzette then explained, "Re Encantadia imitating GOT, remember 2005 pa ang Enca at noon pa man ay marami nang factions na nagnanais makuha ang brilyante.
"So ignorant remark yang Enca imitating GOT. Walang alam sa history ng Enca at sa show ang nagbigay ng comment na 'yan. Kung ang GOT the series ay ginawa before 2005, e, di sige guilty kami. Kaso nauna ng isang dekada ang Enca.
"So the comment is malicious and ignorant.
"Lol. That's all thank you. Hahahaha."
But the biggest controversial moment that happened in Encantadia 2016 was when one of its lead characters, Kylie Padilla, had to leave the show in the middle of its successful run.
It all started as a blind item in early 2017 that a GMA-7 actress is pregnant.
It did not take long before Kylie Padilla's name came out. She was carrying the child of her boyfriend Aljur Abrenica who confirmed the news.
When the news broke out in January 2017, Encantadia 2016 was already on its six month of airing, and GMA-7 just announced that the show was extended until February to March 2017.
During the week of the news, Kylie or her camp did not confirm anything yet about the pregnancy, but GMA-7 has already released teasers saying that a Sang'gre would be killed.
On January 25, 2017, a leaked photo came out showing Amihan, Kylie's character, being laid to rest.
Suzette even tweeted about the leaked photo, "Re: nagpakalat ng picture na spoiler...Parang gusto kong bumulong gaya ni Bilog 'memetey ka na sana, memetey ka na!' Charing!"
Kylie also wrote in a tweet, "I'm so excited to watch the edited version of tonights ep. Whoooo. Anyone else? #EncantadiaSakripisyo"
Director Mark Reyes then released a statement saying that despite Amihan's death, it doesn't mean that Kylie won't be seen in the show anymore.
Part of his statement went, "I would just like to point out that this picture does not end the story of Kylie's Amihan. There are still a lot of stories to tell between Amihan, Ybrahim, Lira and her sisters. Don't be disheartened. THIS IS NOT THE END of Kylie in the show."
Indeed, Amihan was killed, but the character was able to return to the show as an "Ivtre," or a soul of the dead who returned to Encantadia.
Eventually, Kylie dropped out of the cast. The writers of the show then came up with another plot twist and introduced a "sarkosi," or a reincarnated spirit that enters the soul of a dead body or a new-born baby. Arra San Agustin was chosen to portray the new Amihan.
In a lengthy blog post on March 24, 2017, Kylie opened up for the first time about leaving the show and apologized for what happened.
She wrote, "I know many people were disappointed. I promise to make it up to you after my kid is strong enough to carry himself. Sorry to the whole team and the followers of Encantadia. I know how much you love Amihan and the show, I know how much you wanted to see more of her. I know because I too feel the same.
"To the Encantadia cast and crew, I appreciate so much the care you took in those last couple taping days. Thank you for everything you did for me and what you continue to do for Amihan’s character on the show. We, all Amihan admirers want to see her happy."
In PEP.ph's Anatomy of a Teleserye article released on March 31, 2018, GMA Vice President for Drama Redgie Magno recalled what they did to solve the situation.
She admitted, "Medyo talagang nagimbal kami doon. We had to do talagang major adjustment in terms of story.
"I think that was the only major problem na na-encounter nila kasi the rest, mga production ano talaga na hindi tao ang cause ng problema.
"Kumbaga, may involved lang na member of the cast na very major na giba yung kuwento, magigiba. Yung planong kuwento hanggang sa dulo, gigibain mo yun."
Still, Encantadia 2016 continued to air until May 19, 2017.
In terms of TV ratings, Encantadia 2016 started off rough, but was eventually able to defeat ABS-CBN's top-rating teleserye, FPJ's Ang Probinsyano, according to AGB Nielsen ratings in Urban Luzon.
On its pilot episode, Encantadia 2016 registered a TV rating of 26.1%, beating FPJ's Ang Probinsyano. However, FPJ's Ang Probinsyano regained the lead in succeeding weeks.
It was not until August 2016, when Encantadia 2016 started getting higher ratings against the Coco Martin-starrer, but there were times when FPJ's Ang Probinsyano would defeat Encantadia 2016.
On September 16, 2016, Encantadia 2016 registered a rating of 27% against FPJ's Ang Probinsyano's 23.4%. Since then, Encantadia 2016 would consistently beat the competition.
On November 10, 2016, the Kapuso series finally reached 30% in the ratings, as FPJ's Ang Probinsyano registered ratings that are lower than 20%.
For Encantadia 2016's final episode, it managed to defeat FPJ's Ang Probinsyano in the nationwide ratings. It registered a rating of 13.8% while the Coco Martin show got a rating of 11.1%.
The Encantadiks, or the fans of Encantadia, were saddened when Encantadia 2016 announced its impending finale that would be aired on May 19, 2017.
Director Mark Reyes and creator Suzette Doctolero teased viewers about a sequel during its finale.
At first, Kylie Padilla made a special appearance at the last episode, which brought hope to the YbraMihan fans for a continuation of their love story.
But it was not until the last two minutes of the final episode when Encantadiks's hopes for a sequel intensified.
The last scene of Encantadia 2016 showed Solenn Heussaff, who was not dressed as her character Cassiopea, but as an Ice Queen.
The Ice Queen said, "Natupad na pala ang iyong pangarap, aking kapatid na Cassiopea."
She then addressed her pet owl, "Huwag kang mag-alaala aking alaga, nalalapit na ang ating pananakop sa lupain ng mga enkantado."
Sveral after the airing of the final episode, Mark Reyes hinted at a possible sequel through a Facebook post.
One-third of the photo showed the cast of the original 2006 telefantasya. One-third of the photo showed a group shot of the cast members while the remaining portion showed the ice queen seen in the finale episode.
Direk Mark wrote on his Facebook wall: "One must always end the fight strong! Thank you mga Kapuso for a great 13.8 ending. We feel the love. Until next time. Avisala Meiste! See you next winter?"
When PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) spoke to GMA Senior Vice President for Entertainment Lilybeth G. Rasonable on August 17, 2017, she talked about the possibility of doing a sequel, but not anytime soon.
She explained, "Yung mga ganung bagay, even with the return, it took us almost 11 years. So it's something we really have to think about and really brainstorm about because we have to give something different again na aabangan. But we're not closing our doors definitely, not to a project like Encantadia."
At that time, Encantadia was also waiting for Kylie, who had not yet returned to TV during that time. But just like what Rasonable said, the network is not closing its doors to bringing back Encantadia.
Direk Mark told PEP.ph during the interview, "Hindi na remake, sequel na 'yan, we have established so many things, e. Meron 'yan, just be patient. Yun na lang."
At present, Kylie is pregnant with her second child with Aljur Abrenica, but she already did the prime-time series TODA One I Love with Ruru.
Glaiza, Gabbi, and Sanya have also moved on to other projects after Encantadia 2016.
The Sang'gres of Encantadia 2016 also had a reunion as guest stars in Alden Richards's 2018 teleserye, Victor Magtanggol, where they played sisters and cosplayers.
As cosplayers, Glaiza, Kylie, Gabbi, and Sanya used their Encantadia 2016 characters as their costumes.
GMA-7, on the other hand, has yet to announce if they have plans of doing another Encantadia reboot soon.