Filipino female superheroes in teleseryes

by James Patrick Anarcon
Oct 8, 2019
(L-R) Angel Locsin, Judy Ann Santos, and Marian Rivera are three actresses who portrayed female superheroes in Pinoy teleseryes.
PHOTO/S: Darna (GMA-7) / Krystala (ABS-CBN)

It has become a trend for TV networks to add fantasy elements to teleseryes where the lead characters have extraordinary abilities or superpowers.

This gave rise to Filipino female superheroes in teleseryes. They display women empowerment in a society where men are perceived to be more powerful.

To date, nine teleseryes have featured Filipino female superheroes in the lead.

Most of these projects became huge successes, and these characters have become icons in Pinoy pop culture.

PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) looks back on the Pinoy teleseryes that featured Filipino female superheroes and the actresses who took on these challenging roles.

This list includes daily and weekly teleseryes.

DARNA

The first time that Darna, an iconic comic and movie superhero, made its way to television was in 1977, with Lorna Tolentino portraying the title role. The series was aired back then on the defunct TV channel KBS 9.

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In 2005, Darna was given a modern twist. GMA-7 picked Angel Locsin to portray the title role. It was Angel's big break on television after starring in the hit fantasy series, Mulawin, with Richard Gutierrez. Alessandra de Rossi played Darna's nemesis, Valentina.

Since her character would shout "Darna!" before transforming into a superheroine, the network used Regine Velasquez's high-pitched voice instead of Angel's.

One of the most iconic scenes in Angel's Darna was her character's face-off with a Black Darna, portrayed by Katrina Halili. It was the first Darna incarnation to feature a Black Darna.

Angel's Darna is one of the most successful incarnations of Darna, registering a TV rating of 47.1% during its pilot episode, according to AGB Nielsen. This allowed the series to become one of the highest-rated pilot episodes in the Philippines.

Angel's first appearance as Darna, which happened in its fourth episode, became even more historic in Philippine television when it registered a rating of 52.1%.

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In late 2007, after Angel Locsin transferred to ABS-CBN, GMA-7 announced that it would be doing a series called Captain Barbell Meets Darna. However, the plan did not materialize.

Instead, in 2009, GMA-7 did another incarnation of Darna, with Marian Rivera portraying the lead role.

The second Darna version received good reviews for its depiction of Valentina, portrayed by Iwa Moto. According to reviews, Valentina's back story was given more depth, with Valentina becoming close friends with Narda, Darna's alter ego.

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At present, another Darna incarnation is in the works, this time on the big screen. Jane de Leon will top-bill the movie to be produced by ABS-CBN's film production arm, Star Cinema.

KRYSTALA

In 2004, Judy Ann Santos played the title role in ABS-CBN's superserye, Krystala.

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Judy Ann was cast as Tala, a woman from the Madulom tribe who unearths a magical crystal containing the spirit of a diwata named Luwalhati (Krystala).

The crystal transforms her into a gold-and-blue clad superheroine named Krystala. She uses her powers to help people in need and defeat the monsters led by Harimon (Emilio Garcia).

Before transforming into Krystala, Tala activated the crystal's powers by shouting, "Ako ang iyong sugo, si Tala!"

In an interview with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) in March 2019, Judy Ann recalled how she was offered the superheroine role at the age of 26.

"Naalala ko with Krystala, when it was offered to me, ang una kong tanong, 'At 26, magta-tights pa ba talaga ako? Parang huli akong nag-tights, That’s Entertainment pa, at saka sa bahay!' 'Hindi! Kaya mo yan!'

"Parang siyempre, nandoon yung pressure na 'Ano naman ang karapatan ko magpaka-superhero? Pero ano rin naman ang karapatan ko para kwestiyunin yung ino-offer sa akin ng ABS-CBN at that time kung nakikita nilang ako dapat ang gumanap?'

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"Kung may nakikita silang something, ang dating sa akin noon, baka hindi ko lang siya tinitingnan. Baka pinipilit ko lang siyang hindi i-accept na kaya ko siyang itawid."

Judy Ann eventually enjoyed doing the fight scenes for the show.

"In-enjoy ko siya, yung fight scenes, yung may imaginary superpowers ka during taping, naka-harness ka. Hindi ko siya inisip na napakahirap.

"Pero sa tunay na buhay, parang matatanggal na yung esophagus ko sa pagod. Yung 'Kaya ko pa ba?' Tumatakbo ako nang naka-heels. 'Tapos ang lalim ng costume ko!

"Kasi dalawa lang ang choice doon, e, either mag-tanga ako o mag lalim ako ng neckline. Malaki ang pata ko pag nag-tanga ako. Baka sabihin nila, weapon 'yan! Yung malalim na lang pong dibdib, kasi kahit hanggang pusod pa 'yan, walang makikita.'"

Although Krystala did not gain enough momentum to sustain its ratings, the series became one of Judy Ann's most iconic TV shows, especially since it was on the set of Krystala where she met Ryan Agoncillo, her husband.

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SUPER TWINS

Super Twins is a 2007 superhero-themed series produced by GMA-7, with Jennylyn Mercado and Nadine Samonte portraying the lead characters Super S and Super T, respectively.

The series tackled the story of ordinary kids Sha-sha (Nicole Dulalia) and Tin-tin (Ella Cruz). They own a pair of rings with magical powers. This is because their mother Ester (Marian Rivera) chanced upon a metallic precious stone that was turned into rings by their father, Manuel (Ian de Leon).

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The twins crosses paths with Eliseo (Dennis Trillo), a man who discovers that their rings bear special powers. The twins find out that they transform into teenage superheroes whenever they kiss their rings.

With the show being a ratings winner, the chant of the Super Twins became popular among viewers: "Kapangyarihan ng araw, taglay ay liwanag. Kambal na lakas, kami ang Super Twins!"

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VOLTA

In 2008, ABS-CBN decided to do a TV version of its 2004 superhero movie, Volta, starring Ai-Ai delas Alas.

According to its creator, the late director Wenn Deramas, ABS-CBN tasked him to do a TV sequel because everytime Volta airs on TV, it gets high ratings.

In the movie, Ai-Ai was cast as Perla, a single woman who was hit by lightning thrice, allowing her to develop superpowers.

The TV version, which was set years after the movie, depicted her character as a retired superhero raising her two kids: Salty (Dino Imperial) and Pepper (Mariel Pamintuan). The two kids eventually discover that they also have superpowers.

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VARGA

Varga is one of the comics serialized for television under ABS-CBN's weekly anthology, Komiks presents featuring comics written by Mars Ravelo. Mariel Rodriguez played the title role.

Varga is the story of Princess Vara (Mariel) who hails from Planet Vargon. She finds herself in the mortal world appearing in ghost form, after her planet exploded. She then meets Olga (Angel Sy), a young girl who can see Vara because of her kind heart.

Vara and Olga later find out that their lives are interconnected because by touching each other, Vara's spirit is able to unite with Olga. As a result, they transform into a superhero named Varga.

The superhero eventually defeats Xandra (Sheryl Cruz), an evil woman who preys on the beauty of other people to maintain her youth.

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DRAGONNA

Dragonna is another installment of Komiks presents, with Shaina Magdayao portraying the lead role.

The story of Dragonna revolves around a teenage girl named Rona, who hails from a race of Tagons, or Taong Dragon. She discovers that she has the power to create fire, allowing her to transform into a superhero named Dragonna.

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SUPER MA'AM

Super Ma'am was Marian Rivera's teleserye comeback in 2017, after giving birth in 2015. This Kapuso TV series was initially titled as The Good Teacher.

Marian was cast as Minerva, a high school teacher who lost her mother (Dina Bonnevie) and sister (Kim Domingo) when she was younger due to a tragic archaeological incident.

While growing up, Minerva believed in the existence of the Tamawo, after having a close encounter with these winged, shaped-shifting creatures.

Years later, Minerva acquires superpowers and becomes a superhero after the Tamawos started abducting children.

When Super Ma'am aired in September 2017, the series was included in the Social Wit List as one of the ten most-buzzed about new programs that month.

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(L-R) Angel Locsin, Judy Ann Santos, and Marian Rivera are three actresses who portrayed female superheroes in Pinoy teleseryes.
PHOTO/S: Darna (GMA-7) / Krystala (ABS-CBN)
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