For Filipino graphic novelist Carlo J. Caparas, making a contemporary spin-off of his popular obra Ang Panday is one way of expressing gratitude to the people who continuously keep the legend of the ordinary blacksmith hero burning.
The blockbuster success of Bong Revilla's film adaptation at the recent 35th Metro Manila Film Festival convinced Carlo that it was time to update the Panday legacy for younger generations of viewers to enjoy.
For this reason, Carlo along with GMA-7's pool of writers conceptualized Panday Kids—a fresh offshoot of the original Panday story initially popularized by the late Action King, Fernando Poe Jr.
Tapped to direct Panday Kids is Mike Tuviera, who was understandably both thrilled and terrified when told about his new primetime project.
"Siyempre mataas yong pressure and me and my staff headed by Ms. Helen Sese [executive producer] nanggaling kami sa drama so yong binigay sa amin to, kasi we were the same group who did Captain Barbell and Lupin so sabi ko balik tayo sa action. Pero we immediately [faced] the challenge kasi isang malaking karangalan sa amin to be part of a project like this not only because it's a very popular komiks character but also because we always wanted to make another show," Tuviera said during the press conference last February 16 at Studio 5 of GMA Network Studio in Quezon City.
"And itong show na 'to ang papalit sa Darna so sabi namin we just do what we have to do, paghirapan talaga natin... It was a very challenging concept pero ang galing galing po ng creative team namin especially si Ms. Suzette [Doctolero, head writer]. It was very challenging concept pero they came up with a really, really good script."
Three young stars were handpicked to portray the Panday Kids trio. Robert "Buboy" Villar was the unanimous choice to play Oliver while Julian Trono and Sabrina Man bested hundreds of aspiring candidates to net the roles of Hadji and Charlie, respectively.
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS. Panday Kids follows the exploits of three ordinary kids prophesied to combat evil and preserve the Panday spirit.
The tale of the Panday Kids begins after the end of reign of the evil Lizardo in the world. Flavio, the original Panday, was not heard of anymore after defeating his chief nemesis. Tasked to safe keep the sword are the "Eskrimadors," an order of swordsmen known for their exceptional sword-fighting skills.
The "Eskrimadors" are headed by a teacher who trains the rest of the swordsmen in combat. The teacher chooses Aureus (JC de Vera) as his successor which caught the ire of Cicero (Polo Ravales), another eskrimador who is a descendant of Lizardo. Cicero cut ties with the eskrimadors, starts a revolt and slays the teacher. He still, however, fails to hold possession of the sword which is now under the watch of Aureus.
In another mystical world, Maria Makiling (Iza Calzado), the Queen of the Engkantos, guards the balls representing good and evil. As Cicero carries out his wicked plan, his friend Andreas (Ryan Eigenmann), who is also Maria Makiling's brother, steals the ball of life from his sister.
Together, Andreas and Cicero intend to resurrect Lizardo [Marvin Agustin] by using the ball. Left with no choice but to counter impending chaos, Maria Makiling instructs Aureus to find new heroes worthy enough to fight Lizardo.
Aureus prepares a ritual to separate the Panday sword into three shards. The broken shards choose their rightful heirs in the person of three ordinary kids.
First to be chosen is Oliver (Buboy Villar), a mischievous but nice kid. He grew up being constantly rejected by his mother Rosanna (Gelli de Belen). Born out of rape, Oliver bears the brunt of his mother's bitterness.
Representing the valor of the Panday Kids is Hadji (Julian Trono), a good-looking Muslim boy gifted with skills in martial arts and sword fighting. He is also quiet, unassuming and hardworking. Hadji and his sister Fatima were exposed to the conflict in Mindanao.
Embodying the wisdom of the group is Charlie (Sabrina Man), who is a beautiful but bratty kid who comes from a well-off family. Her source of happiness is the fact that she's adopted. She wants to find out her real identity but her grandmother Dona Guada Salcedo (Marissa Delgado) prevents her from unlocking the secret of her past.
Together, the three Panday Kids set out to continue carrying the torch once carried by Flavio.
Completing the cast are Jackie Rice, Jose Manalo, Tirso Cruz III, Pen Medina, Nanette Inventor, Bernard Palanca, Isabel Granada, Rich Asuncion, Akihiro Sato, Jolina Magdangal. Award-winning actor Christopher de Leon has a special role as the original guardian of the sword.
A new breed of young stars are also part of the cast: Ella Cruz, Nikki Samonte, Cruzita Salcedo, Yogo Singh and Migui Jimenez.
Catch the premiere of Panday Kids on Monday, February 22, right after 24 Oras on GMA-7's Telebabad block.
CLICK HERE to view photos of the cast members.