In December 2008, a poster of Shaina Magdayao and Rayver Cruz was circulated online, depicting them as the popular characters of the vampire movie Twilight. Shaina and Rayver were portrayed as the mortal Bella Swan and the vampire Edward Cullen, respectively, in a fictitious project titled Takipsilim. The corporate communications department of ABS-CBN back then issued a statement denying that the Kapamilya network would be making a local version based on Stephenie Meyer’s vampire-romance novel.
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Now, ABS-CBN has created a fantaserye, Imortal, that depicts the centuries-old battle between two blood lines: the Waya (werewolves) and the Sangre (vampires). Critics have panned Imortal, which is dubbed the sequel of Lobo, for supposedly being a rip-off from the vampire saga Twilight.
In the fantaserye, Angel Locsin portrays Lia Ortega, the daughter of Lyka (her character in Lobo). She grows up to be an orphan since her mother sacrificed her life for her and her father Noah was killed in a car accident. She crosses paths with the mysterious businessman Mateo Rodriguez (John Lloyd Cruz). The young man is also an orphan who was left behind by his father.
They are both unaware of a prophecy that a chosen werewolf and a chosen vampire are both destined to become archenemies.
Imortal is helmed by directors Chito Roño, Jerry Sineneng, and Trina Dayrit. It also stars Maricar Reyes, Rico Blanco, Vivian Velez, and Jaime Fabregas, among others.
During the October 11 thanksgiving-press conference of Imortal at the Dolphy Theater, director Jerry Sineneng clarified how ABS-CBN came up with the idea of pitting werewolves against vampires.
"Matagal nang binabalak ng ABS-CBN na gumawa ng horror [series] noon. Actually, aswang, then lumabas ang Twilight, then naisip na siguro napapanahon na gumawa tayo. Yun yung panahon na lumabas ang Shaina-Rayver but actually, hindi naman talaga gagawa ng isang Twilight [remake]."
"Kung tatanungin kung inspired ito ng Twilight, somehow, siguro sinakyan namin ang kasikatan ng Twilight," he admits. "But actually kakaiba naman po ang istorya at totally different ang kuwento nito. Pagmamahalan ng isang tao at bampira ang Twilight, ito naman pagmamahalan ng isang lobo at bampira."
Imortal lead actor John Lloyd Cruz admits that he has seen the Twilight movies starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner, but he pointed out that he did not use the Hollywood movies as a peg for his vampire character named Mateo Rodriguez.
"Of course, lahat naman pinanood ko. Pero siyempre, hindi mo sila puwedeng gawin basis mo.
"Unang-una, iba ang orientation ng foreign moviemaking. Iba sila, e, foreigner sila sa atin. Iba yung orientation. At saka, sa amin din, bilang gumagawa ng character, may pusong tao at may pusong Pinoy pa rin."
Angel Locsin then compared her portrayal of Lyka in Lobo and now as Lia of Imortal. "Yung ginawa namin before, three years ago pa yun...mas young ang atake."
She also pointed out that Lobo started airing months before Twilight was released in 2008. "Siguro may mga na-adapt, nag-draw kami ng inspiration sa kanila pero sa amin kasi nauna, 2007 pa lang may Lobo na."
How would she compare her working experience with Piolo Pascual and John Lloyd? Who is the better kisser?
"Parang nalilimutan ko na, siguro maganda na i-try ko uli pareho para matandaan," quipped Angel. "Ayoko mag-compare...Masaya ako na nagkaroon ako ng opportunity na makatrabaho si PJ at nakasama ko rin si Lloydie, hinintay ko rin siya ng isang taon."
For his part, John Lloyd revealed that he was pampered by his leading lady when they worked together on the set of Imortal. "Si Angel, ang masasabi ko, napaka-maalaga. Parang feeling mo, ikaw ang leading lady kasi napaka-maasikaso. She makes sure na kumportable ka."
Out of curiosity, reporters asked the Box-Office King how he coped with the action stunts and fight scenes for this fantaserye. Did he develop abs while training for his new show?
"Sa storya naman kasi, hindi naman talaga siya legitimate martial artist. Kumbaga, nahasa lang siya sa mga underground fights or sa Pinoy lingo, basagulero siya. Yung dinaanan niya bilang isang fighter, hindi naman siya dumaan sa tamang pag-aaral or training.
"So it follows, ang answer dumidiretso sa klase ng katawan na meron ako. It makes sense! Hintayin natin ang tamang pakakataon para mapakita ko ang tamang katawan. Maaaring panahon na, pero hindi ito ang tamang pagkakataon para ipakita ko siya," deadpans JLC.
Imortal airs weeknights on ABS-CBN’s Primetime Bida block after Noah.