Apr 25
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Celia and Gina: Memories of Darna

Author: The Philippine Star

For Celia Rodriguez and Gina Pareño, cast respectively as Braguda (head of the array of kontrabidas) and the grandmother, the GMA hit fantaserye Darna completes a full circle in their careers. The Angel Locsin starrer is Celia’s third Darna stint, starting in 1973 with the trilogy Lipad, Darna, Lipad, with Vilma Santos playing the title role, followed a few years later by the spoof Darna Kuno with Dolphy in the title role.

In the Vilma Darna, Celia played Valentina, Ang Babaing Ahas, with such flair that fans concluded she is the best Valentina ever, the role originated by Cristina Aragon in the first ever Darna which launched Rosa del Rosario’s career and reprised by the likes of Pilita Corrales and Pilar Pilapil. In GMA’s Darna, it’s Alessandra de Rossi who plays the legendary Snake Woman.

"As far as I can remember," Celia told Funfare, "I’m the only Valentina who wore real snakes as headdress, consisting of igat (water snakes). Yes, those slimy little creatures were on my head for the duration of the shooting. Sometimes, while delivering my lines, they would wander into my ears or my eyes and I had to take hold of myself so I wouldn’t be distracted. It’s a good thing those igat didn’t bite; in fact, they are considered a delicacy in Bulacan. "

That made Celia a unique Valentina.

"As the late Mars Ravelo intended Valentina to be," added Celia, "she is supposed to be a sympathetic character born with snakes in her hair. It was her fate; she didn’t want it that way but she couldn’t do anything about it. She was born poor, walking barefoot around the village. Because of her snake-hair, Valentina was ostracized by the village folk who even burned her house, prompting her to vow revenge when she grew up. And that’s how Valentina started to sow terror, maghasik ng lagim. "

In the Vilma Darna, Elwood Perez (who directed the episode Celia was in), "re-invented" Valentina and turned her into a model, a role which fitted Celia to a T because she has a model figure/stance.

"And that’s how GMA’s Darna has also done to Valentina, turned her into a model, which suits Alessandra just fine," said Celia.

Admittedly, because of advances in technology and the advent of special effects, today’s version of Darna is more exciting and breath-taking, showing Angel Locsin flying as if for real (look, Ma, the tricks don’t show!).

"So we worked harder during those days," conceded Celia. "But if you watch Lipad, Darna, Lipad now, you will be amazed by how we managed to make the scenes as exciting as possible kahit di pa uso ang computer noon. "

Gina Pareño gets the same feeling when she watches a VHS copy of Sampaguita Pictures’ 1969 action-adventure flick Si Darna at ang Planetman where she played Darna (and the late Vic Vargas as the Planetman), given to her as a gift only recently by Mike Virtusio, Gina’s avid fan.

"Nakakatuwa," Gina told Funfare. "I remember that we shot the movie for almost two months. How did they make me ‘fly?’ Well, they made me lie flat on my stomach on a glass, with the electric fan turned on full blast to keep my cape swinging. "

Gina is flattered to be on the roster of stars who have played Darna, also including Eva Montes and Anjanette Abayari.

"And now," laughed Gina, "look who I am now playing in the GMA fantaserye – the Lola of Darna. I play the mother of Lani Mercado who died after only a few episodes; Lani played the mother of Angel Locsin. "

In her Sampaguita starrer, Gina didn’t have Valentina; instead she had the Planetman as nemesis.

It’s only in the GMA fantaserye that Celia and Gina are brought together in Darna-land.

"During my time," recalled Gina, "I didn’t have as many fight scenes as Angel is now doing. Sa tingin ko mas mahirap ang ginagawa ni Angel ngayon kaysa ginawa ko noon. "

During her time, Gina didn’t have to deal with snakes, unlike Celia who swears that she didn’t develop any phobia for her slimy "co-stars. "

"Mas allergic at takot ako sa tao kaysa sa ahas," Celia said in her characteristic taray tone. "Mas nakakatakot ang ahas na dalawa ang paa kaysa sa ahas na walang paa, di ba?"

Well. .. maybe. .. I guess so!!! * * * E-mail reactions at rickylo@philstar. net. ph

Source: The Philippine Star