The evolution of Panday
CONVERSATIONS - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - February 27, 2016 - 9:00am

Did you know that Richard Gutierrez (along with his twin brother Raymond) was born on Jan. 21, 1984, five years after the screen debut of Panday, the iconic legendary superhero given birth by Komiks King Carlo J. Caparas in Pilipino Komiks in 1979?

Panday was portrayed in several movies by Da King (FPJ) no less, immortalizing it and making history by topping the successive Metro Filmfests it was shown at. Panday has become an alter ego to FPJ (who also portrayed Totoy Bato, another komiks character, a tough boxer, created by Caparas).

“As a kid,” recalled Richard, “I saw one of the Panday movies. It was my dad (Eddie Gutierrez) who brought me to watch it. I was used to watching foreign movies about superheroes and I was amazed watching a Filipino superhero for the first time. I became an instant fan of Panday.”

According to Caparas, it was Susan Roces (FPJ’s widow) who first read the komiks serial and suggested to FPJ to make it into a movie. Susan’s foresight (woman’s intuition) proved to be “historically” accurate because the franchise did make history, with the role coveted by other actors including Sen. Bong Revilla (in a movie) and Jericho Rosales (in an ABS-CBN series).

When Richard was tapped to revive the superhero in a TV5 action-fantasy series (starting tomorrow, Feb. 29 at 7 p.m., and Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays thereafter), he said that the first thing that he did was seek guidance from his Uncle FPJ (godfather of Richard’s younger brothers Rocky and Ritchie Paul).

“I owe it to him,” said Richard who is no stranger to tough (read: physically-demanding) roles, a derring-do that earned him the title Primetime King. “I asked for his guidance as soon as I was offered the series,” added Richard who starred in top-rating GMA shows such as Mulawin (as a birdman with magical powers), Sugo, Lupin, Asero, Zorro, Captain Barbell, Kamandag, Happy House and Love and Lies, and including award-winning Public Affairs documentaries about climate change and environmental concerns.

“As I did with FPJ,” said Caparas, “I saw something ‘enigmatic’ in Richard, which is what Panday is supposed to be. He has that ‘big brother’ image. ‘Yung pagiging reserved and at the same time pagiging maginoo. ‘Yung tindig ng isang Panday ay kuhang-kuha ni Richard.”

Already trained in martial arts for his previous action-adventure starrers on GMA, what Richard did to prepare for Panday was plunge into a rigid workout routine.

“I’ve been working out every day at the gym,” shared Richard (who was resting between lifting weights and doing cardio exercises during this interview). “I also play basketball. But since the shooting started, I sometimes miss going to the gym but I make up for it when I’m free from work.”

What he considered a “big sacrifice” was the crash diet.

“Kasi ever since I was a kid,” admitted Richard, “I love eating talaga. I have to cut sweets, carbs and sodium from my diet. Instead of rice, I take quinoa and protein shakes. (His girlfriend Sarah Lahbati is also into a quinoa diet. — RFL) The workout is heaven for me because I have always been into sports, very active ang lifestyle ko.”

It’s not the first time Richard is doing a Caparas project. As kids, he and Raymond were directed by Caparas in Takbo, Talon, Tili!, a horror-comedy. Kamandag is also a Caparas story.

“You will see a different Richard in this new Panday,” assured Caparas who acts as guide to the TV5 series director Mac Alejandre and the writers. “This Panday has evolved considerably. It is about the past, the present and the future of Panday who, it will be told for the first time in the prequel, is a foundling (Just like Sen./Presidentiable Grace Poe. — RFL) Richard is playing Panday in three different generations.”

In the initial episode (that earned praises from those who watched the preview a few days ago), all the three Panday characters played by Richard are shown.

“I was very happy with the result,” said Caparas. “Everything that we discussed (with the director and writers) during the pre-shoot meeting is there.”

Also starring as Richard’s leading ladies are Sam Pinto, Bangs Garcia and Jasmine Curtis-Smith, Alonzo Muhlach as Richard’s sidekick, with Christopher de Leon as the likewise iconic kontrabida Lizardo (Max Alvarado in the FPJ movies, Philip Salvador in the Bong movie and Victor Neri in the Jericho TV series).

Caparas has updated the approach to the presentation without sacrificing what he called the “traditional Panday.”

“We are keeping up with advances in technology,” explained Carapas who conceptualized the three stories in the new series. “Mayroong contemporary touch. Previously, the character Flavio became Panday when he touched the sword. In this TV series, ‘modernistic’ ang dating. Panday is using a computer to monitor the bulalakaw (meteor) that gives him the black sword.”

The airing of Panday on TV5 is scheduled early so that the children can watch it.

“Natutuwa ako,” said Richard. “As a kid, I enjoyed watching the Panday movies. Now, it’s my turn to entertain the kids.”

And, if I may add, the kids-at-heart.

 

 

(E-mail reactions at entphilstar@yahoo.com. You may also send your questions to askrickylo@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on www.twitter/therealrickylo.)

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