New characters, storylines as Encantadia returns as a ‘requel’
Nathalie Tomada (The Philippine Star) - July 18, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - “It took 11 years.”

Director Mark Reyes, who helmed the original Encantadia in 2005, held back happy tears as he recalled the long process it took to bring the GMA 7 fantasy-series back, during the press screening of the pilot episode last week.

Encantadia is finally premiering tonight after 24 Oras on GMA Telebabad.  

Suzette Doctolero, headwriter of the past and present-day Encantadia, told The STAR, “Five years ago, we had a promise to bring back Encantadia, but it didn’t push through for so many reasons,” naming logistics, casting, etc., as among them.

She said there was even an online petition for its revival signed by Encantadiks (how fans of the series are called). 

“Everything just fell into place now. Also we wanted to reintroduce the fantasy genre on television,” she said.

Encantadia returns as a “requel,” a word coined by the network to describe the way it’s written — part-remake and part-sequel. Still, the story revolves around the mystical realm Encantadia, where peace reigns with the help of four precious stones representing earth, wind, water and fire. Protectors of these gemstones are the sister/diwata warriors called Sang’gres Amihan (Kylie Padilla), Alena (Gabbi Garcia), Danaya (Sanya Lopez) and Pirena (Glaiza de Castro). They are also heiresses to the throne of Ynang Reyna Minea (Marian Rivera).

According to Doctolero, the film will have new faces and story arcs. At the same time, it will tie up loose ends from the Books 1, 2 and 3 of the Encantadia from over a decade ago. “There are new twists. Mga hindi pinakita before, makikita dito. I think the beauty of a remake is that we get to see our past mistakes and correct them.”

Unlike the original series that opened with the human world, the requel’s narrative plunges right into the goings-on at Encantadia. There’s a brewing romance, rivalry, enemy force and war. Immediately introduced are new characters like the first Pirena Sunshine Dizon as Adhara this time. There’s another Amihan played by Max Collins. (Yes, there are two Amihans but be sure not to miss the pilot so as to know their connection.) During the press screening, a game app was launched. Game of Thrones Season 1 star Conan Stevens was also presented as a future cast member. No word yet on what his character will be.

In the presence of invited Encantadiks, the current Sang’gres drew the loudest cheers. When the hauntingly familiar strains of the Encantadia theme (performed by Bayang Barrios) streamed into the venue Studio 7, not a few people in the audience felt goosebumps. 

It was the same feeling the cast had as they waited backstage.

 

 

 

 

Glaiza shared later on, “We were screaming backstage. Until I saw the pilot episode, it didn’t sink in that I’m actually part of this huge production. My feeling was, finally, this is it.”

She described her experiences on-set as “masaya na mahirap because everything is new to me. I’ve played roles before but this is really different… This is my most difficult because mentally, physically you have to be prepared. There are action scenes, but there are also emotional scenes.”

While readily admitting that there’s pressure to live up to expectations, Glaiza said, “I try not to think about it because sometimes it becomes more of a hindrance. Na?test ko na yan sa sarili ko. I try to convert the pressure into something positive so I can deliver a positive performance because the audience deserves it.”

Meanwhile, it was for the role of Pirena that Kylie initially auditioned. Those familiar with the Encantadia story know that Amihan and Pirena will grow a bitter conflict.

“I went to the auditions hoping to play Pirena,” she recalled. When told to audition for another role, she asked herself, “Kaya ko bang gawin ang character na di ko gusto? So, I backed off a bit. I really had second thoughts. During the second audition, I learned director Mark was looking for me.

“Now, I’m proud that the whole team was patient with me. They let me to personally fall in love with Amihan. Ngayon, oh my gosh, I won’t trade this for anything. Direk Mark is right. If I didn’t accept this, I would really regret it.”   

Another thing that excites Kylie is she gets to use her martial-arts skills. She studied arnis, taekwondo, aikido, wushu and has a muay thai black belt. “Feeling ko nga ito yung pinag-handaan namin ni Papa,” she said, referring to her father, action star Robin Padilla. She added that she entered showbiz with dreams of doing an action-packed project. It’s finally happening.

Showbiz newbie Sanya, on the other hand, said that it took her five callbacks before securing the Danaya role. “Medyo nakaka-pressure po talaga dahil bago ako. But I’m very happy and very thankful.”

Fully aware that Danaya is a fan-favorite character, she welcomes the comments, even the negative ones. “I take them constructively. If there are bashers, I just let them be because sometimes you learn something from them.”

On bashers, Gabbi said that she had her fair share as well the moment it was announced that she was playing Alena.

“I have this habit of reading tweets and comments since I’m a curious person. I’d rather read them, then feel hurt than not read anything at all. I’m like that. So, for my haters, I’m reading your tweets, guys (laughs),” Gabbi said. “I don’t get affected naman. It’s a common saying that you can’t please everyone. I don’t want to use it because it’s an overused line, but then it’s also true. At first, I was very frustrated. But when I really embodied Alena, wala na. So, whatever they say about me, I still got the role, and it’s up to me, how I will do it.”

The Encantadia headwriter wasn’t also spared from impassioned reactions that every development in the revival of the series generated on social media. Now that the biggest development yet is about to unravel, Doctolero can’t help but feel “nervous.” “For the 2005 (version), I was more excited. It was my first headwriting job for primetime. Ito yung binigay na break sa akin talaga. For the 2016 version, I’m scared to be honest because the first Encantadia was successful. Gagalawin ko siya ngayon, but what if it doesn’t turn out to be as successful?” Doctolero said.

GMA 7 can take comfort in the reactions during the advance screening of the pilot episode, which had a number of Encantadiks in attendance.

Like Andy Plan, a 25-year-old artist who brought with him well-kept scrapbooks devoted to all things Encantadia: “I breathe and live Encantadia. I have been doing these scrapbooks since I was in second-year high school. Naubos ko yung one year baon ko (to buy all these magazines). When I was building my (art) skills in high school, the show became one of my building blocks in becoming more creative.”

He gushed about the pilot episode, “It’s a step-up! Encantadia was already a hit even with (lesser) production values in 2005. The (2016 version) is a super step-up from the original.”

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