New ‘Darna’ Jane de Leon pays tribute to her personal heroes

Nathalie M. Tomada - The Philippine Star
New âDarnaâ Jane de Leon pays tribute to her personal heroes
Jane has officially taken flight as the well-loved Pinay superhero Darna in the new ABS-CBN series Mars Ravelo’s Darna.
Photos from the actress’ Instagram account

MANILA, Philippines — After a three-year wait, Jane de Leon has officially taken flight as the iconic Pinay superhero Darna in the new ABS-CBN primetime series Mars Ravelo’s Darna.

Directed by Chito Roño, the show’s pilot week introduced viewers to Jane’s Narda Custodio and how she discovered her “inevitable fate” as the inheritor and next protector of the mythical stone that was once in the possession of her mother Leonor (Iza Calzado), the first Darna.

For a role that has been embodied by some of the biggest stars in showbiz, the pressure of living up to expectations can be overwhelming.

“It’s hard actually because kahit sino naman po ang nandito sa position ko, mahihirapan talaga. She will really feel the pressure. But ang sa akin, I need to focus on the people who believe in me. That’s the most important thing. I need to trust the Lord and trust myself. You know, to always think straight and look straight, and just move forward,” the 23-year-old actress told The STAR in a recent interview ahead of the premiere on Monday, Aug. 15.

Asked how her Darna will differ from her predecessors, she admitted, “That’s a difficult question but I can’t compare myself sa mga naunang Darna because lahat po talaga sila magagaling. And now, I’m just giving what my character requires. And I’m so excited to explore the characters of Darna/Narda. This is a new period and a new story.”

One thing’s for sure, there are going to be changes to her costume. As of writing, Jane has not suited up yet as Darna. “Our present Darna, she’s in her early 20s. For now, I am not allowed to reveal the details of her costume, but there are really differences from the costumes worn by the previous Darnas,” she said.

It wasn’t hard for her to connect with the retelling of the superheroine’s story. In the series, Narda has just been “chosen” to become the next Darna and she’s struggling to accept her superpower and the enormous responsibility that comes with it.

In real life, Jane said she’s in a similar situation in that she still finds herself asking the question: “Why me?”

“The Darna now, she’s slowly embracing the superhero in her. Of course, the stone was just suddenly handed to her and so, what sticks in her mind (is the question), ‘I am worthy?’” she said.

“Actually, in real life, people are telling me, ‘Why her? Why Jane?’ Halos magkalapit yung totoong Jane sa character ni Narda/Darna. Parehos po na kinukwestiyon namin sa sarili namin, ‘Bakit ako, bakit ako po yung pinili?’ So, we’re both slowly discovering the path we’re (taking),” added Jane.

Even though she doesn’t have the answers as to why, in the end, she was the one selected by ABS-CBN bosses to do Darna — a project that also underwent a lot of uncertainties and changes, from its lead stars, directors to format — Jane said she’s placing her trust in the greater plan of God for her.

She reflected: “It’s been three years since 2019 when (ABS-CBN) announced that it was going to be me and hindi ko po rin talaga alam (why). Even the bashers, sinasabi nila, bakit siya? ‘Yan din po tanong ko sa sarili ko. Why me, Lord?

“Bakit sa dinami-daming babae sa Pilipinas, sa mundo, bakit ako po yung pinili niyong Darna? But I’m just surrendering everything to Him. I have faith in His plans for me. Everything has a reason. So, I think, before Darna ends or after Darna ends its run, I will discover why I was chosen to be Darna.”

Nevertheless, Jane can count on the full support of previous Darnas like veteran actress and former congresswoman Vilma Santos and co-star Rio Locsin.

Vilma starred in four Darna movies, namely Lipad, Darna, Lipad, Darna and the Giants, Darna vs. the Planet Women and Darna at Ding.

In her video-taped message for Jane during the press launch, Vilma pointed out how Darna is a dream role for many and what a privilege it is for any actress to play such an iconic character.

She encouraged Jane to use her big break for good by becoming an inspiration and role model to the present generation. “Ngayon Jane na ikaw ang napiling Darna, bigyan mo sila ng inspirasyon na meron pa ring pagmamahal, meron pa ring tiwala at meron pa ring pag-asa. Ang daming humawak ng batong ‘yan,” she said.

“Ngayon, Jane, na sa ‘yo ang bato. Take good care of it and be a good example to the current generation. I wish you all good luck. I’m just here to support you.”

Rio, on the other hand, became Darna in the 1979 film Bira! Darna! Bira!. She’s also part of the cast as Narda’s grandmother in the ongoing series.

“I’m happy for Jane. I always tell Jane that it’s a huge honor and privilege, it’s tough, but not everyone gets to be called Darna. Not everyone is given the chance to become her. (I always tell her that) we’re here to support you, we’re not going to leave you behind. Lahat ng suporta ibibigay namin sa iyo,” she said.

“I also told her, ‘Talagang i-imbibe mo. Dalhin mo sa puso mo, kasi hindi mo alam kung hanggang mawawala ang bato sa ‘yo. Give it justice. Buhayin mo sa sarili mo.’ Kasi sayang ang pagkakataon na binigay sa kanya.”

Meanwhile, Jane took the opportunity to honor her personal heroes as she makes the most of her biggest career break yet.

For Jane, her real-life superheroes are her mom and her late father.

“My personal hero really is my mom and of course, my dad, who is now in Heaven. Because we really went through a lot. We have been through a lot and yung mga panahon na wala kaming makain, grabe po yung ginawang sacrifices ng family ko (so I could pursue my dreams). Sila po yung superhero talaga for me. It’s a long story but always love your parents and your mom,” she said.

She also fondly remembered how her father, who passed away seven years ago due to cancer, was there when she was just starting out in the business. She would have wanted him to be still around to witness the good things that are now unfolding in her chosen career path.

“Lagi po sana andyan si Dad kasi No. 1 basher and supporter po yung dad ko. Kasi against po talaga siya sa pag-sho-showbiz ko. Ayaw po niya talaga (at first) kasi sinasabi niya palabas po lahat ng pera. Pero kapag nakuha na po ako sa role or project, siya po talaga ang No. 1 fan ko,” Jane shared.

“Sana ngayon (I wish to do) mga simpleng bagay — ma-treat ko si Papa ng mga cinema, ng mga restaurants ganyan. Marami po akong dreams para sa family ko at para kay Papa.”

Paying tribute to her parents, especially to her mom who raised her and a sibling single-handedly after their father died, is just fitting. The son of the Darna creator, Mars Ravelo, revealed that Darna was inspired by his father’s own mother.

Rex Ravelo shared during the press launch, “My father grew up very poor. Kaya nagkaroon ng Darna was because na-inspire siya ng nanay niya. Single mother ‘yung nanay nya and maybe, watching her mother raise him single-handedly, with the inspiration of Superman, he created Darna.” (See related story about Jane de Leon on this page.)

Mars Ravelo’s Darna airs weeknights at 8 on the Kapamilya Channel, A2Z, CineMo, and TV5. It is also available to watch via Kapamilya Online Live, iWantTFC and The Filipino Channel.



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