While the pandemic has not been kind to film and TV production in the Philippines in terms of scheduling, it has been especially harsh on the big-budget series promised since 2019-20. For GMA7 it is a certain five-part combining ultra-electromagnetic super robot. For ABS-CBN it is the latest edition of Mars Ravelo’s iconic super-heroine. For the latter, its troubles were also compounded by a lead star turnover, and then by the shutdown of its mother network, leaving it only on cable and simulcast deals. But since when have troubles such as these ever stop “Darna”?

In fact, according to the Philippine Star, preliminary development on the “Darna” Kapamilya teleserye (formerly movie) continues apace, especially with the announcement of new cast members to join lead actress Jane De Leon, plus a new auteur in the director’s chair. First, Kapamilya stars Joshua Garcia and a now-grown Zaijian Jaranilla have been cast, respectively, as Jane’s leading man and Ding, Darna’s brother-sidekick. Next, the series director is now confirmed to be Chito S. Roño, taking up the job from Jerrold Tarog from when it was originally a movie project. All involved are memorable names in past ABS-CBN TV productions.

Roño for example has been director of the 2004-05 supernatural teen drama “Spirits,” actually his first work for television, but not the last (and all Kapamilya). Garcia has been active on both big and small screens, his most recent TV role being on 2019-20’s “The Killer Bride.” And Jaranilla cemented himself as one of the top child actors of his time when he starred as Santino, friend of “Big Bro” Jesus in “May Bukas Pa” (2009-10). He practically grew up a Kapamilya, and this role as Ding opposite De Leon’s Darna looks to bring him back to a more regular TV presence after multiple one-off appearances in Kapamilya drama anthologies.

Full production for “Darna” is set to begin with photography this coming November, ahead of a planned premiere in 2022. The series will debut on cable via Kapamilya Channel and A2Z, with probable simulcast deals for TV5 like recent teleseryes/shows. Other confirmed cast members include Iza Calzado as Darna’s predecessor, Rio Locsin, Simon Ibarra, Kiko Estrada, Richard Quan and Levi Ignacio. The role of perennial Darna antagonist, snake-lady Valentina, interestingly, has yet to be cast.

Image courtesy of Inquirer.net