IF YOU’RE a Tagalog movie fan, you could have seen Dyesebel in many of the mermaid’s versions on screen. If you were born in the ’50s you might have watched the first screen version of the Mars Ravelo komiks character on the big screen titled Dyesebel (1953) that starred a young and nubile Edna Luna and Jaime de la Rosa as Fredo. It had a sequel in 1964 called Anak ni Dysebel with, again, Luna and De la Rosa reprising their roles.
In 1973, Dyesebel returned then played by Vilma Santos, five years later Alma Moreno wore the fish tail to swim as Dyesebel as well in a movie by Anthony Taylor based on Ravelo’s komiks series (it has nothing to do with the original story). In 1990, FilAm beauty Alice Dixson took on the fins with Richard Gomez in Mel Chionglo’s take of the Ravelo character. We also saw here two of today’s busiest stars who were just kids then—Judy Ann Santos and Carmina Villaroel—who played Dyesebel when the character was younger.
Director Emmanuel Borlaza did a remake of Dyesebel again in 1996 (he directed the Vilma Santos version) again following the original storyline and characters written by Ravelo. His second version starred Charlene Gonzalez, then fresh from her Miss Universe stint, with a young handsome leading man, the reluctant star Matthew Mendoza.
A dozen years after, Dyesebel resurrects on TV with Marian Rivera playing, by now, the legendary mermaid, with Dingdong Dantes as Fredo. Their off-screen relationship had by then been cemented.
From Kapuso, Dyesebel now swims with the Kapamilya etched on her fins. And why not? ABS-CBN has acquired the rights of the characters created by the late komiks illustrator and novelist Mars Ravelo “for long-time development,” according to Dreamscape Entertainment Television head Deo Endrinal during a press con last Thursday. The package includes Dyesebel and he said the team had exhausted the possibilities of developing first for TV the various characters in the package and it all redounded to Dyesebel.
After months of pencil pushing, Dreamscape decided to go on with Dyesebel and started casting for the TV series.
Anne Curtis was the unanimous choice to play the mermaid, especially after her name had always popped in at the various research the team conducted in its search for the actress to play the role.
Curtis was unaware. She was out of the country when the team decided to assign the role to her. She only knew upon return from her trip. “I was overwhelmed with happiness,” she said when she was presented to the press for the first time. Again, at the press conference last Thursday, she repeated what she said before adding, “I feel so blessed.”
Beginning tonight the story of Dyesebel unfolds again on the small screen, and in a week or so, fans of Curtis will see her swimming like a real mermaid on screen with co-stars Sam Milby as the merman Liro, and AiAi delas Alas as Banak, the mermaid who raises Dyesebel as her real daughter.
Curtis and her character will also mingle with the actors playing humans like Gerald Anderson as Fredo whom she falls in love with, Dawn Zulueta playing Dyesebel’s human mother.
Milby’s character is not in the original Ravelo komiks series which had “siokoys” (human like fish characters that didn’t have fins but feet instead). The FilmAm handsome hunk said, “It is challenging for me because I wear the tail and fins suit. Though I know how to swim, being in the suit poses great challenge and being in the water for a long period of time.”
Anderson, another mestizo who plays the earthbound object of Dyesebel’s affection, said he accepted the role because, “I was thrilled with the idea of working with Anne (Curtis). While I remain grounded (literally), my character will have a lot of interaction with the water-bound characters as well.”
Gabby Concepcion also makes an appearance in the series as a naval officer who sees the mermaids while cruising. His character, he said, is crucial in catalyzing how humans look at sea creatures, specifically mermaids.
Dyesebel stars tonight right after TV Patrol. It is on the screen earlier than its rival on GMA 7, also the water-bound Kambal Sirena, which is a variant of the Dyesebel series.
The questions fans want to know now, which mermaid can swim faster, or stay longer in the water. Will it be Dyesebel who has swam for six decades or Alona who is a new discovery? The ratings will tell us, soon.
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