Darna continues to be one of Philippine culture's ultimate muses

The superheroine is still flying high thanks to Filipino creatives' visions

The brainchild of the imaginations of writer Mars Ravelo and artist Nestor Redondo, Darna has been flying and inspiring Filipinos since she first graced the komiks scene in 1950. She has since spawned such a great cult following, cementing her royal status in Pinoy pop culture as the ultimate Filipina hero.

Darna as an art muse

Through the years, the Darna's costume has been worn by multiple women on the big screen, television, and stage. She has been immortalized in a number of songs. And after more than seven years, we still go crazy whenever we see her on the news.

But as time changes, so does the way we view Darna. Though she remains behind the proverbial superhero mask to be the unassuming Narda who swallows a magic white stone, her role now becomes more significant than a dream role for an actress thanks to modern Filipino creatives.

Here are new artworks and pieces inspired by the Filipina amazon proving that Darna continues to be one of the ultimate muses of Philippine art.

Comics and other literature

While Darna's creators have bid farewell to the world, their legacy has influenced a new breed comic book creators to produce titles that pay homage to their greatest work.

In December 2002, writer and illustrator Carlo Vergara released his comic book "Ang Kagila-gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni ZsaZsa Zaturnnah." Its protagonist is a tribute to Darna, which eventually became an LGBTQIA+ comic icon. Although their alter egos are different, Zaturnnah and Darna share the common denominator of fighting for what is right and just.

In that same year, Edgar Samar produced a children's book, "Uuwi na ang Nanay Kong si Darna," which echoes Mars' inspiration for the superheroine—his mother.

‘Ang Kagila-gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Zsazsa Zaturnnah’ and ‘Darna Lives!’

Comic book creators Gerry Alanguilan and Arnold Arre worked together to continue Narda's story in a nine-page webcomic titled "Darna Lives!". The comic puts the spotlight on Narda, who got married and had three kids. In the story, Narda forgot her superhero identity until fate got its way and called Darna to be back.

Fashion and pageantry

From the comic book pages to live action interpretations, Darna's costume has changed through the years but the story behind it remains the same. It is still rooted by Philippine mythology and iconography with the star in her bustier a nod to the Philippine flag, the bahag-inspired loincloth, and other agimat concepts.

Last year, a Filipina beauty queen took Darna to the international pageant stage with a dress that's an ode to her costume. Miss Earth Philippines 2020 Roxanne Baeyens donned a Rian Fernandez evening gown that features a sweetheart neckline with a flowy skirt and a high slit. The top is encrusted with a lattice pattern and baroque style beading, creating the superheroine’s silhouette. The bejeweled nude illusion sleeves have intricate embellishments at the end, mimicking Darna’s bracelets.

Roxxane Baeyens in her Darna-inspired gown

Much like Mars, Roxie’s environmental efforts are deeply inspired by her mom. “I want to be the Miss Philippines Earth 2020 because all my life, I was a witness of my mom being an environmentalist and I wanted to continue the legacy in my family and be the change I want to see in the world,” says the 23-year-old Filipino-Belgian beauty.

Political statement

The year 2020 has been a crazy one for the Philippines and it is not just because of the pandemic. Filipina entertainment personalities Liza Soberano, Angel Locsin, and Catriona Gray were warned by Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade to distance themselves from women's group Gabriela.

This prompted many to see the three as modern-day Darnas, including fellow actress Iza Calzado, one of the latest to step into the heroine's shoes, and said that they "remind us that love and courage are what defines a superhero like Darna and that we all have it inside."

Cebuano illustrator Bastinuod produced an artwork featuring the three actresses as Darna.

Artwork by Bastinuod

Darna in the pandemic

For men and women, Darna embodies Filipinos' resilience, tenacity, and empathy, traits that can also be seen in today's heroes, which are the medical workers tirelessly working in the fight against COVID-19. During the height of the pandemic, artist AG Saño painted a mural of the amazon on the side of his condo in Quezon City. In his piece, the heroine is not presented in her usual costume but dons a scrub suit, face mask, a stethoscope, and the country's flag as a cape—a tribute to healthcare frontliners all over the country.

AG Saño's mural (Photo by Jire Carreon)

How about you, what is Darna in your life?