Valentina: Her many faces and origin stories

Published November 19, 2021, 9:57 AM

by John Legaspi

From a cult leader and a zoologist to an over-the-top fashion icon, get to know more about Valentina and how she’s depicted on the screens

For heroes to be iconic, they must have foes with traits that match their champion reputation. There must be a great contrast, like how dark and just Batman is compared to Joker’s comical and sinister characteristics. Think of the polarization between Dorina and Lavinia in the movie “Bituing Walang Ningning,” there must be drama. And for one of the shining gems of Philippines Comics, Darna, you could never think of her and just set aside her arch-nemesis, Valentina.

valentina featured image

Darna may have met a lot of enemies in her adventures, from the pages of comics to the silver screen and television, but none of them has achieved the pop culture status of Valentina. Created by Filipino comics legends Mars Ravelo and Nestor Redondo in the 1950s, Valentina first appeared in the second episode of the comic series. While Darna’s story has its proverbial structure—a girl named Narda is entrusted with a magic stone that when swallowed transforms her into the heroine as soon as she yells “Darna!”—the case is different for Valentina. Although there is no definite origin story for the villainess, what has remained the same through the years is her gorgon-like appearance, her bitter and wicked attitude, and her power to control snakes. But unlike the mythological character Medusa, Valentina, in her many appearances, doesn’t seem to have the ability to turn people into stone just with her gaze.

To celebrate the legacy of the infamous character, let’s look back at the amazing Filipino actresses and how Valentina was depicted on the big screen and television.

Cristina Aragon

Cristina Aragon in ‘Darna’ film (1951)

In 1951, Mars Ravelo penned the movie “Darna” starring Rosa Del Rosario and Cristina Aragon as Darna and Valentina, respectively, This movie presented the first big-screen appearances of the two comic book characters.

Photo from Mars Ravelo’s Darna the Superheroine/ Facebook

Celia Rodriguez

Celia Rodriguez in ‘Lipad, Darna, Lipad!’ film (1973)

In this movie, Darna, portrayed by Vilma Santos, fought three of her nemesis, which are Babaeng Impakta (Gloria Romero), Babaeng Lawin (Liza Lorena), and, of course Babaeng Ahas, a.k.a Valentina. Celia Rodriguez gave life to Dr. Valentina Vrandakapoor, a doctoral degree graduate in Reptilian Zoology from the University of New Delhi.

Photo from Mars Ravelo’s DARNA/Facebook

Melissa Perez Rubio

Melissa Perez Rubio in ‘Valentina’ film (1989)

In the 1989 film “Valentina,” the villainess was in the spotlight as Darna didn’t appear in the movie. Melissa Perez Rubio portrayed the titular role, and, believe it or not, was the protagonist who got cursed to have snakes on her head instead of hair.

Photo from IMDb Pro

Pilar Pilapil

Pilar Pilapil in “Darna” film (1991)

Viva Films’ version of “Darna” stars Nanette Medved as the heroine and Pilar Pilapil as the antagonist. Valentina in the movie appeared to be an over-the-top fashion icon, with a Muppet-esque pet snake named Vibora.

Photo from Darna 1991/Facebook

Pilita Corrales

Pilita Corrales in ‘Darna: Ang Pagbabalik!’ film (1994)

Another Viva Films-produced movie, “Darna: Ang Pagbabalik!” presented Pilita Corrales as Valentina who’s “trying to take over the Philippines through subliminal messages on religious TV shows.” The film, directed by Lore Reyes and Peque Gallaga, also featured Anjanette Abayari as Darna and Cherie Gil as Valentine, the daughter of Valentine.

Photo from Filipino Times

Alessandra de Rossi

Alessandra de Rossi in ‘Darna’ TV series (2005)

Valentina’s first TV appearance was through GMA’s series “Darna.” Alessandra de Rossi played the role with Angel Locsin as Darna. In the show, the two were cousins, and later on, revealed as twins. Valentina’s original mother came from the planet Anomalka. She has the power to shapeshift.

Photo from IMDb

Jodi Sta. Maria

Jodi Sta. Maria in “Komiks Presents: Valentina’ TV series (2006)

Another retelling of the life of Valentina, ABS CBN’s “Komiks Presents: Valentina” resembles the 1989 movie “Valentina” where the gorgon-like character was shown as a good person through Jodi Sta. Maria’s performance.

Iwa Moto

Iwa Moto in ‘Darna’ TV series (2009)

GMA’s remake of the classic tale of “Darna” presents a new cast, with Marian Rivera as Darna and Iwa Moto as Valentina. In the series, Valentina has an estranged relationship with her mother Consuelo, who was impregnated by Kobra. Throughout its run, the character showcased other skills such as regenerative healing, poison manipulation, and super strength apart from the usual snake psychic bond.

Photo from The Darna Wiki

Melissa Ricks

Melissa Ricks in ‘Wansapanataym’ TV series (2010)

Another retelling of her origin, Melissa Ricks’ good-hearted Valentina got her snake hair when she was born because of a curse. Her loving parents kept her from the world. But then, she set out to find the woman behind her ill fate, who was the mother of the man with who she fell in love. In the end, love won, the curse was lifted, and she became a normal person.

Still from YeY/Facebook

Currently, a new “Darna” TV series is in the works under ABS CBN. We don’t know who will be playing Valentina against Jane de Leon’s Darna yet, but one thing is for sure, she has some big shoes to fill. “Ssssssss!”