Women

No One's Talking About The Best Darna

Joel Lamangan's campy 1991 version was a masterpiece.
IMAGE Mars Ravelo's official website; Instagram @nanettemedvedpo
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After months of speculation, Star Magic has finally confirmed that Liza Soberano is next in line to don the iconic gold and red "bikini," following in the tailwind of Vilma Santos, Rio Locsin, Angel Locsin, and Marian Rivera Dantes. 

Soberano's casting brought renewed interest in Mars Ravelo's Darna, producing lists, rehashing old ones, resharing even older ones, comparing this Darna with this Darna, and, to play up timeliness, Darna with Wonder Woman. 

We remembered Regine Velasquez's one-piece version, Sharon Cuneta's blue-and-red frock, Anjanette Abayari's strangely placed belt buckle. (We take full credit for the latter's online resurgence.) Even Lotis Key recently made headlines as a mother figure to chess champion Wesley So. But we wonder why no one's talking about Nanette Medved who took over the crown in 1991? 

Nanette Medved arguably the most forgettable Darna, undoubtedly the best one. Let's break it down:

Her Darna was unapologetically campy.

Directed by Joel Lamangan, this version doesn't take itself too seriously—or, at least, it appears that way. It's as campy as Medved's wild, wiry hairstyle for the film. Medved's Darna is a career-driven journalist a la Clark Kent (the Christopher Reeve version and not the insolent Henry Cavill one) when she was given a stone of power for her goodness. She also has two brothers named Ding and Dong. 

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Here, Pilar Pilapil's Valentina is an over-the-top fashion icon, a serpentine predescessor to Zoolander's Mugatu. Her pet snake, Vibora has been relegated to a muppet with bright red lips. Bing Loyzada's Puring becomes a vampire. Edu Manzano's Dominico Lipolico is just kind of there, doing his own thing.

The acting is over-the-top, the kind of ridiculous that's just delicious to watch. There's something enjoyable about a film that amps up the corniness for the crowd. When you're playing a superhero that outrightly takes inspiration from something else, just own it.

She knows how to deal with a crisis.

Which is to do nothing. Most people forget the details of the big 1994 Manila Filmfest fiasco where Gabby Concepcion was declared Best Actor by Ruffa Gutierrez and Medved (Gutierrez was also announced as Best Actress when the real winner was Aiko Melendez). The actual winner was Edu Manzano. Then Manila mayor Alfredo Lim Up charged them with fraud.

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Instead of reacting, Medved kept mum about the situation. To this day, people still look back on the issue, remembering Conception, Manzano, Gutierrez, and even Gretchen Barretto who turned out to be the whistleblower. 

Nanette Medved is a real-life superwoman.

Medved has since married business Christopher Po. In an impromptu interview with PEP.ph in 2010, she revealed that she's no longer interested in show business and is hardly updated on entertainment news. The former Darna keeps busy with her family (she has two children) and as chairperson and president of Generation Hope and Friends of Hope, Inc. The company is best known for Hope in a Bottle, purified bottled waters whose entire profit goes to building classrooms for public schools. 

From a starter operation that was launched in someone's master bedroom, Hope in a Bottle is now sold in over 700 outlets nationwide. According to a Philippine Daily Inquirer article in 2015, it won Best New Brand and Best Community Initiative during the 12th Global Bottled Water Awards in Portugal. 

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She's just a super intelligent, innately good person.

Medved's stunning Russian-Chinese good looks are a given, but did you know that she graduated Summa Cum Laude with degrees in Finance and Entrepreneurship from Babson College in Wellesley. In her TED Talk, she also emphasized the importance of balance profit with philanthropy.  

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About The Author
Sasha Lim Uy
Managing Editor, EsquireMag.ph
Sasha eats to live and lives to eat. For five years, she handled SPOT.ph's food section and edited the last two installments of its Top 10 Food books. She also recently participated at the Madrid Fusion Manila as curator.
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