In the swim–again | Inquirer Entertainment

In the swim–again

/ 12:12 AM January 18, 2014

CURTIS (LEFT) AND DE LOS REYES. Topbill competing mermaid series. Illustration by Nastasha Verayo

Don’t look now, but the big news on local TV for the new telecasting season is—the return (for the nth time) of (ta-da!) the mermaid teleserye.

That doesn’t sound like a bold, trailblazing move, but it’s commercially safe, because mermaid movies and TV drama series have been popular with local audiences—for generations!


Not to exaggerate, but the first hit mermaid movie, “Dyesebel,” with Edna Luna in the title role, was made in the 1950s! To its credit, the movie was directed by no less than National Artist Gerry de Leon, so it was no soggy, sloppy production, that’s for sure.


After Edna Luna, many female stars, Vilma Santos included, played the same role in subsequent productions. Aside from local aquabelles, the beauteous Miss Universe contestant, Johanna Raiunio, portrayed a mermaid in “Lorelei,” a Chiquito starrer for Premiere Productions in the ’70s.

After making it big in the movies, mermaid films moved over to the small screen, ending up as hot hits in their own right. Just a couple of weeks ago, we heard that GMA 7 is coming up with “Kambal Sirena” real soon—hey, that’s two mermaid siblings for the price of one!

Then, just a few days ago, ABS-CBN announced that, after an extensive survey of audience preferences, it had chosen Anne Curtis to topbill its latest reincarnation of “Dyesebel” on the small screen!

Is there more to this sequence of events than meets the eye? Is this the continuing game of one-upmanship between the two leading networks once more at play? And, just for the record, who got the “mermaid revival” brainstorm first?

Intriguing questions

Whatever the answers to those intriguing (not intrigero) questions, it looks like “Dyesebel” will enjoy an initial edge, since its “franchise” is more entrenched and popular, and Curtis is a bigger stellar draw than the lead player in “Kambal Sirena,” Louise de los Reyes (in dual roles). To her credit, Louise comes across as a promising and versatile talent, so if her series does well, it could be a starmaking vehicle for her.


As for Anne, her highflying career has hit some bumps and stormy air pockets of late, but she’s still a big draw on TV and in the movies, so her new “Dyesebel” show should fare well, too. The big question now is, which mermaid series will out-do the other?

A possible problem for both productions is the fact that the mermaid storyline has been unreeled so much and so often in past years and decades that it feels as old as a Grandma Moses painting. What can the new series conjure up that hasn’t already been told and re-told?

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The two new productions’ platoons of writers and consultants and creative heads and “yes” and “no” and “maybe” men have their work cut out for them to earn their pricey keep—and think up novel plotlines that are really fresh and exciting!

TAGS: Ann Curtis, Dyesebel, Kambal Sirena, Louise delos Reyes, Television

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