Ding saved the day in this one
By Danielle Macadangdang
We all know the story of Darna: the red bikini-clad superhero created by Mars Ravelo who fights criminals and villains and whose human alter ego is known as the village girl Narda. But we don’t know her story from the perspective of “stone bearer” Ding.
In the dance musical, Ding, Ang Bato!, presented by the Arts and Culture Cluster of the Dance Program of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, the story of the original Pinay superhero is told by Narda’s loyal and quirky deaf-mute brother Ding.
The show has a way of captivating its audience in its own silent way. At the first part it presented the origin story of both Ding and Narda with a take on today’s society and politics at the end. It is an enthralling piece of production by an amazing group of students and a powerhouse production team.
It presented a different version of Ding, played by Dance Program alumnus Carlos Serano III, and Narda, portrayed by AB Music and Production student Stacy Abarca, where Ding is born deaf and Narda communicates with him through sign language. It follows the duo through their journey of loyalty, self-discovery, and empowerment.
The brother and sister were living normally with their Lola Isabel (played by Paula Paguio), when a devastating event occurred and they were pulled into a different world far from where they grew up. Ding in the first scene was presented the mahigawang bato by Kawawang Engkanto (Kyle Confesor), and from then he took on the responsibility as the connection between Narda and Darna.
The one thing that brought the house down during the production was the transformation of Narda into Darna (Christine Crame, Benilde’s Dance Program chair). The whole house was preparing for her entrance, and it was amazing. The lights, sounds, and projections worked through the audiences’ bones as she appeared in the middle of the stage looking all glorious and every bit of the hero we see in the comics. It was met with a thunderous cheer and at that point you would be glad to have watched this play.
Of course, the play itself wouldn’t be called Darna if the infamous gorgon villain was not present. Tina or Valentina (Natasha Cabrera) offered a funny take on the character. Completing the cast was Arman (Herc Ang), a childhood friend of Ding, Narda, and Tina, and the one who witnessed both villain and hero’s character development in the musical play.
The play itself was an amazing tool to help raise awareness for deaf-mute people. The scores worked perfectly for each scene. The scenes' transitions offered a connection between the classic comics and today’s technological era.
The portrayal of Ding is something hard to miss. The weight of Serano’s expressive face and how his character developed in the story were remarkable. Serano only did sign language to help steer the audience in the right pace of the story.
The added touch of emotions in the gestures gave depth to the story. The tidal wave of empowerment through the songs managed to steadily build the plot into the turning point in which Ding, the deaf-mute brother, stole the show as he became the anchor of Darna/Narda.
The Chris Millado-directed dance musical managed to break free from the typical storytelling and create a masterpiece of a character who's rich emotions made up for his lack of words.
Ding, Ang Bato! had a seven-day run, from May 15 to 21, at the SDA Theater, 5th floor of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, Manila.
Photos from DLS-CSB Facebook page