Monday, March 15, 2010

IN THE BIBLE

Throughout time, man's unquenchable thirst for knowledge and wisdom has led him to unending quests, reading thousands of books and treatises, digging archaeological sites, exploring the depths of the oceans and sending spacecrafts into the cosmos. Most often than not, they overlook and many even ignore the greatest collection of knowledge and wisdom of all times – past, present and future – the Bible.
In fact the Bible is the most accurate historical records in man's possession. Interpreted without religious bias, the Holy Scriptures is also a guiding book of infinite wisdom and a viewing window to the future. However, because of man's selfish undoing and, perhaps, ignorance and overeagerness, some facts are overlooked and others are distorted.

THE NAME OF ALMIGHTY GOD
Yahweh is a proposed English reading of יהוה, the name of the God of Israel, as preserved in the original consonantal Hebrew Bible text. These four Hebrew letters (יהוה) are often collectively called the Tetragrammaton (Greek for “four-letter word”), and are usually transliterated JHWH in German, and either YHWH, YHVH, JHWH or JHVH in English.
The name of God was considered by early Hebrews and early Christians as too sacred to be spoken aloud. The Hebrew words Adonai (meaning “My Lord”) and Elohim (“God”) were substituted so that the Scriptures can be read aloud in temples during worship. Later, some translator of the Bible, using the vowels in the word Adonai, and inserting them to the Tetragrammaton transliteration, created the proposed English reading Yahweh and consequently several transcriptions (i.e. Iehouah and Iehovah) leading to the development of the arbitrary and, quite possibly, erroneous name Jehovah.
The only mention of God’s name in phonetic or readable form is found in Proverbs 68:4: “Sing to God, sing praises to His name; extol Him who rides on the clouds, by His name Yah, and rejoice before Him.” This was adapted by the King James translators from the original Hebrew text “as is,” while most other Biblical codex and manuscript translations simply read it as “Lord.” The etymology of the word “Hallelujah” or “Halleluiah” was derived from the Hebrew hallelū, meaning “praise,” and Yāh (or the Latinized Jāh).

CREATION OVER EVOLUTION In reality Biblical and scientific facts do not contradict as some scientists and theoreticians would put them. One point of argument is the origin of man.
Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882), an English naturalist, in his works, The Origin of Species on the Basis of Natural Selection (1859) and Descent of Man (1871), "suggest" that man evolved from the ranks of apes, as opposed to spontaneous creation by a Supreme Being stated in the Bible.
As it goes, Darwin's "Theory of Evolution" is truly, merely a theory with no definite, verifiable scientific proof. And those who accept it as a fact are committing a grave scientific error. In recent years, science itself in its own arguments and investigations proved "creation" to be more scientifically logical than "evolution."
The very fundamental complex of life – the genes – reveals that mankind came from a single “Mother Eve” with the same basic genetic composition as that of present-day humans, and not as that of some ape-like anthropoids.
Recent discoveries in the field of biochemistry and genetics have strengthened the facts of creation. In 1987, Rebecca L. Cann of the University of Hawaii (Manoa) announced a revolutionary discovery that portrays all Homo sapiens populations as descendant of a single “Mother Eve.” Working along this line, molecular geneticists Mark Stoneking and his colleagues at the University of California (Berkeley) decided to test the idea that "the question of human origins is ultimately a question of genetics. Their approach to the problem was based on the observation that certain portion of the DNA in the cells of all human being, called mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), is inherited by the mother alone. They discovered a piece of the mitochondrial DNA genetic sequence that was common to all samples taken from different races of people all over the world, which had to have been inherited from a single, common female ancestor of all humans alive today. To emphasize: Human not ape or apelike creature!
These discoveries literally threw Darwin's "Theory of Evolution" in the trashcan. In genetics point of view, because there was no evolution, Biblical “creation” is entirely more scientifically supportable than that of the evolutionary theory. Besides, Darwin's supposedly "missing link" is still missing!
In reality, Darwin doesn’t even have a basic knowledge of genetics; he was unfamiliar with evolutionary or even hereditary science (he is not even familiar with the works of Gregor Mendel), and as such his research resulted into a vague and inaccurate theory. As studies in genetics continue, Darwin’s evolutionary theory about man’s origin is increasingly being regarded as “unscientific.”
The Bible tells us that God created man in his own image. Now for those who believe that their ancestors are apes, that's their own problem!

WHAT ABOUT THE DINOSAURS?When we talk of debates between science buffs in one hand and Biblical defenders on the other hand, this question will most certainly pop up. In my more than 15 years research on the Bible and Biblical manuscripts, I discovered several instances were certain Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek words have no definitve layman’s translation. Since the word “dinosaur" (“terrible lizard”) or any of the names coined for prehistoric creatures have not yet been invented at the time, the scientific part of my mind beckons me to find explanations.
The Hebrew word Liwyathan (found variously in several parts of the Bible: Job 3:8, Job 41, Psalm 74:14, Isaiah 27:1, etc.), for instance, for which the word “leviathan” was derived, really has no real and exact translation. But the narrative “huge reptile with terrible jaws and teeth” gives a clear description of a “dinosaur,” more specifically a Mosasaurus, Tylosaurus or similar prehistoric reptiles. Created by God on the fifth day (Genesis 1:21) before the creation of man and all kinds of animal life, domestic and wild, large and small, on the sixth day. Another similar creature, the Rahab (Job 9:13, 26:12), is described very similar to an Elasmosaurus or Pleisiosaurus. One creature of the Paleozoic Era (210-520 million years ago), the Dinichtys (“terrible fish”) also aptly fit the description in some Biblical translations.
Still another interesting Hebrew word is Behemah (found in Job 40:15), for which the word “behemoth” was derived. In most Bible manuscripts, it represents “large, terrible creatures similar to an ox that eat grass and have a tail like a cedar.” While other scholars shallowly compared the behemoth to a hippopotamus, the description however, is more fitting of a Triceratops, probably the most powerful dinosaur of the Cretaceous Period.

OF THE APPLE AND FIRST SINChildren stories also made us to believe that Adam and Eve committed "sin" in eating the "apple." The Bible tells no such things.
What the Bible tells us is that Eve was “deceived” by the snake in eating “it,” and “it” is the fruit from the “tree of knowledge of good and evil.” Then Eve gave the fruit to Adam and he ate of it. Because of this, their eyes “were opened, and they knew that they were naked....” Sinning and apples were never mentioned. Here some would argue that Adam did sinned using the implicit reference to Adam in Job 31:33. But the original Hebrew text pertained the reference to “other men,” more likely Cain’s inequities, and not to Adam. Another point of reference is Romans 5:12 – “Sin came into the world through one man, and his sin brought death with it.” However, in the succeeding verses, it was also stated that the Law has not yet been given and so the “sin” was not imputed. Even in the original Hebrew (also in the New Testament Greek transcription), the term given was “disobedience” and not sin. Furthermore: “Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, and now knows good and evil. He must not be allowed to take fruit from the tree of life, eat it and live forever.” (Genesis 3:22, c.f. Genesis 3:5). If eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil is a “deadly” sin, why would Bible say that it made man like gods? Clearly it was meant to be metaphorical. The “disobedience” gave them “knowledge” (of good and evil), which all men now have. But since they were not allowed to partake of the fruit of the tree of life, they and all their descendants were not granted immortality. Otherwise, if Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of life and not of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, what would become of them?
To continue, Adam and Eve were given additional "labors," and not punishments. The “snake” (the representation of the devil) was the one punished. After Adam and Eve were enlightened by the fruit they ate, "God clothed them before sending them out of Eden" (Genesis 3:1-24). In the first place, being the first man and woman, they are in the process of learning, and they did have the legacy of the freedom to choose. God did not intend for His creation to become a race of mindless robots. Indeed, it was meant to be. Immortality, again in a metaphorical sense, now lies in mankind’s "knowledge" to discern good from evil, which we are further enlightened through the teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

WHERE IS EDEN?The physical location of the Garden of Eden has long been the subject of scholarly investigation by both the scientific and religious communities.
"And the Lord planted a garden eastward in Eden... And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pishon; that flows around the land of Havilah, where pure gold is found; and also rare perfumes and precious stones. And the name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the country of Cush (Mesopotamia, Sudan and Ethiopia?). And the name of the third river is Hiddekel (Tigris); which flows east of Assyria (Iraq and Syria?). And the fourth river is Euphrates" (Genesis 2:8-14).
Many scholars believe that the garden was located in Sumer, at the confluence of Euphrates and Tigris rivers which have since disappeared. Archaeological findings reveal that the oldest known civilization on earth originated in this vicinity. Others believe that it is somewhere in the mysterious northland of Armenia in present-day Turkey. They reason that if the four rivers flowed out of the garden, then the location would be from the origin of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers.

THE CONSTRUCTION OF NOAH'S ARK
The blueprint for the construction of the Noah’s Ark came from God Himself. While the dimensions of the ship are still debatable because of the uncertainty of the length of the cubit (most scholars accept it as equal to 1.5 feet), the measure used in the Biblical account, scholars maintain that the ship's length of 300 cubits, width of 50 cubits and height of 30 cubits can be translated to mean 450 by 75 by 45 feet. This is about the size of 20 modern-day standard basketball courts.
The specifications mentioned in the Book of Genesis speak of a box-like construction. What about the hydrodynamics of the Ark? Can it really survive the cataclysmic upheaval of the Great Deluge? The answer is a definite yes! The length-to-breadth ratio of six to one (300 to 50 cubits) has great advantage over any other proportions. From the standpoint of stability and rolling, the ratio 6:1 is about as nearly perfect as can be desired. As with regards to buoyancy, there can be no other vessel as buoyant and seaworthy as the Ark.
Whereas Noah's ship ranks as the first of its kind, today's shipbuilders had several thousand years of shipbuilding expertise to rely on, but all the accumulated knowledge they could draw from did not give them a better ratio than that of the Ark. This is a clear evidence of Divine Perfection, of the truth of everything narrated in the Holy Scriptures.

THE GREAT DELUGE
Geological investigations point to the fact that Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, was once upon a time underwater. This is in conformity to the Biblical narrative, “The water became deeper, and the ark drifted on the surface. It became so deep that it covered the highest mountains; it went on rising until it was 15 cubits (22.5 feet) above the top of the mountains” (Genesis 7:18-20).
It has been scientifically estimated that over 75 percent of the earth’s surface is sedimentary in nature, with some areas having more and others less sediments. Tests have shown that while the United States has prodigious sedimentary deposits, centering in California and the Colorado Plateau, the deepest sedimentary deposits (60,000 feet deep) is found in India. It is, however, noted from the layers of silt and clay that the flood duration was between 150 to 200 days, just like what the Holy Scriptures tells us.
The prominent Russian scholar Immanuel Velikovsky (1895-1979) had examined the presence of fish in sedimentary rock, and his conclusion fully supported the catastrophe theory: “When a fish dies, its body floats on the surface or sinks to the bottom and is devoured rather quickly, actually in a matter of hours, by other fishes. However, the fossil fish found in sedimentary rock is very often preserved with all its bones intact. Entire shoals of fishes over large areas, numbering billions of specimens, are found in a state of agony, but with no mark of a scavenger’s attack.”
George F. Dodwell, a retired astronomer and former director of the Adelaide Observatory in South Australia, computed in 1960 a secular variation of the obliquity of the ecliptic, which led to an interesting discovery. He found a curve, and after allowing all known changes, discovered a typical exponential curve of recovery of the earth’s axis after a sudden change from a former nearly vertical position to an inclination of 26.5 degrees, from which it was returned to an equilibrium at the present 23.44 degrees, during the interval of the succeeding 3,194 years to A.D. 1850. He computed the time of the change in the earth’s axis at 2345 B.C. His resulting conclusion is none other than the Biblical account of the Flood.
The Chinese character for the word “boat,” when calligraphed piece by piece would translate “vessel of eight mouths.” This clearly described the Ark and the eight people in it: Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives. The Shujing (Book of History), also tells of a story about a “great flood” that “reach the heaven” dated around 2348 B.C., just three years off of Dodwell’s calculation. The Epic of Gilgamesh (c. 2000 B.C.), an ancient Babylonian story written on 12 cuneiform tablets is said to be quite similar to the accounts of the Noachian Deluge. Indeed over the millennia, approximately 100,000 books in no less than 80 languages have been written about the Flood.

HISTORY AND PREHISTORY
The oldest known man-made relic on Earth was dated to be around 8,000 years old, found at the first Eridu settlement during the Ubaid period in Sumeria. Scientific and historical studies confirmed this to be around 1,500 years pre-Noachian (before Noah and the Great Flood), based on sedimentary formation of the excavated site. This calculation approximates that of Biblical accounts of 1656 years considering there is a 130 years gap before Adam had his third son Seth outside of Eden (Genesis 5:3).
Indeed the time frame from Adam having his third son to the Noachian Deluge, according to Biblical accounts (Genesis 5), is exactly 1,656 years. In fact, if you compute the ages of Adam’s descendants up to the time of the flood, you will find out that the death of Methuselah (the oldest man in the Bible at 769 years old) coincided with the Great Flood. This in a sense is the beginning of man’s history. But there is also such a thing as pre-history. Adam was created on the sixth day; what about before that?
According to the Bible, “God existed before time began” (Psalms 93:2) and “one day and a thousand years is the same to God” (Psalms 90:4, 2 Peter 3:8). I hold on to this as “fact” and not mere conjecture or rhetoric. Allow me, however, to inject my own analysis. Since God, in the beginning, was in the universal void, then the six days mentioned in Genesis constitute six “universal days” and not six Earth days.
In science we know that one complete rotation of the Earth on its axis equals one Earth day; one complete revolution of the Earth around the Sun is equivalent to one Earth year. But everything in the universe is moving. The Milky Way, the galaxy to which our Solar System belongs is about 100,000 light years in diameter. The Earth, the Sun; the entire Solar System lies at the outer rim of the Milky Way. Nobody has yet been able to compute the exact time it would take the Solar System to have a complete revolution around the Milky Way. That’s only for starter.
The cross-sectional distance of the galactic system to which the Milky Way and 30 other known galaxies belong is approximately 5.3 million light years. For the size of the Universe, on the other hand, all the great scientific minds of the world can only speculate its near-infinity – and it’s still expanding! Science itself admits that only five percent of the Universe is known and this reality is written in the Bible (Job 9:7-10, 11:7-8).
The oldest known mineral on Earth – Zircon – was measured to be around 4.4 billion years old. Most scientists place the age of the Universe to be around 13.7 billion years old. Having known the aforementioned parameters, let us go back to the Bible. In Verse 1 of Genesis 1, “God created the Universe,” and in Verse 2, the Earth was mentioned as “still formless and desolate.” Base on science, the two verses constitute a difference of 9.3 billion years.
Since everything in the Universe is moving away from the point of origin, time duration is therefore relative to every point in the expanding universal sphere. It is, however, given that in the initial moment of Creation, the so-called “Big Bang” in science, the energy released was so powerful that everything traveled so far away, as such time carries an exponential duration. That’s Verse 1 of Genesis!
When the Earth was set in place (“still formless and desolate” – Verse 2) around 4.4 billion years ago, simultaneously creating light everywhere as a consequence of nuclear formation (Verse 3-4). Thereafter the energy of Creation began to subside;the ozone layer began to form above the Earth (around two billion years ago); gravity became a force that separate one heavenly body after another from the great void of space (Verse 6-8). The expansion slows down and so does time duration for each particle of space. The Earth began to form; “land is separated from the sea" (Verse 9-10). According to science, the supercontinents began to break up some 600 to 800 million years ago. As the Earth started to clear up from the geologic chaos, plants appeared before any animals on Earth. The Bible tells the same account (Verse 11-13). The expansion continues to slow down, and the orbits of the moons and the planets developed; the Solar System is in its final constitution (Verse 14-19, c.f. Psalms 74:16-17). The Paleozoic and Mesozoic Eras (120-520 million years ago) heralded the coming of Earth’s first animals, great and huge – the prehistoric creatures: Trilobites and dinosaurs. The Bible also tells the same things, which understandably may not be quite specific, but still incredibly relevant (Verse 20-23). Then God created all the kinds of animals, domestic and wild, that we know today (Verse 24-25).
Finally, the advent of Man, which was created in God’s image (Verse 26-30). Note that this part of Earth’s chronology (and anthropology) is the subject of tremendous debates: How long ago was the advent of the first human beings on Earth? Again if we talk of apes or ape-like anthropoids, there’s no arguments – the estimate of 60 million years ago is just about right. But if we talk of humans, then the arguments start. Remember that even science does not have an exact duration of time for Earth’s specific prehistory. It is, however, quite clear that the timeline is correct in the Biblical perspective.
Now, let us get back to the slowing down of the universal “genesis.” In the Bible, the advent of man is between the completion of the sixth day and the beginning of the seventh day. Considering there has yet a fixed time duration, it could be from between 10,000 to 200,000 year ago. While Adam’s age was given in Genesis, it was base on time constituted after the seventh day.
The creation of the universe according to the Bible was completed by the end of the sixth day. “By the seventh day God finished what he had been doing and stopped working. He rested and declared the day as holy...” (Genesis 2:1-4). As a consequence of the completion of the universe, time now becomes a fixed standard unit of measure, no longer a variable based on universal expansion. The time when Adam and Eve were driven out of Eden approximates the time of the earliest settlement in Sumeria, around 8,000 years agp. The Bible, science, archaeology and history point to the same specific time and place.

A MISSING DAY
A few years ago, a space scientist, Harold Mills of Maryland, U.S.A. and his companion in the space program discovered through computer analysis that the earth "lacks a day of rotation." This means the earth somehow "stops moving" for one whole day.
Reviewing the Bible: "On the day that the Lord gave the men of Israel victory over the Amorites, Joshua spoke to the Lord. In the presence of the Israelites he said: 'Sun, stand still over Gideon; Moon, stop over Ajalon Valley.' The sun stood still and the moon did not move until the nation had conquered its enemies. This is written in The Book of Jashar. The sun stood still in the middle of the sky and did not go down for a whole day. Never before, and never since, has there been a day like it, when the Lord obeyed a human being. The Lord fought on Israel's side!" (Joshua 10:12-14).
For the sun and the moon to stop moving, the Earth would have to stop moving, since it revolves around the sun on a fixed orbit. So, the earth did stop for one whole day and that was written in the Book of Joshua thousands of year ago!

THE SIN OF IDOL MAKING
The Second Commandment states: "Do not make for yourselves images of anything in heaven or on earth or in the waters under the earth. Do not bow down to an idol or worship it, because I am the Lord your God and I tolerate no rivals. I bring punishment on those who hate me and on their descendants down to the third and fourth generations. But I show my love to thousands of generations of those who love me and obey my laws" (Exodus 20:4-6, Deuteronomy 5:8-10).
Throughout history, however, man have worshipped idols and adorned their churches with earthen images of "saints" and supposedly "divine" figures. Alleged "miracles" were even attributed to these icons. It became a religious fanatical tradition. Many times in the Bible, God warned his people against making and worshiping idols (Leviticus 19:4, Deuteronomy 4:15-19) and punished them for their idolatries but these unholy practices continued up to this day. In Isaiah 44:9-20, God clearly rebuked idolatry and in Chapter 10 of the Book of Jeremiah, the words against idolatry are clearly given by God. In Romans 1:22-23: “They say they are wise, but they are fools; instead of worshipping the Immortal God, they worship images made to look like mortal man...”
Again in Psalms 135:15-18 God said: “Their idols are made of silver and gold, made by human hands. They have mouths, but cannot speak, and eyes, but cannot see. They have ears, but cannot hear, they are not even able to breathe. May all those who made them and trust in them, become like their lifeless works.”
Today, there are religions throughout the world, "Christians" and otherwise, that produce and use icons, scapulars, crucifixes, carved, molded and painted statues and images, worshipping them blindly, even kissing their feet and adorning them with gifts, flowers and candles forgetting that the True and Living God hates those things (Deuteronomy 4:25).

IT IS NOT DELILAH"In the Bible, 1,000 years B.C., there's a story of ancient history..." – so goes an old song by Neil Sedaka. The song relates, in melodic humorous adulteration, the story of Samson. Most of us, sad to say, do not really know the story of Samson.
For a start, do you know who is Samson's father? His name is Manoah and he is from the tribe of Dan. His wife has never been able to bear a child until the Lord's angels said to her one day that she'd soon be pregnant and instructed her not to drink wine or eat unclean food, and when the boy is born, his hair must not be cut, because from the day of his birth he would be dedicated to God as a Nazirite. He would be the one to rescue Israel from the Philistines.
In children stories, Delilah supposedly cut Samson's hair that made him weak. This is a fallacy. Delilah was promised by the five kings of Philistines that each of them would give eleven hundred pieces of silver if she could trick Samson into telling her the secret of his strength and in the process capturing him. She persistently asked Samson the secret, imploring his love for her. But our hero also constantly told her something else until one day he got so sick and tired of her bothering him about it that he finally told her the truth about his hair.
Delilah then lulled Samson to sleep in her lap and then "called a man, who cut off Samson's seven locks of hair. Then she began to torment him for he had lost his strength" (Judges 16:19).

WHOSE WEARING THE WRONG CLOTHES
In the Bible, "Women are not to wear men's clothing, and men are not to wear women's clothing; the Lord your God hates people who do such things" (Deuteronomy 22:5).
During the early times, and even in some parts of the Middle East and Asia today, however, the men were the ones wearing dresses, gowns, robes and skirts, and the women wore pants, jeans and slacks. So whose wearing the wrong clothes at this point in time?

UNDERSEA MOUNTAINS
Before science was able to see the existence of mountains and ranges under the oceans, these have already been described in the Bible, in one of King David's songs (II Samuel 22:16).
Undersea travel, on the other hand, was first described by the Prophet Jonah (c. 850 B.C.). In the Bible, Jonah was swallowed by a large fish and he remained in its stomach for three days and nights. "...The water came upon me and choked me; the sea covered me completely, and seaweeds wrapped around my head. I went down to the very roots of the mountains, into the land whose gates lock shut forever. But you, O lord my God, brought me back from the depths alive..." (Jonah 2:5-6).
The first submarine that successfully explored the ocean depths was invented only in 1887, almost 2,800 years after Jonah's underwater odyssey.

CIRCULAR EARTH
Eratosthenes (c. 276-196 B.C.), a Greek scholar, greatly influenced by the observation of Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), measured the circumference of the Earth and proposed that the Earth was round. During his time, people believed that the Earth was flat. Those who think otherwise were accused of heresy, and the likes of Eratosthenes and Galileo were not spared from this "inquisition." In fact it was only in 1993, after 13 years of study and re-evaluation by the Vatican, that Pope John Paul II declared that the Catholic Church was wrong to condemn Galileo. The pope said that Galileo’s condemnation had resulted from “tragic mutual incomprehension.”
In the Bible: "It is he who sits above the circle of the earth..."(Isaiah 40:22). The Earth is circular or nearly circular in shape known already to the Prophet Isaiah (c. 800 B.C.), more than 500 years before the birth of Eratosthenes; more than two millennia before the discoveries of Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) and Galileo Galilei (1564-1642); long, long before Ferdinand Magellan ship's completed the first circumnavigation of the world in 1522; and almost 3,000 years before Yuri Gagarin (b. 1934) of Russia became the first man in space to witness the Earth's round form.


THE INTERNATIONAL DATELINE
Like in Isaiah 40:32, the circular form of the Earth was also mentioned in Job 26:10. The description also pertains to an imaginary line on the surface of the Earth opposite the Prime Meridian where the date changes as one travels east or west across it, roughly along the 180º, corresponding to the time zone boundary separating -12 and +12 hours (day and night) – This is the International Dateline. Bildad, one of Job’s friends, described it quite aptly: “He drew a circular horizon on the face of the sea. At the boundary of light and darkness.”

THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY
It is known historically and Biblically (as told in the Old Testament Book of Jeremiah) as “The Babylonian Captivity.”
In 586 B.C., the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 B.C.) destroyed Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar II is remembered as the builder of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the king who carried off the Jews into their Babylonian captivity (587-586 B.C.). This was prophesied by Jeremiah more than 10 years before it happened. The Jews remained in Babylon under the Medo-Persian Empire until 538 B.C. and there began to speak Aramaic. The Book of Daniel, from which the history of the Jews in exile was told, is mostly written in Aramaic.

HANGING IN EMPTY SPACEWe know that the Earth, the planet in which we live is continuously moving in space seemingly hanging in its boundless void held in balance and order by a mysterious force.
Isaac Newton (1642-1727), an English scientist and mathematician, uncovered this phenomenon and termed his concept as the "Theory of Universal Gravitation." But more than 2,400 years before Newton even start to understand the principle of the "falling apple," the Bible had already recorded the fact: "God stretched out the northern sky and hung the earth in empty space" (Job 26:7).
It is also worth mentioning that in the next verse: “He binds up the water in His thick clouds, yet the clouds are not broken under it.” (c.f. Job 38:34). How fascinating indeed that the clouds are full of water and yet does not fall to earth.

WAS PETER THE FIRST POPE AND BURIED IN ROME?
The answer is a definite “No” to both questions. Simon (Peter), the "Prince of the Apostles” was the son of Jona and a native of Bethsaida in Galilee. Christ gave him the name Cephas (Peter), the rock to which He will build his church (Matthew 16:18, John 1:42). There are many controversies surrounding the apostle Simon Peter, especially regarding his death and burial place. Some biblical historians have mistaken another man, Simon Magus (described by the Samaritans as a sorcerer that is "the great power of God" and was rebuked by Simon Peter – Acts 8:9-24) to be Peter, and that his body was buried in Vaticanus (beneath today’s Basilica of St. Peter in Rome), which was a pagan cemetery during those times, and which is very much against the early Christian traditions.
In the 15th century, the Roman emperor Constantine erected a church in the said burial ground, and it has been a traditional belief that Peter was indeed buried there. To this day, the Roman Catholic Church says that the tomb of Saint Peter is under the altar of the Basilica in Rome. "Only, the actual vault itself in which the body lies is no longer accessible and has not been so since the ninth century." There are those, however, who think that it would not be impossible to find the entrance and to reopen it once more. A unanimous request that this should be done was made to Pope Leo XIII by the International Archaeological Congress in 1900, but so far, without result.
In 1957, British archaeologists Jocelyn Toynbee and John Ward Perkins concluded in their painstaking investigation that there is no definite proof that Peter’s remains was buried under the dome of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome as was claimed by Pope Pius XII in his 1950 Christmas message.
On the other hand, there are archaeological proofs and documentations that Simon Peter’s burial place was in Jerusalem, near the Mount of Olives. The 1958 book Gli Scavi del Dominus Flevit, documented that an ossuary was found beneath a monastery in the Jerusalem site called Dominus Flevit with an Aramaic inscription that read Simon Bar-Jona, a named mentioned by Christ in Matthew 16:17. The book was written by P. B. Bagatti and J. T. Milik, both Roman Catholic priests.
Another book, Peter’s Tomb Recently Discovered In Jerusalem, written under the name F. Paul Peterson also detailed the circumstances and evidences underlying the fact that the Apostle Peter was indeed buried in Jerusalem and not in Rome.
There are also those who ascribed him as the first pope because he was allegedly martyred and again buried (again) in Rome, but this is not the universally accepted fact. Many Biblical scholars dispute the fact of Peter’s alleged presence in Rome during the prescribed time (A.D 41 to 66), much more he’s burial in a pagan site like Vaticanus. In fact the Bible itself disputes this claim:
According to the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, Peter was in Joppa and then to Caesarea (Palestines), ministering unto the household of Cornelius (Acts 10, historically around A.D. 42 to 43), was imprisoned by King Herod (Agrippa I) in Jerusalem (Acts 12), and was preaching in Jerusalem (Acts 13, A.D. 46-52). In the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians, Paul mentioned his return to Jerusalem after 14 years (A.D. 61) where he met Peter and the other disciples, and soon after that met Peter again in Antioch (Turkey), where he "withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed," (Galatians 2:11) and said to Peter, "If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?" (Galatians 2:14, around A.D. 65 onward).

THE HEAD OF THE APOSTOLIC CHURCHContrary to popular belief, Peter (Cephas) was not the head of the Apostolic Church in Jerusalem, but James. In fact, James was the first patriarch of Jerusalem, who presided over and gave judgment to the arguments between Paul and Peter regarding “concerns over whether Gentile Christians need be circumcised to be saved” (Acts 15:1-21); hence he is sometimes called James the Just. His name means “Holder of the Heel.”

THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST
The Book of Revelation "reveals" to us many symbolic figures, and one such figure is that of the anti-Christ – the beast.
"...on his head was a name that was insulting to God" (Revelation 13:1). On the tiara which Popes wear are inscribed the following: VICARIVS FILII DEI. Literally it means the "substitute of the Son of God." Indeed, these words are blasphemous – for no one can substitute His place.
The Bible gave the following challenge: "Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666" (Revelation 13:18).
Now consider this mathematical "revelation": Transform or assume the letters, VICARIVS FILII DEI to be Roman Numerals, get their Arabic equivalent and add them. Those without equivalent are considered 0. That is:
There are many who claimed to have discovered this “revelation.” It is found in the writings of many different religious denominations including the Seven Day Adventist, the World Church of God, the Iglesia ni Cristo, the Rizalistas, and even Catholics. In fact, it may have been in the memoirs of Don Mariano San Pedro y Esteban, a 19th century Spanish trader and traveler and nephew of Queen Isabella II (1830-1904), who himself was a devout follower of Saint James, where it was first uncovered. According to his diaries, it was during his visit to Pope Pius IX (1792-1878) where he first saw the inscription in the pope’s tiara.
In 1939, Eugenio Pacelli was crowned as Pope Pius XII with a tiara having such inscription. It is also noteworthy to mention that both Pope John Paul I (who died mysteriously) and Pope John Paul II (there are those who also questioned the cause of his death) refused to wear the tiara with the inscribed blasphemous phrase.

"Read your Bible now, by the chapters and not by a few verses, and learn while you still have time. Learn the wisdom by yourself and never depend upon the thoughts of other people. It is God who will teach you if you indeed seek to be taught."




THE END
This is a secret that I cannot reveal!

NOTE: This is just a part of what I called my enlightening "Biblical Adventure." I have a lot more discoveries and I will continuously update this blog as time goes by.

Monday, February 15, 2010

DARNA: The Original Filipino Superheroine

 
DARNA
          The Philippines’ foremost fictional female superhero created by Marcial “Mars” Ravelo (1916-1988) that has been showcased in komiks (Filipino comics), newspaper strips, movies and television series, and has become part of Philippines pop culture. In the original komiks series, a Filipino barrio girl named Narda got hold of a pebble that fell from the sky, and when she swallowed it and called out the name “Darna” inscribed in the pebble, she was transformed into a superwarrior entity from the Planet Marte. Several versions of the character have since appeared both in comics, films and TV series.
 

 

THE BEGINNING

          The concept of a female superhero started in the mind of a young pioneering writer-illustrator named Marcial “Mars” Ravelo sometime in 1939. Ravelo was a great fan of Superman, created by Jerry Siegel (1914-1996) and Joe Shuster (1914-1992), which first appeared in Action Comics #1 in June 1938 and debut as a newspaper comics strip in January 16, 1939. Ravelo thought of creating a female counterpart for Superman because he believed in the concept that America is “male” and the Philippines is “female.”

          Back then, Ravelo’s original superheroine was named Varga, the “Wonderwoman from Marte (the planet Mars in Filipino),” which like Superman is super strong, can fly at great speed, impervious to any man-made weapons and originated from another planet. He didn’t want to use the term “Superwoman” so as not to plagiarize the Siegel and Shuster creation. Instead he used the term “Kamangha-manghang Dilag” or “Wonderwoman.”

          Ravelo, who at 23 was also a struggling cartoonist, started showing his creation, clad in more or less a Philippine flag-like costume, to his American friends as the Philippines’ answer to Superman. He also tried approaching several publication company both here in the Philippines and in the United States. He was rejected several times; the common response was “a female superhero will not sell.”

          He was quite dismayed by the reactions, especially when All Star Comics released a very similar superhero character, Wonder Woman, in December 8, 1941, said to be created by William Moulton Marston a.k.a. Charles Moulton (1893-1947), who is also the inventor of the polygraph or lie detector. As it turned out, Moulton copied the idea of a "female superhero" including the original name of the character, Suprema, from Ravelo. (READ also THE LOST WORKS OF MARS RAVELO & THE UNTOLD TRUE BEGINNING OF DARNA).

The single page of the first issue of "Varga" in
Bulaklak magazine Vol. 4 No. 17, July 23, 1947.
          It was not until after World War II that luck smiled on Mars Ravelo’s behalf. His superheroine Varga made her debut in Bulaklak magazine Volume 4, Number 17 on July 23, 1947 and became quite popular with readers everywhere. Varga was, in all things but name, the woman we now know as Darna. She stood up for the weak and the oppressed, battling common criminals as well as evil in supernatural form. Varga was both written and illustrated by Ravelo whose artistic style resembled the cartoons of Irish cartoonist George McManus (1884-1954) of the “Bringing Up Father” fame, and Jewish-American animator Max Fleischer (1883-1972), the creator of the doll-like cartoon character Betty Boop.

            By some twist of circumstance, the name Varga became the ownership of Bulaklak magazine and when Ravelo left Bulaklak in 1949 after a falling out with its editor, Varga stayed behind. Ravelo took her image, flowing sash and all, to Pilipino Komiks.

            On May 13, 1950, Mars Ravelo re-launched his beloved comic superheroine now called Darna, the “Mighty Warrior from Planet Marte.” Darna’s first breath-taking adventures were first serialized in the pages of Pilipino Komiks #77, where she fought the snake-haired woman Valentina.

          Although the concept remained the same, Ravelo assigned another artist to illustrate his creation – the soon to be legendary Nestor Redondo. Unlike Ravelo, Redondo’s style of drawing was more realistically proportioned. Darna then donned the costume of crimson two-piece bikini with a star in each brassiere cap, transparent white front sash, almost knee-high stiletto and golden wings on the forehead. With the success of “Darna,” it was followed by “Darna at ang Babaeng Lawin” (Darna and the Hawkwoman), also in Pilipino Komiks in 1951, “Si Darna at ang Babaeng Impakta” (Darna and the Evil Twin) in Kenkoy Komiks in 1962, “Darna at ang Babaeng Tuod” (Darna and the Woodwitch) in Liwayway magazine in 1964, “Si Darna at ang Planetman” (Darna and the Planetman) in Holiday Komiks in 1966, etc. The character became so popular that she was given her own komiks title, Darna, by Atlas Publication, the publisher of Pilipino Komiks.
Darna at ang Taong Ibon
(Darna Komiks Magasin #964,
October 12, 1987). Date of
issue was 3 days after
Mars Ravelo’s 71st birthday

            The Darna Komiks Issue #1 was released on February 3, 1968 featuring the series “Darna at ang Babaeng Linta” (“Darna and the Leech Woman”). At the start, the Darna Komiks Magasin was released twice a month. But by popular request, it immediately became a weekly issue. Since then more than 25 comics series have been written bearing her name. She fought the likes of Black Orchid, Dyanga, Taong Diablo (Demon Man), Taong Ibon (Birdman), Zumarma, Black Mercury, Araknido, The Warlock, Black Widow, Satanina Dayabolika, Toxic Monster, Devil Dinosaur, etc. Darna was and still is the most popular character in Philippine comics history. An iconic popularity unsurpassed, spanning six decades, even after the death of its equally iconic creator, Mars Ravelo.
Three issues of post-Ravelo Darnas: Darna Komiks #1275, September 27, 1993; Super Action #1 where Darna was given a new look; and Super Action #12.
 
THE FIRST DARNA SERIES
The first issue of the first Darna series (Pilipino Komiks #77, May 13, 1950)
            On Darna’s first adventure series in Pilipino Komiks, written by Mars Ravelo and illustrated by Nestor Redondo, she was introduced to possess the charm of Venus (Roman goddess of beauty and love), the fortitude of Apollo (Greek god of eloquence and of the Sun) and the strength of Samson (Biblical hero of great strength). Her alter-ego, Narda, a young girl from a barrio identified only as “M-” (in reference to Malabon, General Trias, Cavite, the birthplace of Mars Ravelo) not far from Manila, living with her younger brother Ding and her grandmother. One night while Narda and her brother were playing hide-and-seek with other children, she saw a bulalakaw (meteorite) streaking down from the sky and when it was falling towards her, it suddenly lost its brightness and turn into a pure white pebble. Narda notice an inscription in the pebble, the name “Darna.”

            Suddenly her playmates where coming towards her. Fearful that they might take the beautiful pebble from her, she put it in her mouth, but as if the pebble has a life of its own; it went down her throat and into her stomach. She then felt like traveling into the cosmos together with tens of thousands of stars.

            When Narda return to her senses, she was already at home with her brother and grandmother. Narda told them what happened, and when they asked what was the named inscribed in the pebble, she blurted out “Darna!” In a split second, Narda was transformed into Darna.

          The transformed entity – Darna – explained to them that she is in the person of Narda, and that the pebble is an amulet that transforms her body and gives her power and strength. Darna also told them that she came from the Planet Marte (which is the Filipino equivalent of the Planet Mars, and also in allusion to the nickname of the character’s creator). Darna also demonstrated how she would transform back, by shouting the name of “Narda.” Darna would henceforth be the champion of good that will combat all forms of evil on Earth. In this regard, Ravelo made her superheroine a fitting tribute to his mother, which he considered as his “champion and hero.”

            In Pilipino komiks #78, Ravelo narrates the origin of Valentina (referred to as the “goddess of snakes”), Darna’s first super-foe. Valentina was the daughter of Miguel and Doray. She has snakes instead of hair on her head (much like the mythical gorgon, Medusa). She also has the command over all kinds of snakes. Valentina was mentored by a snake creature name Kobra (which in the GMA 7 TV series Darna that starred Marian Rivera, was purportedly revealed as Valentina’s real father. However, in the komiks version, Kobra was originally a female entity).
The last issue of the first Darna series (Pilipino Komiks #104, May 26, 1951)
            Valentina was spurned by humankind and by the only man she loved the most, Edwardo. She also committed parricide. This drove her into evil and soon she planned to destroy humankind and transform Earth into a world of snakes. Darna tried to stop her. An earthquake annihilated Valentina’s legion of snakes together with Kobra. In the end, Valentina was defeated and committed suicide by jumping into the cliff where she threw the dead bodies of her parents.


DARNA IN THE SILVER SCREEN
Manila’s Golden Age movie queen Rosa Del Rosario
as the first Darna (1951).
     On May 31, 1951 Filipinos witnessed the first marvelous flight of Darna (courtesy of Royal Films), in a Fernando Poe Sr (1916-1951) directorial Darna starring Manila’s “Golden Age” movie queen Rosa Del Rosario (1917-2006) as Darna and Cristina Aragon as the supervillain Valentina, while Mila Nimpa portrayed the young Narda and Manuel Ubaldo played the role of Ding, Narda’s little brother. The movie was a huge box office success. From then on there was no stopping Darna. Numerous box office films and endless serialized stories in different comic books followed.

     Since 1951, fourteen Darna movies have already been made. Each decade has its own version of this versatile superhero. Rosa Del Rosario made two successive films in 1951-1952. The 1960s saw Liza Moreno, Eva Montes and Gina Pareño portraying the role in the big screen.
Mila Nimpa played Narda and
her alterego Darna played by
Rosa del Risario. In the earlier
Darna films two actresses
portray the two characters.
          On its earlier version, the role of Darna and its mortal host, a young barrio lass named Narda, were portrayed by separate actresses. Among the noted actresses who played the role of Narda are Coney Angeles (1964) and Gina Alajar (1969). Francine Prieto (under her real name Anna Marie Falcon) played the young Narda in the Joel Lamangan 1991 remake of Darna with Nanette Medved in the starring role.

     The inter-galactic pebble-like amulet found its way to Vilma Santos’ throat in 1973 via the Emmanuel Borlaza, Joey Gosiengfiao and Elwood Perez trilogy Lipad, Darna, Lipad! She made a total of four movies in a span of seven years playing both Narda and Darna. Rio Locsin squeezed in a portrayal in 1979 with Bira, Darna, Bira!  But Vilma Santos made a comeback, with then child wonder Niño Muhlach as Ding, in 1980’s Darna at Ding.

     Aside from Manuel Ubaldo and Niño Muhlach, other notable child actors that played the role of Ding, were Boy Alajar (1969), Angelito (1973), Dondon Nakar (1973), Bentot Jr (1975), Romnick Sarmenta (1979), Lester Llansang (1994), and Robert “Buboy” Villar in the Marian Rivera’s TV remake of Darna (2009-2010).

 
NOTABLE FACTS AND REVISIONS

Darna at ang Babaeng Lawin on the cover
of Pilipino Komiks #120, January 5, 1952.
     Contrary to popular belief, Darna was not named after the Adarna bird of Philippine myth. Since the name “Narda” (said to be the name of Ravelo’s playmate when he was a young boy) was already established as Varga’s mortal identity in Bulaklak magazine, Ravelo decided to rename his reincarnated superheroine from the anagram of Narda. So, the name “Darna” sprung from “Narda” and not the mythical Adarna bird. Half a century later, however, the writers of Mango Comics, which acquired the licensure rights over the Darna character, explicitly linked Darna to the Adarna bird.

     Revisions were made on how Narda got her powers. Darna’s origin is varied in numerous Darna comics and movie scripts. Since scriptwriters, directors and producers try to make their movies palatable to their different tastes and predilections.

          In the original komiks version, Narda did not have to remove the magic stone every time she transformed from Darna back to Narda, when she first swallowed the amulet, it has remained within her and all she needs to do is to say the magic words to transform. Later revisions show Narda carrying the stone in a pouch and swallowing it each time she needs to become Darna, and spewing it back out after transforming back to her earthly alter-ego Narda.
Vilma Santos as Darna, on the cover of Kislap
March 22, 1973 issue
     Originally, Darna was not Narda. In the strictest sense, the young Narda is just the medium, the vessel for the alien superwarrior Darna to take over. This means anyone who swallow the stone and shout the magical name, even a man, would surely still look like Darna, because by doing so (swallowing the magical stone and shouting Darna’s name), he is making a magical invocation for Darna to appear in his behalf. This is based on Mars Ravelo's original concept. So, Chiquito and Dolphy’s portrayals of a male (homosexual) Darna in Terebol Dobol (1974) and Darna Kuno (1979) are grossly incorrect. Niño Muhlach also briefly did the same, transformed into a "male" Darna in Darna at Ding (1980).

     The concept of Narda and Darna being of different entity was later revised. Today, we know Darna and Narda as one person of dual identity.


Anjanette Abayari as Darna in the film
Darna: Ang Pagbabalik (1994)
          The three best Darna films are Poe Sr’s 1951 pioneer Darna, Eva Montes’ Darna at Ang Babaeng Tuod, and Vilma Santos’ Lipad, Darna, Lipad! In the 1994 Anjanette Abayari starrer Darna: Ang Pagbabalik, directed by Peque Gallaga and Lorie Reyes, the special effects used is modestly good, but it is said to be the worst Darna film ever made because of several dubious error in the portrayal of the character, her powers, costume and appearance. They made her look like a cross between Superman, Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman, which shouldn’t be the case. Darna is an original Pinoy superheroine unique from any other.

 
 
 
 
 

MORE REVISIONS
The three issues of Mars Ravelo’s Darna (2003) published by Mango Comics

     In 2003, an award-winning Darna komiks miniseries was published by Mango Comics, with major input from Ravelo's family. This version showed Narda as a college student who first found the pebble 10 years earlier. The details of Darna's origin, however, were changed again – Her supposedly ancestral race of Adarna warriors originally came from Planet Tiamat, as did the serpent queen Valentina. Their respective people had warred against one another for many years. On Tiamat, Darna’s race used artificial wings (In this version’s rendering, Darna’s race is similar to the D.C. Comics’ Hawkman’s race in Thanagar, while Valentina’s ancestry is reminiscent of the Nagas and Gorgons). Due to the fierce war that destroyed Tiamat, the Adarnas fled to the planet Nibiru, also known as Marte. Here, Darna (both the name and the character) was explicitly linked to the Adarna bird (Ibong Adarna in Philippine literature).

Angel Locsin as Darna, on the cover of
MOD magazine August 12, 2005 issue.
          GMA Network and Hugo Yonzon, current license holder of Darna and head of Mango Comics, signed a licensing agreement for a new Darna television series in 2005. It premiered in Filipino homes on April 11, 2005 and garnered a 47.1% rating according to AGB-Nielsen, making it one of the highest rated pilot episodes in Philippine television. During the fourth episode, it garnered 52.1% overnight ratings from AGB, the highest rating ever for any Philippine TV show. This was the episode that Narda transforms into Darna for the first time. Filipino actress Angel Locsin starred as Darna. The television series ended on November 25, 2005.

          In this TV version, most of the Mango Comics storyline were carried over. Darna’s origin was portrayed to be from the lineage of Queen Adran (another anagram of Darna) of the Adranikan race in the Planet Marte. Her arch-enemy, Valentina (played by Alessandra de Rossi), on the other hand, was the product of hybrid impregnation of an Earth woman by an Anomalkan creature sent by Braguda, arch-enemy of Queen Adran.

          Four actresses who previously played Darna were involved in this TV series: Gina Pareño (Darna and the Planetman, 1969) appeared as Darna’s grandmother, Rio Locsin (Bira, Darna, Bira, 1979) appeared as the wife of Dr. Zombie, one of the villains, Lorna Tolentino (Darna in 1977 TV series) portrayed Queen Adran of Marte, Regine Velasquez (plays Darna in the Bong Revilla’s 2003 starrer Captain Barbell) sang the theme song of the series. Velasquez also provided a voice clip of shouting “Darna!” for use in the TV series.

          In the final episode of this series, Narda threw the magical pebble into the sea, and later got in trouble and was unable to transform. She was saved by Captain Barbell (the portrayer of which was never revealed), which became the precursor for the 2006 TV series Captain Barbell starring Richard Gutierrez.

          Later after the end of the Captain Barbell series, GMA 7 aired a teaser hinting the coming of a joint series, Captain Barbell Meets Darna. Angel Locsin, however, already transferred to the rival network ABS-CBN and Richard Gutierrez was busy with other roles. The Internet Movie Database website (www.imdb.com) posted the same title – Captain Barbell Meets Darna – which would supposedly led by Dingdong Dantes and Karylle sometime in late 2007, but did not materialize. In 2008, news again spread about the series which will now be starred by Richard Gutierrez as Captain Barbell and either Rhian Ramos, Jackie Rice or Marian Rivera as Darna. It also didn’t materialize.


          Instead, in late 2009, GMA 7 made a remake of Darna starring Marian Rivera showcasing a more acceptable storyline that the mahiwagang bato (magical pebble) is transferred from one rightful keeper or Tagapangalaga to another every generation or so (similar to the Green Lantern’s ring in D.C. Comics). Here, the Darna portrayed by Rivera would battle the resurrected most powerful supervillains: Armida, ang Babaeng Lawin (played by Ehra Madrigal), ang Babaeng Impakta (jointly played by Nadine Samonte and Mura), Lucila, ang Babaeng Tuod (played by Francine Prieto), and Garda, ang Babaeng Linta (played by Margaret Wilson) that the earlier Darna (Angel Aquino) imprisoned in ice, and a re-scripted Valentina and Kobra portrayed by Iwa Moto and Paolo Contis, respectively. In this series, Ruffa Mae Quinto also wore, albeit, a fake Darna costume.

          For several years now, there have been hints that a “major” film production of Darna (the Movie) was being conceptualized. It was supposed be the “biggest” ever film made by Star Cinema with Angel Locsin, in a Facebook post, even said that “It’s official. Nasa akin na uli ang bato (I now again possessed the stone). This was a welcome treat to the millions of Darna fans all-over. I even offered a storyline for Darna Meets Lastikman, which will star the characters previous portrayers, Angel Locsin and Vhong Navarro. Later, around May 2016, however, Locsin said that she could no longer portray the character because of the back injury she sustained while training for the role. The reverberation of Darna again flying on the big screen persists nonetheless. Several actresses like Cristine Reyes, Jessy Mendiola, Bea Alonzo, Maja Salvador, Lisa Soberano, Yassi Pressman, etc., were being considered for the role.


ACTRESSES AND PERFORMERS THAT PORTRAYED DARNA

Rosa Del Rosario – Darna (1951), Darna at Ang Babaeng Lawin (1952). Here’s where the saying, “The original is best” aptly holds true. This Fil-Am actress is by most choices, the best and most beautiful Darna.

Liza Moreno – Si Darna at Ang Babaeng Impakta (1963), Isputnik vs. Darna (1963). Nida Blanca portrayed the role of Isputnik.

Eva Montes – Darna at Ang Babaeng Tuod (1964).

Gina Pareño – Si Darna at Ang Planetman (1969). The name of Darna's alter ego in this film as in the komiks version of the film (serialized in Holiday Komiks) is not Narda but Daria, also played by Pareño.
Gina Pareño as Darna, on the covers of
Espesyal Komiks (January 27, 1969) & Darna Komiks (February 3, 1969).
Vilma Santos – Lipad, Darna, Lipad! (1973), Darna and the Giants (1973), Darna vs. Planetwomen (1975), Darna at Ding (1980).

Lorna Tolentino – KBS 9 TV series Darna (1977) produced by Kitchie Benedicto. The then 14-year-old Tolentino was the first actress to portray Darna on television.

Lotis Key – Darna Kuno (1979). In this film spoof Brenda Del Rio and Dolphy portrayed a pregnant and a male Darna, respectively. The first to play the role of a male Darna is Chiquito in the 1974 comedy Terebol Dobol.

Rio Locsin – Bira, Darna, Bira! (1979).

Sharon Cuneta – Guest appearance in Captain Barbell (1986).

Nanette Medved, the only person of non-Filipino descent
to portray Darna in Philippine movie.
Nanette Medved – Darna (1991). The only foreigner to portray the role of Darna in Philippine movie is Medved. Although she grew up in Angeles, Pampanga, her father is Russian and her mother is Chinese. In this film, Darna was made to deflect bullets with her armband, which started the talk that she was a rip-off of Wonder Woman. This is a farce, and an obvious stupid mistake on the part of either the scriptwriter or the director of the film since Darna is impervious to bullets.

Anjanette Abayari – Darna: Ang Pagbabalik (1994). Cameo appearance in Ang Pagbabalik ni Pedro Penduko (1994). Abayari, together with Binibining Pilipinas titlists Daisy Reyes, Maria Sovietskaya Bacud and Alma Concepcion also played various versions of Darna in Toyota FX commercials.

Liza Macuja – Ballet Manila’s stage production Komiks the Ballet in celebration of Darna’s golden anniversary (1997)

Regine Velasquez as Darna,
on the cover of True Horoscope,
December 19, 2003 issue.
Christine Crame and Kris Belle Paclibar – Played the role of Darna in the stage production Darna the Ballet (2003)

Regine Velasquez – Guest appearance in Captain Barbell (2003). She also donned the Darna outfit on her The Singer and the Songwriter concert tour (2004)

Angel Locsin – GMA 7 TV series Darna (2005). In this telefantasy series, Lorna Tolentino reprised her Darna costume as Queen Adran of Planet Marte, which supposed to pass the enchanted pebble to Narda portrayed by Angel Locsin. There were a lot of twists and deviations from the original story in this series. The series also had lots of peculiarities including eels being portrayed as snakes. Several scenes from the Christopher Reeve starrer Superman (1977) were also plagiarized in this series including the “getting the cat from the three” and “catching the love interest falling from a building” scenes. In this series Katrina Halili played the role of Black Darna. By most choices, Angel Locsin is the “sexiest” Darna. This TV series also has the highest average audience viewership percentage of all telefantasy series shown on Philippine television. Angel Locsin also portrayed Darna in a Robitussin commercial (2006).

Marian Rivera as Darna and Iwa Moto as Valentina.
Marian Rivera – GMA 7 TV remake Darna (2009-2010). This is probably by far the best production of any Darna (both film and TV series). Except for the Electra (and the Planetwomen) episodes, which was terribly corny and out of place, and some few glitches and limitations in the scripts, the overall storyline and portrayal were quite good. Angel Aquino also briefly portrayed Darna in this series, as this version narrates the story that span two generations of Darna, and the passing of the magical pebble from the older amulet keeper (Aquino) to Narda (Rivera). In the series’ end, it was hinted that the character that Rivera portrayed would past the pebble to a new girl which is also named Narda.

 

DARNA’S BIG SCREEN ENEMIES:
Valentina – Played on-screen by Cristina Aragon (1951), Celia Rodriguez (1973), Pilar Pilapil (1991), Pilita Corales (1994).
Armida, ang Babaeng Lawin (Hawkwoman) – Elvira Reyes (1952), Liza Lorena (1973), Veronica Jones (1980).
Impakta – Gina Alonzo (and Paquito Salcedo as her evil conjoined twin, 1963), Gloria Romero (1973), Bing Loyzaga (1991).
Isputnik (not a villain but a rival superheroine) – Nida Blanca (1963).
Lucila, ang Babaeng Tuod – Gina Alonzo (1964).
Planetman – Vic Vargas (1969).
X3X , alien warrior queen – Helen Gamboa (1973).
Humans made into giants – Divina Valencia, Max Alvarado, Ike Lozada, Zandro Zamora (1973).
Electra – Rosanna Ortiz (1975).
Kara (one of the Planetwomen) – Lita Vasquez (1975), the other planetwomen are Diana Villa and Lieza Zobel.
Lei Ming, the Evil Witch – Celia Rodriguez (1980).
Dr. Vontesberg – Marissa Delgado (1980).
Dominico Lipolico – Edu Manzano (1991, 1994).
Ms. Valentine Adan, daughter of Valentina – Cherie Gil (1994).
Magnum – Bong Alvarez (1994).
 

OTHER NOTABLE ENEMIES
     The following are supervillains that fought against Darna in two GMA TV series: the 2005 Angel Locsin starrer and the 2009-2010 Marian Rivera remake.
     Babaeng Lobo – played by Karen de los Reyes. She also played the Babaeng Impakta and Babaeng Tuod in the Angel Locsin Darna TV series.
Black Darna – the essence of Darna turned into supervillain of equal strength as Darna played by Katrina Halili (2005).
Angel Locsin as Darna and Katrina Halili as Black Darna.
Battle of the sexiest?

Braguda – powerful Queen of the Anomalkan race of the Planet Marte, played by Celia Rodriquez (2005).
Demonica – the demon woman played by K. Brosas (2005).
Dr. Zombie – a scientist that transform corpses into zombies played by Christopher de Leon (2005).
Flora Carnivora – a creation of the Babaeng Tuod played by Teri Onor (2009-2010).
Flora Venoma – another creation of the Babaeng Tuod played by Alyssa Alano (2009-2010).
Kobra – a giant serpent with a human head. In the original komiks version (1950), Kobra was a female while in the GMA 7 TV remake (2009-2010) played by Paolo Contis, the creature turned out to be Valentina’s real father.
Mambabarang (Insect warlock) – Played by Eddie Garcia (2005).
Molecula – a shapeshifter played by Cristine Reyes (2005).
Nosferamus – a grim-ripper like superbeing played by Tonton Gutierrez (2005).
Serpentina – Valentina’s half-sister played by Katrina Halili (2009-2010).
Shiro – notorious gangman played by Polo Ravales (2009-2010)
Sulfura – a woman that can spit fire and acid played by Carmina Villaroel (2005).
Toymaster – a clown with magical power stolen from a gnome played by Bearwin Meily (2005).
Trolka – Anomalkan warrior (2005).


COMPARISON BETWEEN DARNA AND WONDER WOMAN


Character Debut:

     Strictly speaking, the character with the name Darna debut in Pilipino Komiks #77 (May 13, 1950) but the original concept was made in mid-1939. According to Mars Ravelo (1985 interview), when he conceptualized the superheroine counterpart of Superman, the first name that came to his mind was Suprema, which is female for Supremo (highest rank leader), a nom de guerre of Andres Bonifacio. The character Suprema was supposed to be a Filipina named Nadia (from the anagram of the Varga Girl Diana), which will be given the power of invinsibility by a diwata (fairy). He later changed it to Varga when it was published in Bulaklak (Hiyas ng Tahanan) #17. Here, another character became his inspiration, Captain Marvel (first appeared in Whiz Comics #2, February 1940). The idea of a "child vessel" becoming the superhero after shouting a name is the one he borrowed from Captain Marvel.

          Wonder Woman debut in All Star Comics #8 (December 1941). There are allegations that Marston's idea of "Wonder Woman" is not original. In fact, in several interviews, he could not explain consistently all the aspects of his supposed creation. Even her origin, power and character were so vague that it created confusions among writers and fans for many years.

Origin: 
      Darna: In the original version, Darna was a superwarrior from the planet Marte who came to life when the young Filipino barrio lass Narda swallowed a magical pebble that fell from the sky and called out the name “Darna,” which is inscribed in the pebble. In the later version, Narda and Darna have been made into a single person with dual identity.
     Wonder Woman: Princess Diana of Paradise Island came to the United States under the guise of Yeoman First-class Diana Prince. She won the right to return Steve Trevor, U.S. intelligence officer whose plane crushed on Paradise Island. She turned into Wonder Woman every time she swirls around.

Power:
     Darna’s powers include flight, super strength, super speed and invincibility to all man-made weapons.
     Wonder Woman in the original version had the “strength of Hercules” and the “speed of Mercury.” She did not have the power of flight; she had an invisible jet which she used to fly around. She was not impervious to bullets as she needed an indestructible wristband to deflect them. She had a magical lasso which can make anyone tell the truth. In much later versions, her strength and powers were increased – she is now as strong as Superman, has the power of flight, and virtually an immortal. In fact, her origin and power had been changed more than a dozen times by different authors that it add vagueness to her character.

 
Costume:
          Before Darna and her two-piece bikini suit, white front sash and stilettos, the original female superhero (Suprema/Varga) that Mars Ravelo conceptualized wore a one-piece suit much like the Philippine flag. Later when Darna first appeared on Pilipino Komiks #77, the costume was changed with the assistance of illustrator Nestor Redondo into what we see today.
          Originally, Wonder Woman wore a one-piece suit with the upper part having red stripes on white background and the lower part having white stars on blue background, much like the American flag hanging upside-down. This was how Moulton described her costume to comics editor and scriptwriter Sheldon Mayer. The publisher Maxwell Charles “Charlie” Gaines and Mayer didn’t like it and it was changed to a red upper garment with a golden eagle in the middle and a skirt with white stars on blue background, which was first shown on All Star Comics #8. Later on, the skirt was changed into a panty costume. Next, the number of stars on the panty costume was reduced. Wonder Woman costume like her origin, character and power were revised so many times that writers, illustrators and fans became so confused as to what is the genuine original concept, if there is any. Even Sheldon said that Moulton’s concept of the female superhero was “so vague that so many revisions were necessary to make it unambiguous.” Today’s Wonder Woman wore what more likely is a gladiatorial (armored) costume.

Wonder Woman’s three of many different character and costume changes: (from left)
Sheldon Mayer’s costume revision of Charles Moulton’s Wonder Woman
(from All Star Comics #8, December 1941-January 1942),
Wonder Woman with bullet-deflecting bracelets
(TV Times Weekly Entertainment Guide, March 13-19, 1977),
and Linda Carter as Wonder Woman with fewer stars on her panty costume
 (High Society, August 1979)


Films and Television:

Lorna Tolentino portrayed the first
TV Darna when she was 14 years old.
     The first Darna movie was shown on May 13, 1951, starring Rosa Del Rosario as Darna. Since then, 14 Darna movies have been made. In 1977, a Darna TV series starring a 14-year-old Lorna Tolentino in a one-piece costume was shown in KBS 9. Two Television series have also been made by GMA 7, the Angel Locsin starrer (2005) and the Marian Rivera remake (2009-2010).
          The character first appeared on TV in 1974 in Wonder Woman: Who’s Afraid of Diana Prince?, played by Ellie Wood Walker. In 1976, Miss World USA 1972, Lynda Carter, starred in the TV series Wonder Woman, which lasted three years. A vastly altered-from-original Wonder Woman, complete with indestructible sword and shield,  made debut in the 2016 film Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and was portrayed by Gal Gadot.





Symbolism:
          When Darna was being conceptualized, initially as Suprema, Ravelo had in mind the idea of creating a “female” Filipino counterpart of Superman. He envisioned his superheroine to be the symbol of true womanhood with powers to protect the helpless and fight evil. In this sense, and in today’s parlance, this is symbolic of woman empowerment.
          The character Wonder Woman, since the beginning it was put on print had issues pertaining sexual deviance. Marston and comics editor Sheldon Mayer included among her powers the ability to make people tell the truth by tying her “magical” lasso around any person’s body. There are allegations that this act espouses “bondage.” Because the publisher, Charlie Gaines, and Mayer believed that it would be very difficult to market a female superhero, they gave her the personality of an amazon. In today’s modern version of Wonder Woman, her personality and language speak of lesbianism and bisexuality. Even Greg Rucka, a Wonder Woman comics writer, admitted this.
 

DARNA: The Filipino’s Object of Fantasy
     When the first Darna movie made it into the big screen on May 13, 1951, it became an instant box office hit. The very charming and beautiful Rosa Del Rosario, Manila’s golden age movie queen, portrayed the role of the superheroine, under the directorial of Fernando Poe Sr.
            Darna became a household name, and was beloved by people of all ages for more than half a century. She has also inspired the adoration of perhaps every hot-blooded Filipino male starting from that era. Rosa Del Rosario donning a two-piece bikini in 1951 was quite eye-catching (even though the film is just in black and white). But there was no culture shock as she portrayed a flying, butt-kicking superheroine, even though Filipino women at that time wear ever-too-modest attires – elbow-covering blouses and ankle-low sayas. Del Rosario wore the revealing costume just barely four years after Michèle Bernadini, the Parisian dancer-model, first wore the bikini in French swimwear designer Louis Réard’s public fashion modeling (July 18, 1946). Although it can be said that Del Rosario’s lower costume was more like a short pants than a bikini panty, the scenes where she wore the costume were still considered quite erotic during those times.

Angel Locsin, by popular choice,
is the “Sexiest Darna” ever.
Millions of fans are hoping she
would again reprise her role,
this time in the big screen
          It is also worthwhile to note that although Darna was not classified as a “bold” movie (the term and genre may not have existed at the time), it can be considered as one among the first to show a woman wearing a two-piece bikini. And not only wearing a bikini, but flying, fighting, and doing all sorts of stunts.
     Mars Ravelo’s Darna is truly the most famous Filipino fantasy character given life both on the boob-tube and the silver screen. According to film critics portraying Darna is actually considered a career-defining role, so is directing a Darna movie. All Darna portrayer got a boost in their career after playing the role.
          Since Del Rosario’s time, Darna, the character has become an object of fantasy – sexual fantasy – of the Filipino male aficionados. True enough, all actresses who portrayed the role were labeled “strictly sexy.” The aura of the superheroine exudes sexiness beyond the heroic character.


(This article is updated, May 2017)