STORYTELLING has gone a long way, from simply telling stories by mouth to writing them in books, people have even developed a way to tell stories through the screen. The television networks have merged the classic fairytale and the soap opera, resulting in the fantaserye, an often engrossing dramatic series which shows the fantastic in the human and the fantastic into human.

Agua Bendita: a case of sibling rivalry

Agua Bendita was originally a komiks novel in the 80’s by Rod Santiago and was adapted for television for the second time by ABS-CBN. The story tells of twin sisters, Bendita who is normal and Agua, whose body has the appearance of water. Due to her abnormal appearance, Agua is thought to be a monster by the villagers, not knowing that she actually has the ability to heal. Villagers hunt her down, forcing her family to hide her. Bendita, on the other hand, grows up under normal conditions. Though she is better off than Agua, Bendita feels jealous of the attention her parents lavish on her sister. This creates resentment within Bendita against her “freak” sister. Both characters of Agua and Bendita are played by Andi Eigenmann.

Unlike most soaps which focus solely on love, Agua Bendita tackles various issues — from parenting to religion. An example of the former is in the contrasting ways the twins are raised — Bendita, is spoiled by her rich grandmother. She grows up to become a spoiled brat. Agua, on the other hand, is raised solely by her physician-father. Because of her condition, she grows up humble, content and thankful for the little things given her. Catholicism is also tackled, although a tad fantastically. The twin’s parents are very religious and the grandmother donates large sums of money to the Church. In fact, it was through religious means that Agua comes to appear like water — her mother, faced with a miscarriage, drank a bottle of stolen holy water. She survives but gives birth to Agua who looks aquatic.

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Despite the fact that the first adaptation of Agua Bendita was in ABS-CBN’s show “Komiks”, what turns off viewers is that Agua’s approach hews close Katorse, the previous soap opera of ABS-CBN about a teenage parent. The portrayal of the innocent and naïve character of Agua is comparable to that of the 14-year-old Nene from Katorse. Both characters, instead of being innocent, appeared simple minded and dim witted. In addition, both characters wear skimpy clothing basically unmasks the intention of television.

The Last Prince: remixing classic fairytales

The story of The Last Prince revolves around Almiro (Aljur Abrenica), the last prince of the magical kingdom of Paladino. Almiro takes everything for granted and judges solely by appearance. He refuses to marry the ugly Bawana (Bianca King), daughter of the most powerful witch in the kingdom. For his shallowness, a curse is placed on him. His face becomes ugly and he is banished from the kingdom by Bawana who usurps the kingdom of Paladino. The only way the curse can be lifted is if someone truly falls in love with him despite his appearance.

The plot is noticeably drawn from Beauty and the Beast. Other classic fairytales are also recalled such as Cinderella, especially since Lara (Kris Bernal), Almiro’s lady love enslaved by her aunt and her cousin; and also The Frog Prince as seen from the story of Javino (Geoff Eigenmann), the brother of Almiro who is turned into a frog by Bawana and could only be freed with the kiss of a true love.

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The Last Prince therefore is hardly original, has also become too focused on Lara and Bawana’s battle over Almiro’s love. Because of this, The Last Prince fails to send the message that good looks don’t matter but one’s heart. The repetitive cycle of the villain resurrecting and taking revenge has made the story boring.

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