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Monday, March 17, 2014

Battle of the Mermaids on Primetime TV: "Kambal Sirena" vs. "Dyesebel"

Philippine primetime television will see the "Battle of the Mermaids" starting tonight as the leading networks, GMA Network and ABS-CBN, offer programs that feature the mythical creature: Kambal Sirena (Tagalog, "Twin Mermaid) and Dyesebel. Both programs can be seen from Monday to Friday.

The sirena or mermaid is a staple of Philippine folklore and popular culture. Similar with other cultures, the sirena is commonly portrayed as a beautiful woman with the upper body of a human and the tail of a fish. Aside from having long and flowing hair, the breasts of the sirena are typically covered by a pair of large seashells.

GMA Network seems to have gained a headway by commencing the broadcast of its Kambal Sirena exactly a week ago. Kambal Sirena features Louise delos Reyes in a dual title role. Support is provided by Aljur Abrenica, Mike Tan and Angelika dela Cruz.

Kambal Sirena is about twins named Alona and Perlas. One of them is born with gills behind her ears and the other with a mermaid's tail. (Note: Alona is presumably derived from alon, the Tagalog word for "wave"; perlas is Tagalog for "pearls). The twins' mother moved along with them to an isolated island due to worries that neighbors might be surprised by their strange features. Circumstances eventually led the twins to live separately.

Kambal Sirena, television programs, GMA, GMA Network, Louise delos Reyes
Image Credit: GMA Network

On the other hand, ABS-CBN is going to present Dyesebel starting March 17. This fantasy drama series is based on a graphic novel by Mars Ravelo, whose other works have been licensed to the network. Anne Curtis will play the title role. An ensemble cast led by Gerald Anderson and Sam Milby.

Dyesebel, Mars Ravelo, television programs, ABS-CBN, Anne Curtis
Image Credit:

The story of Dyesebel is about a young mermaid that discovers the world above the ocean and gets involved in a love triangle. It has a long history in film and television starting with a 1953 movie having Edna Luna role. Vilma Santos, Alma Moreno, Alice Dixson, and Charlene Gonzalez followed suit in playing the role of the well-known mermaid in movies in 1973, 1978, 1990 and 1996.

Interestingly, Marian Rivera played the character in the 2008 TV series of the same name on GMA Network. Anne Curtis played the role of the eponymous  goddess who can transform into a mermaid, a harpy or a centaur in the 2008 ABS-CBN series Dyosa. 


Other notable Philippine TV programs about mermaids include ABS-CBN's Marina starring Claudine Barretto in 2004. GMA Network matched it in the same year with Marinara starring the comedienne Rufa Mae Quinto. In 2011, ABS-CBN aired Mutya which launched child actress Mutya Orquia in the title role.

The sirena is also commonly associated with gays in Philippine popular culture. In light of Filipinos' love for spoofs and spin-offs, an enterprising producer can adapt Kambal Sirena into a series or a movie titled Kambal Siyoke. (Siyoke is a slang term for a homosexual man.).

It is off-topic but now that spoofs have been raised in the discussion, why not remake the U.S. TV series Breaking Bad into either Breaking Bading or Beking Bad (Bading and beki are other common slang terms for a homosexual man).

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