For every great superhero, there's an equally great supervillain. Superman has Lex Luthor, Batman has the Joker, and Captain America has the Red Skull. For Darna, her archnemesis is Valentina, Goddess of Snakes.
Born with snakes instead of hair, Valentina was shunned from society. Raised by dark forces, she has a seething hatred for humankind and an unquenchable thirst for power. As she grew up, she became more powerful, gaining the ability to transform into a giant snake, similar to the Naga in various Asian mythologies. In almost every appearance of Darna—in films, on TV, or in ballet productions—Valentina has appeared.
With the upcoming Darna film making noise online, people are talking about who should play the sepentine villainness. Big names like Anne Curtis and Sarah Lahbati have been thrown around. Before the film hits theaters, FHM ranks the various incarnations of Valentina throughout the years. After all, she's just as important to the canon of Darna as the heroine herself. Without her, Darna would practically be purposeless.
6) Alessandra de Rossi in the Darna (2005) TV Series
Alessandra de Rossi had great performances in this 2005 show, and was also fantastically sexy, but many fans lamented the absence of Valentina’s crown of snakes. Though the snake hair was eventually written in as “Valentina’s final form,” the rest of her character left a lot to be desired. All the gravitas of Valentina’s tragic backstory was removed because she had the power to transform into a human at will, and she was reduced to those terrible telenovela tropes of the spoiled, rich villainness who wanted nothing more than the love of Darna/Narda’s love interest, Efren. It also didn’t help that Alessandra was switched out for Nadine Samonte, written in as Valentina’s transformation into Ava, so she could fool Efren into falling for her.
5) Pilita Corrales in Darna: Ang Pagbabalik (1994)
No offense to the legendary actress and singer, but for most of this 1994 hit, Valentina was presented as somewhere dead and underpowered for most of the movie, with her daughter Valentine (played by Cherie Gil, also sporting snakey hair) taking the helm as the film’s big baddie.
4) Iwa Moto in the Darna (2009) TV Series
The 2000s were the age of needless reboots, and Darna was no stranger to it. Iwa Moto was hella sexy as Valentina, but the writing of Valentina in this show (and the show in general) was flimsy and subpar at best. In the narrative, Valentina seemed to not care about the severe maltreatment she received growing up as the “Babaeng Ahas,” and the writing forced her (once again!) to concentrate her efforts on the leading man, Eduardo, by stealing him from Narda/Darna. We need fresh conflict, people!
3) Cristina Aragon in Darna (1951)
Cristina Aragon was the original Valentina, and the 1951 film showed the immensely tragic story of how Valentina became Darna’s most feared and dangerous enemy. Cristina’s masterful depiction of Valentina and the trials that beset her are deserving of their own movie.
2) Pilar Pilapil in Darna (1991)
As Bb. Pilipinas 1967, Pilar Pilapil definitely did not disappoint. She was sexy, sultry, and wonderfully malicious as Valentina. Her Valentina reveled in the suffering of other human beings, and despite the comedic approach to this flick, she managed to portray the role with terrifying cruelty.
1) Celia Rodriguez in Lipad, Darna, Lipad! (1973)
Celia Rodriguez could not have put it better herself when she said, “Kung walang Valentina, walang Darna.” She is the quintessential Valentina—sexy, controversial, classy, and absolutely malevolent. Even for its time, her depiction of Valentina was provocative, particularly the scene where she lay naked in bed with twelve live snakes.
Celia is the benchmark against which all future iterations of Valentina have been measured, and has become the inspiration for many villains all across Filipino media. Having starred in over 130 films, winning numerous awards in the process, no actress worth her pedigree could ever possibly hope to play Valentina without paying homage to the great Celia Rodriguez.