GMA has been successfully reimagining K-dramas and adapting them to local viewers’ taste for more than a decade. In 2009, it brought to Pinoy viewers the local version of the hit drama of the same name, “Stairway to Heaven.” The primetime favorite was followed by other ratings winners, such as “All About Eve,” “Endless Love,” and most recently, “My Love From the Star” with Jennylyn Mercado and Gil Cuerva.
This 2020, GMA adapts “Descendants of the Sun” to Philippine TV screens with its biggest stars – Dingdong Dantes and Jennylyn Mercado – playing the leads.
Dantes, who plays Captain Lucas Manalo and Mercado, who is cardio-thoracic surgeon Dr. Maxine Dela Cruz, otherwise dearly known as Big Boss and Beauty, are both thrilled to be part of the drama.
“Matagal na rin naming hinihintay na mapanood ito ng mga viewers natin. Story-wise, may tweaks to make it more Pinoy, pero hindi nawawala ‘yung mga elements na nagustuhan ng tao. We’re very excited for this series and we’re very proud of it,” shared Dingdong.
“Excited kaming lahat kasi talagang napakalaki ng bawat eksena. Ang hirap niyang gawin pero worth it siya kasi lahat nagtitiyaga at nagtutulong-tulong. Mula sa direktor, sa mga artista, ‘yung buong production team, lahat kumikilos para mapaganda ‘yung show,” said Jennylyn.
Last August, GMA inked a partnership with the Armed Forces of the Philippines which sealed the Network’s commitment to accurately represent the country’s military forces.
Dingdong, who is a lieutenant commander in the Philippine Navy, and co-star Rocco Nacino, a Navy reservist in real life, plunged into military training months ago. They were joined by their co-actors: Paul Salas as Marty Talledo, Jon Lucas as Staff Sergeant Benjo Tamayo or “Harry Potter,” Lucho Ayala as Staff Sergeant Alen Eugenio or “Snoopy,” and Prince Clemente as Sergeant First Class Randy Katipunan or “Picollo.”
Also playing vital roles are Antonio Aquitania (Lt. Col. Bienvenido Garcia), Ricardo Cepeda (Lt. Gen. Carlos Defensor) and Jasmine Curtis-Smith (Captain Moira Defensor).
The stars underwent intensive preparation for the show. Jennlyn and the “medical team” composed of Pancho Magno as Dr. Daniel Spencer; Renz Fernandez as Dr. Earl Jimeno; Chariz Solomon as Nurse Emma Perez; Andre Paras as Dr. Ralph Vergara; Nicole Donesa as Nurse Via Catindig; Reese Tuazon as Dr. Sandra Delgado; Jenzel Angeles as Nurse Hazel Flores; and Bobby Andrews as Eric Feliciano also made sure they understood the responsibilities of their characters.
“Descendants of the Sun” revolves around the rocky relationship of Big Boss Lucas and Doc Beauty Maxine. As part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Special Forces, Lucas is always sent off to various missions that last from days to weeks. And with shifts as long and as busy as Maxine’s, the right timing was never on their side. She tries to distance herself from him and his dangerous job, but instead finds herself unable to resist him. One disaster after another befalls upon them, but their love stands stronger than anything that comes their way.
The series is made more intense by the rebel characters of Neil Ryan Sese as Rodel Dela Cruz; Ian Ignacio as Greg Abad; Rich Asuncion as Janet Pagsisihan; and Carlo Gonzalez as Val.
The family of Captain Lucas stars Roi Vinzon as Sgt. Major Abraham Manalo; and Hailey Mendes as Judith Manalo; while Dr. Maxine has her mother, Marina Benipayo as Olivia Dela Cruz.
The remake also features Tonton Gutierrez as Gen. Cruz; Sophie Albert as Dr. Liza Ayson; Kim Rodriguez as Denise; Addy Raj as Alif Fayad; Ronnie Henares as Manager Ed; Mark Herras as Orly; and Gabby Eigenmann as Sen. Ricardo Sintallan.
Director Dominic Zapata promises that the local adaptation won’t disappoint fans. “I may have made some compromises in making this show, but I promise you, our viewers, that I am not compromising your trust in the craft. I will not compromise the quality and your expectations of ‘Descendants of the Sun’ and I will not compromise us Filipinos doing a Filipino adaptation of this widely-loved Koreanovela,” he said.