GMA Network’s “Descendants of the Sun” to stay faithful to original but with a Pinoy touch

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DOTS Cast
The cast of the local adaptation of "Descendants of the Sun" at the Cebu mediacon.

Definitely the most anticipated show to air in 2020, GMA Network’s adaptation of the hit Korean series “Descendants of the Sun (DOTS)” will have its grand premiere tonight.

“This will be our chance na makasilip sa mga buhay ng ating mga sundalo at mga doctors. Their strength, the sacrifices that they give for the love of the country—to do their duties. Sa mga soldiers, it’s their lives that’s at stake. For the doctors, instead of spending time with their families, they’d rather work on saving other people’s lives. These are both professions na napakahirap gawin. It’s our homage to our soldiers and doctors,” declares lead actor Dingdong Dantes, who plays Captain Lucas Manalo or “Big Boss.”

Dingdong Dantes.

At a recent media con with Cebu press and bloggers, the cast members spreparations and how it is to be part of such a big production.

Jennylyn Mercado, who portrays Dr. Maxine, considers herself still in shock for bagging the much-coveted role.

Jennylyn Mercado.

“Syempre masaya po. Di ko ma-explain dahil ang dami pong artista sa GMA-7 at nung nalaman ko na nakuha ko yung role, na ako ang magpoportray ng Dr. Maxine, nagkahalo talaga yung emosyon. I am thankful dahil I am well supported by Dong, the cast, and everybody,” the actress shared.

From Left: Paul Salas, Lucho Ayala, Jon Lucas, and Prince Clemente.

THE PREP
With much excitement for the announcement of the series’ airing date, the cast and crew have been busy taping episodes since late last year. The Philippine Army’s Special Forces Regiment conducted a rigorous training for the soldiers team: Antonio Aquitania, Ricardo Cepeda, Paul Salas, Lucho Ayala, Jon Lucas, Prince Clemente at Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija.

“Mahirap kasi it’s unequally challenging because we have different types of fitness. If nagbubuhat kami, them the real soldiers iba yung training and experience nila. So yun nga we are not used to sleeping in tents and kung matutulog ka nga lang kailangan may pawis ka. Then again all of these are necessary ingredients for us to give justice to the roles,” said Jon Lucas.

Paul Salas added: “Intense yung preparation namin dahil we have to be the part. Nahirapan ako dun sa morning workouts because wala kaming tulog dahil nga ang daming lamok at kinakagat-kagat kami. Also dahil pagod ka dahil three hours lang yung tulog namin nun, so para sa akin dun talaga ako nahirapan.”

Prince Clemente and Hailey Mendes.

The country’s Special Forces Regiment provided the actors with Basic Military Training, Immediate Action Drills, Obstacle Course and Reception Rites and more.

Together as the doctors and nurses team are Andre Paras, Chariz Solomon, Renz Fernandez, Nicole Donesa, Jenzel Angeles, and Reese Tuazon.

“We had a crash course and it made me want to learn more about the medical field. Lalong tumaas yung respeto ko sa mga doctors and the medical staff lalo na that isa sila sa mga dinedeploy during times of unrest. It’s a very humbling experience to learn from the best and for us to portray their roles, kailangan din namin matuto to give justice to look and sound just like them,” Andre Paras surmised.

Rocco Nacino.

“Military doctors was there at sila talaga yung nagturo sa amin ng basics like yung CPR, yung paglalagay ng splint, even medical ethics,” Chariz Solomon said.

“Tinuro sa amin if in case andun na kami sa field at wala kaming dalang splint na eto yung alternatives. Meron pa talaga kaming doctors who are on standby na tinuturuan kami before we take the scene,” she added.

Also portraying an important roles are Rocco Nacino as Diego Ramos or” “Wolf” and Jasmine Curtis-Smith as Moira Defensor.

A MAKE OR BREAK ADAPTATION
The challenge of making an adaptation succeed is not lost on Dingdong Dantes. It’s an immediate conundrum—one that the occasional remake manages to overcome its original version.

“That’s what we are trying to define here on giving it a Filipino flavor. That we as Filipinos, we are filial when it comes to stories and para sa atin madaming makaka-relate kung malakas yung kwento ng pamilya. Dito, isang difference from the original ay yung kwento ng characters ni Maxine, Diego, Lukas, at Moira ay pinalakas natin yung backstory ng family. So very interesting yung mga twists dahil dun mo maiintindihan behind their motivations,” he added.

The actor elaborates that majority of their scenes remain faithful to the original. However, themes on the Filipino family with scores of their versions of the iconic scenes from the original will be something that the audience will look forward to.

“We will always stay true to the original story and concept and by that, yung pinakamahalagang aspeto ng original which is the love story. Themes like these will always be relevant because sa usaping puso, nag-iiba lang talaga yung setting. Naging mabigat lang siya dahil yung setting ng DOTS is napag-usapan dun yung between puso or ang commitment mo sa trabaho. In our case it’s the commitment of the doctors in their line of profession and the soldiers in their commitment to their country. Haggang saan ka dun? Hanggang saan ka mangingibabaw?” he said.

Viewers should also look forward to surprise cameo appearances of artists. DOTS also stars Neil Ryan Sese, Ian Ignacio, Rich Asuncion, Marina Benipayo, Hailey Mendes, and Roi Vinzon. This flagship project of the network is under the direction of Dominic Zapata. (All photos by Jed Aries Yu)

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