Iconic 'kontrabida' moments from ABS-CBN teleseryes
MANILA, Philippines – A good teleserye is nothing without a compelling kontrabida.
For some reason, the quintessential kontrabida is almost always a woman – usually someone’s mistress (perpetuating the unfortunate narrative that infidelity is solely the third party’s fault – but that’s a different story entirely) or a donya who feels like her power is being threatened by the show’s hero.
The kontrabida is also almost always pure evil, cunning, and 100% focused on her singular mission of taking down the show’s protagonist. Ultimately, the kontrabida never succeeds – she either has a change of heart, or dies, or gets her comeuppance one way or another.
But what happens to a kontrabida isn’t so much the point because a villain’s plans for vengeance and domination – usually elaborate and dramatic – often serve as catalysts for some of the most memorable moments in TV history.
We look back at ABS-CBN's legacy of unforgettable TV moments – many of which are set into motion by the kontrabidas we've loved through the years – as seen in the teleseryes that Filipino viewers tuned into night after night throughout the years:
Pangako Sa’Yo: Claudia Buenavista and Amor Powers’ sampalan for the ages
There is perhaps no TV rivalry more deliciously entertaining than that of Claudia Buenavista and Amor Powers – two women equally matched in will and ferocity – in the teleserye Pangako Sa’Yo.
The teleserye originally ran from 2000 to 2002, with a remake running from 2015 to 2016. And while Angelica Panganiban and Jodi Sta. Maria did a stellar job of bringing this intense rivalry back to life in the remake, ultimately, it’s the catfights between original actresses Jean Garcia and Eula Valdez that will be remembered for all time.
Kontrabida rating: 13/10 our necks are still stiff from all the sampalan
Mula Sa Puso: Selina Matias and the burning bus
Not since the 90s has Pinoy TV seen a villain quite as horrific as Selina Matias in Mula Sa Puso, which originally ran from 1997 to 1999. Cold and cruel, Selina proved she would stop at nothing to take the family inheritance away from her innocent niece Via – from throwing acid into Via’s mother’s face, to orchestrating a bus explosion and evil laughing from afar as her victims go down in flames.
Actress Princess Punzalan practically invented the evil laugh in that latter scene, which left viewers so traumatized over the years that even when Princess was working as a nurse abroad, she’d get people still responding to her with anger.
Kontrabida rating: 15/10 for a chilling laugh that echoes through the ages
Magkaribal: Vera Cruz and the chandelier
It takes a certain level of petty for a character to be a worthy adversary to any Gretchen Barretto character – and in Magkaribal, kontrabida Vera Cruz, played by Angel Aquino, does just that.
In the 2010 series, Vera is a top model and designer who tries to keep sisters Gelai and Victoria apart to keep her fashion throne. But in the finale, when the two sisters managed to stage their own fashion show, Vera made sure that the show ended on a dramatic note – with a little not-so-subtle foreshadowing from her chandelier earrings. Vera, of course, stuck around to see her plot unfold – because any kontrabida worth her salt knows that bringing a hero down isn’t as satisfying if you can’t watch coldly from a distance.
Kontrabida rating: 11/10 – with earrings as with acts of evil, go big or go home
Mara Clara: Pretty much every confrontation scene between Mara and Clara
If Selina Matias invented the evil laugh and Claudia Buenavista invented the resounding face-slap, Gladys Reyes’ Clara del Valle invented sabunutan. She subjected Judy Ann’s meek, kind-hearted Mara to it in practically every episode of Mara Clara, which ran from 1992 to 1997.
The series told the story of two babies who were switched at birth, with one of them, Mara, going to a poor family, and the other, Clara, to wealthy parents. When Mara gets taken in by Clara’s parents, she falls victim to Clara’s nastiness – made even scarier by the fact that it’s coming from a petite young woman and not the power donya kontrabidas we see in other shows.
Kontrabida rating: 14/10, how does Mara still have hair
It’s hard to tell who the kontrabida is in this scene, where Maja Salvador’s character Ivy confronts Aiko Melendez’s character Emilia. Just to be clear – it’s Emilia, who set a plan in motion to have Ivy raped and killed. This scene is just the kontrabida getting her comeuppance at the hands (literally) of a heroine who knows how to fight back.
Throughout pretty much the entire scene, Ivy yells at Emilia while strangling her with her bare hands – and the poor kontrabida can barely breathe, let alone squeak out a response. One particular shot from that scene – a close-up on Emilia's squished face as Ivy chokes her – has since become immortal, having become the center of a viral meme.
Kontrabida rating: 10/10 for the scene that launched a thousand memes
Sana Bukas Pa Ang Kahapon: The pool is the real kontrabida here
You know someone means business in a teleserye when someone says “hayop ka!” – which is what happens in this scene from the 2014 series Sana Bukas Pa Ang Kahapon. Kontrabida Sasha (Maricar Reyes-Poon) confronts heroine Emmanuelle (Bea Alonzo), who she is accusing of stealing her husband (Paulo Avelino), not knowing that Emmanuelle is really the new identity of Rose, Patrick’s first wife – and if that sounds confusing, well it’s a teleserye, what did you expect?
Their confrontation ends with Sasha lunging for Emmanuelle but falling in a pool before she could even deal one slap to her enemy’s face. Patrick then awkwardly jumps in to “save” his wife (who seems tall enough to be able to stand in the pool anyway?). Sasha then makes one last feeble attempt to pull Emmanuelle down into her pit of embarrassment, to no avail – which only proves that the best kontrabida moves are the ones executed after a lot of manipulation and scheming.
Kontrabida rating: 5/10 Selina Matias made a bus explode, Sasha
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