More industry leaders, actors pay tribute to comedy kingBy Bayani San Diego Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Tributes to the “King of Comedy” continued to pour in as the campaign to declare the gravely ill 83-year-old screen legend a national artist gained momentum.
“Dolphy is a pillar of Philippine cinema,” declared Briccio Santos, chair of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), the government body tasked to oversee the movie industry. “Throughout a long career—spanning stage, radio, movies and TV—he has given so much to the Filipino people. He uplifts their spirits by bringing laughter and enjoyment into their lives,” he added.
Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares, chair of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), recounted how Mang Pidol, a good friend of her father, the late action king Fernando Poe Jr., has become an inspiration in so many ways.
“Being a public figure, my father knew many people, but he only had a handful of true friends,” she recalled. And he could always count on the comedy king, Llamanzares added. Dolphy campaigned for FPJ when he ran for the presidency in 2004.
Recounted Llamanzares: “When Gloria (Macapagal-Arroyo) was proclaimed president while most people were asleep, Mang Dolphy was the first one to visit my dad. Between men, there was no outward show of emotion, (but) what I saw then, through Mang Dolphy, was a loyal friend who reaffirmed his support for my dad even when the odds were greatly against him. I will forever be thankful for, and inspired by, his example of loyalty and courage.”
‘The every Juan’
Charo Santos, host of “Maalaala Mo Kaya,” also had her start on the set of “John en Marsha” in the 1970s.
“I was a production assistant then,” she recounted. “My first acting job was on his show. A guest didn’t show up and the late director Ading Fernando asked me to pinch-hit,” Santos added.
Later, she also had the chance to be Dolphy’s leading lady and line producer in the 1982 movie, “My Juan en Only.”
“He deserves to be a national artist. In his shows and movies, he represents the ordinary Filipino, the every Juan in all of us,” Santos said.
“I was very sad, like most of our countrymen,” said the president and chief operating officer of ABS-CBN who visited the comic genius in the hospital last Saturday. “A lot of Filipinos consider him part of their family. We’ve welcomed him to our households from the days of radio, with ‘Buhay Artista’ in the 1960s, to the ‘John en Marsha’ era in the 1970s and ’80s, and ‘Home Along da Riles’ in the 1990s.”
When Dolphy staged a comeback in the 1990s, Santos said it was easy for her to put her neck on the line for him.
“He had temporarily quit show business after a controversy in his personal life,” she recalled. “I told my bosses: ‘Hire Dolphy. If his show flops, then fire me.’ When the pilot of ‘Home Along da Riles’ was aired, it went straight to number one.”
Dolphy has “defined Filipino comedy” through the years, said Santos.
Chorus of praise
Veteran actor Eddie Garcia, Dolphy’s contemporary in Sampaguita Pictures in the 1950s, wished the comedy king an early recovery and added, “The industry needs you. I hope that you get that long overdue national artist award.”
Garcia, along with Joseph Estrada, Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos, were also mentioned as possible nominees for the same honor.
Gina Pareño, another Sampaguita star, agreed with Garcia: “The government should declare (Dolphy) national artist while he is still around. My wish is for him to be able to see and hold the award.”
Another veteran actress, Caridad Sanchez, pointed out: “For me, Dolphy is not just the best actor and the best comedian; he is the best person, period! He is not only talented, he is kind-hearted. I’ve never heard him talk ill of anyone. I love him!”
Marita Zobel, a contract star of Sampaguita’s rival studio LVN, never had the chance to work with Dolphy when they were younger, but got the chance to act opposite the comedy king in an episode of the ABS-CBN drama anthology “Maalaala Mo Kaya” a few years back.
She wasn’t disappointed when she finally shared the screen with the legendary actor, Zobel said. “From his youth to the present, he has shown us that he not only values his work, but also loves his coworkers. He has been quietly helping many of (them). Dolphy has the biggest of hearts. He has taught us that it is not just success that counts, but how one shares it with others. Dolphy is a shining example of what a national artist should be.”
Zobel recalled how she had a chat with comedienne Matimtiman Cruz on the set of another project. “Aling Matimtiman casually told me that Dolphy had been supporting her financially. She said that Dolphy had been helping many others like her, actors who (are experiencing) hard times. If not for her, I wouldn’t have found out about it.”
Veteran actress Anita Linda said that she was heartened by the public’s overwhelming show of love and support for Dolphy. “All of us in the industry look up to him. We all love him,” she said.
Anita recalled that she first met Dolphy, who is four years younger than her, at the Avenue Theater during the Second World War. “He must’ve been 11 or 12 years old then,” she said.
She was one of the actresses in National Artist Lamberto Avellana’s troupe, while the young would-be comedian was his parents’ helper in selling snacks in the theater.
“He’s always been a good guy,” Anita noted. “A devoted son to his parents; a loving father to his many children.”
Actor-director Ricky Davao, who guested in the classic sitcom “John en Marsha” as a teenager in the 1970s, said that Pidol is the embodiment of “pure charisma.”
“He’s the type of star who draws admirers everywhere he goes. When he tells stories, you’d better listen. He speaks like a history teacher and Confucian philosopher combined. Plus, he’s very generous in sharing the lessons he has picked up about show business and life in general.”
Pareño fondly said: “Black and white pa lang ang pelikula, icon na siya (He’s been an icon even when movies were still in black and white).”
“He’s a natural. His humor comes from real-life situations,” agreed Anita.
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Tags: Briccio Santos , Charo Santos , Dolphy , FDCP , Fernando Poe Jr. , Film Development Council , King of Comedy , Mang Pidol , Mary Grace Poe Llamanzares , Movie and Television Review and Classification Board , MTRCB , tribute