Dolphy smilesBy Nestor U. Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
AILING king Comic Dolphy’s latest medical saga has kept his many fans on worried “ICU watch” for about a month now, going from one medical bulletin to the next with bated breath and hearts in hand. In fact, there were days when, as the senior star slipped into a coma, the dire situation looked increasingly like a deathwatch.
Indeed, the way some media people covered the medical crisis (“like vultures,” a family friend was heard to sourly comment), they behaved like Dolphy was really at death’s door, and it would be only a matter of hours before he would finally give up the ghost.
To beat everyone else to the punch in terms of any kind of “breaking news” before that transpired, some overeager radio-TV reporters clutched at any and all bits of rumor or recollection coming from a veritable rogue’s gallery of dim-watted ex-celebrities.
They professed to be bosom buddies of the ailing, rapidly failing star, but some of them were really just out to claim their last 15 nano-seconds of fame—or, more properly, reflected glory.
Then, just last week, thanks to expert medical intervention and the prayers of many friends and fans, Dolphy’s parlous medical condition started to improve. His spokespersons, who just a few days ago looked like they were carrying heavy crosses of grief as they spoke to the media, now faced the cameras with tentative hope.
They shared the latest news about the successful interventions that were working, like the tracheotomy procedure that significantly enhanced Dolphy’s ability to breathe—and, no matter how minuscule, the viewing and reading public thrilled to the way that the beloved patient’s condition was slowly but surely improving.
After the unrelievedly bad and sad news of the past two weeks, each new and more hopeful bulletin was greeted with relief and joy by the populace, which had focused so completely on Dolphy’s condition that many weren’t even aware that two other iconic artists, Mario O’Hara and Tony Espejo, had lost their fight for life.
Then, just last week, the best bit of news of all to date was heard: For the first time in almost a month, his tearful relatives happily shared, Dolphy smiled.
That simple act meant the world to his worried fans, because it was the perfect indication and symbol of his improving condition.
After all, throughout his career, the veteran comedian was loved for his unique ability to lighten and brighten the lives of moviegoers and televiewers, and bring a smile to their faces. The fact that he was now feeling well enough to himself break into a smile meant that the tide in his long struggle for survival and physical rehabilitation had indeed turned.
Of course, it’s still going to be a long haul before Dolphy becomes well enough to go home and (dare we even say it?) resume his performing career. But, after the miracle of his current revival and survival, who can stop the people who love Dolphy from praying and hoping for more—and more?
In US movies, when the fabulous Greta Garbo made her first “all-talking” film, its tag line to entice people to watch it was, “Garbo laughs!” At this hopeful time, many decades later, we would like to appropriate the tag line and make it refer to our own cinematic icon: “Dolphy laughs!”
—Onscreen, offscreen, wherever, however, that would be an exhilaratingly special moment and blessing, indeed!
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