Dolphy: Thank you for the laughterBy Bayani San Diego Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
When the end came, the entire nation was at his bedside.
They knew him as the Comedy King, but for a lot of Filipinos, actor Dolphy, or Rodolfo Vera Quizon in real life, was considered the unofficial Father of Perpetual Help.
His partner Zsazsa Padilla and some of his 18 children were with him when he died at 8:34 last night. Dolphy would have turned 84 on July 25. His remains now lie at the Heritage Park in Taguig City.
When the Comedy King was rushed to Makati Medical Center last June, because of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), it was his family’s turn to appeal for assistance and prayers from the public.
For the past month, the entire nation—much like the Quizon family—had been monitoring Dolphy’s condition.
Celebrities from rival studios were united in prayer.
Stars and executives from ABS-CBN, TV5 and GMA 7, crossed network lines and came out on television (and in print interviews), expressing their love for the ailing comedian.
TV5 chairman Manny V. Pangilinan and ABS-CBN president Charo Santos-Concio visited him during his first few weeks at the Intensive Care Unit. GMA 7 chairman Felipe L. Gozon and other industry leaders extended their good wishes as well.
Even political rivals (from Malacañang to the august halls of the Senate) momentarily set aside their differences—to pray for Mang Pidol, as he is known in show business.
If boxer Manny Pacquiao could unite the whole country every time he went up the ring to slug it out with foreign pugilists, Dolphy was able to do the same—in this, his latest hospital stay, and his 12th bout with pneumonia since last year.
Dolphy’s son, actor-director Eric Quizon, designated the family spokesperson after his father’s latest hospital confinement, expressed his gratitude to the public for the unwavering show of support.
Another son, actor Epy Quizon, said the family had been going through a “roller-coaster ride of emotions.”
“To be frank, we almost lost my dad a couple of times in the last few weeks,” Epy admitted.
When the comedian’s health improved on his third week in the hospital, Eric said the family’s spirits were lifted momentarily.
“We considered it a miracle,” said Eric.
“I didn’t believe in miracles, but now I do. It was as if God Himself gave me a nudge,” Epy remarked. “The prayers did wonders. We really appreciate our countrymen’s concern for my father.”
Eric’s brother, Ronnie Quizon, told the Inquirer that they tried to relay to their dad what was happening outside the four walls of his hospital room—specifically, how the entire country has rallied to pray for them.
“It’s overwhelming,” Ronnie said. “Even Makati Med staffers told us that they had never seen this kind of media coverage for a patient before—not even for former presidents.”
Indeed, the attention showered by the media on the screen legend could be compared to coverages usually reserved for heads of state. All the TV networks and the print media have assigned key personnel to the hospital for the past month.
As most show biz observers would point out: The media interest was well-deserved.
After all, he had been entertaining Filipinos for over six decades—straddling various media: from bodabil (live stage shows) to radio, from television to the movies.
On the small screen, he starred in a landmark program in almost every decade of the medium: from “Buhay Artista” in the 1960s to “John & Marsha” in the 1980s and “Home Along the Riles” in the 1990s.
Dolphy made at least 170 movies in his stellar career and, among the most memorable were those he made with Sampaguita Pictures—particularly, his breakout role as the flamboyant gay brother to Lolita Rodriguez’s tough tomboy in “Jack en Jill.”
Although he made his mark in colorful gay roles like “Facifica Falayafay” (1969) and “Fefita Fofongay viuda de Falayfay” (1973), he was able to redeem himself in the Lino Brocka drama film “Ang Tatay Kong Nanay” in 1978. “Apart from comedy, he proved that he could also do drama well. His portrayal of a gay parent in ‘Ang Tatay’ was truly remarkable,” said Eugene Domingo.
Two years ago, Dolphy made history, winning best actor (for “Father Jejemon”) and best supporting actor (for “Rosario”) at the Metro Manila Film Festival.
Movie queen and fellow Sampaguita star Susan Roces related: “He is a true Filipino original. He draws his humor from the people he encounters daily. He mirrors us Pinoys as a result. When we watch his movies, we are somehow reminded of ourselves.”
Filmmaker Peque Gallaga, who directed the comedian in “Once Upon a Time,” explained Dolphy’s charisma: “Nobody is funnier especially when he holds a mirror to our weaknesses and foibles. Filipinos love him because he can be totally ridiculous but still maintain an ineffable touch of gentleness in everything he does. We get the feeling that we are going to be confronted but never harmed.”
Boots Anson-Roa, president of Movie Workers Welfare Foundation (Mowelfund), remarked: “Dolphy has transcended his personal laughter and tears and has helped us rise above our own troubles with his rare talent and sincerity.”
Recounted his partner, singer-actress Zsazsa Padilla: “I had the privilege of performing with him during his ‘Dolphy@80 World Tour’ in 2008. Filipinos all over the globe adore him. Our countrymen will never forget the laughter he has brought to our homes and hearts.”
Epy himself is clueless about how his father was declared Comedy King. “He never really talked about how he got that title. He didn’t feel comfortable talking about it.”
Epy surmised that the title came about during the height of his father’s popularity in the 1960s and 1970s—when every TV show or movie he made became certified hits. (In 1982, he was considered the highest paid actor in the industry, earning P1.5 million, according to a magazine article.)
“At that time, people came up with titles for Fernando Poe Jr., Joseph Estrada and my dad,” Epy recounted. “They were called the industry’s Three Kings. Erap (Estrada) was called the King of Action Movies; FPJ was Action King and my dad was Comedy King.”
More than Dolphy’s achievements as an award-winning actor and box-office star, his colleagues in the entertainment industry hailed the generosity of the legendary comedian who is credited as one of the founders of Mowelfund, along with friends and fellow industry leaders, former President Estrada and Poe.
Stage and movie actor Dante Balois recounts an urban legend: In the 1970s, it was common to see long lines of people zig-zagging in front of the Broadcast City studios where “John & Marsha” was taped.
Balois related that the queue would lead to Mang Dolphy’s dressing room, where he would give away part of his talent fee to indigent coworkers and fans.
Roa told the Inquirer that FPJ, Erap (as Estrada is known) and Dolphy precisely established the Mowelfund to create a welfare system for industry workers in need of medical and financial help—including hospitalization and funeral expenses.
“While chatting, Erap, FPJ and Dolphy found out that they had been helping marginalized movie workers on their own,” Roa recalled. “They were not the type to blow their own horns. Dolphy remained supportive [of Mowelfund] all these years.”
Teaching Boots cha-cha
Like most children of show business, Roa has fond memories of growing up, watching Dolphy’s movies.
Roa recalled that Dolphy worked closely with her late father, actor Oscar Moreno, on the Sampaguita lot. “Dolphy and my dad were magkabarkada (gangmates). They used to play poker in our home. Dolphy taught me how to dance the cha-cha when I was five years old.”
His dancing talent led him to the bodabil stage, he recalled in four sit-down interviews with the Inquirer before his health took a turn for the worse last year.
Half in jest, half in earnest, he told the Inquirer: “If you’re a dancer, malikot. We went to a lot of dance clubs.”
“Doon dumami ang chicks ko, sa kakasayaw. Noong araw kasi slow drag, eh doon nakakadisgrasya ka. Nakaakap kang ganun eh, tapos madilim pa. Kaya medyo talagang inviting ika nga.”
“Dolphy is king because he has done stage, radio, television and movies all throughout his career,” said comedienne Eugene Domingo. “Whether support or lead star, he’s unforgettable.”
Originally posted: July 10, 2012 | 10:55 pm
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