How do you say goodbye to one of your own? Dolphy started his movie career in Sampaguita Pictures in 1953 when Dr. Jose R. Perez cast him as a dancer in the musical film, “Sa Isang Sulyap Mo, Tita,” starring Pancho Magalona and Tita Duran. It was the former who introduced him to Doc Perez after seeing him perform in a vod-a-vil stage production.
Dolphy performed his roles so well that, after three more pictures, he was signed up to an exclusive contract with Sampaguita, where he appeared in 67 movies between 1953 and 1963. When his contract expired, he was ready to produce his own films under RVQ Productions.
He honed his craft on the new medium, television. The long-running TV series, “John en Marsha,” was followed by the variety show, “Buhay Artista,” and the sitcom, “Home Along Da Riles.”
Interspersed with those commitments were his projects with RVQ and independent movies like Lino Brocka’s “Ang Tatay Kong Nanay,” where he was nominated for an Urian, and “My Heart Belongs to Daddy.” Through all these, he never stopped sharing his “blessings” with friends and relatives who sought his help.
My turn came when Dolphy was no longer with Sampaguita. In my hometown, the owner of a theater for which my son, Cesar, was working as a booker was determined to screen one of the comedy king’s box-office hits. Cesar was desperate to get hold of the film—or he’d be at risk of losing his job!
I had never asked Dolphy a favor, but I went to ABS-CBN, where he was taping his weekly show. When he heard my problem, he told me that the situation was complicated, because it involved movie contracts and the “amor propio” of the people involved—but, he said he’d see what he could do to help. Because of him, my son didn’t just retain his job, Dolphy also brought together our province’s warring factions in film exhibition!
That’s why I couldn’t help but think of how the well-loved comedian would’ve reacted had he been alive during the dinner for the Sampaguitans on the last day of his wake last July 13, which was hosted by the Vera-Perez children, Marichu, Pepito, Gina, Lilibeth, Chona and Cocoy.
The holy Mass had just ended when an award was presented by former President Joseph Estrada to Zsa Zsa and Eric Quizon, who represented Dolphy’s family. Marichu was the emcee, and the celebrities present included German Moreno, Lilia Dizon and Anthony Castelo.
When Kitchie Benedicto took over as emcee for the eulogy, Manay Ichu led us out of the chapel and proceeded to another room reserved for the Sampaguita dinner. I shared a table with Mila del Sol, Delia Razon, and Letty Alonzo Montenegro (Mario’s widow).
At another table were Nori Dalisay, Amparo Lucas, Pepito and Ramil Rodriguez, Bella Flores, Boy Alano and Zeny Zabala. From a distance, I could discern my kumadre, Susan Roces, her daughter, MTRCB chief Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares, Barbara Perez, Robert Arevalo and Daisy Romualdez.
I was approaching the buffet table when I sensed a commotion involving some combative people that hit the tabloid headlines the next day!
Now, who was it who said that Sampaguita Pictures only made musicals, love stories and dramas? If Dolphy were alive, he would surely say that the studio was also good at action flicks—with a comic twist at the end!
P.S.: Reps. Gina de Venecia and Bernadette Herrera Dy have filed House Resolution No. 2581 conferring the Congressional Medal posthumously on Rodolfo Vera Quizon aka Dolphy for his outstanding accomplishments as a stage, television and movie actor in over seven decades, during which he reigned as the country’s one and only Comedy King!