FDCP campaigns for Dolphy’s national artist title, pays tribute to comedians
MANILA, Philippines — “It’s harder to make the audience laugh than cry,” said film and TV director Jose Javier Reyes as a way to explain why the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) will be paying tribute to the late comedian Dolphy during its celebration of the Philippine Film Industry Month (PFIM) in September.
“We will honor artists we admire but are not properly accorded admiration, appreciation and affiliation—the Philippine comedians,” declared Reyes, who also serves as technical adviser to the FDCP. “Comedians are seldom given acting awards because we never take them seriously. If you come to think of it, it’s more difficult to make people laugh than cry. For being able to make Filipinos laugh throughout this generation, Dolphy deserves to be recognized.”
This is why the celebration will carry the theme ‘Tuloy Pa Rin ang Tawanan,’ he explained. “If Filipinos have a survival kit, humor is definitely in it,” he added. “The whole month of September is dedicated to the celebration of comedy as personified by Dolphy.”
FDCP chair Tirso Cruz III said he is hopeful that the tribute to Dolphy could help in the campaign to proclaim the comedian a national artist. “It’s such a regret that every time there’s a deliberation, Dolphy’s name gets included on the list, but in the end, it always gets dropped. Had I been a member of the selection committee, I would’ve helped make this happen. Sadly, the FDCP is not involved. It’s not part of the agency’s work,” he explained.
Reyes cited three reasons that he thought prevented Dolphy from getting the title. “First, there are some people who take his personal life against him. In the same manner that Nora Aunor’s personal life was taken against her [prior to her proclamation in 2022]. This has got nothing to do with their art. You judge artists for their work, not for their personal lives,” he stressed.
“Second, people don’t take comedy seriously. It’s always the dramatic actors who win the awards, even though it’s doubly hard to be a comedian,” Reyes added. “Third is that certain sectors reacted to Dolphy’s movies before, namely ‘Facifica Falayfay’ and ‘Fefita Fofonggay viuda de Falayfay.’ They said that he came up with an antigay kind of iconology with these films, but then we’re forgetting that he also did “Ang Tatay Kong Nanay’ and ‘Markova,’ which humanized gays.”
Reyes said that, sadly, there are so many prejudices against Dolphy, but the bottom line is, “They think comedians aren’t to be taken seriously. This is so wrong. The comedian is always the last in line because some people feel that comedians have no depth or cultural value. This is actually a misinterpretation of culture,” he stressed.
Honoring comedy icons
To kick off the monthlong celebration, a special screening of the restored and remastered comedy classic “Home Along Da Riles Da Movie,” starring Dolphy, will be held at Shangri-La Plaza Cinema 1 after the presentation of the lineup of events prepared by the FDCP. The opening ceremony will be hosted by stand-up comedian James Caraan.
As part of the closing rites on Sept. 29, to be held at Teatrino Promenade in San Juan City, the FDCP will honor some of the icons of Philippine comedy. The list includes Vice Ganda, Eugene Domingo, Ai-Ai delas Alas and Michael V. The names of three more comedians will be announced at a later date. Reyes then cited reasons why each comedian deserves recognition during the 3rd PFIM. “Vice brought comedy bar entertainment to the mainstream. He turned it into a performance. If you watch Vice in all of his roles, you will notice that he is portraying comedy-bar characters. Also, for years, Vice has been ruling over the MMFF (Metro Manila Film Festival) and he has such great popularity. We know that the Comedy Bar is a different animal in the Philippines compared to Stand-up Comedy across the world.”
Reyes described Michael V as a “genius.” The director added: “He creates characters. He is a songwriter. His brand of comedy is social criticism. A good example is when he turned Morissette’s song ‘Gusto Ko Nang Bumitaw’ into ‘Gusto Ko Nang Bumigay’ in ‘Bubble Gang.’ It’s a statement about live streaming, among other things. It takes a genius to be able to do something like that.”
Meanwhile, Reyes said Eugene has successfully brought the discipline of theater to mainstream consciousness. “You see this from her work in ‘Kimmy Dora,’ all the way to ‘Ang Babae sa Septic Tank.’ The comedy she brought from the theater has affected so many people that a lot of theater people are also getting into comedy,” he said.
Ai-Ai, on the other hand, is a comedian who “embodies every woman.” Reyes added: “She was from the streets. I remember seeing her dancing on the ledge of Subway Disco [in the 1980s, along M. Adriatico Street in Malate]. She was a gay icon. She’s like Bette Midler. When her film ‘Tanging Ina’ came out, super bumongga s’ya. I last worked with her in ‘Our Mighty Yaya,’ so I was able to trace her progression from a common comedian in the streets to a superstar.”
FDCP Cinematheque Centres nationwide will host the screenings of the films under the “Sine Halakhak” banner, along with the “Sine Kabataan” short films. The following are the featured films: “Daddy O, Baby O!,” “Ang Tanging Ina,” “Kimmy Dora,” “Here Comes the Bride,” “Ispirikitik Walastik,” “Mr. Suave,” “D’Lucky Ones,” “Ang Mga Kidnapper ni Ronnie Lazaro,” “Ang Pangarap kong Holdap,” “Babae sa Septic Tank 1,” “Die Beautiful,” “Petrang Kabayo” and “Ang Tatay Kong Nanay.”
As a joint project between the FDCP and the Directors’ Guild of the Philippines (DGPI), a film pitch event for Filipino producers, filmmakers, postproduction companies, distributors, government agencies and industry stakeholders will be held at the Acacia Hotel in Alabang on Sept. 29.
“Through a speed-dating format, this event aims to help participants match their projects with possible collaborators, financiers and partners. Prior to the actual pitching, the participants will undergo a film pitch workshop at the Cinematheque Manila on Sept. 16,” said filmmaker Rica Arevalo, who is also FDCP’s development support division manager.