Written and photographed
By Jude Bautista
Filipino film and TV icon Rodolfo ‘Dolphy’ Quizon passed away yesterday July 10, 2012 at the Makati Medical Center due to multiple organ failure and complications from pneumonia at the age of 83. For any Filipino Mang Dolphy especially of my generation and older, he represents everything that made us laugh through the most difficult times. And for a whole nation and culture that revels in laughter, he is a god. As of writing, the ABS CBN compound where the public can pay their respect has lines going around the block. The crowd is estimated to be 2,000 and still growing. The Dolphy Theater was named in his honor years ago.
Only weeks apart, two other figures in Philippine entertainment also passed away. During the Cinemalaya 8 press con, Festival director Chris Millado said in his speech, “Before we begin let me take this opportunity to offer a remembrance to two titans who left us a week ago: Tony Espejo theater director and founder of Gantimpala Theater Foundation and Mario O’Hara actor, director and writer for both film and stage. My dear friends let us stand and offer a moment of silence for Tony and Mario…” For a background on O’Hara click on this link for photos and stories on one of the greatest screenwriters and renaissance men the Phil. has produced.
I shared photos and some articles I wrote on Mario O’Hara. Similarly I was very fortunate to photograph Mang Dolphy our ‘King of Comedy’ when he was given a Lifetime Achievement award at the Metro manila Film festival in December 2009. In an article I wrote for Manila Bulletin at that time: “It was in recognition of his title as “Hari ng Komedya” with 168 films spanning 6 decades. His awards also include dramatic roles and Best Actor awards from Urian, FAMAS. A Posthumous award for Film Service was also given to Atty. Espiridon Laxa, one of the founders of MMFF.”
He started out in bodabil, a live song and dance act. He was a talented tap dancer who even partnered with Bayani Casimiro who was considered as the ‘Fred Astaire of The Phil.’ In a comprehensive interview with Jessica Soho, Dolphy admitted to being a serious person. Fernando Poe Sr. (FPJ’s dad) insisted in casting him in a movie. After seeing his performance and just shooting the breeze off stage making cast mates laugh. The rest as they say is history, without question he’s the most awarded and successful Filipino comedian ever.
Younger audiences know Dolphy from “Home Along Da Riles” and most recently from “Pidol’s Wonderland” The most recent show from TV5 allowed him to work with his sons Eric, Epy and Vandolph. My own fondest memory of Dolphy was watching him on TV in the late 70’s and the early 80’s. For anyone who had a TV set, his show “John en Marsha” was a weekly habit. Back then we only had 5 TV channels, our world stopped when the PBA was on, Voltes Five, for me Sesame Street, SUPERSTAR for my lola who idolized Nuuuuraahhh and Dolphy’s show.
Written and directed by the late Ading Fernando, JohnenMarsha was a family comedy that predated “The Cosby’s” in the U.S.. Characters in that show became everybody’s concept and image of what a nagging mother in law was (Dely Atayatayan), a nosy shrill voiced maid: Matutina. And of course Dolphy was John Puruntong, everybody’s friend or hopelessly poor but lovable and funny father figure. He also confessed to Jessica Soho that Nida Blanca who played his wife Marsha was his favorite leading lady ever. It was no small compliment; he has had quite a few leading ladies having made 200 films. The show launched the careers of Maricel Soriano, Rolly Quizon and many more.
He created an alarm clock and or buzzer that would pull his leg up to wake him from sleep. Director Ading initially complained that Dolphy would often improvise the lines he had written in the script. Upon watching the show he realized that Dolphy had actually made the scene funnier. Although the classic line from the show was Dely Atayatayan’s “Kaya John magsumikap kaaaa.” Dely would often put down his out of luck and jobless son in law because she was well off. Whenever they needed money she would quip to Matutina: “Magwalis walis ka nga diyan..”
My only real personal contact with him came when I was a photographer’s assistant of Francis M. Rivera in 1998. To this day, Rivera is one of the top names in advertising photography whose clientele includes multinational ad agencies representing the biggest brands. We were going to shoot Dolphy as an endorser for a laundry detergent which escapes me now. We remember him endorsing TalkNText, SMART from the many TVC’s almost yearly. Rivera also photographed some of those TnT print ads sometimes with other endorsers like Robin Padilla. Dolphy endorsed countless other products.
I was wide-eyed kid barely out of college who was often told off for being late to that job. And here was Dolphy an entertainment icon who was an hour early before call time for the shoot. He was a true pro, posing for the camera was something that he could just turn on. He could easily give different levels of facial expressions perfect for the shot.
Everyone requested for a photo with him. What I noticed was that he genuinely enjoyed being around people, shaking hands and smiling at them. After the shoot was done he wrote a check and gave it to my boss saying, “For da boys.” Later on I found out he gave P5,000.00 as a ‘tip’ for the crew of half dozen or so which included myself. Dolphy will be remembered for the many roles he inhabited as a performer but he will also be loved and adored by millions for who he was as a person.