'Remember me with a smile'

PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez - The Philippine Star

In an interview with GMA 7’s Arnold Clavio in 2010, Comedy King Dolphy, who passed away last Tuesday, said he wanted to be remembered “for bringing a smile to people’s faces.”

Yesterday, as footage from Dolphy’s many movies and sitcoms unraveled on television, millions of smiles erupted amidst the grief.

What a wonderful legacy to leave behind — happy smiles. For sure there will be many tears that will flow, but when those have dried up, and the wounds from his loss have healed, his epitaph will be a smile. And that smile will say it all.

* * *

In another TV interview, Dolphy said that when in a roomful of people whom he had tickled with his jokes and anecdotes, “parang lahat kami lumilipad papuntang langit.” He was happy making people happy — that’s why there was always this twinkle in his eyes.

If laughter is indeed the best medicine — I daresay it is — Dolphy was a generous healer.

His healing touch came from his God-given humor, his impeccable timing, and his good nature. Director Cesar Cosme, who was a production assistant in John en Marsha, recalled in an interview yesterday that Dolphy would usually interject his own punchlines to the late Ading Fernando’s scripts, drawing more laughter with his ad libs. Then during the actual take, he would ad lib again, and it wouldn’t be the same quip he made during rehearsals. Still, his ad libs would leave the TV audience in stitches. And if there was a Take Two, you could trust Dolphy to spew a new punchline, unrehearsed but in perfect cadence with the script.

Two hours of a Facifica Falayfay and an hour of John en Marsha would resuscitate lifeless spirits from the doldrums. Some would even go as far as saying that all they needed was rice, patis and John en Marsha and they would live another day.

(To this day, two sitcoms are better than medicine to me — John en Marsha and Everybody Loves Raymond. Never mind if they are reruns.)

Dolphy told Arnold Clavio that in real life, he was a serious guy. He also confessed to the broadcast journalist that though he was known to be a ladies’ man, he was actually “tiope” (coy) with women.

But he wasn’t “tiope” when he professed his undying love for Zsa Zsa Padilla, who reportedly hardly ever left his side during his final weeks on earth. “Don’t ever leave me,” he once told her, “or I will die.” He told Clavio she was his “Sandiganbayan,” as if to say, she was the rock he leaned on to.

Dolphy was said to be a dutiful father and grandfather. I remember he was once asked “Anong mas importante sa iyo, ang pamilya mo o ang iyong trabaho?” And he said without batting an eyelash, “Ang trabaho ko! Kasi, dahil sa trabaho ko, naaalagaan ko ang pamilya ko.”

President Noynoy Aquino confers the Grand Collar of the Order of the Golden Heart on Dolphy at the Rizal Ceremonial Hall at Malacañang in November 2010. Also in photo is the comedian’s partner Zsa Zsa Padilla. The award was given in recognition of the actor’s contributions to the country’s entertainment industry as its ‘King of Comedy’ and of his charitable works such as providing scholarships to deserving children of migrant workers. AP

Dolphy, according to his biographer Bibeth Orteza, never lionized himself despite his many accolades. During trips abroad, he would be humbled after seeing the works of masters such as Michelangelo. “To him, he was just a speck in a universe filled with great talent,” Orteza said.

Zia, his youngest daughter with Zsa Zsa, says that her famous father taught her, “to stay humble and remember where you came from.”

Dolphy was grateful to President Noynoy Aquino for bestowing on him the Grand Collar of the Order of the Golden Heart, which was first awarded to Helen Keller. When Dolphy received the award at Malacañang, he said he would always treasure it “until my memorial park!”

He said he didn’t support the candidacy of Aquino in the 2010 elections, but the latter assured him, “Naiintindihan ko ‘yon.”

“Parang binato ko siya pero ang binato niya sa akin ay tinapay,” Dolphy said after he received the award.

The President mourned Dolphy’s death, saying in a statement yesterday: “Throughout his life, Dolphy showed that hope and happiness always lie at the other side of adversity; he knew that any problem can be overcome through a positive outlook. He did not only revolutionize the entertainment industry; he also changed our national consciousness for the better: through his art, he extended our worldviews, and gave us the ability to reflect on, value, and find joy in the daily realities of Filipino life.”

Sen. Loren Legarda remembers Dolphy as “the actor who catered to all and he was the best at finding humor in even the simplest of situations. Of course he was talented, but it was his genuinely unique outlook and ability to empathize that set him apart and allowed him to redefine the industry.”

All over Facebook yesterday, friends started posting photos of themselves with Dolphy (this writer included), recalling how approachable a man of his stature was, how accommodating he was to people who would request for a photo op with him.

* * *

 His son Eric Quizon formally announced Dolphy’s death to the media Tuesday night, saying, “He is in peace now.”

Eric said his father knew many were praying for him, and that “if he could, he would have stayed longer,” if only to thank them.

“Heaven is now a happier place with him there,” Eric said, trying to hold back his tears.

When I sent a message to my sister Mae in California that Dolphy had passed on, she said, “I’m sad but happy na rin because he is no longer suffering. Now, he can make Dad laugh in Heaven.”

 It would have been my dad Frank Mayor’s 80th birthday tomorrow and am sure he’s now in stitches.

With Dolphy there — good heavens!

* * *

 (You may e-mail me at [email protected].)







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