Action superstar Rudy Fernandez never lost his sense of humor despite the fact that he was slowly and painfully losing his battle against cancer.
"Pilyo pa rin," said friend and manager Lolit Solis yesterday, June 7, at Daboy's (Rudy's nickname) wake at the Heritage Park in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.
Lolit recalled some memories that attest to Rudy's enduring wit during the time he was stricken with periampullary cancer.
"Like one time, dumalaw si Alma Moreno ‘tapos sabi ni Lorna, para siguro bigyan sila ng moment na dalawa, ‘Labas muna ‘ko, may gagawin ako.' ‘Tapos sabi ni Daboy, ‘Paano ‘yan pag iihi ako?"
To which Lorna replied, "Ayan naman si Nes, o, patulong ka." With a grin, Lolit fondly remembered Daboy's impish response, "Sabi niya, ayoko nga, baka pagnasaan niya ‘ko."
According to Lolit, one of Daboy's most admirable traits was his ability to put up a brave face during moments of adversity. Most often than not, his strong will never failed to amaze his friends and relatives.
Lolit shared, "Lungkot na lungkot na kayong dalawa, dun nakatingin sa kanya dahil iniisip niyo ‘Kawawa naman si Daboy.' Nakukuha pa niyang magbiro. Ano ba ‘to? Hindi mo tuloy alam kung talagang nasasaktan o ano dahil talagang nandun pa rin ‘yong pagbibiro niya.
‘Tapos 'yong... ‘Halika hawakan mo ‘ko. ‘Di ba ano ka, faith healer?' Ano ‘ko, albularyo? Talagang to the last ano [breath] talaga. ‘Di ba ‘yong biro niya kina Bong [Revilla] ‘tsaka kay Jinggoy [Estrada]. Kasi sabi ni Jinggoy ‘tsaka ni Bong, ‘Ano [Rudy], malulungkot kami ‘pag nawala ka. Sana humaba pa buhay mo.'"
Again, Rudy's playful nature got the better of him. Daboy reportedly turned to his grieving friends and in an attempt to lighten the drama said, "Hindi, huwag kayong malungkot kasi dadalawin ko naman kayo. Dadalawin ko pa rin naman kayo."
A surprised Jinggoy could only retort, "Pare, huwag ha, huwag ha,'" smiled Lolit in vivid recollection.
PAINFUL REALITY. Still, no amount of joking could hide all the physical and emotional anguish. Rudy's wife, Lorna Tolentino, had to share all the pain throughout her husband's hard-fought battle against the dreaded disease.
"Nagbibiruan sila [Rudy and Lorna] nun, 'kung sinong mawala sa 'tin puwede pang mag-asawa,' tapos sabi ni Lorna ‘Ayoko na, hindi na ko makakakita ng katulad mo.'"
Like Rudy, Lorna was an image of toughness in public. Many lauded Lorna's brave stance and complimented her for being the ideal wife. Privately, however, she was terribly shaken while mustering enough courage to also strengthen Rudy's will.
Lolit felt Lorna's pain. "Alam mo one time, umiyak ako dahil kay Lorna," she said seriously. "Kasi she was acting like everything was all right. Kaya kanina, nung sinabi sa ‘kin na ‘yong ano daw si Daboy, nung humugot ng huling hininga, hindi mo matanggal si Lorna sa pagkakayakap...talagang yakap na yakap daw si [Lorna]."
GIVING UP THE FIGHT. Daboy's worsening condition was well known in entertainment circles. Right after his 56th birthday last March 3, Rudy and Lorna left for the U.S. for a vacation and also to try a new medical method against cancer. The trip unfortunately was cut short as Rudy's condition worsened.
Lolit said of Daboy's final days, "In pain na siya. Talagang ano, ‘yong sa hospital was okay, ‘yong lucid siya. ‘Yon nga lang payat na payat talagang maaano ka, pero may conversation pa, ano pa, ‘yong sa bahay wala nang conversation, e. Talagang ano [mahina] na siya."
Good friend Jinggoy, who was with Rudy when he heaved his final breath, reportedly whispered to Daboy, "Sige, pare okey na," offered Lolit, "hanggang huling [sandali]...talaga mahirap."
As for Lolit, she candidly admitted that she's more relieved than sad. She's glad that her friend and ward is now free of all the pain and discomfort.
"Na-accept ko lang talaga dahil nga nakita ko'ng hirap na hirap siya. Parang natanggap ko na, na mas mabuti pa ngang magpahinga na...nakita ko talaga ‘yong deterioration nung tao. Talagang wish mo na sana [matapos] na lang."
She generously shared Rudy's personal request before he died. "Basta ang [hiling] niya sa ‘kin, alagaan ko si Lorna. Sabi niya, "Ikaw ha, pareho kayong luka-loka niyang si Lorna baka mamaya sa halip na pigilin mo [kunsintihin mo pa]. Kaya dapat ikaw ang magsabi sa kanyang dahan-dahan," beamed Lolit.
Lolit, too, had a personal request to Rudy, now that he's gone: "Basta lagi mong tingnan si Lorna dahil magiging mahirap para kay Lorna."