Actress Boots Anson-Roa believes that yesterday, July 11, was a “national day of mourning.”
One day after Filipinos lost its beloved Comedy King Rodolfo Vera Quizon Sr. to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the country is grieving.
Many believe there will never be another Dolphy.
On the first day of the King’s wake, celebrities and fans flocked to the Dolphy Theater of the ABS-CBN network in Quezon City where his body, resting inside a bronze casket, lay.
In a career spanning six decades, it is only now that the mention of Dolphy evokes sadness and tears.
BOOTS ANSON-ROA. “Lahat naman ng mamamayan ay naka-relate sa pagpanaw ni Dolphy,” says Boots, a veteran actress who has appeared opposite the comedian in film.
“‘Pag nagmamahal si Dolphy, pantay-pantay. Parang the great leveler siya, e, di ba? Equalizer.
"Walang mayaman, walang mahirap, walang marunong, walang mangmang, walang pulitiko, walang artista.
“Everybody loved Dolphy,” the actress adds.
She calls him an “Everyman”—a take from the character in Geoffrey Chaucer’s 14th-century literature.
“Di ba, may character na ‘Everyman’ na kumakatawan sa ating lahat? Yun si Dolphy. Parang Juan dela Cruz natin.
“So, kung ako babati sa kanya, sasabihin ko, ‘Happy Birthday, Dolphy.’
"Kasi ipinanganak siya ngayon sa everlasting life, a life that will take us quite a while before we live that life.
"Buti pa siya, nauna na siya dun.”
The actress, who starred with Dolphy in The Goodfather (1975), recalls the actor as an inspiring colleague, comfortable to work with.
“Kasi hindi naman yun masalita, e. Hindi masatsat. Pero pag nagsalita, either matatawa ka talaga or matatamaan ka sa puso.”
Boots also remembers Dolphy for his characteristic helpfulness.
“Ang hindi ko makakalimutan, nung gumagawa kami ng pelikula. Sabi ko nga sa kanya minsan, ‘Pare, nagpo-produce ka pa, puwede namang mag-artista na lang. Mas kumportable, wala kang iintindihin, mas malaki bayad mo.’
“And sabi nga niya, ‘Oo nga, totoo nga ’yan lahat, pero ano namang mangyayari dito sa mga taong umaasa sa akin? Yung production crew, yung staff, and the stars na puwede kong bigyan ng trabaho?’”
GIO ALVAREZ. Back in the ‘90s, actor Gio Alvarez played one of Dolphy’s four kids in ABS-CBN’s Home Along Da Riles.
The popular family sitcom that ran for 15 years gave Gio the privilege of getting to know the Comedy King, who portrayed the good natured Kevin Cosme in the show.
“Okay yung chance na nabigay sa akin ng Diyos,” says an emotional Gio in an interview with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal).
Fighting back tears, he describes Dolphy: “He is happiness, he is love, he is life.”
His message for his "Tatay Kevin": "Mahal ko siya, alam niya yun.”
RICHARD GOMEZ. Actor Richard Gomez remembers this advice from Dolphy: “Lagi niyang sinasabi sa aming mga artista na kailangan talaga mahalin mo itong industriya na ito.
“Ito yung industriya na magmamahal sa ’yo pag inalagaan mo.
“And it’s really true. Love your job. Love what you do.”
The Comedy King, to Richard, was “a nice man to talk to.”
“[Even] if it’s just the two of you, he’d make you laugh. Maganda yung mga kuwento niya sa buhay, e.”
The actor relays that he went on an out-of-town shoot with the Comedy King for two weeks.
“I was very young, we looked up to him as a father, as a mentor. He’s a fantastic person.”
Today, the entertainment industry, says Richard, is at a loss.
“We lost a king.”
He adds, “In my lifetime as an actor, we lost two kings already— FPJ and Dolphy.”
FPJ is considered the country’s King of Action. Like Dolphy, FPJ is an entertainment industry icon.
GLADYS REYES. Character actress and TV host Gladys Reyes will never forget the time Dolphy called her by her first name when she appeared as a guest in Home Along Da Riles.
“Kahit sa hindi niya masyadong ka-close pa… ramdam na ramdam mo yung sincerity sa kanya bilang isang tao."
She narrates, “Nung una akala ko nga hindi niya ako kilala, e. Kasi iisipin mo bang may panahon pa ba si Tito Dolphy para makapanood?
“Saka alam naman natin, kung meron man siyang panahon, igugugol na lang niya sa pagpapahinga.
“Pero nagulat ako nung tinawag niya ako sa first name ko. At kilala niya pala ako!"
The actress was flattered. “Super dun pa lang, wow! Yung pakiramdam ko talaga na kilala pala ako ng isang Dolphy!”
If there is one lesson that the Comedy King passes on to Filipino actors, says Gladys, it is his humility.
Gladys explains, “Nakita mo kahit na si Tito Dolphy na siya, yung pakikisama niya, hindi nagbabago.
“Siguro yun yung dapat tandaan hindi lang ng mga bagong artista, pero yung mga katrabaho namin…
“Talagang importante na parati pa ring nakatapak ang paa mo sa lupa kahit gaano mang kalaking achievement na natamo mo.
“To think na si Tito Dolphy pa yun, a. Sobrang taas na nang naabot niya. Pero nanatili na napaka-humble niya.
"At talagang saludo kami lahat sa kanya.”
BELLA FLORES. Perennial screen kontrabida Bella Flores was regularly keeping glued to the news on Dolphy’s condition in the weeks before the actor’s death on July 10, Tuesday.
The country’s veteran kontrabida actress has worked with the Comedy King in countless film and television projects that she herself cannot recall them. The last film they worked on was TatayNic .
“Ako, I’ve been in this business for sixty years. Wala siyang kapareho. Wala siyang kamukha ang pagkatao,” said Bella.
“Totoo yun, hindi ako nagsisinungaling. I don’t like to lie about people who are really very good, very kind, very benevolent.
“Sa mga bata, maawain siya. Nagbibigay siya ng pagkain.
"Isipin mo kung anak mo yung isa dun, pinapakain niya, hindi ka ba matutuwa? Ganun. Ganun siyang kabait!”
Dolphy is irreplaceable in the industry, says Bella, and his compassion for others has not been equalled.
“Kaya si Dolphy, in my sixty years in showbiz, I cannot compare him to anyone. To anyone, ha?”