Salamat Tito Dolphy

Iyak ako ng iyak nang mapanood ko ang pelikula ni Dolphy na “Ang Tatay Kong Nanay”noong bata pa ako. Kwento ito ng isang ama na gagawin ang lahat para lamang huwag mahiwalay sa kanyang nagiisang anak. Pero isang nakakatuwang eksena ang higit kong naaalala kung saan nagpanggap siyang manikin na pinipilit na hindi gumalaw pero may langaw na dapo ng dapo sa kanya habang tawa ng tawa ang anak niyang si Nino Muhlach. What followed after was a tearful and painful separation of Father and Son.

That for me is classic Dolphy, who he is to Filipinos – a father who will always make us laugh even through the toughest of times.

The first time I met Tito Dolphy was in an elevator in ABS-CBN. I was a newbie writer. Zsa Zsa Padilla introduced me to him. It was a brief ride but I was stunned the entire time. Never have I been as starstruck in my life. I grew up on this man’s jokes, went to see movies with my lola and cousins when i was a child. He was a part of my youth.

Some time later, I would have the honor of writing for him, working with him on a series of Specials for his milestone 80th year. A book was launched, a musical-docu special was mounted and a theater was dedicated to him. It was the first time I saw Dolphy cry in person. I felt the heart of a truly grateful man and i was damn lucky to be there.

I would have the privilege of working with him after that, once a year, at Christmastime, during the annual ABS-CBN Christmas Special. For me, Dolphy was the Pinoy Santa Clause. He was always the Finale. Christmas wasn’t complete without his words of greeting.

But moments before he would go on stage to greet the Philippines a ‘Merry Christmas’ with his personal brand of cheer, I would be backstage with him, briefing him on his lines, handing him his cue cards while a tank of oxygen helped him breathe better. He would would have some difficulty speaking so he would nod gently to say he understood and he would pat me on the shoulder as he smiled.

The moment he stepped on stage, he didn’t need that oxygen tank, his voice would be resounding and the entire Araneta Coliseum would feel the warmth of his heart. Dolphy belonged on stage. There, he didn’t need anything to help him breathe, he would have the strength of his youth and he would shine like the star that he was.

Tonight, as I work on my final two scripts for Dolphy (for ABS-CBN’s tribute to a beloved Kapamilya), I will remember the many times I felt great after a good laugh from his many punchlines. Sabi nga ni Tito Dolphy, “Hindi ako mawawala. Pindutin mo lang a play.”

And now, what better stage there is than heaven. Maybe he’s chucking and singing his signature song “Smile” up there. So let’s do just that…smile.

King Of Comedy
July 25, 1928 – July 10, 2012


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