Larger than life
“Comedy is dead, long live comedy.” With these words, actor-director Eric Quizon summed up the vast sense of loss his family and the country experienced with the death of his father Rodolfo Vera “Dolphy” Quizon Sr., the country’s acknowledged and uncontested “Comedy King” at 8:34 p.m. last Tuesday.
The words echo the sense of loss in the classic American rock and roll song “American Pie”.
Remember “the day the music died.”
Singer-songwriter Don McLean wrote this piece after a plane crash in 1959 claimed the lives of rock legends Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson near Clear Lake, Iowa.
In his own inimitable, humble way Dolphy was larger than life in Philippine cinema for seven decades. He starred in over 100 films that portrayed the Filipino in a humorous, sympathetic and sometimes heroic light, albeit mixed at times with social overtones like the Lino Brocka classic “Ang Tatay Kong Nanay” where essayed the role of a homosexual caring for his children.
He may not have entertained World War II troops like the late Bob Hope, said to be his American counterpart, did in his prime but the comparisons between him and the renowned comedian and entertainer of US presidents were not without basis in much the same way that another Filipino cinematic great, the late Fernando Poe Jr. was compared to John Wayne.
His contributions convinced President Benigno Aquino III to award him the order of the golden heart and sparked a growing clamor for Dolphy to be nominated as National Artist.
We in this country at least had the good fortune of having Dolphy well into the 21st century where, despite globailization that brings us and the rest of the world closer, the template for local comedy films remains trapped in slapstick, green humor and vaudeville song-and-dance routines.
The multitudes who relished these films wouldn’t have it any other way. Why else do comedians like Cebu’s Julian Daan a.k.a. “Teban Escudero” remain so popular?
Dolphy’s saving grace was that he never ventured into the world of politics, a mistake that Fernando Poe Jr. was drawn into making under pressure from friends in showbiz and government.
It was no small irony, or perhaps it was his final stab at humor, that the time of Dolphy’s death at 8:34 p.m. coincided with the numbers of the suertres draw on Tuesday that gave a Cebuano a P200,000 windfall.
Even in death, Dolphy continued to be generous to his audience, giving them something to smile about in these trying times.
Comedy may be dead for now with his passing but Dolphy’s legacy will continue to live on and inspire countless others into making their own forays in local showbiz where they, like him, willl provide entertainment for Filipinos for years to come.
More from this Column:
- For Cebu City in three years
- Plugging the holes
- Fall of (some of ) Cebu’s old guard
- Enhancing notoriety
- Peace must reign in polls