In my life, I've only run into Dolphy once. I never spoke to him, was never introduced to him, never shook his hand, and seeing as I ran into him while he was shopping at S&R, I never asked for a photo with him, or his autograph. It didn't seem like he would have been in the mood for any of those. In short, I've pretty much never interacted with Dolphy in a single meaningful way.
Yet why is it that I feel like I lost an old friend yesterday?
The thing is, while I may have not impacted Dolphy's life in any meaningful way, it's undeniable that he has impacted mine in many meaningful ways. I don't think it's a stretch for me to say that this holds true for a lot of Filipinos as well. I mean, how many of us can truly say we really were close to the King of Comedy? Not very many of us, I'm sure, yet here we all are, friends and strangers alike, writing eulogies for a man whose 83 years on this planet were spent meaningfully.
He managed to touch people from all walks of life. He was the everyman, yet in embodying the everyman the way only he could have, he became a great man.
As a fan of comedy, I have seen how the evolution of comedy has allowed for so many different forms to be viable in this country today, and Dolphy was indisputably integral to that entire process. As one of the key players in the showbiz industry, the man proved to be an amazing and professional talent whose title as the King of Comedy belies the fact that he has a range that encompasses comedy and even far beyond it. He could make you laugh, he could make you cry, he could make you think. His talent and his prowess was one-of-a-kind.
As a child, I remembered loving "Espadang Patpat," and idolizing Dolphy as I grew up. He got me started into loving comedy. I watched "Home Along Da Riles" for as long as it was on during Thursday nights in ABS-CBN. Even during the latter years of his career, with lackluster films like "Tataynik" and "Fr. Jejemon," I figured he gets a pass for probably phoning it in because y'know what? He's earned it. I'm pretty sure even those films entertained quite a few thousand people in the cinemas, and maybe millions of people riding buses. That's more than can be said for a lot of people's best nights.
You see, it makes a lot of sense when you think about it: Dolphy's "phoning it in," his worst nights, would probably still far outstrip the best nights of many of the people who turned their nose up at him, and now suddenly act all contrite because taking shots at the recently departed is just so tasteless.
But enough about comedy snobs and zealots who protested Fr. Jejemon: this is about Dolphy, and the fact that as a human being, his complexity and his passion embodied the best of us. He, like anyone else, had his frailties, yet his ability to grow far beyond them, and the fact that his lovelife comprises the alphabet from A(lma) to Z(sa-Zsa), who all speak very highly of him, speaks volumes about a life well-lived.
I can't speak for the man, certainly, but if I can't believe, then I certainly hope that his passing yesterday marked the departure of a man who shuffled off his mortal coil on his own terms. I guess those fortune tellers would be out of a job now.
We mourn the loss of Dolphy not because we feel sorry for him: the man is not a tragic figure. Instead, he is the epitome of a man who passed on after a long, rich life. Despite being 83 years old, the man's wisdom was far beyond his years. He knew so much, yet he also knew when he did not know. It's why he never ran for public office: he was afraid he would win.
Instead, we mourn the loss of Dolphy because the world just got a little funnier when one of the pillars of Philippine comedy has left us. Is it a little selfish of us? Perhaps. And yet, wouldn't any of us who are affected by his loss be willing to give so much just to have one quiet moment to have conversed with him? To even just... thank him?
Sure, some people might awkwardly mention how his passing coincided with their 50th month as a couple, but it was a simple moment of reflection: where were you, what was happening to you, when the King of Comedy passed away? There are just some big moments where you end up asking yourself that very question. I remember that I was in Strumm's, doing comedy and hosting when the news hit me, and it hit me hard. It was a comedy show: and the King of Comedy was gone.
Admit it to yourselves: even for this couple the public seems to revile, it was clearly a sad moment for them, and that was their way of mourning our loss. It certainly was a sad moment for me, and this entry is my way of mourning our loss.
And I never even met the man.
Yet, despite all the sadness, I console myself with the fact that the man's legacy will last far longer than any of us ever will. He was a great comedian. He was a great performer. He was a great icon. But most importantly, he was a great human being, and he shared himself with us so unselfishly for give or take six decades. What more could any of us say, really?
Thank you and farewell, Tito Dolphy. We will miss you.
Rodolfo Vera Quizon, Sr. 25 July, 1928 - 10 July, 2012
He started a joke, which started the whole world living.