The Divine Comedian: Dolphy

by Nickee de Leon/AJPress

Sinasabing magaling daw sa drama ang mga comedian. Hindi ko alam kung bakit, wala akong teorya diyan. Basta from my end, naranasan ko na kasi ang lahat — hirap, gutom, ang mga anak na perwisyo’t may bisyo, ang ma-inlove, at ang mahiwalay. Napagdaanan ko na’ng lahat, kaya nasasakyan ko kapag ginagampanan ko na.”

There was no better way to celebrate and immortalize the 80 wonderful years of Dolphy’s life.

Dolphy: Hindi Ko Ito Narating Mag-isa is the heartfelt unfolding of the life of Rodolfo Vera Quizon, better known onscreen as Dolphy, the King of Comedy. The actor celebrated his 80th birthday on July 25 this year and son Eric Quizon, a noted actor and director himself, wanted to mark this milestone in his dad’s life and make it memorable by collaborating with Bibeth Orteza in putting up a fitting biography.

From the title of the book itself, one would already prefigure that the story would be bigger than the subject. It’s probably inconceivable to think that a biography of someone as legendary and magnanimous as Dolphy could be so humbling and unassuming.

Yet, there has never been a more refreshing approach to storytelling. The beauty of Dolphy’s narrative lies in its candid simplicity and sincerity.

It’s also not surprising to find that the book teeming in self-deprecating, tongue-in-cheek humor. The last time I laughed this hard while reading (and seemed, every inch like a fool to unknowing bystanders) was when I was in high school, skimming through the pages of Pol Medina Jr.’s Pugad Baboy Series. Dolphy’s inherent wit and comic sensibilities are sharper than ever, and not even the written word could deter him from showcasing this God-given talent.

But beyond the funnies, Dolphy: Hindi Ko Ito Narating Mag-isa is a bold, poignant and compelling memoir that serves as Dolphy’s indelible and enduring legacy.

In a foreword by Randy David, a professor in the department of sociology in the University of the Philippines, he referred to the book as a script, a screenplay of Mang Dolphy’s life.

“Narito ang kaniyang iskrip — makulay, masalimuot, buong-buo, bukas. Eto si Dolphy ng pelikula’t telebisyon, mapagbiro at masaya. Pero, sa likod nang komedyanteng singkit na nagpatawa sa halos tatlong henerasyon , narito rin ang isang taong matamang lumingon sa kanyang pinagdaanan, inuulit-ulit sa sarili ang mga aral na kanyang natutunan. Walang kimkim na galit o sama ng loob, walang panghihinayang, walang panghuhusga, walang pagyayabang.”

Dolphy: Hindi Ko Ito Narating Mag-isa is indeed, a piece of history told by one of the most celebrated actors from an ordinary man’s perspective. Written in Tagalog, the book captures the flavor of a tumultuous era and the quintessence of being Dolphy — his humble beginnings, his love for family, his first sexual awakening, a hardy life during WWII, his colorful experiences as an OFW in Hong Kong, the numerous women in his life and the struggles he went through in fathering 18 children.

And it wasn’t only Dolphy that made this memoir robust and meaningful. Former wives and lovers, friends, colleagues, and of course, his children, also shared their testimonials and encompassed Dolphy with their gratitude, love and support. Everyone he holds dear, even those who’ve been privy all these years, gave a piece of themselves in words and pictures.

As aptly put by Butch Dalisay, Palanca Hall of Fame awardee and UP Professor in English and Creative Writing, “I haven’t read a biography like this, ever, and the uncensored unmediated first-person accounts strike home with a power and a poignancy you’d be hard put to find in any screen drama.” If Dolphy’s story would be translated into film (or perhaps, a telenovela), it would definitely be a project of epic proportions (and lots and lots of Kleenex).

And speaking of film, here’s what film director Peque Gallaga had to say about the book: “The delight that comes from reading this book is that it nails down a fascinating character who is all at once a baffling combination of grace and dignity, contrariness and mischievous rascality; of one blessed with a gift for careless irreverence and absurdity in the face of adversity, who triumphs over misfortunes and who accepts what can’t be changed. One is never sure if it is the portrait of Dolphy of the Filipino people. Ang problema lang sa libro, pagkatapos mong basahin ay parang gusto mo sana, mas mahaba pa ito.”

My sentiments, exactly. (www.asianjournal.com)

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