Special Features: Why I Love Dolphy, Why The World Needs Show Business
Reprint Feature: Moammar Ghadafi – The King of Kings – Insane?
Videos: Rare Dophy-Panchito clip, Dolphy and Niño Muhlach in Lino Brocka’s Ang Tatay Kong Nanay, Cheche Lazaro’s The Probe Profiles, The storming of Ghadafi’s Bab al-Azizya in Tripoli, Christian Bautista’s I’m Already King
Artists of the Week: Rockstar, Roeder, Tavares
Why The World Needs Show Business
Sociologists invariably look at the show business of a particular country because it best determines the level of sophistication of its culture. Here in the Philippines, show business is a way of life for the average Filipino -- even if most of us never appear on the limelight, those who do have become part of our lives. This explains why we tend to call celebrities by their first-names even if they are complete strangers.
There are, of course, certain celebrities who have defied time by the longevity and stability of their career. Who first comes to mind but Dolphy? The one and only King of Comedy in the Philippines, he is definitely a pillar, an institution, not only in Philippine show business, but also in Philippine popular culture as a whole. Why I Love Dolphy, my new special feature (See below), pays grand tribute to this iconic living legend. The title explains it all but can never really approximate the full significance of the contributions of this simple man at heart.
Why I Love Dolphy
Dolphy and Panchito are doing a skit in the radio show Tawag Ng Tanghalan. Panchito will say a line from a Tagalog song and Dolphy will translate it in English.
First line is “Bahay kubo,” and the translation is “Nipa hut.” Panchito smiles, visibly pleased that things are going smoothly. He gives the next line, “Kahit munti,” anticipating “Even if it's small.” But Dolphy said: “National Penitentiary!” Panchito almost explodes.
“Munti,” explains Dolphy, very embarrassed (part of the script). Muntinlupa – that's where the Bilibid Prison is.”
Dolphy is a living legend, an immortal screen icon in Pinoy pop culture, the one and only King of Comedy – inimitable, irreplaceable.
We all love Dolphy – who doesn't? He fully deserves the respect and loyalty of the Filipino nation. They say that doing comedy is harder than drama – easier to make the audience cry than laugh – but Dolphy made us do both, even on a personal level; we grieve for his heartaches, and rejoice at his victories.
This is why his autobiography Dolphy: Hindi Ko Ito Narating Na Mag-Isa, as told to Bibeth Orteza and published by his son Eric's Kaizz Ventures, is a milestone Rodolfo Vera Quizon was born on July 25, 1928. His mother, Salud Vera, was a seamstress with her own shop. His father, Melencio Quizon, was a mechanic for American battleships, a natural comic, and his number one fan.
“He's my son, he's my son!” he would proudly declare during Dolphy's performances – so the audience would watch him instead of those on the stage.
Dolphy remembers his childhood like it was only yesterday For instance, he did not run, unlike some of his friends, when he first saw what circumcision was like. He explains that the operations were done at their house, “So where will I go?”
Dolphy was already a veteran of a series of back-breaking manual jobs when he first took the step towards show business at 16. His father introduced him to Bennie Mack, the guy in charge of musical numbers in Avenue Theater, where he started as a chorus dancer.
He can speak Chinese, and when the show needed a Chinese character for a skit, he took the plunge, like Bill Murray, created the character sketch of Golay, a good-hearted but somewhat dim-witted Chinaman, who became an instant hit.
Dolphy grew in Manila that was radically different from the one today. He was a Tondo boy with none of the negative connotations. He studied elementary at Isabelo de los Reyes and high school at Florentino Torres. His favorite subjects were History and Mathematics. “Public schools were excellent in those days,” he reminisces, “You won't be ashamed if you came from one.”
His resume of odd jobs is stunning. Dolphy had, among many other things, shined shoes and sewed buttons at a pants factory. “Oh, I was good at sewing, excuse me,” his mischievously tells Bibeth.
The Japanese occupation brought great hardships for his family. His father lost his job and had to hide. Dolphy became a breadwinner. He got a job classifying bottles, and another job carrying sacks of rice “heavier than me.” The Japanese he encountered were cruel, and like Jose Rizal, he suffered from the physical, emotional and psychological agony wrought by the racial discrimination of the foreign invaders.
There's one job he particularly remembers – he had to carry large metal basins of cooking oil up slippery ramps into ships docked at the pier. “I was crying,” he recalls, not without pain. “Magsisimula pa lang ang araw, gusto ko nang matapos agad (The day was just starting, but I already want it to end).”
With the money he earned, he would help with his family's needs. Dolphy is essentially a simple guy at heart.
“Makatikim lang ako ng tinapay na may matamis na bao, sa loob ko, big time na ako (If I could have just bread with coconut jam, I think to myself, I'm already big time).”
Dolphy entered show business and made a name for himself – at the height of the vaudeville era. This is where real talent is the foremost requirement to survive the competition.
The iconic theaters of post-War Manila – Life, Avenue, Lyric, Majestic, Orient – Dolphy had graced them all with his performances, becoming in effect his training ground to becomingt he top-caliber artist he is now.
Even in his early career, he had worked with some of the most formidable figures of Philippine theater and radio, and has established life-long friendships with them all – Teroy de Guzman, Ading Fernando, Fernando “Naning Poe Sr., Tommy Angeles, Panchito, Bayani Casimiro, Pugo, Tugo, Conde Obalde and many more.
Dolphy's friendship with Fernando Poe Jr. -- Da King of Philippine Movies – is a legend in itself. Dolphy and FPJ are also known for their private generosity, helping others without publicity nor fanfare.
It was actually because of these two titans that Joseph Estrada was inspired to establish the Movie Workers' Welfare Fund (Mowelfund) which exists – and continues to financially support industry workers – up to this day.
Another good friend is Eddie Gutierrez, who gave his own memories of Dolphy. When his wife Annabelle was giving birth to twin boys – who would eventually grow up to become Richard and Raymond – Dolphy was very excited and gave all-out support to the young couple and their babies Eddie's description is incontestable and absolutely perfect: Dolphy is “The greatest actor in Philippine cinema.”
Moammar Ghadafi – The King of Kings – Insane?
Ghadafi has been overthrown but still in hiding as of writing. The rebel forces led by Mahmoud Jibril of the National Transitional Council had stormed Ghadafi’s fortified stronghold of Bab al-Azizya fortress August 23, 2011. More than 400 people have been killed and mor than 2,000 wounded in the three days of fighting in Tripola but freedom is in the air in Libya. This story originally appeared Sept. 29, 2009 in AllVoices
United Nations – This is a tale of two maiden speeches at the General Assembly. If the leader of the United States “re-engaged the United Nations,” then the leader of Libya disengaged from reality. Moammar Ghadafi, with a mind-bending intro as the “Leader of the Revolution, the President of the African Union, the King of Kings in Africa,” took the podium and made even Ahmadinejad sound normal.
The Great Ghadafi Extravaganza ran for 90 minutes, just a wee past his allotted 15, and “took about 17 minutes to get to the main point of his speech, which was a demand for an African seat on the Security Council,” says the New York Times.
But that’s pedestrian. His other ideas are a lot more colorful:
- Move the U.N. headquarters to Libya
- Establish an autonomous emirate for the Taliban
- Swine flue is a lab-cooked WMD
- Re-open the assassination cases of JFK and Martin Luther King
- Israel and the Palestinian territories should merge as a single state – “Isratine”
What’s on my mind is Christian Bautista’s I’m Already King, theme from his Indonesian movie My Special Symphony
Artists of the Week
OPM English: Rockstar
OPM Tagalog: Roeder