By Raïssa Robles
The entire neighborhood knew that the big house at the street corner was the “Quizon compound” and the father was “the famous comedian Dolphy”.
I was very usisera even as a child. Sometimes I would stand across the Quizon house to stare at the gate, waiting for people to emerge. Since the house held a lot of people, it wasn’t very long when I would see some of the children. They were all mestizo, I recall. I never got to find out if that was Dolphy’s real family or not.
I never spoke to them.
I did not think my parents would approve because I had earlier been told in hushed tones that they were living “in sin”. At that time, I only knew that living “in sin” meant Dolphy was not married to the mother of his children.
But I always wondered even then why Dolphy would be regarded as living “in sin”, while the priest in my hometown of San Antonio, Nueva Ecija who said Sunday mass and who had a mistress was not. In my young unformed mind, I worked out why – the priest was not married but Dolphy was.
The neighbor snubbed
The parents, including mine, in Ubay Street – a strictly middle class neighborhood – had a Catholic group called the Christian Family Movement or CFM. The only thing I recall about CFM is that meetings were rotated from one house to another in the entire neighborhood Well, not exactly. CFM did not include Dolphy or his “wife”.
So they were never there when there was a CFM neighborhood Christmas Party where the children were trotted out to sing or declaim or dance.
Despite never having met the man, I grew up hearing Dolphy and Panchito jokes. Some of them were toilet humor; some were slapstick. Some were downright funny.
Dolphy was among the first – if not the first – Filipino actor to ever portray a gay person in Jack and Jill and Facifica Falayfay.
Looking back, I think it was brave of him. He did it at a time when fathers would maul their sons if they found out they were gay.. He did it when macho man reigned supreme in Philippine society. Dolphy was not afraid to be branded gay by anyone.
Dolphy would reprise a similar role nine years later in Ang Tatay kong Nanay under the direction of the late Lino Brocka with a script written by the late Orlando Nadres, who became my professor in scriptwriting at UP, Diliman.
Watch the video excerpt below. The object of Dolphy’s character’s affection was a young man played by Philip Salvador.
Does Dolphy deserve to be National Artist? I think the best way to answer this is to look at his entire body of work. He must have made over 200 movies in all. Some of his movies were money makers, intended to support a growing brood. Some were gems.
All I know for now is that Dolphy made me laugh, and millions of Filipinos laugh. He poked fun at everything, especially the hypocrisy in our society.
And he refused to use his overwhelming popularity to run for President. He chose to stay with his craft.