“A lot of people hail him as the king, he just wants to be a jester,”
The name, “DOLPHY”, became synonymous with comedy when a lone skinny teenager decided to take the centerstage to show the world that a simple comic relief can make a difference. Indeed, if laughter is the best medicine, he’s the alchemist who discovered the universal cure for every Filipino’s chronic sadness. For 6 decades, this man’s personal mission is to draw an uplifting curve from one face to another by all means necessary. From “Sa Isang Sulyap Mo Tita” all the way to “Father Jejemon”, all he wanted was to reach one simple goal, and that is to entertain us.
For us, Filipinos, Dolphy is considered one of the greatest kings ever set foot on Philippine entertainment. But for him, he’s just the lone jester. The clown. The joker. And as far as everyone knows, being a clown ain’t walk in the park. For he has to set aside and endure bottled up emotions so that his audience would barely notice any of his own shortcomings. And not even a series of controversies and heartaches could stop this man from throwing punchlines after punchlines until he sends everyone grasping for precious air out of sheer amusement and laughter. This man is so dedicated to his craft, that he takes comedy very seriously. Ask any simple Juan De La Cruz who grew up watching John En Marsha and Home Along Da Riles. One who does not haul a sudden burst of laughter the moment he sees this man as he pulls off his classic antics is a travesty.
But sadly, every show must come to an end. A curtain call, if you may. And up to his final breath, he sees to it that everyone who knows him as “the king of comedy” receives a last gag to cherish for the rest of their lives. While this man bows for the last time, he’s on his way to see who’s behind the gleaming spotlight.
It was a brief encounter. They never really spoke or shook hands. But in a Los Angeles sushi bar almost 20 years ago, the Philippine’s beloved King of Comedy crossed paths with one of cinema’s grand masters and it all played out like a scene from a silent film.
It was sometime in the mid 90’s. I was in college at the time. Whenever my uncle came to town and I wasn’t in class or working (at that time it was a good chance I was neither), I would get volunteered by my parents to occasionally drive my uncle around town. I never minded of course, I knew any time I get with him is valuable and rare so I always cherished the opportunity. Also, it always brought me back to being a little kid in Manila in the 70’s. My parents worked in the family business of making movies. I would go on errands with my dad and somehow many of those trips always had a stop where they met my Tito Dolphy. Usually at a restaurant and usually with a lot of people milling about.
I can’t remember where we were going on this day. Maybe it was a shopping trip or a doctor’s appointment. I can’t remember exactly who we were with either. Maybe meeting an old friend. Whatever the circumstance we were on La Cienega Blvd on our way to eat at Matsuhisa. We arrived and sat at a table in the back of the room looking out at the entire restaurant. When we were handed a menu my uncle would instantly look my way as he always did and asked “Is there something you can eat?” I was a strict vegetarian at that time and he was always worried that I couldn’t order anything. I’d give him an affirmative nod and he’d proceed looking over the menu for himself. Sometimes he’d make a crack about what I ordered. Nothing seemed to ever be enough unless there was some sort of meat involved. Everyone would chuckle and he’d then bring up Nida Blanca. "Nida is like that. But she eats fish.“ he’d say. For most Filipinos, vegetarianism means you eat fish.
So anyways, there we were waiting for our food. I notice my uncle looking over at the table in the center of the room. A Filipino man was seated with a very frail older gentlemen. The Filipino man appears to be the older man’s caretaker. The Filipino man was smiling effusively and waving to my uncle. Then I hear my uncle whisper to himself: "Billy Wilder.” The other people we were with didn’t react with any kind of recognition. My uncle was also a film buff with an encyclopedic knowledge of movies. I was a film school grad with a well worn Towers Video membership card. When he said “Billy Wilder” I propped up and quickly turned my head. I suddenly see the Filipino man walking towards us. I have always been amazed how my uncle handled these fan encounters. He treated everyone like he’s met them before. Always with a grateful smile and a gentle handshake. The man introduced himself and gushed over my uncle. My uncle shook the man’s hands, smiled and quite calmly affirmed not to the man, but to himself: “Si Billy Wilder yan (That’s Billy Wilder).” The whole time the man who directed Some Like It Hot and Sunset Boulevard was watching their entire exchange from across the room.
It was at that moment when Billy Wilder and Dolphy made eye contact. My uncle looked back at him, smiled and nodded in reverence. Billy Wilder returned the acknowledgement as if he was just briefed by his caretaker on who Dolphy is.
The Filipino man returned to his table and continued to whisper in the ear of the 90 year old director, still exuberantly gesturing towards our table. Billy Wilder seemed to listened to him intently all the while smiling towards my uncle. Very soon after that, Billy Wilder and his Filipino caretaker stood up to leave the restaurant. Someone from another table yelled out “The Master!” The entire restaurant began to applaud the Hollywood legend. Including my uncle. The buzz in the room eventually receded and we had a nice lunch with no mention of Billy Wilder again.
Wow I remember doing these last year. Started this before August and I finished them a while ago. These soldier concepts are the playable characters for my dumb bumbling game concept I’ve been working on for four dumb years. While some things have changed ( such as the fact that the more humanoid ones have no cat ears anymore >.>; ) I have yet to rethink of their designs. The majority also are named after gods or goddesses.
Top to bottom, left to right: Helios, Alecto, Hunab Ku, Nemesis, Ee-Taék, Utekh, Briarieus, Dep-Kah, Aton.