The Indomitable Dolphy



Those of us who were born in the 1960s and 1970s will probably remember watching a tele-vision series called ‘John En Marsha’. It was the longest-running and most watched prime time comedy sitcom in the Philippines during the 1980s that aired on RPN (Chanel 9).


The cast include John Purúntong (played by Dolphy), his wife Marsha Jones (played by Nida Blanca †), their children Rolly, Shirley, and, later in the show, John-John, and his pesky and nag-ging mother-in-law Doña Delilah G. Jones (played by Dely Atay-Atayan †). It ran every week for 17 years until 1990.


In the first episode of the show, Marsha Jones marries the impoverished John Purúntong much to the dismay of her wealthy mother. Although her daughter married the unemployed John, Doña Delilah would often pay visits to their humble abode along with her maid, Matutína (played by Evelyn Bontogon-Guererro).


Money was always an issue in the Purúntong household and when it was required, Doña Delilah would instruct Matutína to go sweep peso bills off the floor and bring it to help Marsha out. Despite this, John rejects all the financial help that Doña Delilah offers his family, the result of which is a hilarious ex-change of insults and a repartee of ribbing between the two.


At the end of each episode, Doña Delilah’s loud catchphrase “Kayà ikáw, John, magsumíkap ka!” (“Therefore you, John, have to work hard!”) alluding to a sense of worthlessness directed at John’s capability as the head of the household. Even then, they end up making amends, giving each other abrupt hugs with Doña Delilah exclaiming, “Peace man!” suggesting for the meantime that all’s well again until the next encounter.




Rodolfo Vera Quizon, Sr. (born July 25, 1928), is known by his screen name Dolphy. As a comedian-actor par excellence, he has regaled three generations of Filipinos in the Philippines with his comedic antics and as John Purúntong brought its character to life relying on his own previous experiences in youth doing odd jobs that included shining shoes; as a button attach-er at a pants factory; as a bottle arranger, class-ifying them according to size; a stevedore at the pier; and as horse and buggy (caretela) driver.


Dolphy’s exposure to theatre and movies start-ed while as a young person. To make ends meet, he worked inside a theater selling peanuts, watermelon seeds and jicama snacks so he could watch limitless movies for free and regularly watched stage shows at the Life and Avenue theaters learning from his idols comedy duo Pugo and Togo, and for dance, Bayani Casimiro.


His first movie was when he was 19 in the movie with Fernando Poe, Sr. in Dugo at Bayan (I Remember Bataan), billed as Rodolfo Quizon. It was the father of his future and close friend actor Fernando Poe, Jr., who paved the way for Dolphy by giving him breaks in films playing bit roles as a character actor.


Dolphy’s foray into comedy probably started when films about spies and secret agents became the fad – first in Dolpinger (a spoof of the James Bond movie Goldfinger) in 1965 as Agent 1-2-3. In 1969, one of his biggest hits saw him as a gay leading character for Facifica Falayfay, followed by Fefita Fofongay (Viuda de Falayfay) in 1973, and Sarhento Fofongay, A…ewan in 1974. It was then that Dolphy had established his reputation among fans as the King of Philippine Comedy.




Playing comedy roles is considered an art all to itself. It requires expressing a whole spectrum of improvisation, spoofing and perfect timing to deliver a stream of vignettes and lines that engage the audience in unmitigated mirth and laugh-ter. While Dolply has appeared in a number of serious works on stage, radio, television and movies, he was also a popular endorser of products on several TV commercials which made full use of his comedic abilities.


One such commercial called ‘Banayad Whiskey’ is probably an all-time classic spoof of the genre. In it, Dolphy plays the role of ‘Mr. Pagudpud’, an elegant, successful and confident Filipino business executive asked to endorse a popular brand of liquor. Not a drinking man as the role suggests, it requires several takes and as it goes along for the length of the duration, the endorser progressively retrogresses into complete mayhem with each successive gulp he takes.


Watch The Video


In November 2010, President Benigno Aquino III conferred the Grand Collar of the Order of the Golden Heart to Dolphy, the highest award given to a private citizen by the President of the Philippines – for his contributions to the enter-tainment industry and for his charitable and philanthropic works.



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