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dear john

 

While folding freshly laundered clothes, I heard Jessica Soho on GMA NewsTV start her report with “Ikinalulungkot naming ang balitang ito…” (“We are saddened by this news…”).  I held my breath, knowing what was coming.

The comedy king of the Philippines is dead, weeks before his 84th  birthday.  We have followed the latest news about him, since he was hospitalized at the Makati Medical Center for pneumonia and other complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder last month, and knew that the inevitable is coming.

As with the passing of Tita Cory, Michael Jackson and Steve Jobs before him, we are saddened by his demise not because we know him personally, but because he is an icon of our time, practically a member of our household for several generations now.  It gives me a sense of nostalgia, back to Friday nights (if I remember correctly) when we would sit in front of the tv and watch John en Marsha when I was a child in the ‘70s, until I was in high school in the late ‘80s.  John Puruntong was the epitome of the ideal dad – always caring for his kids, always providing for his family despite the hardships, always managing to make situations funny even with his mother-in-law’s constant nagging and insults.  Friday nights then would not be complete without Doña Delilah’s “Kaya ikaw John, magsumikap ka!”.

And then of course there were old Dolphy movies I would watch in the afternoons, after classes were over and I had no playmates yet loitering in the neighborhood, or when it was too rainy to play outside.  My all-time favorite was Ibong Adarna in all its monochromatic glory, and loads of laughter with the comic trio of Dolphy, Panchito and Babalu as the princes in search of the mythical bird.  And then there was the movie Ang Tatay Kong Nanay, both a comedy and a tearjerker, where Dolphy plays father to Niño Muhlach who was such an adorable cutie-pie as Philippine Cinema’s child wonder.

For some time now there is that issue of bestowing upon him the National Artist citation, which others argue should have been given while he was still alive.  Probably high brow artiste would not allow it, but who cares?  We know that Dolphy is an icon for several generations, someone who will be remembered for his great talent and contribution to the Philippine movies, as well as to our culture.  Come to think of it, a huge portion of our people probably know Dolphy much more than those already vested with that elusive title.  There is no surprise in that.

Thank you, Mang Dolphy, for all those times of LOL even before ‘LOL’ became a pop term.  Thank you for sweet memories of childhood spent with your John Puruntong antics.  You will always be remembered with a smile, as you wished.

sun*star.baguio.12july2012.

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