Mang Dolphy’s death and his reel life daughter, Maricel
by Veron Dionisio
How do I feel right now; seeing Maricel, imagining how she feels, and hoping that she gets through all these, praying she finds strength and never goes down the spiral again like when her mother passed on a couple of years ago?
More than any time since I gave up on writing for the entertainment industry I’m wishing now that I’m still there so that I could share with you what I would have witnessed first-hand.
One of my greater regrets during my freelancing days as an entertainment journalist was that I didn’t pursue nor exerted efforts to interview FPJ and now Mang Dolphy.
Now all I could do is to be a spectator, a mere television watcher, a channel surfer, hoping to catch every clip, every sound byte about how Maricel has been coping with yet another great loss.
Here’s what I saw from the comforts of my living room:
DAY 1 Wake: Dolphy Theater
I’ve attended a number of Star Cinema’s movie press previews there. One of them was Mila. The theater then was known as Studio 1, built more like an auditorium rather than a stage studio where most of ABS-CBN’s programs and shows are taped and/or broadcast live. The theater is located just outside a row of stage studios and dressing rooms. Going to the Theater from the main entrance, one has to walk through a hall lined up with photos of the network’s biggest and brightest stars. I saw Maricel’s photo there where she wears a pink gown (I don’t know if it’s still hanging there, though) while Mang Dolphy is in white suite which I’m sure you’re quite familiar by now because of a clip showing him dancing in its front. Right across the theater is the cafeteria and a garden.
In 2008, ABS-CBN named Studio 1 after Mang Dolphy, honoring him on his 80th birthday. Studio 1 became Dolphy Theater.
When I learned that Mang Dolphy’s remains’ first stop was the Dolphy Theater, I was a bit surprised. I began to wonder how TV5 would feel about this gesture. I thought, how this can be when during the darkest moments in Mang Dolphy’s career, when the lights were dimmer; and the sounds were muted, TV5 gambled on him even if it knew that it might not get a good ROI.
However rethinking my earlier reactions I realized that 40 years of Mang Dolphy’s work life were spent there. That’s too long to ignore. And geographically and quite practically, it’s more strategic for Mang Dolphy’s first day wake to be held there first.
Anyhow, those initial thoughts gave in to a question: Will Maricel be there? I knew from earlier accounts during that day that Maricel was in Makati Med and later on in Heritage Park.
When I turned on the TV after arriving home from work, I tuned in to DZMM Teleradyo.
After a few minutes, a woman in black, wearing dark glasses and her hair in pony tail approached Mang Dolphy’s coffin. I didn’t recognize her at first because of the dark glasses but looking further, I realized it was Maricel talking to Ronnie Quizon. I saw her and Ronnie hugged for a while before giving way to other visitors like Dolor Guevarra, Eric’s manager. After a few minutes, she walked from the coffin and when she noticed Nova Villa standing a few steps away, she approached her and they hugged each other.
Surfing channels, I caught Korina’s opening lines for TV Patrol. Behind her were Mr. Gabby Lopez and Maricel talking at the entrance of Dolphy Theater. A few seconds passed, Maricel started walking towards the door as Mr. Lopez gently put her right hand on Maricel’s back while leading her in.
Maricel was talking to Dolor Guevarra seemingly deciding on where to seat.
Maricel was seated beside Eric, probably at the far left of the theater, facing the stage. She looked tensed, seemingly controlling her emotions; her eyes were so sad and filled with controlled tears as she gazed blankly towards Mang Dolphy’s coffin while Eric looked at her, evidently concerned.
Before the Mass started, Ms. Cory Vidanes walked Maricel towards a seat in front beside Zia while Eric seated next to her. The Mass started with a song Hindi Kita Malilimutan. All through the mass, Maricel was composed and carried herself with such restraint.
When “Peace be with you” part came, Zsa-Zsa hugged those near her before she walked towards Maricel and hugged her. Epy Quizon held Maricel’s face with his two hands before he hugged her tightly.
When the blessing with Holy Water came, Maricel wanted to gave way to immediate family members but Eric urged her to go ahead after Zia handed her the bottle/container of the Holy Water.
Then a five-minute break was held to set-up/prepare for the Tribute. Zsa-Zsa and her two daughters took a break. Maricel and Eric remained in their places. As they were talking, Maricel suddenly hugged Eric, leaning her face on his shoulders, her face touching his nape, while Eric gently rubbed her back to comfort her.
The Tribute began. Throughout the program, the camera would focus on Maricel, intently and intensely focused on the stage, her eyes blank while watching video footages being shown on the big screen. I wondered what was she thinking, how was she feeling during those moments.
When Victor de Guzman talked about how Mang Dolphy advised him that as a director he should not get mad at his stars, he said: “Sabi ni Ninong, ang artista raw dapat kinakarinyo. Kaya si Mary ang tawag ko d’yan Mama Mary. Mahal na mahal ko’yan dahil John en Marsha pa lang magkakilala na kami.”
After Zsa-Zsa’s emotional eulogy ended and she walked down from the stage, Maricel softly tapped Eric’s shoulder urging him to comfort Zsa-Zsa even if she herself at that time also needed comforting as it’s the first time I saw Maricel cried in public after a long, long, time. I don’t remember anymore the last time she did. I didn’t have the chance to watch Nida’s wake or burial.
DAY 2 Wake-TV5’s Mass and Tribute, Heritage Park
I wasn’t expecting Maricel to be there. But hearing from TV5’s news that Maricel had just arrived at the Heritage Park, I started monitoring the proceedings. I couldn’t find her at first. I was thinking maybe I just misheard the news.
But I looked on. Somebody familiar (the hair and the forehead) was seated on a bench, next row to where Sally, Zsa-Zsa, Nicole, Zia and Karyll were seated. She could not be seen from the camera’s angle but I knew she’s Maricel. She’s seated beside Madonna, Eric’s, Epy’s and Ronnie’s sister. Until finally the camera caught her. Yes, Maricel was there.
Kitchie Benedicto ‘s eulogy centered on John en Marsha. Here are some of her words about Maricel:
“Baby pa si Maricel noon. Whenever she would have a problem she would approached me ang una kong tanong sa kanya, lumapit ka na ba sa Daddy Dolphy mo? Sasabihin niya, opo, una ko siyang nilapitan. Kaya I know Maricel is feeling like an orphan now.”
She continued, “Bert de Leon was the one who conceptualized John en Shirley. And when Pareng Dolphy learned about it, tuwang-tuwa siya. Tuwang-tuwa siyang makakasama na naman niya si Taray.”
In all these, the camera would focus on Maricel, half-smiling, half on the verge of tears.
When Ryan introduced Mang Dolphy’s children, it took me a while to realize that Maricel’s name was also called. But when I saw her stood up, I realized that indeed she’s been introduced as one of Mang Dolphy’s children. So there she was standing in front with Mang Dolphy’s kids: Eric, Junior, Mariquit, and Nicole.
She listened to Eric’s and Junior’s eulogies, seemed uneasy, trying to keep calm and composed. At one time, Eric even gently touched her face while Junior was delivering his eulogy.
When Mariquit finished her eulogy, she began to walk off stage but Maricel restrained her, probably needing her support before she spoke.
And then the tearful eulogy of Nicole came. It was a very moving and touching moment.
Eric then spoke shortly, thanking some people, sometimes glancing at Maricel, probably making sure that she’s ready, giving her more time to compose herself.
Then Eric introduced her. “Ito talaga ang extension ng family namin. When she heard the news about our Dad, siya ang unang nagpunta dun and stayed there for two days. Nag-camp siya dun. Ang aming kapatid, Maricel Soriano.”
This is what I found the most touching about what Maricel said:
“Nang mamatay si Nida Blanca, ang sabi lang ng Daddy sa akin, “Iniwan na tayo ng Mommy mo. Pero ngayon tinitingnan ko siya, wala naman magsasabi sa aking “Wala na ang Daddy mo.” Wala na nga si Daddy. Wala na akong kakatukin sa dressing room at sasabihan ang mga taong, mawalang-galang na nga ho, utang na loob, pwede po bang iwanan n’yo na muna kami at magne-nebulize pa ang Daddy. Kasi hindi niya talaga gagawin ‘yun. Kaya ako sasabihin ko sa kanya, isubo mo na ‘yan, Dad!”
And then sasabihin niya: “Pasensya na kayo dumating na ang anak kong bruha” sabay dila. ‘Yun lang. Mami-miss kita, Dad. I love you very much and I’ll see you soon.”
Short, precise but more meaningful and moving. It’s not the most eloquent eulogy. It’s not as lengthy or wordy, but it is filled with heartfelt sentiments. The meaning lies in its implications rather than the obvious declaration. “Pasensya na kayo, dumating na ang ANAK KONG BRUHA!” That has been Mang Dolphy’s endearment for Maricel since she was nine years old. And it lived on, aptly and poignantly capturing the tender love and care shared by John and Shirley also known as Dolphy and Maricel Soriano.