By Marivir R. Montebon
The past week was a bit sentimental with the passing on of highly respected Philippine comedian Dolphy. The New York Times featured him in a fitting article of someone well-loved in Philippine entertainment. Dolphy’s humor and musicality was every inch representative of the Filipino spirit of laughter and natural comic.
He was so much a part of the Filipino household, through the boob tube in two of the longest running TV sitcoms John En Marsha and Home Along the Riles. I am a big fan of Dolphy, having followed through John En Marsha as a child. It was my early exposure of what was the Philippine funny, and remarkably in a family setting.
In that show, written and directed by equally brilliant funny director, the late Ading Fernando, humor takes centerstage in the Filipino family’s life, in the midst of odds (son-in-law and mother-in-law contemptuous relationship) and poverty. It mirrored Philippine society, how most Filipinos take things as a breeze despite material deprivation. It is a God-given trait to laugh at our own adversities.
Years later, I saw Dolphy again in another sitcom, Home Along the Riles, which like John En Marsha, poked humor at the lives of people living along the train tracks (riles) in the slums of Manila.
When I did my research for a story on the urban poor in Manila, along the riles, I remembered Dolphy’s Home Along the Riles, and thought, how amazing for Philippine actors to dash humor in describing difficult lives. It inspired me to pepper my story with humor, because indeed, the shanty I slept in shook each time the train passed by. How could the people ever sleep in this part of the city, I wondered.
Dolphy will be terribly missed. He leaves behind a shining career of more than 60 years of putting laughter in Philippine households. That is hard to beat.
In our 12th week, OSM! features young leaders of the Eastern Seaboard of the US, upon the initiative of the Migrant Heritage Commission. They will attend the World Youth Conference at the United Nations in New York in August, including OSM!’s digital and content editor Leani Auxilio. Congratulations and way to go, young Filipinos!
We also feature Pinoy Spaghetti, a unique adaptation of the original Italian cuisine. Take it from Ruth Ezra in her Kit’s Kitchen.
Finally, here’s a note on laughter. Various medical studies show that laughter adds to the number of hours in our lives. So take time to laugh, belly laugh, laugh till you cry. For a Filipino, that is easy to do. Like praying, laughing comes to us quite naturally. I love it.