Dolphy, who passed away on Tuesday at the age of 83, was a versatile actor with a vast and varied array of cinema work. He portrayed many types of characters in his films, but perhaps some of the roles the Comedy King is more known for are his portrayals of homosexual men.
Dolphy was famous for portraying gays in films such “Facifica Falayfay” (1969), “Fefita Fofongay, Sarhento Fofongay” (1973), “A... Ewan” (Oh…I Don’t Know) (1974), “Ang Tatay Kong Nanay” (My Dad The Mom) (1978), and “Markova: Comfort Gay” (2001).
The last two movies showed Dolphy portraying gay roles, albeit serious, dramatic ones.
In the film “Ang Tatay Kong Nanay,” directed by Lino Brocka ad written by Orlando Nadres is about a gay beautician named Dioscoro Derecho, nicknamed Coring, in love with a man who leaves him, returns sometime later with a child entrusted to Coring’s care.
In “Markova: Comfort Gay” directed by Gil Portes and written by Clodualdo del Mundo, Jr., Dolphy played the real-life persona of Walter Dempster, Jr., a.k.a. Markova, an aging man who was a comfort gay during World War II.
For this movie, Dolphy and his two sons Eric and Jeffrey Quizon (who both played younger versions of Markova) won the equivalent of a Best Actor Award in Brussels, Belgium.
Because of Dolphy's contributions to Philippine cinema, influential supporters pushed for the Comedy King to become a National Artist.
However, it was revealed recently by National Artist for Theater Cecile Guidote-Alvarez that even as early as 2009, Dolphy could have become a National Artist.
Guidote-Alvarez said former Cultural Center of the Philippines President Nicanor Tiongson, disapproved of the way Dolphy portrayed gays in his films.
While expressing admiration for his impact as an entertainer, Tiongson, a respected cultural scholar, wrote in a letter to the editor in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Monday:
“I believed that the two icons he created for film and TV – the screaming gay and the happy-go-lucky poor man – have, in the majority of his movies, equated gayness with abnormality and mindless frivolity on the one hand, and romanticized or deodorized poverty on the other."
Writer Katrina Stuart Santiago published a blog entry on Tuesday about her interview with multi-awarded Filipino filmmaker Peque Gallaga.
Gallaga commended Dolphy for breaking barriers in Filipino cinema by being a heterosexual man being comfortable portraying a homosexual man.
“(Dolphy’s portrayal of gays) was in a way the more subversive road towards acceptance by Pinoy society at large, without preaching, sermonizing, or the expected Brocka political agenda movie,” said Gallaga in the interview .
“Dolphy made it okay, no-big-deal, to cross-dress and play gay; so much so that people like Joey de Leon, Michael V, Ogie, and even Vic Sotto weren’t scared to do 'faggotry' and serious 'faggotry' at that,” said Gallaga. "That’s a game-changing thing in the heterosexual world.”
In a Dec. 27, 2010 interview with television host Arnold Clavio, Dolphy was asked by what his memorable film roles were.“Ang memorable sa akin ay yung mga pagbabakla,” he said. "Ako ang nagpasimuno ng mga pabakla-bakla na yan."