Dolphy was a “DH” (dancer in Hong Kong) and a Japayuki in the 1950s. His legendary career as an entertainer included stints as an OFW (overseas Filipino worker) in Hong Kong and Japan after World War II.
The King of Comedy recounted this experience in detail in his 2008 biography “Dolphy: Hindi Ko Ito Narating Mag-isa”, written by Bibeth Orteza.
Dolphy said it was either 1950 or 1951 when he joined a group of Filipinos who worked as nightclub performers in Hong Kong.
“Entertainers ang isa sa mga unang pangkat ng overseas foreign workers. Kami na siguro ang sumunod sa mga nagtanim ng pinya sa Hawaii,” he said.
Dolphy was recruited by his vaudeville colleague Bayani Casimiro, who led their group composed of two dancers (Bayani and Dolphy), four female chorus dancers, and a band of musicians.
They performed two one-hour shows a night with daily rehearsals and no day off. They changed their revue every two weeks.
“One year ang contract pero pinapayagan kaming umuwi, pa-ten days, ten days, during which time kumukuha si Bayani ng pinch-hitter,” Dolphy recalled.
His salary was P1,050 a week, but he only got P200 from Bayani, who took the lion’s share of P850 as commission. He didn’t mind the huge disparity because he felt indebted to his friend.
Somehow, he still ended up making P800 a week, which was a considerable sum in those days when the exchange rate was P1 to HK$2.80. He could buy an English wool ready-made suit for P15.
The money came handy for Dolphy in his early twenties, who was starting to a raise a family with Engracita “Gracia” Dominguez.
His first child, Manuel “Boy” Quizon, would be born on December 3, 1951. Gracia would give him five more children that decade.
After Hong Kong, Dolphy tried his luck in Japan, to where he would sneak away on six-month stints even after he had already begun his acting career as a contract star for Sampaguita Pictures in 1952.
The atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers during World War II were still fresh in his mind, and his resentments got the better of him when a Japanese man was assigned to become his group’s assistant.
Dolphy gave the assistant a thorough tongue-lashing in Tagalog. The man named Joaquin replied, “Huwag mo naman akong murahin!”
It turned out Joaquin had lived for 30 years in the Philippines and spoke fluent Tagalog and Visayan.
Being away from home also afforded Dolphy plenty of amorous adventures. “Walang problema sa sex life doon. Kung sex lang, ha? Ikaw pa ang susuko,” he said of his Hong Kong stay.
Dolphy was also quite the Romeo in post-war Japan.
“Sa dami ng babaeng naka-fling ko sa Japan, naisip ko pang baka naubos na kasi ng giyera ang lalaki. Japanese women, meron ding mga puti. May mga US bases din kasi do’n marami ring mga Kano. Dumating ako sa puntong nag-ii-schedule na ako ng ilang dates in one day,” he confessed.
He believed he impressed the ladies with his dancing skills. “Mostly mga fling ko, sa sayaw nagsimula…Malakas ang arrive mo kapagka may talent ka,” he said.
His OFW experience also gave him a first-hand experience of the factionalism and lack of unity that would often hamper Filipino communities abroad.
Decades later, at a Filipino gathering in the West Coast, Dolphy would rail against the practice of Filipino-Americans ratting out undocumented compatriots to immigration authorities.
“Pinagsalita ako. ‘Kako, ‘Ang mga Chinese sa Chinatown, ang mga Hapon sa Japanese village, at ang mga Koreano sa Korean town, nagtutulungan. Hindi ba natin kayang gawin ‘yon?’… Matuto tayong magbuklod-buklod.’ Palakpakan sila. Ako lang daw ang nagsalita ng gano’n doon.”
In 2008, Dolphy showed how much he cared for OFWs with the creation of the Dolphy Aid Para sa Pinoy Foundation. The non-stock, non-profit organization grants scholarships to deserving children of OFWs. It is the beneficiary of proceeds from the sales of “Dolphy: Hindi Ko Ito Narating Mag-isa”.
On Wednesday, one day after Dolphy’s death, his son Ronnie Quizon said that donations to the foundation would be preferred over flowers.