MANILA, Philippines – Actress Nova Villa, who for 14 years played Dolphy’s leading lady in the smash sitcom “Home along Da Riles,” flew home early Saturday morning from the US and went straight to the comedy king’s hospital room, and was rewarded with a smile.
Nova said Dolphy, who doctors said had contracted pneumonia in both lungs as of Friday night, was “very responsive” to visitors even though she and two of his children who had just flown in were separated from him by a glass panel.
“He smiled, he could open his eyes, raise eyebrows. One could see his mental faculties were sharp,” she said, and surmised that the much-loved comedy icon had been cheered by the thought of having new visitors.
Nova admitted, in an ambush interview with DZBB, that she felt guilty about not having been able to visit Dolphy as soon as she wanted. “I had become so busy with a soap, a sitcom, and a trip to the US, so I decided that I’d visit him as soon as I got back.”
“Ang bigat ng loob ko na hindi ako nakakadalaw sa kanya. Kaya ngayon kahit antok antok ako from the airport, nandun ako, bumawi,” said the actress, who said it was one of the biggest honors of her career to have been handpicked by Dolphy to be his leading lady in one of his most successful TV ventures, and one of the longest sitcoms on Philippine television, “Home Along Da Riles,” and its sequel, “Home Along Da Airport.”
In “Home Along” she played Corazon Madamba, the twin sister of the late wife of Dolphy’s character Kevin Cosme. Their characters had a love-hate relationship.
When she came to see him at the Makati Medical Center on Saturday, she said she asked one child of Dolphy “to whisper to him that I’m here,” and, she said, his eyes grew a little bigger as if in recognition, and he smiled. Though separated by glass, she said that was enough response from a man to whom, she stressed, she and countless others owed so much.
“Every week [on the set of ‘Home Along’] so many things were happening; all I can say is that every week we laughed with him. Even beyond the camera, he made us laugh. He was so sweet, always had something for his co-stars,” she recalled.
Being a perfectionist as an artist, Dolphy also got angry at times when some people did not follow instructions or were slackers, Nova recalled. But he betrayed his generous heart because he always ended his scolding with a funny punchline, as if to signal that none of the scolding was “personal.”