Contrary to earlier reports that Dolphy was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) just recently, the late comedian had actually been suffering from the disorder for six to eight years already.
This was revealed by Zsa Zsa Padilla, his longtime partner of 23 years, in an emotional and candid eulogy at the Dolphy Theater Wednesday evening during a necrological service for the talents and employees of ABS-CBN, the network that served as his home TV studio for many years.
“Nagsimula ‘yun noong nagkaroon siya ng walking pneumonia. Di pa namin naintindihan kung ano yun,” Zsa Zsa said, referring to the COPD. “Sabi nya, bakit masama daw pakiramdam niya wala naman siyang lagnat? Ganyan.”
The singer-actress then revealed that what started as routine visits to the doctor became more frequent as the disease progressed.
“Isang beses sa isang taon nagpupunta siya sa ospital. Tapos naging dalawang beses sa isang taon. Hanggang naging tatlong beses. Tapos padalas na nang padalas,” she continued.
“Hanggang two and a half years ago, sinabi na sa amin ng doctor na stage 4 na siya ng COPD. Kinailangang kausapin ang lahat ng mga anak niya.”
Even as they had to deal with the already terminal nature of Dolphy’s illness, Zsa Zsa said it allowed the comedian’s children to set aside whatever personal differences they might have and come together as one family unit.
“Mula noon, naramdaman ko na isa kaming isang tunay na pamilya. Posible naman pala na kahit mga anak ni Dolphy na nanggaling sa iba-ibang mga nanay ay puwede naman kaming magkaisa. ‘Yan po ang naranasan namin,” she shared.
Dolphy has a total of 18 children by six different women, including actors Eric and Ronnie Quizon who alternately acted as family spokespersons during the Comedy King’s month-long confinement at the intensive care unit of the Makati Medical Center.
Zsa Zsa also expressed her heartfelt gratitude to the entire nation for all the prayers said during Dolphy’s struggle to overcome his illness.
She singled out the doctors, nurses, and orderlies who took turns in taking care of him, the many blood donors that helped keep his pneumonia at bay and “the numerous friends who visited daily to check on his condition and those who helped shoulder Dolphy’s medical condition.”
Zsa Zsa also gave special mention to the management of TV5 “who continued to give Dolphy his salary throughout the remainder of his life.
“Thank you for the respect you gave his name for honoring his contract despite knowing he could never tape again,” she tearfully said.
She also thanked ABS-CBN for taking care of Dolphy’s legacy and for taking a chance on the comedian in 1992 “para makabalik siya sa pinakakamamahal niyang telebisyon.”
Zsa Zsa also shared her recollections of Dolphy whom she fondly referred to as “lovey.”
“In loving the man, I came to accept all that came with him, his legacy, his personality when not in front of the camera and of course, his children. Hindi nagging madali ang lahat ng iyon pero he was worth it,” she admitted.
She then concluded her speech with an a capella rendition of Kenny Rogers’ “Through The Years” that moved the star-studded audience of mostly Kapamilya talents to tears anew.
A public viewing of Dolphy’s remains at the Dolphy Theater at the ABS-CBN compound followed the service at around 9PM.
Fans of the comedian gathered outside the audience entrance of ABS-CBN early Wednesday afternoon hours before the comedian’s remains arrived at the station.
Among them was Raniel Atendido, who worked as an extra on Dolphy’s ABS-CBN sitcom “Home Along Da Riles” and proudly showed his souvenir photos with the comedian.
On Thursday, it will be the turn of TV5 management, employees, and talents to pay homage to Dolphy at the Heritage Park. His remains will be open to public viewing on Friday and Saturday.