MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines' undisputed Comedy King, Rodolfo 'Dolphy' Quizon, passed away shortly after 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, his family announced that evening.
"My Dad is now with his Creator," Dolphy's son, the actor-director Eric Quizon, said. The elder Quizon had been confined at the Makati Medical Center (MMC) since June 9. He would have turned 84 on July 25. Dolphy is survived by partner Zsa Zsa Padilla and his 18 children.
Just over a week ago, it was reported that Dolphy's health condition had improved considerably. In fact, Quizon said last June 29 that his father already wanted to go home. "Uwi, uwi na tayo [Let's go home]," the already lucid Dolphy mouthed to his family. The veteran actor even asked for orange juice, Quizon said.
A few days ago, Dolphy's family said that the veteran actor's pneumonia was under control. He had underwent another round of dialysis and blood transfusion to boost his immune system.
In its medical bulletin Tuesday night, the MMC said Dolphy died at 8:34 p.m. due to multiple organ failure, secondary to complications brought about by severe pneumonia, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and acute renal failure.
"We join the entire Filipino Community in praying for the soul of Mr. Quizon and his dearly beloved family and friends. To the Quizon Family, we extend our deepest condolences," the MMC said.
Dolphy's COPD - an illness that results in breathing difficulty and worsens over time - was diagnosed five years ago. According to Quizon, his father's COPD had progressed to Stage IV.
"Five years ago, sinabihan na siya na stage four 'yong sakit niya na 'yon. When you say stage four in cancer terms, very critical na 'yon," Quizon said in an interview with a television program last June 20.
Most people suffering from COPD are smokers or used to smoke. About 600 million people worldwide suffer from COPD, according to the World Health Organization. COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States, which has more than 12 million people diagnosed with the disease.
News of Dolphy's death trended on Twitter on Tuesday evening, as Filipinos from all over the world paid tribute to a man for whom their universal reverence was matchless. That his deteriorating health and ultimate passing held Filipinos riveted to social media over the past weeks spoke volumes about how Dolphy's impact on Philippine culture transcended generations.
His career started from the days of on-stage vaudeville to radio, the advent of television, the spread of movies, and finally the full blooming of the Internet.
As Dolphy grew weaker, clamor grew for President Aquino to confer upon him the title of National Artist. While there are questions as to whether or not that may yet be conferred posthumously, President Aquino did give recognition to the artist with the highest medal Malacanang can bestow upon a private citizen.
Dolphy - father to 18 children by different women - left behind enduring images of the struggling but ever hopeful, ever optimistic, Filipino father. On television he was best known to generations as John Puruntong or Kevin Cosme: simple, faithful, working class fathers who made ends meet, somehow providing for his children while disarming enemies and surmounting challenges with kindness and humor.