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DOLPHY AND PANCHITO: DURABLE COMIC DUO
by Ricardo F. Lo
(Published in The Weekly Nation, June 24, 1968)
CASTOR and Pollux, the twins in Greek mythology who were hatched from a single egg by Leda, Zeus's mistress who could transform herself into a goose at her will, have their counterparts in local show business -- Dolphy and Panchito.
Dolphy and Panchito are the most durable comedy team hereabouts. They have been splitting people's sides for the last two decades.
The duo has introduced a new type of comedy with the songs with which they open their weekly tv and radio shows. Panchito dishes out the lyrics of a song in English and Dolphy translates them precariously into the vernacular. Their murdered song versions never fail to bring down the house in a pandemonium of laughter. To this, and the fresh humor they themselves cook up each week, could be credited the enormous popularity of their tv show, Buhay-Artista, which was filmed last year by Dolphy's own movie company, RVQ Productions. The initials RVQ stand for Dolphy's real monicker, Rodolfo Vera Quizon.
For nearly two decades now the funny pair has been blithely deflecting people away from their cares and worries. Their popularity is continously on the rise. In fact, they are the only comedians who have managed to stay secured on top and endure and survive the test of time and changing tastes.
What is the secret of their durability? The knack for making people laugh, which can be a herculean task considering the fact that provoking laughter isn't just anybody's meat.
Dolphy and Panchito click together and complement each other so well physically and in other aspects. They are masters at sundry kinds of humor -- high or low.
They poke fun at sacred cows as well as any likely target, and they do so in good taste because of an air of innocence that defines their jokes. They even rib each other on their phusical defects, thus Panchito comes to be known as "B____y" because of his chubbiness and Dolphy, "Hika," because of his frail appearance.
"Being family men we closely adhere to clean fun. We would never permit ourselves to dabble in dirty, malignant jokes," the duo explains their type of fun.
The tandem came into existence purely by accident, or more aptly by trial and error.
Sometime in the early 1950's, Sampaguita Pictures made Larry Alcala's popular comic serial, Kalabog En Bosyo, into a movie. At the outset, Dolphy was decided upon to portray the ominous-scheming Kalabog. But a problem with regards to assigning the role of Bosyo cropped up since no fat comedian was around at that time. So, from the ranks of the Gilmore Studio's character actors one was picked out to essay the role: Panchito.
The humorous film was a big hit. And to dispel doubts that its enormous boxoffice success wasn't just a fluke, the Sampaguita bigwigs cast the newly discovered hee-haw team in a succession of films: Kandidatong Pulpol, Si Lucio At Si Miguel, etc. Again, all their pictures together got the same enthusiastic and warm response.
So Panchito bade goodbye to serious acting. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Panchito since it was really in comic portrayals that his star gained enviable luster. As a character actor, Panchito earned a FAMAS nomination for the Best Supporting Actor for his sensitive interpretation of a lonely soldier in Korea.
On the other hand, Dolphy started his show business career as a dancer on the stage. Pancho Magalona introduced him to Doc Perez, who immediately gave him a big break in Jack En Jill. Dolphy was then typecast in biniboy roles. He has had his taste of serious acting only lately, in Like Father, Like Son.
Before their teamup, every now and then, Dolphy's and Panchito's paths would cross. In one picture, Panchito played the role of a cranky Don while Dolphy was an erring houseboy in his employ. In another, Pakiusap, Dolphy portrayed a country bumpkin who was forever getting in Panchito's way thus thwarting the latter's desire to press his suit on his "crush" (Amalia Fuentes) who happens to be Dolphy's senorita.
More Than Friendship
The camaraderie binding the two transcends more than friendly and business relationship; they are like real brothers in private life. So, when Dolphy ventured into production he never failed to include Panchito in his pictures. The latter, in turn, first consults the former whenever offers from independent companies come his way. It goes without saying that RVQ has priority over Panchito's services.
Dolphy's movie outfit, barely two years old, is fast becoming famous and prestigious. Well-acquainted with the ins and outs of production due to years of experience, Dolphy is meticulous about choosing the cast, the crew, the story for his productions. All of RVQ's output have been veritable top grossers as a result.
There is a great challenge in being a producer, says Dolphy. "For one thing, you really do your best to put up a good show to deserve the confidence the public has reposed on you. And besides, you also take into consideration the time and effort, not to mention finance, that go into every picture."
Incidentally, the sturdy popularity of Dolphy and Panchito is attributed by many to the fact that not only do the two know how to make people laugh, they likewise are expert in fancy footwork and singing.
Laughter is an integral part of life and Dolphy and Panchito, a healthy source of it, are here to stay.