Transitions-A A +A
Saturday, July 21, 2012
LAST week saw two men of national prominence in their respective fields of endeavor make their personal transitions into immortality.
First, from the sporting world it was Robert Jaworski whose famous number “7” was finally retired by his last ball club never to be worn by any other player from hereon. Then it was the turn of Rodolfo Vera Quizon, a.k.a. Dolphy, to cross the Great River.
The other is a basketball legend- the “Big J” while the other is an icon of the entertainment world – the “King of Comedy.”
Jointly, these two men definitely touched the lives of countless Filipinos since the 1940s up the present.
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As a young kid learning the rudiments of sandlot basketball in the early 1970’s, I first got enamored with Robert Salazar Jaworski who was then playing for the Meralco Reddy Kilowatts in the now defunct Manila Industrial Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA) alongside Big Boy Reynoso, Jimmy Mariano, Larry Mumar, etc.
But in 1971 he and Big Boy Reynoso figured in a controversial mauling incident against the referees who officiated the championship game between Meralco and powerhouse Crispa Redmanizers led by Adrian Papa, Jr., Danny Florencio, Rudy Kutch, Johnny Revilla, etc.
The scandal wrought by the aftermath of that melee saw Sonny Jaworski and Big Boy Reynoso slapped with a lifetime ban by the Basketball Association of the Philippines.
A few years later, both of them were given a presidential reprieve and their cage careers were resurrected through the newly organized Komatsu Comets, later renamed Toyota Comets of the Silverio group.
On their inaugural season in the MICAA they won the championship against the Concepcion franchise led by Jimmy Mariano and Tembong Melencio. In the 1973 ABC, the Big J and Big Boy were vital cogs of the Philippine Team which won over the Shin Dong Pa-led team from South Korea.
When the Philippine Basketball Association was formed in 1975, Jaworski was instrumental in launching the league from its formative years into what it is now. From then on, there was no stopping the The Big J in dribbling towards cage immortality.
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If one grew up in the 1970’s and way up to the early 1980’s, he cannot deny the fact that the definitive TV sitcom of that era which touched countless homes in the entire country was “John & Marsha”starring Dolphy and Nida Blanca.
Those in their 50’s can proudly claim that we belong to the “John Purontong Generation.” The “purontong shorts” is a symbol of that epoch in television and remains a reminder of Dolphy’s contribution to Philippine society.
He was Fefita Fofonggay, Pacifica Palaypay, Carioca Etchos de Amerika, John Purontong, Kevin Cosme, and countless other characters by which he made the entire country laugh.
But amidst all the funny names by which Dolphy gave life to in the movies and on TV, there is one character name which was left out. And that is Ompong.
Time was when every boy in the country who was christened with the name “Rodolfo” had to bear the nickname “Ompong.” I remember that we had an officer during our NROTC days at La Salle by the name of Rodolfo Lapore. And his nickname? You guessed it – Ompong.
What’s in a name? Dolphy by any name is still Dolphy. And we thank him for the laughter he has wrought upon us.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 21, 2012.