MANILA, Philippines -- Over the six years that Dolphy battled chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, his partner for 23 years singer Zsa Zsa Padilla resolutely stood at his side.
|Zsa Zsa Padilla (middle) with her daughters with Dolphy, Nicole
(left) and Zia, during Wednesday's necrological service
Padilla's long-time best friend, actress-host Kris Aquino, told ABS-CBN News that it was not an easy journey for the singer, dubbed the country's "Divine Diva," especially as the veteran actor's health condition worsened.
"There were many days na kung kailangan lang ni Zsa Zsa huminga, manonoood kami ng sine kasama ng mga anak ko. Actually 'yung last was five days before ma-ospital si Tito Dolphy," Aquino said on Wednesday, after ABS-CBN's tribute to the film icon.
Dolphy was rushed to the Makati Medical Center on June 9 and was confined at the hospital's intensive care unit until his death last Tuesday.
Padilla also put on a strong front despite Dolphy's fluctuating health condition, especially in his presence, Aquino said.
But there were days when Padilla could not help but break down over her partner's ailing state.
"I would constantly text her and say, 'Kung kailangan mong may kausap pa, makikinig lang ako.' Ang dami naming conversations na nagkukulong siya sa banyo dahil ayaw niyang iparinig kay Tito Dolphy kung gaano kalungkot na siya," Aquino said.
At Dolphy's side
During the tribute program for the veteran actor on Wednesday, Padilla said Dolphy struggled with his illness for six years. In February 2012, the singer's unexpected breakdown during a press conference hinted at Dolphy's worsening condition.
Then in early June, Dolphy was rushed to the Makati Medical Center and since then, Padilla stayed beside the veteran actor.
Padilla's daughter from a previous relationship, singer-host Karylle, had said her mother had a bed at Dolphy's side throughout his confinement.
"My mom, she's been staying in the hospital, andu'n na 'yung kama niya. I'm just there for them. Ako minsan tagabili nila ng food, minsan kukulitin ko sila, 'Kain na tayo, tulog na,'" Karylle said in late June.
|Zsa Zsa Padilla sings "Through The Years" in memory of Dolphy
But their five-week stay at the hospital also allowed Padilla to forge stronger relationships with Dolphy's children from his previous relationships.
According to Aquino, Eric Quizon, Dolphy's son from a previous relationship, became closer to Padilla as they spent time at the film icon's side during his confinement.
"She and Eric said, the five weeks that they were in the hospital, made them a family. First time daw 'yun na nagkausap talaga nang masinsinan, nagkakilanlan, they got to know each other so well. Maybe that's why Tito Dolphy was able to go with peace in his heart," Aquino said.
Eric, along with siblings Ronaldo, Madonna and Jeffrey, are Dolphy’s children with Alice Smith.
Dolphy had his first six children with Engracita Dominguez -- Manuel, Salud, Rodolfo Jr., Wilfredo, Edgardo and Raul.
He also had four children with Gloria Smith -- Mariquita, Carlos, Geraldino and Edwin -- and one child with Evangeline Tagulao.
His eight-year relationship with actress Alma Moreno bore former child star Vandolph, while his relationship with Padilla had singer Zia and Nicole (adopted).
'Dolphy was worth it'
Despite the Comedy King's complicated family history, which was the subject of intrigues during his relationship with Padilla, the singer said it was all worth it.
"Posible naman pala na kahit ang mga anak ni Dolphy galing sa iba't ibang nanay, pwede naman palang magkaisa," Padilla said during Wednesday's tribute for Dolphy.
"Hindi naging madali pero he was worth it," she said.
Padilla not only tackled intrigues that came with being Dolphy's partner, but also the reality of his worsening health.
"My admiration for her as a friend and as a woman, hindi mo masusukat," Aquino said. "Lahat tayo pinagdarasal natin na sana, sa pagtanda natin, may magmamahal at maga-alaga sa atin the way that she cared for him."
"Through The Years," the song Padilla dedicated to Dolphy during his necrological service and tribute on Wednesday, reflected her strong, decades-long partnership with the film icon, Aquino said.
"Siya 'yung namili ng kanta. Sinabi niya na 'yung line daw doon, 'And I'm so glad I stayed right here with you,' I think lahat tayo doon tayo talaga naiyak, kasi naramdaman natin 'yung pagmamahal, 'yung devotion, and 'yung sincerity nung pagmamahal," Aquino said.