|Vendors sell t-shirts, pins and other souvenirs with the image of Dolphy outside the Heritage Park in Taguig City. Fans have trooped to the memorial park during the public viewing to get a glimpse of their idol one last time. Photo by Fernando Sepe, Jr. for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA - Thousands of fans of the Philippines' comedy king walked by foot and lined up to pay their last respects to Dolphy at the Heritage Park in Taguig City on Friday.
As early as 8 a.m., Dolphy's fans lined up in time for the opening of the gates for the 7-hour public viewing that ended at 3 p.m.
People from all walks of life and from all places trooped to the memorial site of the Comedy King to see their "idol" before he is laid to rest on Sunday.
Some came all the way from Sultan Kudarat province in Mindanao.
Why they love Dolphy
Cousins Manigid Suharto and Aljo Pasawilan said they came over to Manila last week when they heard that the comedy king was in critical condition at the Makati Medical Center. They were about to leave Manila to go back to Sultan Kudarat, but postponed it after Dolphy died last Tuesday.
They said the best part of being a fan of Dolphy was, whenever they watched his movies, they would forget whatever problems they had. They said this was the impact of the comedy king on them.
They said there are millions of other fans of the comedy king in Mindanao who wish to pay their last respects to Dolphy, but are unable to do so due to the distance to the capital.
Another fan, Jose Gaco, came from Cavite to visit Dolphy in Taguig. He rendered a song and dance number for the comedy king while he was on his way to the entrance of the Heritage Park.
He sang the song "Handog" by Florante as a testament, he said, to his undying admiration for the actor who made the country laugh.
Not just an artist but a good citizen
Another long-time fan and female senior citizen, Aurora Ferael, said declaring July 13 as a National Day for Remembrance for her idol was just but appropriate since Dolphy is a national treasure worthy of the country's recognition.
She said Dolphy not only had a major contribution to the arts but was also humble and trustworthy.
She said Dolphy was different from today's comedians because his humor didn't have to be slapstick or toilet humor, but just honest-to-goodness creativity in making people laugh.
There were also group of kids, around 10 to 15 years old, who wore boy scouts uniforms, chanting "Comedy King Dolphy!" while they were walking towards the entrance of the Heritage Park.
They were only able to watch the ABS-CBN sitcom "Home Along Da Riles," where Dolphy starred for about 15 years, and yet, the comedy king already had a significant impact on them by making them laugh. Despite their young age, they still called Dolphy their "idol."
Aide from fans, more and more enterprising Filipinos are setting up their mini stores of souvenirs and memorabilias around the Heritage compound.
Among those being sold are t-shirts with Dolphy's face, umbrellas, pins, key chains, and even nail cutters and bottle openers with Dolphys face.
Most fans said there's nothing wrong with have Dolphy's face on such items since tehse would actually make them remember their idol more while they are doing their nails or drinking beer with friends.
For those planning to visit the national icon on Saturday, authorities warned about the hot weather. The Taguig Emergency Rescue Unit has already accounted for one patient, Lailene Vega, who almost collapsed early Friday due to extreme heat.
It is quite a long walk from the main gate of Heritage Park up to the chapel where the remains of Dolphy are kept.
The rescue teams from Taguig and Red Cross advised the public to bring umbrellas and water, plus anything else to make themselves cope with the heat.
Aside from the Taguig Rescue Unit and the Red Cross, manning the area are members from the PNP, Military Police of the Philippine Army, and the Traffic Management Office of Taguig to orchestrate an orderly movement of people as well vehicles coming in and out of heritage as well as for motorists who just passing through the C5 highway.
Authorities expect a heavier volume of fans to come the tomorrow since it's a Saturday and the last day before the burial on July 15.