Dolphy’s burial: The final goodbye

Natashya Gutierrez

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As Comedy King Dolphy is laid to rest, family and friends bid farewell to the man who encompassed compassion and kindness, laughter and love.

MANILA, Philippines – Private and peaceful.

The burial of Comedy King Rodolfo “Dolphy” Vera Quizon on Sunday, July 15, was reserved for friends and family, and was solemn, almost angelic.

It was a sea of white as guests donned the color of pearls to pay their respect to the man who made them laugh and who, in the words of Fr. Tito Caluag who officiated the final mass, was a source of light to all.

Tears flowed as loved ones said goodbye, but the end of Dolphy’s burial rites was exactly what he would’ve wanted it to be — cheerful, simple and light.

Compassion and kindness

The final mass for Dolphy started around 11 a.m., 5 days after his death, in the same Heritage Park chapel where his wake has been held, with over 200 relatives and friends present.

It was a solemn ceremony with a 20-person choir assisted by guitars, violins and flutes setting the mood. A Philippine flag stood next to his gold coffin which was closed in the beginning.

Photos of Dolphy and flowers from well-wishers that peppered the premises in previous days were noticeably missing as only a simple backdrop of white flowers against Dolphy’s gold coffin was left in the chapel.

Caluag delivered a brief, but powerful homily to commemorate Dolphy who he said was like “salt on the earth” referencing previous readings. Like salt, Dolphy, he said, made everything better.

He pointed out that in Dolphy’s days in the hospital, the common comments people made were about the comedian’s unparalleled compassion and kindness to those around him. Caluag said Dolphy had “fought the good fight” and “finished the race,” and deserved the throne waiting for him in Heaven.

Before the final blessing of the veteran actor’s body, his son Ronnie Quizon also took the microphone to reminisce about Sundays — the day when the family would come together to spend time with each other.

He broke into tears when he said he regretted the Sundays he missed, and realized that this time, it would be Dolphy missing.

After mass, relatives and friends were allowed to view Dolphy’s body one last time.

Friends, relatives await Dolphy's coffin on the path to his burial site with flowers at hand. Photo by Natashya Gutierrez

Final goodbye

White flowers lined the path of the chapel’s lobby towards Dolphy’s final resting place.

Visitors gathered along the path, to give time for family members to spend a few moments with their late patriarch.

Dolphy’s casket was carried out towards the burial site at around 1:45 pm.

GOODBYE. Relatives and friends carry Dolphy's coffin from the chapel, where the final service was heard, to the burial site. Photo by Natashya Gutierrez

Zsa Zsa Padilla, Dolphy’s partner for 23 years, was elegant in black, and led the pack, tailing her husband’s coffin. She faced the sun, stone-faced, clutching her daughters’ hands, the only one in ebony among the family.

His tomb, also in Heritage Park, was a short walk away from the chapel.

RESTING PLACE. It is bright and sunny on the day of Dolphy's burial at this site. Around 200 chairs surround the area where family and close friends bid him their final farewell.

Guests followed quietly with their black umbrellas as the casket was rolled to the burial spot where chairs awaited guests, and blown up photos of the movie star stood, waiting, next to flowers shaped in “D.”

The burial rites were quick and simple. The immediate family members were then called to bid farewell to Dolphy for the final time.

The parade to the coffin of his children was heartbreaking.

Dolphy’s children walked over to his body one by one, and took turns kissing the casket and whispering silent goodbyes through their tears. His son Vandolph, with ex-partner Alma Moreno, broke down upon kissing his father’s casket.

Zsa Zsa was the last to approach the coffin, still with her daughters in tow. Having carried a blank expression throughout, she wept silently as she took a last look at Dolphy.

After his casket was put inside the tomb, Zsa Zsa addressed the crowd before leaving, expressing her thanks.

And to Dolphy, “I love you, Lovey ko… until we meet again,” she said.

ZSA ZSA. Dolphy's partner for 23 years is the only one among the mourners donned in black. Most are in white. She clung tightly to Dolphy's coffin before it was shut and placed inside a black stoned crypt. "Thank you for joining us in taking Dolphy to his final resting place," an emotional Padilla told the crowd. "I love you my lovey. Until we meet again." Photo by Geric Cruz

Festive and fitting end

Towards the end of the service, the priest encouraged the crowd to smile and be joyful, just as what Dolphy would’ve wanted, he said.

An upbeat and hopeful “Seasons of Love” played in the background as confetti was thrown in the air, and doves were released to the sky.

Smiles spread across the attendees as they looked on at workers who sealed the tomb with hollow blocks and cement.

Zsa Zsa and the rest of the family did not wait until it was completely sealed.

They walked away and headed back to the chapel, and was soon followed by other visitors as the crowd thinned around 2:45 pm.

After visitors left, a few fans who had been waiting outside got the chance to visit the grave of their idol — a spot that will likely be visited by many over the years to come. –; Video by Adrian Portugal

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Natashya Gutierrez

Natashya is President of Rappler. Among the pioneers of Rappler, she is an award-winning multimedia journalist and was also former editor-in-chief of Vice News Asia-Pacific. Gutierrez was named one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders for 2023.