It’s good to know that Mang Dolphy is now safe. Something tells me that he still wanted to live long enough just in time to marry his long time partner Ms. ZsaZsa Padilla. The couple has been together far longer than some couples that I know of who’ve had the opportunity to have a church wedding that it would only be appropriate that they finally fulfill that lifelong dream.
And in this sense, I would share with you my thoughts on what turned out to be his most unique movie = his only collaboration that I could remember with the great Lino Brocka, “Ang Tatay Kong Nanay.” It hit a raw nerve among some openly gay friends about parenthood despite being out and out gay.
It is about Coring (played by Dolphy), an openly gay beautician who also inadvertently applies his talent as a makeup artist on himself via gay beauty pageants that parody the likes of Miss Universe. His choice of candidate whenever he gets to join is Miss Spain with matching European-inspired gown and cabbage rose (love the flirty fake eyelashes too). Life threw a curveball when his “friend”, Dennis (played by Philip Salvador) asked his help regarding parental care for his son (played by Nino Muhlach). He suddenly had to turn himself straight as if reminding himself that he need to be a good example to his adopted kid.
Just when you thought Coring is pretty secure with his identity and gender preference, you end up seeing him donning some “male” clothing and trying to act “fatherly” towards the boy in a mistaken notion that suppressing his gayness would help in his newfound parental duties. The moment you see some scenes that remind him this is an exercise in futility, you brace yourselves on your seat for the worst:
1. His aunt putting a headband on the young boy and trying to “dress” him = He scoffed at his aunt for doing that only for aunt to remind him that he found the same gesture before as cute. Could that be part of the reason why Coring turned gay because of some relatives who were disappointed that they got themselves a nephew instead of a niece?
2. Coring catching the boy toying with the makeup kit = His paranoia got him in and ended up spanking the lad due to the misconception that he’s teaching himself how to don makeup. It turned out that the kid just wanted to imitate the Native American Indian picture that he saw.
3. Some old friends that Coring doesn’t see eye-to-eye anymore show up at one place peppering him with questions on why the sudden “pa-mhin” look with matching little boy in tow. The more malicious gays among them even thought that the boy wasn’t a son but “a new toy”. It sounded so sick in the stomach, we can’t blame Coring if he snaps at the gays who said that.
4. The boy’s biological mother coming back to claim his son = This supposedly doesn’t have anything to do with him being gay but the wretched woman (played by Marissa Delgado) made it an issue when she knew that Coring was a gay beautician and he also participates in gay beauty pageants. That was a low blow, if you ask me. Then again, if Coring himself is suppressing his gayness, how safe would he be from such low blows?
That final aspect did him in. He made the boy hate him in order for the latter to finally go to his mother and regain the old happy and gay life that he used to enjoy. Or so he thought.
The curse that a comedian usually suffers from is that he/she isn’t often expected to churn out a credible dramatic performance. Dolphy is good/great in drama if given the right material and this movie is one of the few drama scripts I know of that he really turned out good. He can shift between drama and comedy seamlessly here. By now, a lot of other folks who have seen this film would say how they loved that scene at the Q&A portion of the Miss Universe pageant parody where he ended up pouring his heart out, getting teary-eyed at the risk of ruining his mascara at an era where mascaras aren’t smudge-proof yet and sharing how despite it all, he still knew who he is. Just when you get teary-eyed yourself, he ends his Q&A portion by belting out “Bakit ako mahihiya?” ala Didith Reyes. Chuckles and tears at the same time. Only you, Mang Dolphy.
Just when we thought we have become accustomed to see Dolphy in cross-dressing roles, we end up seeing him give the gay role a new spin via Ang Tatay Kong Nanay. It really helped a lot that the film was directed by Lino Brocka and written by Orlando Nadres, both who are openly gay and would know the agony of being gay in a judgmental society such as ours. The misconception about gays is that they are perennially happy and life revolves around their fluffy world and carnal desires. They have hopes and aspirations too. They are willing to embrace parenthood if the opportunity is given to them. It’s just that they have hesitations when it comes to “coming out” to their own children, be it adopted or biological. The hesitations and the difficulty of covering up are the points given emphasis in this movie. He is gay. He knew he is gay. Everyone in the community knew that he is gay. He could have had the sense that in one way or another, his adopted son would eventually know that. If he turned out to be a good provider and nurturer to the lad, he wouldn’t mind anymore whether the man who raised him is gay or not.
Catch some replays of this flick on Cinema One. It’s one of his most heart-warming flicks.