Dolphy and the Tale of the Prodigal Daughter


A Portrait of the Puruntong family

The year was 1991 (or was it 1992?).  Dolphy’s movie outfit decided to make a huge gamble by translating the hit sitcom John En Marsha to the big screen one last time.  The staff felt nervous about the film’s outcome.  It was a very difficult decision as two of the movie’s lead stars were both embroiled in that year’s biggest scandals.

Dolphy had just eloped with Zsa Zsa Padilla leaving the show without its lead star.  Maricel Soriano had already been replaced by then teen star Sheryl Cruz as Shirley Puruntong.  The Diamond Star went to marry Edu Manzano, Vilma Santos’ then ex-husband.  Maricel’s family and the rest of Philippines were so against the union, but she stood by her man.  Maricel chosed Edu over family, and this did not endear her to the masses.

But “John” and “Marsha” wanted the original Shirley for the movie.  They wanted an aggressive, spunky and street-smart Shirley and insisted on getting Maricel back to play their daughter.  Unfortunately, Marya was already on a self-imposed hibernation.  She made herself elusive and inaccessible to everyone including her family, but out of loyalty to her showbiz parents, Maricel accepted the role.

RVQ productions’ gamble paid off! The movie was a big hit and Dolphy and Maricel found their way back into the hearts of the masses.  Father and daughter found the time to reconnect.  The prodigal daughter found herself back in the arms of his loving father. Marya cried her soul out to Dolphy relating how much flak she had gotten from following her heart.  Dolphy found himself staring and listening to his daughter before finally shedding a tear and telling her that they are “on the same boat”.

In his autobiography,  “Dolphy: Hindi Ko Ito Narating Mag-Isa,” the Comedy King lovingly refers to Marya as “ang anak namin ni Nida (Blanca).”

Up until his death, father and daughter remained devoted to each other.

*as shared by Monang Carvajal of Filmbug.

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