In a casual tete-a-tete, it seems that film director Jett Espiritu would never tire of talking about Dolphy. Understandably so because Direk Jett had directed 18 Dolphy movies, which he emphasizes, “hindi lang kumita, tumabo talaga sa takilya.”
Dancing Master was Direk Jett’s first directorial job for Dolphy. “Para kay Ulysses Tzan yun. Kaso nagustuhan ni Dolphy kaya ayun.” That first project with Dolphy was serendipitous with the subplots.
“Buhos ang ulan kasi may bagyo nung first day,” relates Direk Jett admitting that the rain somehow doused his expectations. But before lunch time, he got an unexpected call from Dolphy, asking him to meet the Comedy King in a hotel.
Over a sumptuous lunch, Dolphy handed him a bonus of 10,000 pesos. “Pinipilahan daw ang pelikula namin kahit may bagyo.” That bonus was half of his talent fee as a director. The movie ran for 2 months in the theaters, including the provincial run.
The luck may be brought about the Dolphy’s religiosity. “Kung first day ng pelikula bukas, sisimbahan namin yung last na misa mamayang gabi.” They frequent Baclaran church but sometimes they go to Quiapo.
For some intimate details about Dolphy, Direk Jett discloses that Dolphy is very fond of women, drinks and massage. “Lagi yang may cognac sa kotse,” Direk Jett spells courvoisier which costs a lot.
Jett Espiritu flanked by Director William Mayo at left and Vic Belaro at right
“Pagdating sa babae, may code yan. Halimbawa yung nanay ni Eric, ang tawag namin Almendras. Para hindi bulgar kahit may makarinig.” Although a womanizer, Dolphy has high regard for women so he tries hard to keep things secret.
“Hindi marunong manligaw yan,” Direk Jett continues. “Yung alalay niya ang manliligaw para sa kanya. Syempre bubusugin muna ng regalo,” Direk Jett smiles at Dolphy’s corny style of courtship.
Dolphy also loves fine dining. “Pag walang project, magtatawag yan ng tao. Minsan sa Manila Hotel pa nga.” Over food and drinks, they try to elicit an idea that’s worthy of a movie project. Aside from the director, also present were other members of the crew.
Amid the good working relationship, sometimes Dolphy would be complaining to his director. “Aba, hindi ako si Ramon Zamora. Hindi ako action star,” to point out to Direk Jett the uncomfortable fast pacing of the shooting.
To his close friends, Dolphy calls them Jeg. “Si Panchito, Ading, Teroy, Bayani, pati ako. Jeg ang tawagan namin. Kahit sa sulat yun din.” It’s understandable that Dolphy was distraught when his friends passed away one by one.
Direk Jett Espiritu in a chat with the author
For an advice, Direk Jett highlights the importance of the movie’s title. “Kasi yang title ang hahatak sa mga manonood. Kung baga sa giyera, yan ang nasa frontline.” The title may be controversial but it should always be meaningful or symbolic.
Although there is no clear-cut formula for a blockbuster movie, Direk Jett attributes a movie’s success primarily to the cast. “Iba kasi pag sikat ang bida. Kaya nga hindi kumikita ang mga digital (indie) kasi hindi kilala ang casting.”
With the technology, Direk Jett thanks his stint with TV. “Video kasi ang tv kaya hindi naman ako ignorante ngayon sa digital.” He had directed Coney Reyes On Camera which was produced by Eddie Ilarde.
“Nagkaproblema kasi si Jose Miranda Cruz kaya ako ang ipinalit.” cameraman Mario Oligan was surprised at Direk Jett’s style. “Wala akong hawak na script pero kabisado ko. Eh kasi pinag-aralan ko talaga.”
In his retirement, the blockbuster director spends his time cooking for his small carinderia. “Nalilibang na rin ako dito. Kasi pag wala akong ginagawa, mainitin daw ang ulo,” Direk Jett echoes his wife’s sentiment who is a teacher by profession.
In fairness to Direk Jett, his wife was his childhood sweetheart. And one condition before their wedding was that he would regularly go to hear mass with her. And that he did not smoke but he drinks occasionally.
ADPM vice president Dante Kabigting with Direk Jett Espiritu during the Director’s Workshop in Matabungkay, Batangas
In closing, Direk Jett realizes that it’s been a long time since the last time he had seen his idol. “Matagal na rin. Pero alam mo, tuwing magkikita kami niyan (Dolphy) laging may abot na pera sa akin yan.”
In the entire movie industry, there never was a time when anyone had doubted the genuine generosity of Dolphy. And Dolphy sees to it that no press release was given to his charitable deeds. That may be the secret of his longevity.
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