The one and only Dolphy

From the mid-1980s to the 1990s, my good friend Jo Panlilio ( Jose Maria Ricardo Yaptinchay-Abad Panlilio ) and I used to see Dolphy, the King of Comedy, having “merienda” with his friends, usually 2 to 3, during our weekly afternoon forays to “Za’s Cafe” at “Hizon’s” bakeshop in Ermita, usually after our jaunts to interior decorator Edgar Ramirez’s Aladdin’s cave of decorative delights on Remedios circle in Malate.  It was well-known that “Hizon’s” bakeshop was Dolphy’s favorite hangout.  And we couldn’t agree more.  During that time, the famous ”Lola Cecing” ( Inocencia Flores Hizon-Zamora originally of Mexico, Pampanga;  first married Carlos Ramos and then married Eduardo Zamora Sr. ) was still alive and held sway over her flourishing baking and restaurant business which served some of the best Kapampangan goodies and food in town.  We would see Lola Cecing busily supervising the kitchen operations through the glass panels which showed her immaculate kitchen. 

*unfinished ( there is a punch line to this )*


  1. Enrique Bustos said,

    August 26, 2012 at 7:11 am

    Dolphy, the foodie
    by AMY A. UY

    I could hardly fancy the late Comedy King, Dolphy, as a foodie. Seeing him in his movies in the 60s or way before he became known to the TV generation as John Puruntong or Kevin Cosme, he was stick thin and always played a “hikain” (asthmatic) in most of his roles. Thus, you can’t really imagine how he loved to eat, and partake of good food at that.

    Yet apparently, the Comedy King knew how to appreciate good food. Even in his late years, he was known to go all the way to his all-time favorite restaurant in the heart of downtown Manila for his comfort food.

    Hizon’s Cakes and Pastries of the buttery ensaymada fame was his go-to place not just for merienda where he would partake of his odd combo of ensaymada and pancit but also for a full meal that satisfied his cravings.

    The fluffy and buttery Hizon’s ensaymada.
    This was at Za’s Café, the adjacent coffee shop and restaurant serving savory meals like hamburgers, baked turkey, steaks and chops, and a number of traditional Spanish and Filipino dishes. Dolphy knew the menu forward and backward and called the servers by name.

    The early days

    Milagros Roasa, daughter of the late Lola Sesing or Inocencia Hizon-Ramos who founded Hizon’s with her twin sister Paz, now manages the restaurant and bakeshop along J. Bocobo Street in Malate.

    She recalls how the young Dolphy was a loyal customer way back when Hizon’s was still a small bakeshop located at 903 Calle Raon in Manila. This was Hizon’s original site in 1946, a stone’s throw away from the old Globe Theater where Dolphy performed as Golay in stage shows or bodabil (vaudeville) in the 1950s.

    The young Dolphy loved the famous ensaymada as well as the other pastries so much that he became friends with Lola Sesing, a widower who married an enterprising gentleman, Eduardo Zamora.

    Mr. Zamora was a trained cook who worked at the American Legion and at Hickock’s Soda Fountain on Escolta. It was his idea to expand the bakeshop into a restaurant where they could serve popular American diner fare, familiar staples as well as their delicious pies and special occasion cakes.

    The other reason he was always there

    The friendship between Dolphy and the restaurant owners was one forged by a love of food. As the comedian’s popularity grew, so did that of the restaurant’s. Dolphy and other celebrities, politicians and Manila’s elite became regulars at Hizon’s and Za’s.

    As the couple’s business thrived, they were able to build an apartel right beside the restaurant. Mrs. Roasa recalls that when they were first looking for tenants, Dolphy overheard them talking and asked if he could rent the entire fifth floor for the Quizon children.

    Apart from the good food, visiting his kids was the other reason why Dolphy was often seen in Hizon’s. Word even got around that he partly owned the famous bakeshop.

    The king’s favorites

    Hamburger steak
    As the years went by, his children eventually moved out of the apartel but Dolphy never left.

    He continued to dine at Za’s Café with his celebrity friends or his alalays (bodyguards) and feasted on the food he knew and loved: hamburger steak, braised ox tongue, and the baked turkey with the glazed camote which he adored.

    A favorite dessert was the chocolate cake that he would eat topped with ice cream.

    As for the ensaymadas, he would often give boxes of them to fellow actors who were close to him like Susan Roces, Nova Villa, Nida Blanca, Ramon Revilla, Maricel Soriano, among others.

    Even as the Comedy King’s health condition worsened, he frequented the place. Mrs. Roasa remembers that even before he became seriously ill, he would still come.

    She says, “Kahit naka-oxygen siya, dala niya ‘yon.”

    He had one of his last meals here when he was given a tribute by President Noynoy Aquino, another frequent diner at Hizon’s whose favorite is the cheeseburger. Perhaps, going there was his way of finding comfort in the familiar and clinging to fond memories of food shared with his friends there.

    Inside Za’s Cafe
    Indeed, the bakeshop, one of the few remaining old food establishments in Malate, continues to attract prominent figures. Regulars include Senators Loren Legarda and Miriam Defensor-Santiago and former government officials Freddie Webb, Oscar Orbos, among others. In fact, the late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo dropped in for a quick breakfast on August 15, on the week before his plane home to Naga crashed in Masbate.

    After Dolphy’s passing, it is business as usual at Hizon’s. The ensaymada is as they were served then at Calle Raon. It is as fluffy and buttery as ever, and its layers within are still soft and mala-bulak (cottony).

    But to adapt to the changing times and tastes of Filipino customers, the Spanish-style ensaymada is now available with its original cheddar cheese topping or the newer variant, with a generous sprinkling of queso de bola. Customers may also now order ensaymada warm and grilled to go with a delicious cup of thick, hot chocolate.

    Meanwhile, the savory dishes are still cooked in the same manner that the elder Zamora taught the restaurant’s staff way back when.

    And as for the pies, Mrs. Roasa continues to be the one to do the “timplada.” She says she never changed the recipes because the customers knew immediately if something was done differently to their favorite food.

    Baked Turkey with Glazed Camote, Green Beans and Cranberry
    Meals fit for a (comedy) king

    To honor their most famous customer and the Philippines’ well-loved comedy king, Hizon’s and Za’s Café is offering Dolphy’s favorites: Baked Turkey with Glazed Camote (P420), Braised Ox Tongue (P420), Hamburger Steak (P350) and the Chocolate Cake a la Mode (P160).

    Partaking of any of these dishes here could make one almost feel the presence of the late comedy king. I am certain that he is missed here by the staff and the owners.

    In having a taste of his kind of comfort food, one cannot help but see Dolphy as a lover not just of women but of good food and of life.

    Indeed, what Virginia Woolf wrote in her book “A Room of One’s Own” applies to him—“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”

    The Old Swiss Inn restaurant, a fixture in Manila’s dining scene, was a favorite watering hole of the late Comedy King Dolphy. Caroline Howard takes us to their Makati location for a sampling of uniquely European cuisine, and how they’re giving it a Filipino twist. Mornings@ANC, August 17, 2012

    Courtesy of

    What’s on the Menu?: Dolphy’s fave dishes at Chelsea
    (The Philippine Star)

    Fit for the King of Comedy: The chargrilled Angus beef burger at Chelsea

    Chelsea is offering the dishes that Dolphy loved, like the chargrilled Angus beef burger and prawn gambas in chorizo-parsley butter. Dolphy also liked the summer squash and goat cheese soup and Greek panko-crusted feta cheese salad, among others. Dolphy would usually cap his meal with Chelsea’s famed carrot and cream cheese mousse cake with caramelized walnuts and the much-loved cookie dough cheesecake, which was the cake he blew out the candle on during his last birthday.

  2. Francesca Eales said,

    August 6, 2012 at 5:12 am

    Hello, I found your blog while searching for information on my great grandma Virginia Najera Sancho-West-Osborne-Connaly-Bennett. I would just like to know if you have any other information on her such as where she’s from and who her parents are. I read some other comments about my late uncle Louie Dison West maybe he was in contact with you as well? Thank you for this blog and thanks for your time. Francesca

  3. Larry Leviste said,

    July 25, 2012 at 1:35 am

    My humble homage to the King of Comedy ( and Tragedy too ) published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer Sunday as he was buried.

    DOLPHY Had the Last LAUGH

    By Larry Leviste

    Mang Dolphy always had the last laugh when he played gay roles. Perhaps because he laughed at himself clad in outrageous women’s clothes, first and foremost. A shy smile, then a soft chuckle. He always played gays as soft-spoken, and with a moral compass pointing to integrity and optimism. Not a screaming faggot, but a proud gay man.

    Dolphy and I were directed by Lino Brocka in the movie “Ang Tatay Kong Nanay,” in 1978. He was turning 51 and I was 21, barely legal.

    I shot more than 20 scenes with Mang Dolphy, playing the fashion designer BFF (best friend forever) to his aging beautician, who takes care of a 5-year-old boy (child superstar Niño Mulach), left by his BF (Philip Salvador).

    This film would win him his only Famas and leave me with memories of a most gifted man, sensitively focused yet connected with a nation who laughed with him, at him, and now without him.

    But I digress; let me take you to our first shooting day, a basketball court in Sta. Ana, Manila, where sexy Soxy Topacio and I, clad in a Ramon Valera cocktail dress, are cavorting and soon getting into a hair-pulling altercation.

    Mang Dolphy, a dour dowager in a fully beaded Renee Salud, gets into the cat-fight and rescues me.

    Brocka yells “Cut!” I have lost my wig and my composure and everyone on the set is laughing, a good sign of things to come.

    The next setup is filmed in a taxi cab and the movie camera is mounted on the hood of the car. Soxy sits up front with the driver while Dolphy and I sit at the back.

    Brocka rehearses us and we start to drive around. I am arguing with Dolphy about his unrequited love for Philip Salvador and suddenly I flub my lines. There is silent pause, and quietly Mang Dolphy says, “Cut,” looks into my eyes, and when he senses we are ready, simply says, “Take two, action.”

    We finish the scene and drive back to the film crew to find Brocka smiling and satisfied.

    The next weeks were smooth-sailing with Orlando Nadres, Soxy and I filming what would be the blueprint of Hollywood’s “Three Men and a Baby” (which was really an adaptation from a French movie). Only then, we were “Three Gays and a Wonder Boy.”

    I was able to observe in silent fascination how Mang Dolphy blossomed into his character. Off camera, his then girlfriend Lotis Key sat quietly in a corner in a long Auggie Cordero dress, reading a paperback novel.

    Single parent

    In “Ang Tatay Kong Nanay,” the parlorista slowly becomes a father to the Niño Muhlach character, dressing and acting straight when he’s in front of him and urging his gay friends to restrain their flamboyance. The Niño character is only delighted with his gay uncles in the beauty salon.

    Dolphy’s character was the first single parent I encountered!

    I recall filming a scene with the great Inday Badiday where the Niño character goes missing and Dolphy’s character and his gay friend go looking for him.

    The high point of the movie was another “mujeran,” a gay beauty contest and fashion show in a basketball court. Ernest Santiago made my beautiful gown; I was svelte, tall and ready for action.

    The scene erupts with a shoot-out that sends the baklas to seek cover under the stage. It is here for the time that Niño, who has surreptitiously left home to catch the show, sees his “Tatay”—Dolphy in drag—dressed up like a “Nanay.”

    That’s how the movie ends, full acceptance from Niño that his father is gay. Sounds so “now,” doesn’t it?

    I didn’t see Mang Dolphy again for 15 years, nine of which I was self-exiled in Hollywood.

    When I came home, I chanced upon Mang Dophy one afternoon at Hizon’s Bake Shop. He quickly recognized me and said in mock gay manner, “Naku ang Miss Universe ko, bumigay na!”

    We laughed out loud and hugged each other like the gay BFFs we played once upon a time.

    That was the last time I saw Mang Dolphy. Last night I saw his casket on TV, I shed copious tears, then I recalled his playful smile turning into an impish grin. And I knew Mang Dolphy will always be with us.

  4. Enrique Bustos said,

    July 20, 2012 at 4:05 am

    Chow Buzz: Hizon’s—Dolphy’s favorite hangout revisited
    By Cyrene de la Rosa

    Chow Buzz pays tribute to the late King of Comedy by revisiting a familiar Malate haunt for a taste of some of Dolphy’s favorite treats.

    .It was well known among the regulars of Hizon’s Cakes and Pastries’ main branch, located at J. Bocobo corner Arquiza Streets in Ermita, that the popular bakeshop was Dolphy’s secret hangout. Dolphy was already patronizing the more than 65 years old establishment as early as 1959, the year that the bakery moved to J. Bocobo from its original Raon location. Later on, he started hanging out in the bakeshop’s café section—Za’s Café—which opened in the early 60’s. It was, according to many insiders, like a second home for Dolphy especially during the time one of his children was still living in the apartelle behind the bakeshop.

    To pay tribute to the late King of Comedy and fellow foodie, I asked the mostly male servers and waitstaff what Dolphy’s favorites were at Hizon’s so that I could try them, too.

    The list included must-orders like the Queso de Bola Ensaimada, which he always ordered grilled, and a cup of hot chocolate he always takes with it. Hizon’s tsokolate is a real good tablea version that is whisked into drinking consistency with the use of a batirol and contains just the right amount of peanut flavor in it.

    All the buttery and cheesy goodness are in Hizon’s grilled ensaimada.

    A merienda fit for the Comedy King includes grilled ensaimada and, of course, hot chocolate made from good tablea.

    Then, I was told that he always enjoyed his ensaimada and hot chocolate with pancit on the side. A pancit canton, as that is the only kind of pancit the café serves.Hizon’s pancit is so flavorful even Dolphy can’t resist having it ‘on the side.

    There are days that he will deviate from his usual treat and order a slice of chocolate cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side, though he really prefers it with mango ice cream that the restaurant most of the time will not have on hand.

    For a heavier meal, Dolphy will either order their Ox Tongue, Burger Steak, or a Burger Sandwich. When he was already too ill to come to the resto, he was regularly ordering tapa and freshly squeezed orange juice for delivery whenever possible or he will have food picked up when delivery is not available.

    Hizon’s spacious and clean interiors—it’s easy to understand why the Comedy King liked it here.

    The King of Comedy was obviously well loved in this place, even if most of the servers described him as a serious person. One of the younger servers shared that they will surely miss Dolphy especially this Christmas, as he never forgets them during the happiest time of the year.

    Chow Buzz recommends: On your next visit to Hizon’s Ermita Branch, try the café’s Grilled Quezo de Bola Ensaimada, Hot Chocolate, and a slice of its melt-in-the-mouth Mocha Chiffon Cake, with its light, buttery, mocha buttercream icing and caramel filling.

  5. Enrique Bustos said,

    July 17, 2012 at 6:21 am

    Mila Roasa daughter of the founder of Hizon’s/Za’s Cafe said in an interview she will honor the late Dolphy Quizon by naming the late comedian’s favorite dessert Chocolate ala Mode into Dolphy ala Mode.

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