Actor Epy Quizon was 12 years old when he nearly killed himself. One day, he overheard is mother, Alice Smith, talking over the telephone. Recalling the
exasperation of his father, Dolphy, when he learned that she was pregnant with Epy, she quoted Dolphy as saying, “Ano? Buntis ka na naman (What? You’re pregnant again)?”
The younger Quizon was stunned and dejected. He almost shot himself with a gun, but couldn’t.
Instead he sulked and kept his distance from his father for a decade, refusing to communicate with him.
Then, at 22, Quizon joined the Days with the Lord retreat, and realized it was time to forgive.
This anecdote came out in Dolphy’s biography, “Hindi Ko Ito Narating Mag-isa,” by Bibeth Orteza. Quizon recalls that when he and his dad were interviewed on television, Dolphy said he never knew about that childhood trauma.
“We both cried and talked about it,” says Quizon.
Dolphy explained that with 18 children, he could not reject anyone.
“The lesson is, always make time with your loved ones. Don’t leave issues unresolved. [Otherwise] it’s going to be hard. Talk as early as now and do as many activities as you can together,” says Quizon at the launch of a multinational pharmaceutical company campaign, #maketimefordad.
The campaign aims to create awareness of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the Philippines.
COPD is caused by heavy smoking, passive smoking, cooking with charcoal and wood, and burning crops after a harvest.
Only two percent of Filipinos with COPD will consult a doctor.
It is a progressive ailment that permanently harms the lungs. It is characterized by emphysema, a chronic lung disease that ruins the air sacs, and chronic bronchitis, inflammation and scarring of the tubes that transmit air to the lungs.
The common symptoms are breathlessness, relentless smoker’s cough, and the need for oxygen to be able to move.
COPD is often taken for granted, mistaken for asthma or other lung diseases, and not remedied correctly.
Although it is incurable, it is a misconception that it is not treatable. Hence patients neglect remedies that could improve their health.
The treatments include inhalant drugs that open the airways and soothe the inflammation, antibiotics to combat infection, exercise and pulmonary rehabilitation.
Nikko Briguera, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) product manager, cites research showing there are four million reported cases of COPD, majority of whom are males over 40 years old. They are usually fathers who were smokers, from lower-income families.
“The families are not aware of this disease,” he says. “They think that the constant coughing or wheezing is a sign of aging. The body weakens and by the time they see a doctor, it’s already in an advanced stage. As part of the health care industry, we want to help by educating the public.”
GSK tapped brothers Eric and Epy Quizon to be the spokespersons for their father, comedy king Dolphy, who died of COPD. Last year, when Eric was interviewed by Inquirer Lifestyle on his dad’s battle with COPD, the article garnered 14,400 online shares.
This time, the campaign #maketimefordad goes emotional. It aims to develop more caring for the family.
Dolphy was a heavy smoker who quit in midlife. Still, the debilitating effects of smoking caught up with him in his later years. The younger Quizon recalls that seeing his father’s health deteriorate left an impact on him. Behind his larger-than-life personality, Dolphy was a fragile human being.
In June 2012, the day before his lungs collapsed, Dolphy had been in the hospital complaining that he couldn’t breathe. As he slept, the medical team surrounded his bed, looking for a vein to insert the intravenous therapy. When Dolphy woke up, he saw the faces of the doctors and nurses.
As his iPad started to play “La Vie en Rose,” Dolphy started to sing while trying to catch his breath. After his treatment, Dolphy asked for his inhalant. Quizon told him, “Dad, ang yabang mo. Hindi ka na makahinga, you are still performing.”
During the final moments, it was difficult for the children to talk to their father as he was intubated. He would lift his eyebrows and use his eyes to communicate.
Quizon comforted him: “Dad, please rest. We’ll take you home and you can go back to work.”
On July 10, 2013, the whole family gathered in Dolphy’s room, singing and dancing. “Nobody was allowed to cry,” says Quizon. Dolphy later passed away.
All told, their father’s ailment made the family more conscious of their lifestyle habits. Quizon also started smoking at a young age, but has quit. “I can go cold turkey in a day. You cough black phlegm. Suddenly you don’t like the smell and taste.”
It helps that his wife, Rosanna Escudero, a holistic health practitioner, prepares nutritious meals loaded with fruits and vegetables, green smoothies and superfoods. She also brews fresh herbal tea daily to detox and rejuvenate.
“I am more aware of spending time with my family. I’m even more conscious of health and what to inhale,” says Quizon.