“Tay, may abogado ka na.”
This was a touching Instagram post early this year that moved thousands of netizens. The uploaded photo showed a lady taking an endearing selfie with a man she calls “’tay.” While those who might not have read her caption thoroughly would assume that he was her real dad, but in reality the man was a taho vendor on the university campus she had formed a close relationship with.
Lawyer Alex Castro fondly recalls that her Tatay Dong gave her the only jacket he had when it suddenly rained on the UP campus—a sort of fatherly assistance he generously bequeathed not only to her but also to all other “freshies” and students he encountered. And, if Tatay Dong or Romeo “Dingdong” Corpuz could become that “super tatay” to kids not his own, what more to his real kids he worked so hard for?
Admirable and hardworking father
MMK’s May 4 episode “Jacket” heartwarmingly showed how much he was indeed an admirable and hardworking father, more than the students he amused on campus would ever know. But he fulfilled his fatherly duties not without difficult life battles, but overcame them with a smile.
Tatay Dong (Empoy Marquez), who had been impoverished and unable to finish his studies, always worked hard to survive. After a series of misfortunes, Dong settled with selling taho in UP Diliman, wherein he formed a solid bond with students and academicians because of his wit and words of encouragement.
He would then meet a girl half his age, Cathy (Jennica Garcia), who was smitten with his sunny disposition and charming demeanor. They would fall in love and while their relationship would initially invite discord and enmity, especially from Cathy’s family, Dong would fight for their love and eventually earn their respect and acceptance, including Cathy’s daughter from a previous relationship Aurain (Heaven Peralejo). They would tie the knot and have their own children as well.
Being the family breadwinner was difficult for Dong, considering the meager earnings from his trade of vending street food. This is evident when their children get sick or when funds are needed for their schooling. But despite this, Dong would always find a way to make ends meet, all with a light-hearted disposition they all cherish.
Yet, as expenses pile up with their children entering the higher grades, Cathy decides to work in the Middle East as a domestic helper, which Dong initially despised as he initially saw it as an affront to his being the head of the family. Dong would eventually relent and understand, yet became emotionally and physically weak. It didn’t help that Aurain revealed she was pregnant with her boyfriend’s child, yet his fatherly love would make him accept it.
And, with the demands of his trade taking its toll on him, Dong would become afflicted with a lung disease. While doctors advised him to rest and stop working, Dong continued selling taho in the morning and balut at night, and a mishap wherein a motorcycle rider had hit his taho container spilling the contents on the streets discouraged him further. But Aurain and her half-sisters would always be there to show their unwavering love for their father, which strengthened him and even led to a complete healing of his lung disease.
Show of appreciation
As Dong went on with his daily grind all for his children’s benefit, a thankful Atty. Alex (Alyssa Muhlach) finally found him on the UP campus. She expressed her appreciation for being that “Tatay Dong” she cherishes with hearty conversations each morning, by giving her a new jacket that “replaces” the old jacket he gave her when she needed it, and taking that selfie that became viral.
The MMK episode “Jacket” was a commendable depiction of the tale of a beloved everyman who brings sunshine not only to his family but also to everyone he meets. Director Paco Sta. Maria gave the renowned “tatay” a worthy biography of sorts, with scenes quite faithful to his journeys, down to the last detail, including trips around UP’s Sunken Garden and University Avenue, where he actually traverses on foot.
Impressive acting performances
And, we are quite impressed with the acting performances of the cast, notably the returning Jennica Garcia with her deeply felt performance and Heaven Peralejo with her much improved thespic craft. But indeed, Empoy Marquez is a revelation and proves a long-held assertion that the best dramatic performances are made by comedians. His portrayal of Tatay Dong is impressive and moving, making any hardworking, responsible and reliable father relate with him.
Netizens were also astounded…