Dely Atay-Atayan

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Dely Atay-Atayan
Adelaida Marquez Fernando-Villegas
Born Adelaida Fernando
(1914-03-17)March 17, 1914
Manila, Philippine Islands
Died August 30, 2004(2004-08-30) (aged 90)
Parañaque City, Philippines
Occupation Filipino comedian
Years active 1930–1994
Spouse(s) Andoy Balunbalunan
Catalino Ong

Dely Atay-Atayan, also Adelaida Fernando, (March 17, 1914 – August 30, 2004), born Adelaida Marquez Fernando-Villegas, was a Filipina comedian and singer. Her career in entertainment spanned seven decades, beginning in bodabil and ending in television.


Atay-Atayan was born in Tondo, Manila. One of her younger brothers, Ading Fernando, would grow up to be a prominent television comedian and director.[1]

Atay-Atayan had completed her second year in high school when she broke into showbusiness as a kundiman singer at the Palace Theater in Manila.[2] From 1930 to 1934, she toured with a bodabil troupe, billing herself as "The Queen of Laughs".[2] She made her film debut in 1940 with Lakambini, where she played opposite her husband, comedian Andoy Balunbalunan. After Balunbalunan's death, she married Catalino Ong.[1]


From 1940 until 1994, Atay-Atayan appeared in over 300 films.[2] She was also a popular comedian on radio, starring in programs such as Tangtarang-Tang. She formed a comedic quartet with Pugak, Lopito and Doro de los Ojos, calling themselves "Ancient Fox".[2]

Her most famous role was as Doña Delilah, the wealthy, imperious and disapproving mother-in-law of John Puruntong (Dolphy) in the RPN sitcom John En Marsha, which was created by her brother Ading and ran for seventeen years. Her portrayal proved as the definitive "mother-in-law" archetype in Filipino popular culture. Her famous tag-line, uttered without fail in every episode to John Puruntong, was a scathing admonition: "Magsumikap ka!" ("Try harder!"). She also popularized the Filipino catch-phrase "Hudas! Barabas! Hestas!" in this sitcom.

She had another famous role as the mother of Vic Ungassis (played by Vic Sotto) in a sitcom of Iskul Bukol (1977). Her character came from the town of Tiaong, Quezon and popularized the term of endearment "Bunsooyy!" for addressing Vic. The root word "bunso" is Tagalog for youngest child.

Her last movie was Chick Boys in 1994 following her retirement in 1995.

Illness, Retirement & Death[edit]

Atay-Atayan retired in the mid-1990s. She had been bedridden for two years prior, she died in August 2004 in Paranaque City.


  • 1940 -Lakambini [Cervantina Filipina Corp.]
  • 1940 -Gunita [Sampaguita]
  • 1940 -Nag-iisang Sangla [Lvn]
  • 1947 -Bakya mo Neneng [Premiere]
  • 1948 -Ang Anghel sa Lupa [Premiere]
  • 1948 -Wala na akong Iluha [Premiere]
  • 1948 -Itanong mo sa Bulaklak [Premiere]
  • 1948 -Bulaklak at Paruparo [Premiere]
  • 1948 -Maliit lamang ang Daigdig [Premiere]
  • 1949 -Kayumanggi [Premiere]
  • 1949 -Anak ng Panday [Premiere]
  • 1949 -Halik sa Bandila [Premiere]
  • 1949 -Kumander Sundang [Premiere]
  • 1949 -Kay Ganda ng Umaga [Premiere]
  • 1950 -48 Oras [Premiere]
  • 1950 -Tatlong Balaraw [Premiere]
  • 1950 -Kenkoy [Premiere]
  • 1951 -Bahay na Tisa [Premiere]
  • 1951 -Diego Silang [Premiere]
  • 1953 - Highway 54 [LGS]
  • 1953 -Kambal na Lihim [LGS]
  • 1953 -Tayo'y Mag-aliw [Premiere]
  • 1953 -Tampalasan [LGS]
  • 1954 -Selosong Balo [V]
  • 1956 -Mr. & Mrs. [People's]
  • 1957 -Bicol Express [Premiere]
  • 1957 -H-Line Gang [Premiere]
  • 1958 -Kilabot sa Sta. Barbara [Tamaraw Studios]
  • 1968 -Buhay bombero
  • 1969 -Pacifica Falaypay [RVQ Productions]
  • 1969 -Impasse
  • 1970 -With These Hands
  • 1972 -Love Pinoy Style w/Connie-Marie Hoffmann [RVQ Productions]
  • 1973 -John and Marsha [RVQ Productions]
  • 1976 -Magsikap: Kayod sa araw, kayod sa gabi
  • 1976 -John and Marsha 2 [RVQ Productions]
  • 1977 -Omeng Satanasia
  • 1977 -John and Marsha 3 [RVQ Productions]
  • 1977 -Silang mga mukhang pera
  • 1980 -John and Marsha 4 [RVQ Productions]
  • 1981 -Tropang bulilit
  • 1984 -Da Best of John & Marsha [RVQ Productions]
  • 1985 -Ride on Baby
  • 1985 -Kapag baboy ang inutang
  • 1985 -John and Marsha sa probinsya [RVQ Productions]
  • 1985 -Like Father, Like Son
  • 1988 -Baleleng at ang ginto sirena
  • 1988 -Haw Haw de Karabaw
  • 1989 -Everlasting Love
  • 1990 -Samson & Goliath [M-Zet Films]
  • 1991 -John and Marsha '91 [RVQ Productions]
  • 1994 -Chickboy [OctoArts Films]

TV series[edit]


  1. ^ a b Malou Maniquis; Lena Pareja (1994). "Philippine Film". In Nicanor Tiongson. CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art. VIII (1st ed.). Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines. pp. 204–205. ISBN 971-8546-31-6. 
  2. ^ a b c d Maniquis & Pareja, p. 205


External links[edit]