10 High Society Scandals That Rocked Manila
Headline-making "rich stories" with stranger plot twists that put telenovelas to shame.
The rich aren’t like you and me. Or are they? To those of us not born with silver spoons in our mouths, the world that the affluent and well-bred live in may seem surreal. We often imagine they have it way better than we
We’ve uncovered some much-publicized-not to mention disturbing-cases involving people whose lives seem, at first
So, if you’re into stories with stranger plot twists than telenovelas, devour away. You may not know these people, nor will you ever hang out with them-but maybe you could learn a thing or two from their travails.
A photo of Francisco "Paqui" Ortigas III (Screenshot from Interaksyon.com)
RED-HOT SOAP OPERA
The characters: Heiress Susana Madrigal Bayot, 63, and her husband, former Philippine ambassador to Mexico, Francisco "Paqui" Ortigas III, 65
The connections: Bayot and Ortigas are both from very influential clans with numerous and vast business holdings.
Opposing sides: Susana Madrigal Bayot vs. Francisco "Paqui" Ortigas III, who have been married for almost 44 years
Conflict points: In a sworn statement filed at the Office of the City Prosecutor in Pasig in January this year, Bayot said: "Paqui made Wilma (one of the dozen maids in the Ortigas house in North Greenhills) his ’sex slave’ and engaged in perverted and depraved acts right in our conjugal home, in our den, in the master’s bedroom and, worst of all, in the marital bed."
Bayot's testimony was backed by the sworn statements of five other household staff. She pointed out: "Perhaps exhibiting his utter moral depravity, Paqui did not even make any effort to hide his used condoms from the other maids." Bayot also alleged that one of the other maids saw Wilma performing oral sex on Ortigas while the two were inside a walk-in closet. Apparently, as Bayot intimated, Ortigas' dalliances with the household staff were a "common occurrence."
In a Manila Standard Today report, Bayot went as far as to say that Ortigas' indiscretions possibly "damaged" their son, Francisco IV ("Paco"). The report revealed: "Paco, according to his mother, made the mistake of confronting his father about the latter's affair with an employee of Concrete Aggregates, a sister company of the Ortigas and Company, where
Bayot explained in the Manila Standard Today report that "despite the father-son confrontation, Paqui still brought his mistress to the family's beach house in Calatagan." The report cited Bayot's statement that Paco "must have been visibly shaken [and] upset by the temerity of his father bringing the other woman to the family retreat that he set off in a huff on his jet ski." Bayot revealed that Paco’s jet ski "hit a shallow reef, flipped, and [ended up
On top of that, Bayot disclosed that her husband also had an affair with her Assumption College classmate, Ma. Antonia Legarda.
In another Manila Standard Today report, Bayot said that she had left their conjugal home in North Greenhills in July 2011 "to protect herself" from her husband, who she claimed subjected her to "insults, [his] foul temper, and baseless accusations." Back then, Ortigas allegedly prohibited Bayot from entering their conjugal home unless he was also in the house. He likewise prohibited her from getting her belongings.
Ortigas has not yet issued any formal statement in reaction to Bayot's accusations. The Philippine Daily Inquirer did publish a story about Ortigas on January 12 but, in it, he only said he was "trying to find peace" with himself and his loved ones. He referred to a "personal crisis" but the report emphasized that Ortigas "would neither confirm nor deny the concubinage and sexual perversion-related allegations" made by his wife.
The writer of the Philippine Daily Inquirer story, Jerry E. Esplanada, disclosed: "Last weekend (referring to January 7 and 8), Ortigas told this reporter he would issue shortly a statement in reaction to the article on the scandal that appeared on Page 1 of the Philippine Daily Inquirer on January 8. He later asked for more time, saying he was waiting for the recommendation from his team of lawyers ’if it's timely or necessary to answer, or if there's any reply to the newspaper article that needs to be done.’ On Tuesday afternoon (January 10), Ortigas called up to say he had been advised by his lawyers not to issue any statement or make any further comment on the issue."
Marivic Madrigal Vasquez’s glamorous life was the subject of this feature article (Screenshot from Philstar.com)
The characters: Marivic Madrigal Vazquez (a Madrigal clan heiress), Dr. Daniel Vazquez (her father), and Pacita "Baby" Cruz (described in reports as her father's friend and travel companion)
The connections: An article published in The Philippine Star
Opposing sides: Marivic Madrigal Vasquez vs. Dr. Daniel Vazquez and Pacita "Baby" Cruz
Conflict points: In June 2011, Manila Standard Today reported: "Marivic Madrigal Vasquez has been locked out of her Madrigal office building for nearly three months now by, of all people, her octogenarian father."
The report went on to reveal that "according to the grapevine," the father did it because "the daughter allegedly snubbed his friend and travel companion, Pacita ’Baby’ Cruz," when they ran into each other at the Urdaneta Apartments.
The report added: "It was not clear what exactly transpired between the father, a medical doctor who lately has been in and out of the hospital, and her free-spirited daughter that prompted the old man to allegedly order Marivic's office in the Ayala Avenue building shuttered."
The father-daughter tiff also affected investment banker Andrew Gan, who rented office space from Marivic.
The couple’s wedding photo accompanied the bad news. (Screenshot from Philstar.com)
THE LADY, THE HUBBY, AND THE PRAYER GROUP BUDDY
The characters: Mons Romulo (daughter of former Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo) Sander Tantoco (her husband) and Cita Revilla (her friend and prayer group buddy)
The connections: The Romulos are well-known in Philippine politics. Mons is the granddaughter of statesman Carlos P. Romulo. For their part, the Tantocos are
Opposing sides: Mons Romulo vs. Sander Romulo and Cita Revilla
Conflict points: In January 2011, Romulo bravely announced that her 21-year marriage to Tantoco was over. She cited his infidelity. She said she was also seeking an annulment.
A report published in The Philippine Star revealed: "For Mons, it was a double
However, the report said that the so-called relationship between Tantoco and Revilla "became more and more public, to the point that the truth could no longer be denied-or ignored."
In the same report, Romulo also revealed that Tantoco had an eight-year-old love child. The report did not say who the child's mother was.
A poster advertising the P5-million reward for Panlilio's capture. The money was raised by lawyer Carmencita de Castro, mother of the two men reportedly killed by Panlilio. (
THE JEWELER'S FUGITIVE SON
The characters: Jose Ma. "Bong" Panlilio, the son of celebrated jeweler Fe Panlilio, and brothers Albert Gutierrez and Ariel Real, who were car traders
The connections: Fe Panlilio was one of the grand dames of the country's pedigreed set and, at one point, she was identified as former First Lady Imelda Marcos' jeweler. Panlilio had European royalty, sultans, and sheiks as her clients.
Opposing sides: Bong Panlilio vs. lawyer Carmencita de Castro, the mother of Gutierrez and Real
Conflict points: According to an article published in The Philippine Star on June 12, 2010, "Court records showed that on the morning of July 15, 2003, Albert, who was a car trader, agreed to redeem Panlilio's Hyundai Starex van which was in hock for P250,000 in Laguna. The records stated that Gutierrez, 41, and Real, 38, withdrew the amount and met Panlilio somewhere in Makati City to go to Laguna, where the van will be redeemed. On the same day, De Castro said she received a text message from Ariel informing her that he and his brother, on board a Mitsubishi Pajero, were on their way to Laguna with Panlilio. That was the last time she heard from her children."
The report went on to reveal: "The (brothers’ bodies) were later found [dumped] in a grassy area in Barangay Makiling in Calamba. Their Pajero was found 120 meters away. Police said Panlilio allegedly shot the victims with a .9mm pistol. Gutierrez sustained five gunshot wounds while Real was hit eight times in different parts of the body. Panlilio also allegedly took the bag containing the money intended to redeem the Starex van."
Panlilio was on the run for almost seven years. In June 2010, he was finally captured in Bangkok and then taken back to the Philippines.
The gruesome murder of Federico "Rico" Delgado was featured in the Probe Profiles.
The characters: Luisito "Louie" Gonzalez, the grandson of late President Elpidio Quirino, and Federico "Rico" Delgado, his stepbrother
The connections: Gonzalez is the son of Vicky Quirino and Luis Gonzalez, a former Philippine ambassador to Spain. After Quirino was widowed she married Federico's father, Franciso ("Paco"), who is described in a 2008 Philippine Daily Inquirer report as a "shipping magnate." Gonzalez is the ex-husband of singer Kuh Ledesma.
Opposing sides: Gonzalez vs. the Delgados
Conflict points: Delgado was stabbed dead by intruders on March 10,
Pesico, who was badly beaten by the intruders but managed to escape, later claimed that two masked men murdered Delgado. She testified that the men had ended up taking off their masks. She alleged that the assailants turned out to be Gonzalez and his driver Antonio Buenaflor.
According to the 2008 Philippine Daily Inquirer report, the Delgados speculated that "the victim was killed because of documents in his possession that allegedly proved their father's assets were being siphoned off and sold one at a time by Gonzalez."
Gonzalez's camp, on the other hand, said that Gonzalez was actually confined in a hospital at the time of his stepbrother's murder. Gonzalez maintained that he was being "framed."
By 2009, Gonzalez was free. The court dismissed the murder raps against Gonzalez and his driver. Gonzalez's defense team had also questioned Pesico's credibility and labeled her statement as "inconsistent."
THE MOTHER OF ALL FAMILY FEUDS
The characters: Potenciano (the deceased patriarch), Erlinda (the matriarch), and their children Ma. Erlinda Ilusorio-Bildner, Maximo Ilusorio, Sylvia Ilusorio-Yap, Ramon Ilusorio, Marietta Ilusorio, and Shereen Ilusorio.
The connections: According to a 2008 Philippine Daily Inquirer report, the Ilusorio patriarch was a crony of the late President Ferdinand Marcos. At one point, he had a major stake in the country's first satellite company, the Philippine Overseas Telecommunications Co. (Philcomsat).
Opposing sides: The matriarch and three of her children (Ramon, Marietta, and Shereen) vs. Ma. Erlinda Ilusorio-Bildner, Maximo
Conflict points: The unbelievably vicious feud of the Ilusorio clan-known for their hold on the posh Baguio Country Club (among other things)-got publicized when the patriarch Potenciano's health reportedly started to take a turn for the worse sometime in 1999. He was said to have had Alzheimer's and some other ailments. At the time, his net worth was allegedly anywhere from P1 billion to P2 billion.
Erlinda accused her daughters Ma. Erlinda and Sylvia of "hiding" Potenciano. Erlinda claimed that they had spirited him away and made sure that she couldn't contact him. Ma. Erlinda, in turn, accused her mother of giving Potenciano an
Ma. Erlinda accused her brother Ramon of wanting to be the sole beneficiary of their father's estate. Potenciano died on June 28, 2001. He was 88. He was then under the care of Ma. Erlinda's camp.
After Potenciano died, Ma. Erlinda's camp presented a will that was said to be written by Potenciano on June 8, 1999. The said will "disinherited" Erlinda, Ramon, and Shereen for various unsavory reasons. (There was no mention of Marietta.)
Erlinda's camp then accused Ma. Erlinda's camp of "delaying medical attention for the patriarch." Erlinda's camp alleged that it was part of their plan so that they could "take control of Potenciano's assets."
According to the 2008 Philippine Daily Inquirer report, the Court of Appeals upheld the Department of Justice's decision to dismiss the parricide complaints the two Ilusorio factions had filed against each other.
And, take note, this is just the short version of this sad story.
What prompted Patricia Panlilio to use pepper spray on Neny Montinola? (Screenshot from PEP.ph)
The characters: Patricia Panlilio (daughter of jeweler Fe Panlilio), Neny Montinola (stockbroker from a prominent clan), and Ricardo Po, Jr. (a businessman and friend of both women)
The connections: Between the three of them-they have ample ties in business and the country's affluent set. A PEP.ph article noted: "Panlilio is separated from Philip Cu-Unjieng, an editor-at-large at ABS-CBN Publishing, although their marriage is yet to be annulled. She is now the girlfriend of Ricardo Po Jr., an industry player from one of the richest families
Opposing sides: Patricia Panlilio vs. Neny Montinola
Conflict points: PEP.ph published a report about an incident that happened at the now-defunct club, Embassy, on November 19, 2008. The report revealed: "Socialite Patricia Panlilio, a former model and the daughter of the late jeweler Fe Panlilio, allegedly used pepper spray to hurt stockbroker and fellow socialite Neny Montinola."
The incident happened in the wee hours of the morning (at around 2:30 a.m.), in the aftermath of the 40th birthday celebration of
There were witnesses who alleged that Panlilio was the one who attacked Montinola. Actresses Maricar de Mesa and Angelu de Leon, who
By December that year, PEP.ph reported that Panlilio and Montinola had made peace (in a manner of speaking). The report disclosed: "Originally, Montinola was all set to sue Panlilio, the woman she accuses of deliberately hurting her with a pepper spray at a birthday party that both had attended at the Embassy on November 18. Montinola has now dropped this legal option, following Panlilio’s offer to write a 'letter of apology.' This came at the end of two weeks of negotiations where only their lawyers ever sat down to meet."
PEP.ph noted that both Panlilio and Montinola refused to say anything more about the incident. The report also pointed out: "If they (Montinola and Panlilio) should have a common denominator that would be Ricardo Po, Jr., a young and wealthy businessman who has been, in his own words, 'a friend of Neny for fifteen years'.' and the boyfriend of Patricia 'for five years.'"
Did music help Gretchen Barretto get a "mellow perspective" when it came to Meldy Cojuangco?
The characters: Actress Gretchen Barretto, businessman Tonyboy Cojuangco (her partner), and Imelda "
The connections: Barretto is an actress who's very well-known in the entertainment industry. The Cojuangcos are one of the country's most affluent clans.
Opposing sides: Gretchen Barretto vs. Imelda Cojuangco
Conflict points: Ever since Gretchen and Tonyboy started their relationship, rumor had it that Meldy was against her son's choice of a partner. But it was not until Gretchen's interview with Tim Yap-which was published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer's October 2,
Gretchen slammed Meldy for not acknowledging her daughter, Dominique: "When Dominique was barely one year old, she came out again in the Inquirer. That was Mother’s Day, and she did it deliberately. They would ask, ’How many grandchildren do you have?’ She’ll name each one of them. And when it comes to Tony, she’ll say, ’With Tony, my grandchild is Patricia.’ It was only one name. So, of course, she was insinuating that she did not and will not accept Dominique--and with that statement, she insinuated other things as well."
She revealed that Meldy cooked up schemes in an attempt to break up her relationship with Tonyboy: "(
Gretchen likewise had a theory about what motivated Meldy to act the way she did: "I think she’s competing with Dominique for Tony’s attention. And it’s sad because she can keep on trying-but she’s not cute. My daughter is. I find it amazing how she continues to chant ’I don’t accept Gretchen, I don’t accept Dominique!’ Madali
Last but not least, Gretchen questioned Meldy's character: "First of all, she’s not the best example that the world can offer. Really, you know? She’s got legal cases to attend to-must I mention the legal cases? If my daughter finds out when she’s old enough, I can just almost hear what she’s gonna say. ’What a disgrace!’ She tries to act like a queen, dressed in white, jeweled up, dolled
By 2006, Gretchen was (understandably) more subdued when she revealed to The Philippine Star entertainment columnist Ricky Lo that she hand mended fences with Meldy. She said, "You know, I've never revealed it to the media but all's well between Tony and his mom, between me and Tony's mom, and between Dominique and Tony's mom. It's not important how we ironed things out. What matters is that everything is okay now,
This photo accompanied "Celebrity families join fun games in Pampanga," a 2009 article written by Maurice Arcache for The Philippine Daily Inquirer. (Screenshot from Inquirer.net)
The characters: Melissa Mercado Martel (daughter of actor Luis Gonzalez) and Robert "Roby" Puyat Martel (her husband, a businessman whose family owns-among other things-Harrison Plaza)
The connections: Despite being retired, Melissa's father Luis Gonzalez is still known in the country's entertainment circles. Roby's family is known in
Opposing sides: Melissa Mercado Martel vs. Roby Martel
Conflict points: In August 2003, Melissa was rushed to the hospital after she got shot in her own home. Initial reports alleged that she was apparently shot by Roby during an altercation.
A report published in The Philippine Star in 2004 documents what happened: "According to an executive summary released to the media by Melissa's lawyers, Roby Martel 'deliberately and with intent to kill, severely beat and shot' Melissa in their conjugal home on August 26, 2003."
The report went on to reveal that Melissa "was rushed to the Makati Medical Center and was confined in the intensive care unit for more than three weeks." Then, on December 3, 2003, "she was discharged after spending more than three months in the hospital." For the record, Roby said that Melissa got shot accidentally.
Melissa filed a frustrated parricide complaint against Roby on April 5,
On July 1, 2004,
We tried searching for more news updates about the case but came up empty.
The article by Douglas Thompson (Screenshot from DougieThompson.com)
The characters: Minnie Osmeña (granddaughter of former President Sergio Osmeña) and Dewi Sukarno (one of the wives of former Indonesian leader Sukarno)
The connections: Osmeña is from a politically well-connected clan. She is also the ex-wife of Carnation
Opposing sides: Minnie Osmeña vs. Dewi Sukarno
Conflict points: In the article, "It's high noon in Hicksville for the goddess of the Glitterati," Douglas Thompson wrote that in January 1992, there was an altercation between Osmeña and Sukarno at the Primavera Restaurant at the Aspen Club Lodge in (yes) Aspen, Colorado.
Thompson noted: "The lady
Sukarno had reportedly attacked Osmeña in the face with a wine glass, "leaving a gash that needed 37 stitches to repair." Thompson pointed out: "It was an extremely public happening. Ivana Trump was at the door when the ambulance from Aspen Valley Hospital screeched to a stop. Supermodel Elle Macpherson, Cornelia Guest, billionaire oilman David Koch, George Hamilton and Barbra Streisand were among the guests of the Austrian host of the private party, Prince Heinrich Han-
Thompson also provided the alleged "story" behind the Osmeña-Sukarno encounter: "It’s been widely reported that Madame Sukarno insists that Minnie Osmeña called her 'a whore.' The bad feeling between the two apparently began in the summer of 1991 when the two beauties were off Ibiza on the yacht of the Marquis de Campo-
The incident may have happened in Aspen, but people in Manila were certainly talking about it. It’s worth talking about for the star power of the witnesses alone.
It’s worth noting that in 1993, Sukarno, then 53 (going on 54, if the reports have her real age right), had her nude photos published in a book. In fact, the entire book contained her nude photos. The book was banned in Indonesia and is now considered a collector’s item. (Well, it depends on what kind of things you collect, of course.)
Art by Warren Espejo
Image credits (all screenshots): DougieThompson.com (Minnie Osmeña), The Epoch Times Online (Dewi Sukarno), Interaksyon.com (Paqui Ortigas), Philstar.com (Mons Romulo), PEP.ph (Tonyboy Cojuangco and Gretchen Barretto) Pinay