I remembered that there was a mid-1980s New Wave band called “Siouxsie & the Banshees” who looked really interesting [ ask my friend from college days Cecile Zamora-van Straten a.k.a. "Chuvaness" ] and I thought an adaptation of it would make an interesting title for a social cataclysm of epic proportions that is now sweeping every social dinner table [ and otherwise ] from Forbes Park to Dasmarinas village, to the Bonifacio Global City to Ayala avenue, Urdaneta village, San Lorenzo, Bel-Air, Rockwell, Ayala Alabang, northwards to Corinthian Gardens, Wack-Wack, Greenhills, New Manila, Santa Mesa Heights, further to Ayala Heights and La Vista, on to Maria Luisa Park in Cebu, and down to Davao… Its impact on high social circles is akin to that of typhoon “Sendong” on Cagayan de Oro and Iligan.
“Lo cortes no quita lo valiente.” [ "Discretion is the better part of valor." ] I did not want to write about it in deference to the family members of both sides who are my friends, some of them close, some of them actually cousins of mine. But the nuclear explosion of “le scandale du jour” in the media has simply rendered polite silence irrelevant. The jawdropping exposes have left nothing even to the wildest imagination. It is fast threatening to become the Filipino equivalent of the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky affair. Polite Manila society is shocked, to put it mildly.
[ Despite my penchant for writing down the things of the past, I have never really been an inveterate gossip, coolly disinterested as I am in other people's lives. But because I live in a world where everybody knows everybody else, it is inevitable that talk passes --- much of it frighteningly accurate --- through me... every single day. ]
What makes the current fiasco very interesting is that all 3 of the protagonists are from Filipino [ or Spanish-Filipino ] “de buena familia” or “good families.” All three — Bayot-Madrigal, Ortigas, and Legarda — come from patrician families with solid wealth and long lineage. All three, it must be pointed out, come from eminently respectable families whose fortunes, albeit inherited, were the fruits of honest, hard work. Admittedly, their forebears also developed the political, financial, and social connections, but it was their unrelenting hard work that turned those disparate elements into the immense fortunes they eventually amassed.
Maria Susana “Susie” Madrigal Bayot is the daughter of Francisco Maria “Paquito” Bayot Bayot [ he was the son of paternal first cousins ] and of the heiress Josefina “Pinang” Paterno Madrigal. Pinang was the 3rd daughter of the tycoon Vicente Lopez Madrigal and his wife Susana Ramos Paterno, after whom Susie was named.
Vicente Lopez Madrigal was the richest, self-made Filipino who ever lived, his fortune at its prime — in prewar, 1939 — was authoritatively estimated at USD $ 1 billion [ USD $ 15 billion in current terms ] and was still bigger than those of other leading Filipino families of his time like the Elizalde, the Ynchausti, the Soriano, the Zobel, the Cojuangco, and the Lopez [ Iloilo ]. He was Croesus-rich, already megarich at a time when being a millionaire was already a singular distinction. Through the patriarch Vicente Madrigal, through his mother Macaria “Nena” Lopez who was a “hija natural” of Joaquin Pardo de Tavera [ before he married the heiress Gertrudis de Gorricho of Manila; Gertrudis was a sister of Juliana de Gorricho, who married Joaquin's elder brother Felix Pardo de Tavera; Juliana was the mother of Paz Gorricho Pardo de Tavera, who married the famous painter Juan Novicio Luna ], the family can trace itself to the Pardo de Tavera, an aristocratic Spanish-Portuguese family documented 600 years back to the 1400s.
Through their enterprising matriarch Susana Ramos Paterno, the family traces itself to the very rich, shipping Paterno of late 1800s fame all the way back to its 1700s progenitor Ming Mong Lo, an immigrant apothecary from China who sired a veritable business dynasty. True, as some quarters would claim, that Susana was not descended directly from the shipping tycoon Maximino “Memo” Molo Agustin Paterno of Santa Cruz, Manila; she was in fact a granddaughter of his youngest brother, Lucas Molo Agustin Paterno [ who married Regina Zamora, of another rich Manila family ], through his son Jose Tereso Zamora Paterno, who married Dolores Ramos of Pangil, Laguna. But family ties were close, and the young Susana spent extended periods in the homes of her rich Paterno aunts and uncles in Manila learning the aristocratic domestic arts of grace and elegance. And no one can argue that Susana Paterno de Madrigal became the richest Paterno descendant ever.
By dint of very hard work, exceptionally sharp business senses, and important political connections, the already very prosperous Vicente Madrigal and Susana Paterno became unimaginably rich by the 1930s — that when the little Gloria Vanderbilt custody case broke out in New York in 1934 between Gloria’s mother Gloria Morgan-Vanderbilt and her paternal aunt Gertrude Claypoole Vanderbilt-Whitney which involved a USD $ 5 million trust fund left by the child’s father Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt to which little Gloria was entitled to one-half — the seven Madrigal-Paterno children Macaria “Nena,” Maria Paz “Pacita,” Josefina “Pinang,” Antonio “Tony,” Jose “Belec,” “Consuelo “Chito,” and Maria Luisa “Ising” actually wondered what the fuss was all about: “All that trouble for just two and a half million dollars??? Peanuts…”
Josefina “Pinang” was the most beautiful among the Madrigal-Paterno daughters but she was reticent by nature and was the least visible socially among them [ she was also the first to pass away, from cancer, as she was a heavy smoker who could consume 3 packs a day ]; Maria Paz “Pacita” Madrigal-Warns-Gonzalez, Consuelo “Chito” Madrigal-Vazquez-Collantes and Maria Luisa “Ising” Madrigal-Vazquez were the social forerunners of the family. The Madrigal-Paterno daughters, in terms of “attitude” and staggering wealth [ not necessarily of beauty nor elegance ], were the Filipina equivalents of the exquisite Livanos sisters Eugenie Livanos-Niarchos and Athina Livanos-Onassis-Spencer Churchill-Niarchos of Greek shipping wealth [ At the height of his fortunes before his 1956 stroke, Vicente Madrigal of the Philippines was every inch as rich, or perhaps richer, as the Greek shipping tycoons; in fact, he knew many of them personally --- Embiricos, Goulandris, Kulukundis, Mavroleon --- because of the shipping business; he was on friendly terms with the young Aristotle Onassis ].
Francisco Ma. “Paquito” Bayot Bayot was a very handsome man, the best-looking among the 7 Madrigal-Paterno sons-in-law [ Juan "Johnny" Lichauco de Leon, husband of Macaria "Nena"; Herman Warns, first husband of Maria Paz "Pacita"; Atty. Gonzalo Walfrido Rafols Gonzalez, second husband of Maria Paz "Pacita"; Dr. Luis "Chichos" Earnshaw Vazquez, first husband of Consuelo "Chito"; Manuel "Manoling" Collantes, second husband of Consuelo "Chito"; Dr. Daniel "Danny" Earnshaw Vazquez, husband of Maria Luisa "Ising." ]
Needless to say, Susie inherited a very considerable fortune from her Madrigal mother and grandfather.
Josefina “Pinang” Madrigal-Bayot doted on the young Francisco “Paqui” Ortigas III. Not only was he an heir to a real estate fortune, he was handsome, charming, and a prominent Spanish mestizo to boot — a perfect match for her only daughter. He was everything that Pinang liked and wanted for her Susie, who was also coming into her own very considerable fortune [ bigger than Paqui's, according to some quarters ]. She was pleased that Paqui married her Susie.
Macaria “Nena” Madrigal-de Leon, the eldest of the Madrigal-Paterno siblings, constantly admonished the various Vicente Madrigal grandchildren: “It is equally easy to fall in love with someone rich and with someone poor. So make the right choice.”
When the first separation of a Vicente Madrigal grandchild from a spouse happened more than 3 decades ago, she was castigated repeatedly by her irate parents, aunts, and uncles. “It simply doesn’t happen, hija!” they protested in unison, to which she nonchalantly snapped: “Hey, it takes 2 to tango, OK???!!!”
Francisco “Paqui” Miranda Ortigas III is the son of Francisco “Paquito” Vargas Ortigas Jr. and the beautiful Remedios “Nenita” Mendoza Miranda. The elder Francisco “Paquito” Ortigas Jr. succeeded in transforming the family’s “Hacienda de Mandaloyon” into the Greenhills residential and commercial center. The GSC Greenhills Shopping Center is a highly-successful business model [ excellent "feng shui" / location being one of them ] which is studied intently by the executives of rival malls. Francisco “Paquito” Vargas Ortigas Jr. was the son of the very successful Atty. Francisco “Paco” Barcinas Ortigas Sr. and the philanthropist Julia Camus Vargas. Like all rich Filipino families, the Ortigas have been plagued by intrafamily wars and separations but their businesses have remained intact. Needless to say, Paqui inherited a considerable real estate fortune from his father.
The business links between the Madrigal and the Ortigas clans go back three generations to a business partnership “Ortigas, Madrigal y Cia., S. en C.” in 1920 between the clans’ progenitors Vicente Lopez Madrigal and Atty. Francisco “Paco” Barcinas Ortigas Sr. to buy the 4,033-hectare “Hacienda de Mandaloyon” of the Augustinians bordering San Juan, Pasig, and Diliman; Going back further, the young Vicente Madrigal and Francisco Ortigas [ Sr. ] were classmates in the 1890s at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran, along with Sergio Osmena, Manuel Quezon, and Francisco Imperial. All 5 classmates became very powerful men who influenced the destiny of the country.
Maria Antonia “Marian” Lobregat Legarda is the daughter of Jose “Pepito” Legarda and Rosario Lobregat. The Legarda trace their fortunes and lineage to the Tuason-Legarda-Prieto-Valdes clan. During the British invasion from 1762-64, the rich Sangley trader Son Tua organized and financed a battalion of 1,500 Chinese mestizos — “The Battalion of the Royal Prince” — to help the Spaniards repel the British and he was greatly rewarded by the King of Spain with a noble title in 1782 and a “mayorazgo” noble estate in 1794-95. Son Tua assumed the name Antonio Ma. Tuason. Antonio’s great great grandson, the 4th Lord of the Tuason estate, Jose Severo Patino Tuason married Teresa de la Paz of Mariquina; after Jose Severo’s early demise, Teresa married his cousin Benito Tuason Legarda. Regarded as the “Old Rich,” they are related by blood to practically all of Spanish mestizo Manila [ with the possible exception of the Zobel-Roxas, although there are ties by affinity ]. The Lobregat are a prominent Spanish mestizo family. Maria Antonia “Marian” Lobregat Legarda married Francisco “Paqui” Santamaria Campos and they have 2 sons.
The first time we heard about seeming problems between Susie and Paqui was many, many months ago [ 2 years? ] through Assumption alumnae friends, some of them in New York city… “Susie has been spending a lot of time in Bacolod with her friends like Stella, et. al.. They say she keeps on cooking and cooking. Is there anything wrong… could you please find out?”
But of course, there was no way to find out. Ging? Jamby? Tana? Jun? Lisa? Marivic? Bela, Miguel, and Bu had passed on. They were all “Lo cortes no quita lo valiente.” They were all discreet about family matters, more so about their dear cousin/sister.
And then, over lunches, dinners, meriendas, and even breakfasts; over arugula, black Perigord truffles, white Piedmont truffles, Gascony foie gras, Brittany and Tasmanian oysters, Alaskan king crabs, Japanese king prawns, lobsters, Chilean sea bass, Dover sole, Wagyu beef, Kobe beef, “Cochinillo,” the whispers grew louder and more frequent…
“Susie spends a lot of time in Bacolod with her friends because she likes the life there, it’s relaxed and easy. Nothing wrong with that.”
And then came the ambassadorial assignment to Mexico…
“Susie brought along Marian, her BFF. Marian Legarda, remember? Marian speaks excellent Spanish and will be an asset to Paqui. Susie and Paqui have Marian staying with them. It’s odd but Susie wants it that way…”
“Oh no, that’s another Henry, Viol, and Sylvia waiting to happen…”
“Just like Al, Paz, and Tita…”
“Is Marian still gap-toothed and kinky-haired? That’s how I remember her from school [ Assumption Convent ]…”
“Not only that, she used to be a tomboy, what we called a ‘marimacha’…”
“But Marian was attractive, she had that “it.” Many boys were after her! I remember that well.”
“Don’t forget that Marian left her first husband, Paqui C.. That’s fact.”
“Do you think there’s something wrong with our batch??? Sylvia, Marian, and Baby were our classmates… Who else is on the list???!!!”
“Don’t get the wrong impression, Marian is of very good family, “de buena familia.” Legarda. And through Legarda, Tuason. Do you think girls like Susie and Marian ever go with the “wrong” crowd? No!”
“Susie lent Marian a big sum USD $ so she could do business. Susie is really generous…”
“It was USD $XXX K and Marian repaid USD $ XXX K.”
“Who is feeding all that to Vic Agustin??? Susie??? Nooooo. Why would she???”
“If it’s Vic, it’s Honey. Common sense!”
And then the whole affair exploded before our eyes like nuclear fission…
“Shame and scandal in the family!!!”
“You saw the news? Susie’s finally at it!!!”
“Yes, Susie is on the warpath. She found her guts. Good for her!”
“T** N***** is ‘encarinada’ with Marian because she speaks fluent Spanish. She enjoys their conversations.”
“She told Susie: ‘Look at him… He’s happy now.’ “
“Because Marian is a smart cookie. She can discuss current events intelligently, what’s going on in the world now. Paqui enjoys that.”
“On the other hand, Susie is not ‘a woman of the world.’ Her wealth has kept her sheltered all her life. She knows about real estate properties and cash investments very well. Her real estate properties and cash investments, her cash investments and real estate properties… Now beyond that, I don’t know…”
“Among several things, Susie is hurt that the ‘Luntala’ townhouse carries the memory of her late son, Paquito.”
“What do N***** and M******** have to say??? Pobrecitas!!!”
“But what family values do these people have??? Susie brings out the dirty linen……. Paqui and Marian and the muchachas……. Que horror!!!”
“It’s not ‘very Madrigal’ for Susie, or for any of the cousins for that matter, to stay in the background and suffer. It’s not their style. With all their $$$ money, they’re born to dominate their partners. Simple as that.”
“At least, Paqui has had the good sense not to say anything, or at least say little.”
“Susie is surprisingly very calm about all this. She’s very sure of what she’s doing.”
“Susie and Paqui are both good friends of mine and it really upsets me to see them torn apart like this! They were the very picture of a happy family! All smiles and laughter. They were always together. They arrived at parties together, sat together, left together. How could it have possibly all been a show… for that long???”
“I don’t know what took Susie so long to do this… Paqui was constantly ‘talking down’ to her, embarrassing her needlessly, in front of other people, and even in the presence of her own family, J**, L***, and the others. She was an emotionally battered wife! The problem with a battered wife, with your self-esteem so low, is that you keep on trying to please the batterer, and the worst thing is that you keep on returning to him! The only way to solve the problem is to leave the batterer and get him out of your life completely. So I’m glad that Susie finally did it!”
“It’s not exactly true that Paqui’s and Susie’s Paco was riding a jet ski and that it crashed into a coral reef in Calatagan and he was killed ( There were 2 Bayot-Madrigal grandsons named “Francisco” and nicknamed “Paco”: Francisco “Paco” Bayot Ortigas & Francisco “Paco” Tinio Bayot ). Paco was actually playing “Chicken” with another friend on a jet ski and there was a collision and he was the unlucky one. C’mon, playing “Chicken” with jet skis??? That’s an invitation to an accident, bigtime!!!”
“How would you feel if you were Susie? She and Paco had an unpleasant exchange before the accident… Mother and son did not have the chance to resolve their issues. Paco sped up the jet ski because he was upset when he saw the helicopter approaching, knowing it was his dad and his ********. The bad thing was that Susie was in the kitchen at ‘Sonrisa’ cooking away and that it was Marian, of all people, who called her about the accident. If that’s not life-changing, I don’t know what is!”
“This is the gist of the problem: ‘I have my properties, you have your properties. I won’t touch your properties, so please do not touch mine. I am not even asking for alimony. My properties are for our children.’ Please sign this so we will be free of each other.’ “ Susie served the papers of separation to Paqui during his birthday last October 01. He refused to sign anything.”
“Susie is richer than Paqui, always was and always will be. Susie, like any well-invested Vicente Madrigal grandchild, is worth between USD XX – YY millions. The Os know that well.”
“Among them [ in the 'House of Madrigal' ], the ladies are admonished: ‘As long as he returns to the church [ which is you ], it is alright.’ Of course, their glamorous and maverick Tita Chito did not follow that [ well, you wouldn't either, if you were her... first she got a 'm******,' then a 'p******.' Que horror!!! ]… so why should Susie, or any of them for that matter???”
“Do you think that if Chito were alive… would she have allowed this to go out of hand like this? Wouldn’t she have shelled out good money to keep the media quiet?”
“No. Chito could be direct, confrontational, and very strong. She would have let this fiasco run its course…”
“To tell you the truth, Chito wanted Susie to leave Paqui years ago. Chito knew what was going on. But Susie was such a lady about the whole thing.”
“Because Susie really loved Paqui. There really was love in that marriage. But then, I guess the last straw was his going with her best friend Marian. You remember that scene in the movie ‘The Duchess’ when Georgiana Spencer [ Keira Knightley ] explodes at her husband William Cavendish [ Ralph Fiennes ] because of his affair with her best friend Elizabeth Foster [ Hayley Atwell ]? Just like that, I guess.”
“Interesting advice that Susie wrote on the ‘How to… ‘ for Bianca during the latter’s ‘despedida de soltera’: ‘Don’t be a doormat! Show him who’s Boss from Day 1 !’ That, when Chris is Susie’s Madrigal nephew, son of Susie’s first cousin Bu.”
“Even they don’t think it will last. Paqui is ‘tacano,’ ‘conchudo’ as Susie says… He will not spend for Marian, or spend for her that long. That old saying will hold true: ‘No money, no honey.’ Just wait and see.”
The Susie-Paqui KO has even become a current sexist issue: Women are for Susie, Men are for Paqui.
“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned / Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.” [ The Mourning Bride" by William Congreve, 1697; "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." is often attributed to William Shakespeare ]
As the grandes dames and grands seigneurs of old would declare: “Que barbaridad!!!” :O :O :O
The late American writer Dominick Dunne would have really liked this…