Lola Gely Lopez, the cosmopolitan grande dame



She was Lola Charing’s best friend.

They were both Pampangan girls from good, old families:  she was of Gutierrez David descent from Bacolor, my grandmother was of Arnedo descent from Sulipan, Apalit.  They had known each other in high school in the late 1910s but lost contact afterwards.  Their friendship was rekindled postwar after their spectacular marriages;  both had married very successful and immensely rich men.  As widows, they got together frequently to share their difficulties and sorrows, and their occasional joys and triumphs.

She visited with my grandmother at least twice a week.  They would sit together on the white-painted wrought iron chairs in the front porch and talk for about two hours.  There was always apple juice — expensive in those times — reserved in the refrigerator, for that was what she liked to drink.




Lola Gely [ pronounced “Helly” ] was Angelina Fajardo de Lopez [ nee Angelina Fajardo y Jacinto ].  Her parents were the famous Dr. Jacobo Fajardo of Bacolor, Pampanga and Manila and Antonia Jacinto of Malolos, Bulacan.  She married the landowner and industrialist Francisco “Pacoy” Lopez y Tongoy of the famous and wealthy Iloilo clan [ the Marcelo Lopez y Jalandoni and Julita Villanueva y Felipe branch ].  Their children were arts patroness and travel magnate Asuncion “Sony” Lopez-Gonzalez, financier and entrepreneur Teresita “Titchy” Lopez-Marquez Lim, and businessman and art collector Arturo “Macky” Lopez.




She was not the usual affluent dumpy lady.  She was slim.  She was, even in her sixties, a pretty lady with Chinese mestiza features.

As a child, I did not like her a lot.  It seemed difficult to be around her.  A child had to be bathed, dressed, combed, brushed, powdered, poufed and puffed before being presented to her!  I resented being disturbed and mangled by my “yaya” whenever Lola Gely came to visit Lola Charing and we grandchildren, cute and otherwise, had to make the required appearance to esteemed guests.

She was justly famous for her jewelry, which was of unstintingly high quality.  The only reason why my own Lola Charing, essentially an innocent provincial lady whose only diversion in life were her beloved roses, accumulated a decent collection of very good jewelry was because of the guidance of Lola Gely Lopez.  That same jewelry had miraculously survived the exigencies of the succeeding decades and is now with the Gonzalez-Arnedo granddaughters.

Even the Lopez ladies of her generation — Victoria “Vic” Lopez de Araneta, Lilia “Lil” Lopez de Jison, Pacita “Nitang” Moreno de Lopez, and Maria Salvacion “Mariquit” Javellana de Lopez — rich [ and richer ] as they were, marveled at Lola Gely’s magnificent jewelry, of which even they did not have much to compare.  Lilia remembered Lola Gely’s matrimonial bed entirely spread out with expensive jewelry during Lopez family visits.  Lola Gely’s daughters remembered that those were 16 sixteen “estuches” [ cases ], approximately 18 inches wide and 24 inches long, containing suites of serious, high quality Burmese ruby, Colombian emerald, Indian blue sapphire, and natural South Sea pearl jewelry.  Every suite was composed of dangling earrings, a Czarina-type necklace, a big, wide bracelet, and two rings [ one for each hand ].  Lola Gely always referred to her high quality Burmese Mogok rubies as “sangre de pichon” [ pigeonblood rubies ], and never merely “rubies.”  Those sixteen suites in “estuches” were casually wrapped in a big silk “bandana” and stored in a high shelf in Lola Gely’s elegant bathroom for easy access when family and friends were visiting.  They were her amusements:  her personal collection, certainly not for sale, and she liked showing them to visitors who appreciated fine jewelry.  However, her collection of high quality diamond jewelry, which included many large diamonds, the best collection in the Philippines at that time, were kept in various bank vaults.

Many of Manila’s better jewelers sold their best stocks to Lola Gely.  She received them at her desk in the anteroom of her second floor bedroom.  Among the frequent callers were Old Lady Carapiet, Ines Lugue-Sarmiento with her daughters Fe Sarmiento-Panlilio and Luz Sarmiento-Panlilio, and Elisa Salgado-Miranda with her daughter Erlinda “Liding” Miranda-Oledan.  Many years later, both Erlinda Miranda-Oledan and Fe Sarmiento-Panlilio proceeded to become bigtime jewelers in their own right, nationally and even internationally.

At a time [ late 1940s-50s ] when overseas air travel was only for the rich [ and not to work abroad as a domestic helper 😛 ], Lola Gely thought nothing of hopping to British Hong Kong for the weekend to buy silk dress materials and to have gemstones set into jewelry.  Because Lolo Pacoy was a shareholder of the Imperial Palace hotel, Lola Gely frequently occupied the presidential suite for a month while she indulged in her favorite pastime:  shopping for serious jewelry.

It’s easy to imagine her.  Do you remember the uberstylish Baroness Elsa Schrader played by the beautiful Eleanor Parker in “The Sound of Music”?  The chichi one who liked to put down the ingenuous Maria played by Julie Andrews?

It was only in my twenties, when I finally entered the affluent, elegant, and sophisticated world of my Pampango forebears, that I realized Lola Gely had that elusive quality known as High Style…!!!

She was fastidiously groomed.  Her flawless complexion glowed.  The fair skin, even in late age, was tight.  Her hair was full, black, and lustrous.  The eyebrows were deliberately contoured. Her nose was aquiline.  The intact teeth, so unusual for her generation, were white.  I never saw her perfectly manicured nails colored.  She had flawless, shapely legs visible through her stockings.  She had a feline elegance about her.

I realized that her dresses were usually made from beautiful and rare Swiss fabrics and had been meticulously cut to accentuate her slim figure.  The flattering silhouette hardly varied and certainly took inspiration from the 1930s couturier Mainbocher.  Even in the hopelessly tacky 1970s, she had irreproachable style!!!

I realized that she wore stylish French and Italian shoes, and that these were polished even on the instep which showed when she crossed her legs.

I realized that her hair was always coiffed, that even the rare occasional stray curls were deliberate.

I realized that she was always perfectly made up, with just the right amount, whether it was morning, afternoon, or evening.

I realized that her characteristically uncommon and expensive French perfume, probably top-of-the-line Guerlain, certainly not eau de toilette, was applied correctly and discreetly.  She did not reek of it like other ladies.  Instead, it wafted elegantly in the air, creating a beguiling atmosphere which announced her regal, gracious presence…

I realized that her fans, which she wielded with elegant dexterity, were French, Spanish, or Chinese and were of expensive ivory, mother-of-pearl, or inlaid black lacquer.

I realized that her bags were stylish and mostly expensive French or Italian ones.  The leather ones gleamed lustrously but discreetly.  I was told by my Mommy that all of Lola Gely’s bags contained a mirror, an expensive fan, a handkerchief of French lace, and French face powder.

I realized that her natural South Sea pearls were white, fully rounded in shape, lustrous, invariably set in white gold, and of a tasteful size appropriate to her ears.  She did not wear Mikimoto much less Majorica.  And she would be abhorred by the synthetic Chinese pearls so prevalent in the market today.  Her famous diamonds, worn in the evenings, set in geometric white gold or platinum, were of invariably high quality:  always white, always clear, always brilliant.  Although she possessed legendary parures [ suites ] of diamonds, pearls, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires, her personal style was elegantly disciplined and there were none of the flamboyant excesses of her contemporaries.

Western Style prides itself with the likes of Consuelo Vanderbilt, Mona Williams, Babe Paley, Gloria Guinness, Jackie Kennedy, and Princess Diana.

Filipino Style prides itself with the likes of Josefina “Pitang” Buyson-Eusebio, Consuelo “Chito” Madrigal-Vazquez-Collantes, Imelda “Meldy” Ongsiako-Cojuangco, Elvira Ledesma-Manahan, Maria “Baby” Araneta-Fores, and Imelda Romualdez-Marcos.


Lola Gely was right up there as far as High Style was concerned.  But contemporary style pundits do not know who she was because the grande dame was aristocratic, private, and even haughty.  She probably would not even have given them the time of day.

Goodness, the current generation of social and fashion aspirants have a lot to learn and a lot to spend!!!  That is, if they can!  😐




  1. November 29, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    […] has a story about why they were given a certain name. I was named Carmen because my Dad’s mom, Gely Lopez, had a bracelet that was given to her as payment during her jewelry business […]

  2. November 26, 2011 at 12:48 am

    […] the beginning she started out as my Dad’s yaya (nanny to Filipinos). My Dad’s mom thought she was not going to make it through child-birth because the time frame was World War 2 and […]

  3. November 26, 2011 at 12:46 am

    […] care of my kids.   My mom was always around, but she had a yaya to help take care of me.  My grandmother on my father’s side was a jeweler and my mom’s mother was a homemaker who had a yaya.   Having a nanny is not an unusual […]

  4. October 28, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    […] Rememberance of Things Gone Awry:  Toto Gonzalez speaks about Philippine society and life. […]

  5. August 6, 2011 at 11:48 am

    […] care of my kids.   My mom was always around, but she had a yaya to help take care of me.  My grandmother on my father’s side was a jeweler and my mom’s mother was a homemaker who had a yaya.   Having a nanny is not an unusual […]

  6. July 28, 2011 at 11:32 am

    […] the beginning she started out as my Dad’s yaya (nanny to Filipinos). My Dad’s mom thought she was not going to make it through child-birth because the time frame was World War 2 and […]

  7. alex r. castro said,

    October 7, 2010 at 12:26 am

    I am wondering if Dna. Julieta Hofilena Lopez is the same Julieta Lopez who reigned as Miss Iloilo in 1927?

  8. Marck Vyn Lopez said,

    September 30, 2010 at 3:45 am

    Hola! Lopez Clan!
    this is my honor to be part of our clan… God bless all!…

  9. bing_a_abad said,

    December 19, 2008 at 7:20 am

    what I heard was that the Apo’s only son – who is married to an Araneta (from the clan’s Negros branch) was actually a ‘star attraction’ during one of the family’s reunion during the 90s. Di ba the Apo’s younger daughter married this guy GA who is from the Iloilo branch of the same family?

  10. Zernalyn said,

    February 1, 2008 at 1:11 am

    That’s really sad about the bad blood between the Marcoses and a lot of the old Ilonggo families. A few years back, I recall we had a Lopez reunion when that was thoroughly discussed. But then, it’s always a case of grace under fire with Ilonggos.

  11. Gracie Dijkhuyzen said,

    November 14, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    I salute the Lopez clan for their honesty and humility. Imelda did belong to the poor relations of the Romualdezes, she was a nothing before, a probinsyana who acted like a Queen, so she thought! What a shame, a big lie and shame!

    From Pinoys in Europe.

  12. Gianna Lopez Gonzalez said,

    July 23, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    thank you for your beautiful tribute to lola gely. yes, she truly was a fabulous grand dame. as for her jewelry, i have to correct you on that matter, being one of the lopez-gonzalez grandchildren. the bulk of lola gely’s jewelry was stolen while she was on her deathbed at the hospital. when the lawyers and heirs opened the safe after her death, it was empty and the only other person who knew the combination of the safe was my ****** (she knows who she is). The few pieces my mother managed to purchase from my aunt (lola gely’s favorite in-law) are mere trinkets to the actual collections which were supposed to be passed on to my mother which, according to the will, were in the safe. Brother Andrew knew the details as I’m sure you do too.

  13. April 20, 2007 at 4:00 pm


    Thank you for finding your way here.

    Yes, we have heard of, and greatly admire, the work of Maricar “Micmic” Abello-Golez and her brother Emilio “Jay” Abello IV in educating the children of the sugar farmers. It is “noblesse oblige” and very commendable.

    Toto Gonzalez

  14. Allie said,

    April 20, 2007 at 3:44 am

    Hi! A friend sent me the link of your blog. Quite interesting. I had been reading it diligently almost every night. A name of a schoolmate came up. Micmic or Maricar Abello Golez, the granddaughter of the late Emilio Abello, the elder sister of Emilio Abello IV or Jay Abello. Yes Micmic was a schoolmate of mine way back at UP. I heard about her philanthropic activities. She’s always humble, not letting anyone know about her family background.

    Also the stories about *melda, what else can I say about her, the social climber.

  15. April 6, 2007 at 6:00 am


    The second to the last picture in this post was taken in the mid-1960s during the inauguration of the Bank of Asia along Dewey Boulevard, in the former residence of Alfonso Zobel designed by the eminent architect Andres Luna de San Pedro [ only son of nationalist painter Juan Luna y Novicio ].

    Initially, I could only identify Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, Joaquina “Quina” Arnedo-Ballesteros, Rosario “Charing” Arnedo-Gonzalez, and Angelina “Gely” Fajardo-Lopez.

    Bettina Araneta Teodoro has identified the lady in the Filipiniana terno dress in the front row as her maternal grandmother, Victoria “Vic” Lopez-Araneta.

    Regina Lopez Araneta, Mrs. Enrique Teodoro, has identified the remaining ladies as Juanita “Juaning” Javellana-Ledesma and Amparo “Amparing” Lopez-Pineda.

    Thus, the complete identification. Front row, left to right: Victoria Lopez-Araneta, Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, and Juanita Javellana-Ledesma. Back row, left to right: Joaquina Arnedo-Ballesteros, Rosario Arnedo-Gonzalez, Angelina Fajardo-Lopez, and Amparo Lopez-Pineda.

    Toto Gonzalez

  16. April 5, 2007 at 3:43 am

    My grandparents built Victoneta in 1933 (Andres Luna was one of the three architects) and it was destroyed during WWII. It was a lovely, lovely house, though of course I have only seen it in the pictures now kept by my mother. “Victoneta” is indeed a combination of “Victoria” and “Araneta”.

    We actually just celebrated Lola Vic’s centenary in Manila this past March. As part of the celebrations, I wrote a book about her life. It is in digital form (not printed). If you care to e-mail me, I can tell you how to access it. There are many old photos, including of Victoneta.

    Yes, Danielle is my first cousin.

  17. April 5, 2007 at 12:34 am


    Thank you for finding your way here.

    So that was Victoria Lopez de Araneta!!! [ Stupid me thought that the other lady in the “terno” was Helena Benitez 😛 ]. That picture was taken in the [ mid? ] 1960s during the “Inauguration of the Bank of Asia, Dewey Boulevard” in the former residence of Alfonso Zobel by the architect Andres Luna de San Pedro.

    Victoria Lopez y Ledesma was the wife of Salvador Araneta y Zaragoza. I was told by the elders that they lived in a beautiful villa called “Victoneta” along Shaw Boulevard before the war.

    I come across the name “Victoneta” every now and then. Is it a combination of “Victoria” and “Araneta” or is it your grandmother’s actual diminutive???

    Look for the post “‘La Naval de Manila’ at the Santo Domingo Church” through this blog’s search window. At the end of the post is a note pertaining to your Roxas-Zaragoza-Araneta antecedents. You might find it interesting. 🙂

    Small world. Another granddaughter of Salvador and Victoria Araneta, Danielle Araneta Santiago-Lizares, is my sister’s sister-in-law. She must be your first cousin. 🙂

    Toto Gonzalez

  18. April 4, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    Hello. I stumbled across your blog a few months ago and have been reading ever since. So entertaining — even though I don’t always know the people you’re talking about! So imagine my surprise and delight upon reading this post and seeing my late Lola Vic in the last picture. She is seated to Imelda M’s right. Her name is Victoria Lopez de Araneta. If I’m doing this correctly, she was the second cousin of Lola Gely’s husband (their fathers were first cousins).

  19. March 15, 2007 at 5:00 pm


    Thank you for finding your way here.

    Yes, the affluent Lopezes and the Ledesmas rank very high in the Iloilo [ and Manila ] social hierarchy. And yes, they are known to take care of their employees well.

    Hahah. I am often mistaken for an Ilonggo because of my nickname, “Toto.” However, I am a full-blooded Pampango, with the Rubensesque figure to prove it. 😛

    Toto Gonzalez

  20. ryan said,

    March 14, 2007 at 5:32 am

    i’m very interested in the stories about famous people being talked about here. i’m from iloilo and i can relate to some of the stories. not to mention my personal knowledge on some of the stories because of my family connections to these illustrious families (lopezes and ledesmas). some of my old men had been employed in the households of these families. and i can attest to their being good hearted.

    i have a question? toto gonzalez are you an ilonggo? (the name, toto, suggests)

  21. myles g. said,

    December 28, 2006 at 7:46 pm

    Let me clarify on the fabled Ening Lopez ruby wedding anniversary in January of either 1968 or 1969. The story goes that Macoy and missus were invited. However, cracks were already starting to show in their political partnership. (Remember, Imelda pulled that ‘weeping’ act before Ening after the Marcos-Romualdez team bagged the Nacionalista nomination, but it had cost them Php 10 million — a lot more than they anticipated; so they got the nod, but they were flat broke.) So who do they run to, to bankroll the upcoming campaign? Why Old Moneybags himself, Ening!

    Anyway, once they were in power, the Macoys wanted to flex their own wings and, ungrateful SOBs that they were, wanted to get out from under their ‘debt’ to the Lopezes. (Of course, during all this time there was the ‘earrings/salamat’, Mariquit incident.)

    So when old man Lopez was planning his big party, the Macoys were indeed invited — however, they saw fit to time their state visit to Thailand. The better to snub your financier. Sometimes, it hurts more to turn down an invitation. In effect you’re saying — well, your event isn’t all that important to me; so why should we, the highest person(s) in the land, grace it with our presence?

    And yes indeed, that was the setting of the fabled champagne fountain. However with the advent of those mini chocolate mail-order-and-internet fountains today — which bubble and fart like who-knows-what-geyser-field from Yellowstone National Park, that fountain doesn’t seem all that much.

    But more than that 40th anniversary party, which I’m sure was a lot better without the presence of that parvenu president, what really impressed about the Lopez wealth, pre-martial law, was that whenever Ening and retinue visited New York, he supposedly took up one whole, upper floor of the very discreet Pierre Hotel on Fifth Avenue. And this was before the sheiks of Araby kinda traveled on the same scale.

    However, Macoy and Imelda topped their old nemesis once more on their 1982 state visit to the US, on their stopover in New York, when they too take a floor and a half of the Waldorf-Astoria — and I know I was passing by the hotel when they were checking in — and I overheard one of the bellhops say — 82! The Marcos party had 82! (that numerology thing again of Macoy — 82 suitcases in 1982) pieces of luggage! Of course, all courtesy of the exceedingly thin pockets of Juan de la Cruz.

    Ah, the good old days! Where are those profligate, shameless dictators when you need them!!


  22. December 23, 2006 at 6:18 am


    Education is one of the greatest, noblest gifts one can give to somebody.

    What truly remarkable people.

    Toto Gonzalez


    December 23, 2006 at 2:18 am

    Eduardo Ledesma and his wife Nina Vargas Ledesma were very generous and helpful to their servants. My aunt was working with them for more than three decades as ‘yaya’, cook, mayordoma, etc.. My aunt’s younger sister finished HS and College because of their help. With the Ledesmas’ help, a chain of generosity blossoms even today: my aunt’s great grandchildren, nieces, and nephew still enjoy the fruits of their genuine love… the love to change the path of life. Their never ending love for Education. We owe these joys to my auntie Dedi and Pat with the help of EDUARDO AND NINA VARGAS LEDESMA. Thanks. jun

  24. October 29, 2006 at 5:05 am


    Thank you for finding the post interesting.

    The post was written as a recollection of the high personal style of Da Angelina Fajardo de Lopez “Lola Gely,” a very elegant lady whom I only appreciated years after her passing [ + 1978 ].

    I deliberately did not include Lolo Pacoy’s and Lola Gely’s charities, which were actually extensive, as befitting members of the affluent and philanthropic Lopez clan of Iloilo. That would be good material for another post. 🙂

    The Negrense hacenderos, despite their excesses, had the reputation of being more benevolent masters than their Central Luzon — the Bulaqueno, Pampangueno, Tarlaqueno, Pangasinense — peers. It is not surprising to know that the Ledesma of Silay provided free schooling for their farmers’ children.

    It is good to hear that Ms. Maricar Golez is continuing the philanthropic legacy of her Ledesma-Locsin grandparents with the Saint Francis of Assisi School in Silay city.

    Toto Gonzalez

  25. Lizbeth said,

    October 29, 2006 at 2:50 am

    What about philanthropy?
    Anyone knows about the hacenderos from Silay? The Ledesma who had provided free schooling for the farm people. It’s good to enjoy the good life. Vanity vanity after death what will happen while the legacy will live, one’s good deed will always be remembered.
    St Francis of Assisi School in Silay City under the management of Maricar Ledesma Abello Golez the legacy of her grandparents the late Edgardo Ledesma and Marietta Locsin Ledesma.

  26. September 24, 2006 at 5:57 pm


    Harvard-educated Eugenio “Ening” Lopez [ Sr. ] was very rich and he had the great style to go with it.

    He was not like the “muy agarrado,” “tacano” / “tacanissimo,” or “conchudo” / “conchudissimo” Spaniards — be they “peninsulares” or “insulares” — and Spanish mestizos — be they “alta sociedad” or “de entresuelo.”  He had that cosmopolitan panache and extravagance to boot.

    Eugenio “Ening” Lopez y Hofilena and Pacita “Nitang” Moreno y de Santos celebrated their ruby wedding anniversary in 1969 with a magnificent “fete galante.” It was one of the grandest parties ever held in Manila. My grandmother attended it.

    Among the many grand, even royal, guests was the young German-Hungarian Baron Hans Heinrich “Heini” Thyssen-Bornemisza, who gradually formed one of the world’s greatest art collections, now displayed at the “Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza” at the Palacio de Villahermosa in Madrid, Spain. There was also the Spanish Prince Alfonso de Borbon, who after the Lopez fete dated the very pretty aristocratic socialite Margarita “Maita” Favis Gomez.

    However, there are two versions, both credible, regarding the actual attendance of the President and Mrs. Marcos at the Eugenio Sr. & Pacita Lopez ruby wedding anniversary:

    According to the Lopez archives, despite ongoing serious political differences, Eugenio Lopez Sr. invited his onetime political protege President Ferdinand Marcos and First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos to the celebration. It was not true that the President and Mrs. Marcos were not invited. They were sent an invitation but they had declined because they were to leave on a state visit to Thailand that very day. They were NOT PRESENT at the celebration. However, the night before, on the eve of the celebration, the President & Mrs. Marcos visited with Eugenio & Pacita Lopez at their residence to greet them.

    However, the celebrated writer Gilda Cordero-Fernando, whose husband Atty. Marcelo Fernando was a MERALCO executive in the late 1960s, said that the President & Mrs. Marcos were ACTUALLY PRESENT during the Eugenio Sr. & Pacita Lopez ruby wedding anniversary in 1969. She wrote a fascinating and scintillating account of that celebration in an essay titled “The Last Full Moon” ( which was reprinted in full again in the book “Estilo Ilonggo” page 79 by V. R. Santos & R. Alejandro ). She recounted vividly how Eugenio Sr. & Pacita Lopez and how the President & Mrs. Marcos opened the dance in a pavilion where the roof opened to reveal a perfect full moon. “It was like challenging the gods.” she wrote.

    When pressed that her written version of the celebration was contradictory to the Lopez archives version, Gilda Cordero-Fernando asserted that she was present as a guest that very evening of the Eugenio Sr. & Pacita Lopez ruby wedding anniversary in 1969, as the wife of a MERALCO executive, and that she had seen the President & Mrs. Marcos dine and dance there with her own two eyes ( 20 September 2012 ). “Why would I lie? What would I gain?” she asked. “Go ask the surviving executives of MERALCO during that time ( the late 1960s ), they will tell you the same thing. We were all there, we all had the same experience.”

    When I asked the former First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos about the Eugenio Sr. & Pacita Lopez ruby wedding anniversary celebration in 1969, she replied simply: “I don’t remember anymore, hijo.” ( 22 January 2012 )

    Could it be that the Eugenio Lopezes simply expunged that historical factoid about the President & Mrs. Marcos having been present at the Eugenio Sr. & Pacita Lopez ruby wedding anniversary in 1969 because of their terrible experience with the Marcos dictatorship during the years 1972 – 1986, when they were completely stripped of their various assets in the hundreds of millions of USD dollars and immense financial, political, and social power? Possible.

    Yes, there was a champagne fountain. Of Murano glass. I saw it in 1990 at the Santa Ana shop of antique dealer Danny Luansing, slightly damaged and its storied provenance unappreciated. It is probably still there.

    True, the Lopez fortune fluctuates. But, as the family likes to say, it invariably rises from the ashes like the phoenix…

    Funny, but that sounds like the Marcoses and the Romualdezes as well… 😛 😛 😛

    Toto Gonzalez

  27. September 24, 2006 at 5:33 pm


    There have been several bank mergers and buyouts and I no longer keep track of which is which. We no longer have money here in the Philippines anyway. BPI Bank of the Philippine Islands acquired FEBTC Far East Bank. Equitable Bank acquired PCI Bank. I thought that the majority of PCI Bank was Gokongwei. Last I heard, BDO Banco de Oro was negotiating with Equitable PCI… Sorry, I don’t read the local newspapers or listen to the news. Useless. I read the New York, London, and Paris newspapers where it’s all really happening!

    Toto Gonzalez

  28. September 24, 2006 at 5:10 pm


    Atty. Estelito Mendoza is as influential as ever.

    Toto Gonzalez

  29. September 24, 2006 at 5:08 pm


    Ambassador Carlos “Charlie” J. Valdes owned several houses throughout the Philippines. His first cousins say that it was his overwhelming response to a childhood trauma.

    When he achieved wealth through his accounting practice, he invested in real estate and raw land all over the country.

    Ambassador Valdes’ seafront property in Zambales has been developed by Ayala Land.  It is now called the “Anvaya Cove” and is “an Ayala Leisure Community.”

    Years ago, I saw his baronial seafront spread in Bagac, Bataan, adjacent to the Montemar Beach Club.  Beside it was the seafront spread of international jeweler Fe Sarmiento Panlilio, whose eldest daughter Pamela Sarmiento Panlilio had married Ambassador Valdes’ eldest son Gabriel Abad Santos Valdes.

    He also had property in Balanga, Bataan which became a De La Salle School.  I was told that he had donated it to the De La Salle University System but I recently learned that his heirs are now contesting the donation.

    Toto Gonzalez

  30. sdcjsdpe said,

    September 23, 2006 at 7:06 am

    Yes. PCI Bank. The Lopezes and Gokongwei sold PCI Bank and the Go family swallowed the big bank. We closed the account. That was the last remaining bank, besides Metrobank at that time, that we knew would be “friendly” to us. That and we didn’t know if Ambassador Romualdez would keep his shares in PCI so we moved all our remaining funds out of PCI before all hell broke loose. Yes, Equitable was owned by the Gos… I think the SM Sy family headed by Tessie Sy-Coson owns it now…
    Yes, the Lopezes were rich. Very very wealthy, wealthier than the Aboitizes and did not care to hide it in the sidelines like Mercedes Zobel-McMicking and the Olbeses, Lanuzas, and Ortigases.
    The King and Queen of Belgium and other royals and aristocrats went to Manila for the ruby wedding anniversary of Don Ening and Dona Nitang Lopez… they had a Murano glass fountain flowing with champagne and an estimated net worth of USD $350 million dollars. That was early in the late sixties when Don Nandingwas the Vice-President. Nowadays, they’re still rich, but not frightfully rich. And thank God for their media network diversifying outside the country they are still wealthy. Public utilities do not do good business nowadays. The incumbent Macapagal likes to bully them out of MERALCO, just like how their water concession broke into pieces.
    I could never understand why the Lopezes started chastising Apo in the papers… that led to Marcos gunning the Lopez treasure chest down to nothing. Probably, they wanted to do something that Marcos was doing for himself. I dunno. Do you know?
    Sometimes I think because Marcos probably thought they did not have full control of the other part of Visayas. The Danieling Romualdezes were not as powerful as the Osmenas who controlled the heart of Visayas. The Romualdezes were respected, were educated, but not moneyed at that time. That, and definitely the sugar planters of Negros and Iloilo were too proud to fathom that President Marcos also won through his own efforts and not just using their co-sugar planter Vice-President Fernando Lopez’s and his brother Eugenio Lopez’s money.
    That, and Don Ening underestimated the First Lady and the President.
    The Lopezes have always been good at bashing people publicly in their newspapers and television stations and through Elizalde’s radios and stuff. They did not know that Marcos blood runs cold and quick. Silent. And strikes where it hits hard: family ( Geny’s imprisonment ) and money ( transfers of the Lopez conglomerate ).
    And with the “brochas” incident at Don Ening’s wake, that’s what my lolo said. Now for me to know if it’s an exaggeration or not I’m pretty sure the First Lady would be able to confirm. And oh! You mentioned Mrs. Glecy Tantoco! Can you ask her associates if the Tantocos still own that magnificent palazzo in Italy? Somewhere near Rome…
    The Madrigal sisters are still alive I see, although their brother Antonio just passed away recently.
    Do they still own Solidbank? Or did George Ty finally make an acceptable hefty offer?

  31. sdcjsdpe said,

    September 23, 2006 at 6:44 am

    Oh! And Atty Estelito Mendoza! That man with his cuban heels and impractically long limousine wedging its way in and out of Manila’s narrow’s streets. I wasn’t aware that he’s still alive!

  32. sdcjsdpe said,

    September 23, 2006 at 6:42 am

    Yes…you mentioned Carlos Valdes. Don’t they still own that big stretch of land in Zambales? I heard Ayala Land bought it, and is poised to make it into an oceanfront country club.

  33. September 21, 2006 at 7:08 pm


    You should comment on my post about our all-time favorite nasty man Dr. Eleuterio “Teyet” Montano Pascual.

    I absolutely adore the man!!!

    Toto Gonzalez

  34. September 21, 2006 at 6:58 pm


    Maria Salvacion “Mariquit” Javellana de Lopez. She was such a sweet lady.

    As a young man in the early 1920s, Fernando “Nanding” Lopez had courted my grandmother Rosario “Charing” Arnedo in Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga. According to him, he and his only brother Eugenio “Ening” Lopez often stayed weekends in Sulipan and enjoyed the hospitality of Governor Macario Arnedo. At the height of his courtship, “Nanding” would stay for several days every month in Sulipan convincing “Charing” to marry him.

    We still have the love letters he wrote to her during those years, some in amazingly quaint English.

    From the 1940s to the 1970s, “Nanding” Lopez and “Charing” Arnedo-Gonzalez would see each other at social gatherings. And he would tell her in full view of everybody: “I wanted to marry this lady.”

    One time, my grandmother, who was really an innocent provincial lass, shot back at her onetime suitor. After he said: “I wanted to marry this lady.” She smiled at Mariquit, discreetly waved her hand at his great friend a few meters away, and rejoined: “Good thing I didn’t. Then I would have to put up… with her!” Mariquit — always the proper lady — covered her mouth, stifled a laugh, and shook her head.

    Mariquit even withstood her role as part of Manila’s most famous and enduring “Three Musketeers”…

    As she used to tell friends: “We’re one big happy family!!!”

    Toto Gonzalez

  35. September 21, 2006 at 6:44 pm


    You have quite a story about the wake of Eugenio Lopez Sr..

    I was born on 02 January 1967.  Ferdinand Marcos was already President.  From birth to adolescence, I only heard of the Eugenio Lopezes in passing remarks from my Lola Charing, my parents, and my uncle, Brother Andrew.  To me, they seemed like long-vanished legends.  The family elders really could not believe how the family of Eugenio Lopez Sr., once incredibly rich and immensely powerful, had been crushed to the ground and banished to oblivion by President Ferdinand Marcos. 

    I clearly remember that the names most resonant during the Marcos era were, of course, Ferdinand Marcos and Imelda Romualdez Marcos, then Fabian C. Ver, Fidel V. Ramos, Juan Ponce Enrile, Benjamin “Kokoy” Romualdez, Cesar A. Virata, Geronimo Velasco, Jaime C. Laya, Consuelo “Chito” Madrigal-Collantes, Maria Luisa “Ising” Madrigal-Vazquez, Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr., Imelda Ongsiako-Cojuangco, Lucio Tan, Bienvenido and Gliceria Rustia-Tantoco, Ricardo Silverio, Nemesio Yabut, Erlinda Miranda-Oledan, Fe Sarmiento-Panlilio, et. al..  Because Philippine “society” essentially does not change, many of those names are still the ones most resonant these days.   😛   😛   😛 

    The next time I sit down with Madame Marcos at Teyet Pascual’s, I will ask her why, for history’s sake.

    Toto Gonzalez

  36. September 21, 2006 at 5:57 pm


    So your family transferred some accounts when Eugenio Lopez Jr. and his brother Manuel Lopez disagreed with John Gokongwei Jr. and they sold off the bank to the Go Pai Lan consortium. Was that “Equitable Bank”? I’m too young to know [ only 39 ]… 😛

    Old Go Kim Pah was an admired entrepreneur in the Chinese community. I knew his daughter, Carmen Go, from the early 1990s. We thought of going into some business in Hong Kong. We nicknamed her “Come And Go” because she continually hopped between Manila and Hong Kong as if she were just going from Makati to Binondo.

    Toto Gonzalez

  37. September 21, 2006 at 5:43 pm


    Your Lola must have remembered ancient Bacolor church [ from before 1991 ] when it still stood at its full height, with all its splendor and magnificence.

    And before 1991, Bacolor church, alone among Pampanga churches, had the most distinguished and the most elegant crowd during its annual fiesta celebrations of “La Naval de Bacolor.” The old aristocracy like the Alimurungs, the Buysons, the de Jesus, the de Leons, the Gutierrez Davids, the Jovens, the Panlilios, the Rodriguezes, the Valdeses; the achievers of national renown like Ambassador Carlos J. Valdes, Atty. Estelito Mendoza, international jeweler Fe S. Panlilio, et. al.; the very successful entrepreneurs like Gerry Rodriguez; and the next generation of determined aspirants were all present. One saw P-E-O-P-L-E in Bacolor.

    I feel like Talleyrand describing the “ancien regime” of France…

    Toto Gonzalez

  38. x said,

    September 21, 2006 at 1:25 pm

    Everybody’s related. Hah! I remember when we flew to Manila to move some accounts* we decided to take a short ride to Macabebe, Bacolor, San Fernando…

    Macabebe still has a sprinkling of old palacitos but the people have multiplied!!!!!!!

    Oh! And my lola cried when we saw the current state of the Bacolor Church…half-submerged in ash from the volcanic eruption years before….

    We stopped by San Fernando for the good longganisa and polvorones de casuy…

    *after Julieta’s grandnephews, Geny and Manolo, had a spat with John Gokongwei… they were forced to do a joint sale of the bank to the Go Pai Lan consortium.

    But going back to Rosemarie Arenas…

    Do you know what irked Geny and Chita more when Don Ening died in the 1970s?

    Because Imelda Marcos went to Don Ening’s wake. Not only did Kokoy force them to sell Meralco and Manila Chronicle to the Romualdez dummy corporations, the First Lady’s exacting revenge came when she attended the mass wearing the the brooches and earrings of Dona Julieta Lopez-Arenas… Rosemarie Arenas let her borrow them that early evening.

    The entire Lopez clan recognized the jewelry.

    Even Vice-President Lopez’s namesake and gay son was aghast.

    Lolo said the only person he regretted having witnessed such insult to injury was the meek and soft-spoken Mariquit Lopez.

  39. September 19, 2006 at 12:59 pm


    How could anyone forget Rosemarie “Baby” Bosch-Jimenez Arenas? She of the alabaster skin, the elegant jewelry, and the couture dresses. The single most powerful lady during the Fidel Ramos presidency…

    Yes, I know of Julieta Lopez de Arenas, the [ adoptive ] sister of Eugenio and Fernando Lopez. She is the grandmother of a friend, Julie Ledesma-Claparols, a daughter of Carlos “Charlie” Ledesma. I met Julie through her sister-in-law, Vicky Panlilio-Claparols. I am not at all surprised that Julieta possessed magnificent jewelry, given who she was.

    So you’re Capampangan too, and from Macabebe. That’s adjacent to our dear old Sulipan, in Apalit.

    I always knew that the Yabuts — despite the common misconception of being nouveau riche because of the Marcos associations — were an old family from Bacolor and Macabebe, Pampanga. We Gonzalezes and Escalers are descended from the Rodriguezes of Bacolor town and in the late 1800s, Jose Rodriguez y Bautista married Valentina Yabut y _____.

    Toto Gonzalez

  40. X said,

    September 19, 2006 at 5:34 am

    You should see the suites of Rosemarie Arenas. Considering she was a blue lady, her most prized jewelry were not the ones she bought in New York while escorting the First Lady.

    Her favorites, and her most expensive, are her late mother-in-law’s… Dona Julieta Lopez Arenas, Don Ening’s (of ABS-CBN/Meralco fame) and Don Nanding’s (the Vice-President’s) sister.

    Hi. I’m Capampangan too. From Macabebe. One of the numerous xxxxxxx of the prodigious Makati Mayor Nemesio Yabut, Imelda Ongsiako Cojuangco’s ex-balae (who was another blue lady).

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