Sarrat, Ilocos Norte, 1983

I visited Sarrat, Ilocos Norte again in 1991.  By that time, the 18th-19th century Santa Monica church was already being reconstructed after its destruction by a strong earthquake in the mid-1980s.  Although my scholarly friends astutely observed that the reconstruction of the facade no longer captured the baroque architectural details of the original, I thought that the rebuilding was still a worthwhile heroic effort.  Inside, long wooden beams supported the new roof, and the church interior was still impressive with a severe elegance that reminded me of the personal style of the Duquesa de Lerma which the Spanish master of couture Cristobal Balenciaga so admired…

The Santa Monica church and convent in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte had to be one of the most beautifully located church complexes in the Philippines.  To the right of the church was a picturesque, wide sandy river, flanked by thousands of swaying, tall, graceful trees.  The church complex itself was planted with many trees and flowering shrubs.  The town was quiet, and when we were there during mid-afternoon, all we could hear were the whispers of the breezes and the rustling of the leaves.  We all concurred that it was a very beautiful, almost enchanted place…

The place had such high style potential that I comically thought:  “How elegant… Wouldn’t “Sarrat” sound so chic in French???  As in “Marat”???”

While my scholarly friends observed, criticized, evaluated, discussed, and debated the merits of the church reconstruction, I quietly stood at the narthex, gazed at the really long nave, and stared at the main altar flanked by the two preceding, slightly protruding side altars…

In my mind, it was 11 June 1983, and it was the wedding of Irene Romualdez Marcos to Gregorio Benitez Araneta…

In justice to the bride Irene Romualdez Marcos, what she really wanted was a small, private wedding with only the Araneta and the Marcos families and their close friends in attendance.  It was her mother, the First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, who wanted a superproduction on the scale of the British royal weddings.  It was also thought that President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos gave his reluctant assent to the superproduction because it pleased him immensely that the wedding would be held in his mother’s [ Josefa Edralin-Marcos ], “Nana Sepa’s,” quiet hometown of Sarrat, Ilocos Norte.

Important antique dealers Severina “Viring” de Asis and Maria Cristina “Kit” Ongpin-Roxas trucked in stocks of antique and reproduction furniture and decorations — virtual “rolling stores” of antiques — all the way north to Sarrat town in audacious bids to furnish the instant “bahay na bato” ancestral houses of the Marcos and the Edralin clans.  They were successful and their stocks were “sold out” before the 11 June wedding.

Dr. Eleuterio “Teyet” Pascual, who oversaw the preparations at the church and at the reception, recounted to us how, upon “instructions,” he directed the whitewashing of Luis Ma. Araneta’s 24 18th and 19th century wooden torcheres ( and some reproductions ) with their precious patinated polychromy, which were to decorate the main altar.  Luis Ma. Araneta — an arts and antiques connoisseur and collector with the most discriminating tastes comparable to the great Parisian collectors Arturo Lopez-Willshaw, Antenor Patino, and Jose Espirito Santo — became terribly upset with the “vandalism” of his antique torcheres.  ( Many years later, Irene Marcos-Araneta sent her father-in-law Luis Ma. Araneta’s ruined torcheres one by one to the esteemed, Italy-trained, trompe l’oeil artiste Liliane “Tats” Rejante-Manahan who was able to carefully strip the offending white paint of Dr. Pascual and restore their precious antique pink and blue polychromy. )

Luis Ma. Araneta was an arts and antiques connoisseur with highly discriminating tastes, a most elegant bon vivant, a gentleman of the old school, and a patrician of the highest level.  He was the father of the groom and he knew very well that, according to Filipino tradition, it was his obligation to undertake all the expenses for the wedding.  His son was marrying a daughter of the extremely powerful Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos.  He knew that the Marcoses were superrich and could pay effortlessly for everything, or even have everything for free by force, but his noblesse oblige prevailed.  He was an Araneta de R. Hidalgo after all, a member of one of Manila’s most prominent families, and nothing less was expected of him.

The eminent artists Salvador Bernal and Monino Duque of the CCP the Cultural Center of the Philippines were tasked to head the production design of the whole affair.

The entire stock of colonial Filipino costumes at the CCP was brought to Sarrat to dress its excited townsfolk.  There was a directive that the people would have to be dressed in “turn of the century Filipino costume” if they would walk the town streets on the day of the wedding, so as not to ruin the colonial ambience so carefully executed.

The First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos ordered Sarrat town’s main road to “bloom” with white, pink, and red bougainvilleas.  In the weeks prior to the wedding, the willing and excited schoolteachers of Sarrat were kept busy crafting old-style crepe paper bougainvillea flowers which were later attached to the actual bougainvillea plants lining the road.  The effect was pretty and charming and impressed the wedding guests from Manila and abroad who thought they were all real flowers.   

Mother and daughter, the First Lady and the bride, differed on the flowers for the 3 principal altars of the church.  The bride, always the sensible daughter of an Ilocano father, had planned to use traditional paper flowers made of Japanese crepe paper, a traditional Filipino craft from the 1800s.  But the First Lady absolutely would not hear of it:  only fresh, imported, and expensive flowers would do.  In the wee hours of the morning on the very day of the wedding, a large shipment of beautiful flowers from Hawaii arrived at the church.  The First Lady won.  

Large and magnificent fresh floral arrangements were frozen in great blocks of ice and installed every few meters on the side aisles along with electric fans.  Apart from being splendidly decorative, the frozen bouquets also served to cool the church as fans blew the icy air to the wedding guests.  

Mother and daughter, the First Lady and the bride, also differed on the color of the carpet that would be laid on the long nave of the church.  The First Lady wanted red “for royalty.”  The bride, possessed of a far higher aesthetic sense, wanted green, because she knew it would look better.  Somehow, a comic scheme was worked out between Irene and Rexor Ver wherein the First Lady saw a red carpet laid out when she inspected the church after midnight on the very day of the wedding.  At 4:00 a.m., Rexor Ver and his assistants finally laid out the green carpet for the bride.  Irene won over her mother on that one.  After the wedding celebrations, the Central Bank governor and avid heritage advocate Jaime Laya espied the rolled-up long green carpet among the production discards and promptly asked for it.  He had it sent down to Manila and laid out at the new “Casa Manila” house museum in Intramuros, where it served its purpose and protected the magnificent “narra” wood floors and “escalera principal” grand staircase for more than 20 years.  Thousands of local and foreign tourists and innumerable wedding reception guests at the elegant “Casa Manila” had no idea — but would have been thrilled had they known — that they were walking on the very same green carpet that lined the nave of the Santa Monica church in Sarrat during the legendary Araneta-Marcos wedding of 1983…

The talented Salvador Bernal had been assigned to design and construct all the “barong tagalog” of the men of the Marcos family and of the entourage.  Characteristic of his excellence and professionalism, all the “barong tagalog” were completed and appeared on time, except, inexplicably enough, for the most important one:  President Ferdinand Marcos’.  “Ay, wala si Daddy!!!”  the bride exclaimed in surprise and dismay.

President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos finally wore a “barong tagalog” by presidential tailor Edgar Aquino modeled after those which appeared in 1902.  The latter was renowned for impeccable “barong tagalog” of the highest quality:  featuring exclusive, and elegant embroidery, exhibiting flawless cutting, an unrivaled “fall,” and a perfect fit on the wearer.  That was why President Marcos looked as distinguished as he did.

The First Lady, Madame Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, was supposed to wear a gown by Italian couturier Renato Balestra, but the white “terno” [ Filipino gown with “butterfly” sleeves ] by Filipino maestro Joe Salazar was so beautiful and fitted so perfectly that she decided to wear it at the last moment.

The bride, Irene Romualdez Marcos, dutifully wore the wedding gown designed by Renato Balestra.  The prominent Italian couturier and his lady assistants promptly attended to the bride as she alighted from the carriage at the church entrance.

The groom, Gregorio Benitez Araneta, wore a “barong Tagalog” by Italian Giovanni Sanna.

The elder sister of the bride, Ma. Imelda “Imee” Romualdez Marcos, ever the rebel, was absolutely determined not to look like her mother, the First Lady.  She wore a witty “terno” by Salvador Bernal that was ingeniously crafted out of dozens of embroidered “pina” pineapple fabric placemats from “Tesoro’s” [ the premiere Philippine handicrafts store ].  She had come from Hawaii and was dark as soot.  She was out of the country before the wedding so she could not be measured by Bernal for her gown, so he ended up bringing a sewing machine, his faithful assistant Marietta Arcega, and Imee’s fitting form mannequin all the way to Sarrat to finally construct the unconventional but elegant “terno” Imee Marcos would wear.

Very beautiful was the current girlfriend of Ferdinand “Bonget” Romualdez Marcos Jr. at that time, the high society model Claudia Lopez Bermudez, daughter of the legendary society beauty Diana Jean Barnes Lopez [ certainly the most beautiful of the beautiful daughters of the hacendero Enrique Solis Lopez of Balayan, Batangas and his lovely wife of English-French descent, Wendy Payne Barnes of England ], Manila’s version of Scarlett O’Hara.  The young Claudia was unforgettable in a white strapless dress with a single orchid on her ear.  She looked like the proverbial White Rose.  She was so beautiful that she could have been arrested for being more attractive than the Marcos ladies that very important day, had she not been the current girlfriend of the only Marcos son.

The four “madrinas” godmothers of the couple — Imelda Ongsiako-Cojuangco, Elvira Ledesma-Manahan, Conchita Romualdez-Yap, and Helena Benitez — were all dressed by the redoubtable Salvacion “Vacion” Lim-Higgins a.k.a. “SLIM,” at that time Manila’s greatest living couturiere.  Their various gowns were inspired by the paintings of early 19th century Filipino master Damian Domingo.

The bride had been carrying a beautiful bouquet, a marvelous antique ivory fan, and a magnificent diamond rosary when she boarded the antique carriage with the President for the church.  However, with the merry melee upon their arrival at the church, she forgot the beautiful bouquet and the marvelous antique ivory fan in the carriage [ the antique ivory fan could no longer be found afterwards ].  Thus, the bride walked down the aisle with no bridal bouquet, but only a simply magnificent and magnificently simple diamond rosary…

Some weeks before the June wedding, 2 waist-length necklaces — one of diamond briolettes [ the bigger diamonds were about +- 7 carats each but with a yellowish brown color ] and the other of ruby briolettes — “from Malacanang” were sent to a prominent Manila jeweler’s for “restringing.”  The jeweler warned the secretary that the sharp edges of the diamonds would eventually slash through the strings and that it was infinitely more advisable that the diamonds and the rubies be strung with metal wire.

Memorable was the moment, witnessed by the congregation and by millions more on the television coverage of the NMPC the National Media Production Center, when the First Lady, Madame Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, the mother of the bride, haughtily refused the proffered arm of the patrician Luis Ma. Zaragoza Araneta, the father of the groom.  Luis belonged to a venerable family in the highest ranks of the Manila aristocracy and that snub signified to all Filipinos that the old order, “The Oligarchs,” had finally collapsed in the face of the Marcos “New Society”  [ which succeeded in creating new ones of its own ].

[ Perhaps, it was a case of tit for tat.  Those who knew Madame Imelda Romualdez-Marcos well, way before her remarkable political ascendancy recounted how long-established Manila society — of which Luis Ma. Araneta and his socialite friends like Pacita de los Reyes-Phillips, Conching Chuidian Sunico, Chito Madrigal-Vazquez-Collantes, Imelda Ongsiako-Cojuangco, Chona Recto-Ysmael-Kasten, Elvira Ledesma-Manahan, et. al. were at the top of the social heap — had, on several occasions, paid scant attention, indeed snubbed her during her early days of “social insignificance.”  It was actually nothing personal, it was simply the way the social insiders treated all the social outsiders;  it was, is, and will always be that way.  However, they were unaware, as everybody else, of the dizzyingly spectacular destiny of the impecunious but undeniably beautiful “provinciana”;  the destined First Lady had the memory of an elephant and did not forget anything, least of all social slights. ]

[ The evening before the wedding, Luis Ma. Araneta and several of his close friends gathered for an intimate party in his room at the Fort Ilocandia hotel — an attempt to relive the happy days of yore, perhaps the days before Ferdinand Marcos.  Present were the remaining creme de la creme of old Manila society — Imelda Ongsiako-Cojuangco, Elvira Ledesma-Manahan, et. al. — who had somehow survived the installation of the new social order of the Marcos “New Society.”  President Marcos and the First Lady were conspicuously not present at the intimate gathering.  Whether they were or were not invited was the subject of conjecture.  In any case, their obvious absence was a cause for concern:  there were expected reprisals and repercussions from the all-powerful First Couple. ]

Forever etched in my mind was the vision of the exceedingly pretty Imelda Ongsiako-Cojuangco, an otherworldly apparition in white lace by Salvacion Lim-Higgins, looking every inch like a grand lady in the coterie of the Empress Eugenie [ Eugenia de Montijo de Bonaparte ] in Second Empire Paris as painted by Franz-Xavier Winterhalter.  She literally floated up the nave with such exceptional delicacy and grace to take her place at the altar as a principal sponsor.

Elvira Ledesma-Manahan did not look quite as spectacular as Imelda Ongsiako-Cojuangco.  Her “tapis” [ overskirt ] made her look like a country laundress washing at the village stream.  She gestured towards her friend Imelda Cojuangco and commented:  “I thought we were supposed to wear ‘Filipina dress’…  What’s that?!  What’s she wearing?”

Stunning was the glittering cord used to bind the couple during the ceremony:  it was a suitably lengthy “Diamonds by the Yard” from premiere American jeweler Harry Winston.

Seven OB vans to record the occasion were parked at the back of the Santa Monica church.  The media command central was at the commodious sacristy.  Juan “Johnny” Ledesma Manahan, a childhood friend of the groom’s, was the director for the media coverage of the wedding ( son of Elvira Ledesma-Manahan, a great friend of Luis Ma. Araneta’s;  Elvira was a second mother to Luis’ children Patty. Greggy, and Elvira );  Luis’ and Elvira’s children grew up close, like siblings ).

During the reception, President Ferdinand Marcos, as always, spoke brilliantly.  He asked the Araneta family to stand up so he could acknowledge them properly:  “May I request the Aranetas to rise…”  None of them did immediately, not because of hauteur as widely perceived, but because of their old world modesty and reserve.  Then his own daughter Irene Romualdez Marcos-Araneta, the newest Araneta family member, stood up, and that became the signal for the several members of the old Araneta-Zaragoza clan present to stand up as well.

After the wedding, word had it that the powerful industrialist Enrique “ENZO” Zobel developed a rather bad stomach on the flight back to Manila.  It was a story that quickly made the rounds of high business, political, and social circles.  Leading couturier Pitoy Moreno also developed a bad stomach.  The guests remembered that purified drinking water had run out during the reception, so they conjectured that the local, mineralized water of Sarrat could have caused the upset stomachs of the Manilans.

True, it was not the wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer at Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London two years before, which ostensibly inspired it.  But it was a singularly beautiful and elegant Filipino occasion on its own, the very definition of what is now termed and reminisced with awe as “Marcosian splendor.”  For all their Bourbon excesses, President Ferdinand Marcos and Madame Imelda Romualdez Marcos certainly gave the Filipinos some very memorable moments in their history.




  1. December 31, 2014 at 2:32 am

    […] writer Augusto “Toto” M.R. Gonzalez III wrote a personal account of how he remembers the 1983 wedding of Irene Marcos in his famous blog Rememberance of things […]

  2. March 18, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    […] always when I seek the past…i find something nice, like this: […]

  3. December 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    […] In the Philippines, she even had a select group of ladies acting as if “Ladies in Waiting”. The group was called the “Blue Ladies”. It included the likes of Imelda Ongsiako Cojuangco, Edith Nakpil Rabat, Elvira Ledesma Manahan, and Ising Madrigal Vazquez. But it was during her height as First Lady when Imelda showed to members of Manila’s original 400 (or the supposed small, tightly knit, related 400 members of the country’s alta sociedad) that she was a force to reckon with. She was not going to let them pull her down and it was said that her revenge against the Old Rich who ridiculed her was during the highly publicized “magical” and extremely extravagant wedding of her daughter Irene Marcos to Greggy Araneta, a scion of the old rich historic family. When she refused to take the proffered arm of the father of Greggy Araneta, the venerable Don Luis Ma. Zaragoza Araneta, on live TV, it was said to be a painful slap on the face of the Old Order of the patricians, of the Oligarchs, and the triumph of the Marcos family’s “New Society”. ( […]

  4. Gemma See said,

    January 18, 2012 at 12:39 am

    where can i find videos or photos of this event?

  5. August 15, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    santA santitA:

    OMG. I honestly thought that Hel*na B*nitez had already passed away, but I attended a recent jewelry exhibit opening and She was there!!! Jol*y B*nitez was there too with his wife J*an de Asis.

    Toto Gonzalez

  6. santA santitA said,

    August 15, 2008 at 12:10 am


    Please say more about Em*a B*nitez. Is she related to *elena B*nitez? Is she still alive? Just curious…

  7. fiameta said,

    August 6, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    Since this thread has come alive again…..

    Whose daughter fell for a pizza delivery man in the far-off Pacific side of North America?

    Just asking…

  8. Pacita Por Favor said,

    August 5, 2008 at 12:43 am

    From Time magazine:

    MARRIED. Irene Marcos, 22, younger daughter of Philippine President Ferdinand and First Lady Imelda Marcos; and Gregorio Araneta III, 35, land developer and scion of one of the country’s most prominent families; both for the first time; in Sarrat, the Philippines. Bitterly disappointed by the 1981 U.S. marriage of their daughter Imee, 27, to a divorced man, the Marcoses compensated this time by laying on the pomp and splendor. Under Imelda’s flamboyant direction, an estimated $1.3 million, some of it government funds, was spent on items such as speeding historic restoration work on the northern Luzon city of Sarrat, birthplace of the bride’s father; building four “people’s halls” in the Sarrat area to accommodate the 500 invited guests plus 100,000 local residents; diverting 24 government airline planes and 50 buses for the guests’ use; and providing Irene with three wedding dresses, designed by Givenchy, Valentino and Balestra.

  9. cj said,

    May 29, 2007 at 3:30 am

    OMG Albert-Araneta, is that Ramon Araneta maried to Marylou Puno? Her son Monsit who attended Ateneo was a friend of mine. Then there’s Vincent and Margarette as well as Dedit.

  10. April 9, 2007 at 9:28 am


    Toto Gonzalez

  11. Regina Lopez Araneta-Teodoro said,

    April 9, 2007 at 8:44 am

    Happy Easter! You flatter me, but some of us old families, have lost our cache.
    Nevertheless, we have the past. I LOVE reading about all the other families that
    were the backbone of the Nation. I understand my daughter gave you the e-book based on her grandmother’s fascinating life. It should give a background on the Lopezes and the Negrenses and the Manila before the War. I have always
    considered the pre War Manila as the “Golden Age” of Philippine Society. Photos from the old Victoneta parties with the gentlemen, including the Hon. Manuel Quezon in “chalecos” so very chic. One does not see that these days.
    When you have finished the book. Do e-mail me and we can have our private “chat”. I dont think too many people would be interested in such a by-gone age involving so few people of another era. Somewhere in the back of my mind are some great background stories.
    Do keep up the good work. Enthrall us with your tales.
    PS. Re your query. Conchita Araneta was # 11 among the siblings. She was Concepcion (1911-1934). Consuelo was another sister. She was Sra. Cuesta who died of Cancer during the War. Reading your blog last night forced me to go back and read my cousin, Tonypet’s, 1030 R. Hidalgo to refresh my memory.

    And 1030 R. Hidalgo, to my memory, was not destroyed due to a hair dryer but a light in the closet.

  12. April 8, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    Mrs. Teodoro:

    Thank you so much for your kind comments. I am so honored that you, a member of one of Manila’s most venerable families, have found my silly blog interesting.

    For me, your father’s account of the Roxas lineage is the most important written material about the subject because it was done by a genuine member of the family, and by a distinguished, highly-educated gentleman at that. Even the “official” ones commissioned by the Zob*l family are not possessed of the authority and spirit as the one written by Salvador Araneta y Zaragoza Roxas.

    Your mother, Victoria Lopez de Araneta, was a legendary grande dame of Old Manila society. Her elegant parties at “Victoneta” during prewar were justly famous.

    I am so glad that people like you still remember Lola Gely Lopez because I am starting to feel like Talleyrand describing the ancien regime to young people who had no idea of what it was. Actually, her rigorous, elegant way of life was not unique: it was the norm for the ladies of her class. I am sure that your mother Victoria lived like that, perhaps even better. However, it is already an unknown way of life, even among today’s very rich ladies, all of whom place a premium on “casual” and “easy” living.

    I apologize for the omissions among the children of Gregorio Araneta and Carmen Zaragoza. I merely referred to the family tree in the Araneta website and was unable to crosscheck. I will rectify the errors immediately. Please tell me where Conchita should be placed among the siblings. Was her real name Concepcion?

    The memory of the legendary Araneta-Zaragoza mansion at # 1030 R. Hidalgo looms large in the collective consciousness of good Manila families who considered it as one of the city’s most elegant residences. Many years ago, we were shown by your Albert-Araneta cousins through their elegant postwar residence on Cordillera street, Santa Mesa Heights which was sprinkled with some beautiful heirlooms from the R. Hidalgo manse. You may be happy to know that the 1910s fountain which once graced the front of # 1030, a piece which your aunt Teresa inherited, now graces the beautiful period garden of the “Museo De La Salle” in Dasmarinas, Cavite, which is a reconstruction of a grand 19th century Filipino residence.

    We were saddened to know that so many of the old family pictures of the Araneta-Zaragoza were destroyed during a fire at your aunt Margarita’s house.

    There was really a time, up to the early 1960s, when Manila’s principal families spearheaded the annual “La Naval de Manila” festivities at the Santo Domingo church in honor of the “Santo Rosario,” a devotion that was always aristocratic in nature. The elders recalled that up to the prewar, the nine days of the novena and the grand procession were literally a roll call of the city’s best families, dressed in their finest. Why their involvement lessened to the point of disappearance is the subject of many conjectures. Was it secularization? Was it the passing of the elders?

    Again, thank you very much. Please feel free to add your valuable recollections wherever suitable. You have a wealth of memories about the elegant Manila that has all but disappeared.

    Toto Gonzalez

    Apologies for the *. They prevent the various search engines from quoting and misquoting me.

  13. Regina Lopez Araneta-Teodoro said,

    April 8, 2007 at 6:07 am

    Salvador Araneta was my late father. You can imagine my surprise to read you quote from his Introduction to the book, “The World of Felix Roxas”. Interspersed in the context of all the “jewelry talk”, and other trivia, it was surreal to read my father’s dissertation on the lineage of the Roxas family, thrown in!

    My daughter introduced me to your blog and we have both been glued to it. She was so surprised to see a photograph of her grandmother, Victoria, in one of your posts.

    For some 35 years, I have been living in the Pacific Northwest of Canada and so out of the loop of the “Philip*ine T*tler” society. It is so interesting to read about the Old World I can identify with, like Tita Gely Lopez, a smattering of other relatives and their shenanigans, and many more. I have been hooked all week reading as much as I can of your postings, which are so well researched. One minor exception, Gregorio and Carmen Araneta had 14 children. You missed Carmen, the eldest, who died in infancy; and Conchita, who died of TB in her 20’s.

    Thank you for bringing back so many memories. Reading about Religious Traditions, my mind’s eye took me back to when I was between the ages of 3 and 5 peering through the balustrades of my paternal grandparents’ home, 1030 R. Hidalgo to watch the procession pass. I have vague memories of the house and remember that they kept the carroza on the ground floor near the beautiful private chapel. Like you, I wondered what happened to the glorious tradition and passed along your blog and the querry to my cousin, Antonio, Tonypet, the family historian to answer.

    Keep bringing us back in time.

  14. Garganta Inflamada said,

    March 13, 2007 at 10:16 pm

    #1 – Bienvenidos aqui tambien, Isabel.

    #2 – I was wondering when the hierarchy of the old Manila/Philippine school system would be discussed. But T, you left out Maryknoll/Miriam (the American entrant among the Manila finishing schools); and Saint Bede – San Beda.

    The brothers and sisters of a family were usually schooled together because of the same general geographical locations. Ateneans in Diliman had their sisters go to Maryknoll — of course, all of these pre-coed days. La Sallians had their sisters go to either the old Assumption-Herran or Sts. Scho or Paul’s. I had a cousin who, like you, Isabel, went to Holy Ghost, and her brother to San Beda. When there was La Salle-Greenhills, Teresiana became the convenient dropping off point for the sisters. Xavier boys had their sisters go to the Immaculate Concepcion, etc., etc.

    Of course, there was some cross-pollination like 2 of our neighbors in San Juan, who sent the boys to Ateneo-Diliman, but the girls were shuttled all the way across town to the old Assumption. (I had no sisters; so had none of these logistical problems. Ha!) However, intellectually, I always under the impression that Sta. Teresa’s, was way ahead of the pack because of the Belgian nuns? (Or were the Holy Ghost nuns the Belgians, and St. Teresa’s the Germans?)

    But academically, the University of the Philippines (of course, that’s where I went to college — so immediately, its ranking shot up!! 🙂 🙂 at that time!), established by the Americans, was right up there with Ateneo, UST and De La Salle. I don’t know how it stands now. With La Salle and Ateneo’s expansions in the last 2 decades, is AIM still a top business school?

    Ah, as the line from “September Song” goes: …those vintage years…”


  15. March 13, 2007 at 7:26 pm


    I think “IS” The International School, as the “American” School, has been for many years the institution favored by the affluent for their children.

    From 1611 onwards, the Spanish families of Manila sent their sons to the “Universidad de Santo Tomas.”

    There was a time in the mid-1800s when “Colegio de San Juan de Letran” was the only institution for the sons of the Filipino “principalia.”

    In the 1870s, the sons of the Filipino Rich were all being sent to the “Ateneo Municipal.” And that is a tradition that has been proudly maintained to this day.

    From the 1890s, The Rich just had to send their daughters to the French nuns of “The Assumption Convent.”

    From 1911 onwards, the “De La Salle College” run by the American Brothers caught the imagination of modern-minded upper-class Filipinos.

    The German nuns of “Saint Scholastica’s College” brought a new level of excellence to women’s education and challenged the preeminence of “The Assumption Convent.”

    The “Holy Ghost” also came to the fore. Many daughters of statesmen, politicians, and intellectuals were sent there.

    “Saint Theresa’s College” also became popular for the nonpareil communications skills of its graduates.

    The “Xavier School” and “Immaculate Conception Academy” rose to the fore because of the excellent education of its Chinese-Filipino students, especially in the areas of mathematics.

    “Instituto Teresiana” or “Poveda” became popular for the excellent education of its mainly “Spanish mestiza” student population.

    And so did “Southridge” and “Woodrose” and the “University of Asia and the Pacific”…

    I think that all these prestigious institutions all have “their time.” And that even those which are frightfully fashionable today will give way to newer, more relevant ones in the future.

    Toto Gonzalez

  16. betty mahmoudy said,

    March 13, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    Isabel, Toto

    My aunts went to Holy Ghost. I believe that their fine arts course is exceptional. As awful as it is to say this, I don’t think it has much of a social cachet anymore.

    I would say even Assumption has lost its lustre. Only die-hard Ateneans insist on an Ateneo education for their boys. ANYONE who aspires to be SOMEBODY in Manila would rather send their kids to IS. Just look at the parents’ roster during the protests against the principal last year… then check out Forbes’ list of the richest Filipinos. IS is the new status symbol, followed by Brent, Beacon and the British School. Those who feel it’s important to learn Mandarin send their kids to Xavier.

    How does La Salle rate these days, Toto?

  17. March 12, 2007 at 5:26 pm


    Thank you for finding your way here.

    In the Comments section of the post “Slurping Soup,” you will find a lengthy digression on the GonzaleZes and GonzaleSes in the Philippines. As I told someone, not all are related by blood, but what is remarkable is that they all know each other socially. Cheers!!!

    I have a distinct feeling though, that since your maternal grandmother was a Gonzalez Nieto and her mother was an Ortigas, that you probably belong to the “Gonzalez de Pangasinan,” the frightfully rich landowners who owned so much of Pangasinan, Tarlac, and Nueva Ecija in the 1800s [ 39,000 hectares ]. I say that because many members of their clan married into prominent Manila families like the Tuason and the Ysmael. Our own “Gonzalez de Sulipan” also had its share of “good” marriages, but they were mostly made with fellow affluent Pampangans with only two exceptions: there was a marriage to a Singson-Chiong Veloso from Cebu and a marriage to a de la Rama from Bacolod.

    If I remember right, the Nieto is a family belonging to the Tuason-Legarda-Prieto-Valdes clan of Manila. Ortigas is, of course, a family of Spanish mestizos. Again if I remember right, in the late 1800s, the Ortigas progenitor first settled in Floridablanca, Pampanga near the Spanish “Casa de Campo” where many prominent Spanish mestizo families like the Gil, Toda, Toledo, Valdes [ Benito ], Arrastia, and Gonzalez-Bravo [ Martin ] also had their beginnings.

    I will always remember a delightful story about your Tita Bubut Nieto: the cakes that she made for the US Army postwar, the airplane propeller-turned-mixer, and her “alajitas” from “La Estrella del Norte.” What an interesting lady!!!

    The very best friend of my late uncle, Brother Andrew Benjamin Gonzalez F.S.C. of De La Salle University, is an Ortigas, Juan Antonio Ortigas Lanuza.

    “Conching” Chuidian Sunico, “Pacita” Ongsiako de los Reyes-Phillips, “Meldy” Ongsiako-Cojuangco, “Chito” Madrigal-Collantes, Elvira Ledesma-Manahan, “Ening” Lopez Sr., “Amading” Araneta, Enrique Zobel, Jaime Zobel de Ayala, Luis Ma. Araneta, Arturo de Santos, “Ramoning” Valera, et. al. were all characters of a particularly elegant and magical era in Manila which, sadly enough, we will never see again. *sigh* There are the new people of course, but they have yet to earn their spurs… in affluence, in elegance, and in intellect.

    Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, both adored and reviled, exalted and hated, is “sui generis.” She is a phenomenon and will most likely go down in world history with the same measures of fame and notoriety as Cleopatra, Empress Theodora, Catherine the Great, Empress Marie-Theresa, Madame de Pompadour, Josephine de Beauharnais, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, et. al.. She simply mesmerizes…

    You mentioned the Farah Diba of Iran. She wore the most magnificent jewels. Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, the Saudi oil minister, singlehandedly created the nucleus of the fortune of a Filipina international jeweller. And Adnan Khashoggi — despite the occasional hiccups — is Adnan Khashoggi!!! Enough said.

    The high ranking prelate you mentioned piques my curiosity. Did he buy for the ladies, or the gentlemen, of his life??? Ah…

    You are the real thing, Isabel, a genuine member of the Manila that matters. I am happy that you are enjoying all this.

    Welcome to the party!!!

    Toto Gonzalez

  18. Isabel von Fechtmann said,

    March 11, 2007 at 10:35 pm

    Caro Toto,

    If Gonzalez is indeed your last name, I wonder if we are related? My maternal grandmother was Gonzalez Nieto and her mother was an Ortigas.

    I was very fond of Elvira Manahan and even today I cannot bear to hear Dave Grusin’s Two for the Road without stopping whatever it is I am doing and listening to the entire song even as I say a prayer for her.

    Pacita de los Reyes Philips and my maternal aunt Mercedes Vacani Hagedorn were classmates at Holy Ghost College, as it was then known.

    I myself attended the same school for which I am grateful. One really LEARNED at that school, once upon a life, as opposed to the frivolous so called alta sociedad school Assumption.

    I adored Luis Araneta. He was a grande Seigneur. I doubt any man of his calibre exists in Manila today.

    Imelda Marcos for all her flaws will probably be vindicated in time. The process has begun. I never saw her as Evita. She is more Marie Antoinette. as portrayed by Antonia Fraser. Compared to the horrendous and vicious brutes which followed Louis XVI, they were not bad at all.

    Imelda Cojuangco is still entrancing.

    Ah Yes! There was much dialogue about jewels. IRM, IOC etc. etc. etc. I think the hordes of diamonds and precious gems are in the Kremlin.

    I fouund all of you delightful. I hope we can continue to dialogue.

    When Irene Marcos Araneta left the country suddenly in February of 1986, I used to visit her sister-in law frequently whenever I was in Manila. I am referring to Patricia Araneta, a very engaging and cultured woman. She was then living in Greg and Irene’s house on Mckinley.

    I was relieved to see that none of the turncoats or the so called righteously indignant seized, confiscated or looted the mansion. I never doubted that more than a few tried.

    As a pianist/composer as well as a writer, I loved playing on Irene’s superb concert grand. I think it was a Steinway. It was too divine.

    I think the little housewife’s pals were tacky, tacky, tacky in showing Imelda’s wardrobe, shoes, jewelry and other stuff. The ravenous Media loved it. That is to be expected.

    I used to be Gucci PR and Marketing worldwide during the middle 70’s until the 80’s. I can assure you that in those days, NO ONE received any gifts as promo from Gucci. They paid the full price or they went sans Gucci. I never had a sale either. Imelda spent beau coup loot at Gucci but she was easily outspent by Queen Sirikit, Farah Diba, Zaki Yamani and dear Adnan Khashoggi.

    Madonna mia, a high ranking prelate in the Vatican Curia was one of our favorite spenders. The objects he bought were often than not for others.

    Well. Ciao for now.

    Hasta pronto.

    Isabel von Fechtmann

    nee Isabel Suarez Vacani

  19. Isabel von Fechtmann said,

    March 11, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    Caro Toto,

    If Gonzalez is indeed your last name, I wonder if we are related? My maternal grandmother was Gonzalez Nieto and her mother was an Ortigas.

    I was very fond of Elvira Manahan and even today I cannot bear to hear Dave Grusin’s Two for the Road without stopping whatever it is I am doing and listening to the entire song even as I say a prayer for her.

    Pacita de los Reyes Philips and my maternal aunt Mercedes Vacani Hagedorn were classmates at Holy Ghost College, as it was then known.

    I myself attended the same school for which I am grateful. One really LEARNED at that school, once upon a life, as opposed to the frivolous so called alta sociedad school Assumption.

    I adored Luis Araneta. He was a grande Seigneur. I doubt any man of his calibre exists in Manila today.

    Imelda Marcos for all her flaws will probably be vindicated in time. The process has begun. I never saw her as Evita. She is more Marie Antoinette. as portrayed by Antonia Fraser. Compared to the horrendous and vicious brutes which followed Louis XVI, they were not bad at all.

    Imelda Cojuangco is still entrancing. As Toto says, she is fragile but the aura is still there. Old age, sickness, and death are great equalizers.

    Ah Yes! There was much dialogue about jewels. IRM, IOC etc. etc. etc. I think the hordes of diamonds and precious gems are in the Kremlin.

    I found all of you delightful. I hope we can continue to dialogue.

    When Irene Marcos Araneta left the country suddenly in February of 1986, I used to visit her sister-in law frequently whenver I was in Manila. I am referring to Patricia Araneta, a very engaging and cultured woman. She was then living in Greg and Irene’s house on Mckinley.

    I was relieved to see that none of the turncoats or the so called righteously indignant seized, confiscated or looted the mansion. I never doubted that more than a few tried.

    As a pianist/composer as well as a writer, I loved playing on Irene’s superb concert grand. I think it was a Steinway. It was too divine.

    I think the little housewife’s pals were tacky, tacky, tacky in showing Imelda’s wardrobe, shoes, jewelry and other stuff. The ravenous Media loved it. That is to be expected.

    I used to be Gucci PR and Marketing worldwide during the middle 70’s until the 80’s. I can assure you that in those days, NO ONE received any gifts as promo from Gucci. They paid the full price or they went sans Gucci. I never had a sale either. Imelda spent beau coup loot at Gucci but she was easily outspent by Queen Sirikit, Farah Diba, Zaki Yamani and dear Adnan Khashoggi.

    Madonna mia, a high ranking prelate in the Vatican Curia was one of our favorite spenders. The objects he bought were often than not for others.

    Well. Ciao for now.

    Hasta pronto.

    Isabel von Fechtmann

    nee Isabel Suarez Vacani

  20. March 6, 2007 at 6:58 am


    I didn’t know about the ‘mortal enemies’ situation between CE and TP. But that’s hilarious!! 🙂 🙂


  21. March 5, 2007 at 9:32 pm

    Garganta Inflamada:

    One should never mention the names of Ado Escudero and Teyet Pascual in the same breath… They have been mortal enemies for the longest time. One calls the other “mamba-bagoong” [ shrimp paste vendor ] and the other retaliates by calling him “magla-latik” [ dried coconut vendor ]. *lolsz!*

    Toto Gonzalez

  22. March 5, 2007 at 9:28 pm

    Garganta Inflamada:

    Yes, the Ruf*no-Padil*a and the J*cinto-*smena weddings are legendary among Manila society. At least, for those attendees who are still alive…

    Come to think of it, there have been so many important high society weddings [ and un-weddings ] that I have completely lost count. *lolsz!*

    Toto Gonzalez

  23. March 4, 2007 at 9:31 pm


    Just 2 other points of reference from a historical context, in terms of grand Filipino wed*ings:

    In the early 60s, during the Cong D*dong era, there were 2 power weddings to end power weddings:

    1. The Josie Padil*a – Ruf*no wedding. This might’ve been around 1963/64. So, the union of the politically connected Padil*a clan with the moneyed theatre chain.

    2. The Min*ie *smena – Joselito J*cinto nuptials (yes, that J*cinto!!) So previous to Iren*, Min*ie *smena was the first known Filipina to have worn a European-made wedding gown, I believe it was a Christian Dior, in her wedding ceremony. This wedding tried to top #1. And MO’s (first)* wedding united the Cebu *smena-de la Ram* clans to the socially prominent J*cintos of Manila.

    If you were somebody in Manila’s “alta sociedad,” you had to be there at those 2 events.

    3. Then there was the Gem*a Cruz-Ton*pet Ar*neta wedding; less lavish than the aforementioned two.

    *Of course, with the two unions, those in the know snickered and knew that they wouldn’t last because the grooms were known to be of the ‘other’ persuasion. (And sure enough, M.O. has gone through husbands 2, 3, and 4? like used panty hose!)

    In any case, ask two of the elders, Dons *do Escudero and Te*et Pascual, about their reminiscences of those 3 pre-Sarrat power weddings/unions — sweet or not? LOL!!!


  24. Garganta Inflamada said,

    March 3, 2007 at 12:59 am

    n.o. lopez wrote:

    “imelda marcos is nobility, there’s no need for her to follow mass as the mass follows her.”


    Huh? :rolls eyes: Imelda Marcos is nobility ng mga bakya. I’m hoping that maybe the D and E classes have woken up a little.

    Anyway, re IRM: you can take the girl out of Tacloban, but you can’t take Tacloban outta da girl!!


  25. n.o.lopez said,

    March 1, 2007 at 7:37 pm

    that picture of *melda coj*angco in the philip*ine t*tler, my word..that’s an 80 year old woman? is that recent? i mean even with airbrushing still looks definitely beautiful.

    and i agree that *melda collection just makes mrs marcos look tawdry. i’m sure this is ime* marcos’ concept as she gives the impression of being hip and a non-conformist.

    i agree with the above regarding madame marcos’ and the queen’s jewels. but remember, madame marcos privately owns these jewels whilst the queen’s, well you cannot really say that is hers as she cannot sell them not that she will or needs to but hers are more a part of the monarchy’s ownership as it is alleged that madame marcos’ private jewels are the best and costliest on earth.

    so to launch trinkets oh i don’t know…it’s like asking barbra streisand to rap to appeal to young people. imelda marcos is nobility, there’s no need for her to follow mass as the mass follows her.

  26. February 9, 2007 at 8:29 pm


    I think that it could have looked much better on the late Princess Diana. She could have “pulled it off.”

    Or on our very own Madame Imelda Romualdez Marcos, who carries all sorts of great jewelry so well. But then, our Queen might just yawn at the sight of Camilla’s necklace, because she has far more spectacular ones, and because it is only worth a paltry f 1 million pounds sterling [ by Madame Marcos’ standards ].

    Toto Gonzalez

  27. January 30, 2007 at 5:13 pm


    I’m sure other websites have current pictures of your aunt. She was still pretty — prettier and younger even — after her illness. She was on the cover of the July 2006 issue of “The Philip*ine Tatl*r” magazine. But there are things that cannot be seen on print but only in person…

    It is not a polite thing to say, but she was a pitiful sight during the Monique Lhuillier fashion gala. Life’s vicissitudes, or perhaps just old age, have finally taken their toll on her, now in her early 80s. The poise of her prime, especially during the Marcos years, has gone. She could hardly walk, despite being assisted left and right. What passed for girlish daintiness in the past has now been replaced by a frankly fragile tottering perpetually in danger of falling face flat. So sad, really. Yet again, it is the passing of an era. “Sic transit gloria mundi.”

    Toto Gonzalez

  28. n.o.lopez said,

    January 27, 2007 at 10:26 pm

    i wonder if anyone could post pictures of *melda. o coj*angco? i don’t know how she looks now but i remember seeing her, wow, like what everybody has indicated in this site, like an oriental empress. she always seemed to hold her chin up all the time. proud but not haughty.

    i also don’t recall her giving any interviews (i mean television), just like queen elizabeth. for a filipino lady/socialite, she’s very private, alluring… mysterious and very remote…

    no lopez

  29. Myles Garcia said,

    January 23, 2007 at 5:03 pm

    The matrix of Imelda Ongsiako-Cojuangco and Carmencita Ongsiako-Reyes, Carmen de la Paz, for awhile, was a textile trader in Marikina around the late 30s — not that there’s anything wrong with that. But that I know because the senior Mrs. Ongsiako once went to my grandmother to help intercede with something…I forget now for what… with Aurora Quezon who was First Lady at the time, and whom mon grand-mere knew.

  30. January 22, 2007 at 7:06 pm


    I know that a branch of the Ongs*akos is descended from the uberrich Don M*rcelino de S*ntos. How exactly, I don’t know.

    Toto Gonzalez

  31. January 22, 2007 at 7:02 pm


    I also wonder what cosmetic treatments the Dowager Empress has undergone.

    Perhaps, the embarrassing press releases of her “not quite” daughter-in-law and the multiple aneurysms played key roles in her new look.

    Toto Gonzalez

  32. January 22, 2007 at 6:55 pm


    As a connoisseur of important jewelry, you certainly will not even look at the “*melda Col*ection.”

    I think that her buying sprees at 168 Mall have a political agenda behind it all… but then, so do all the other politicians and their wives.

    Toto Gonzalez

  33. January 20, 2007 at 4:03 am

    December 24, 2006 at 4:37 am


    How can you be a mere mortal when you’re an Ongs*ako, for chrissakes??? Do tell us about the Ongs*ako connection to the Cavite de los R*yes [ P*cita de los R*yes-Ph*llips ] and to the Tondo / Nueva Ecija de S*ntos [ *rturo de S*ntos / the descendants of the uberrich “hacendero” Don M*rcelino de S*ntos ] families…

    Do call me Toto.

    Toto Gonzalez


    Is it true that the Ongs*akos are related to my father’s fallen, now-slightly middle relatives, the de S*ntos clan of Hacienda Esperanza in Nueva Ecija?

  34. taitai said,

    January 19, 2007 at 6:27 am

    Mad*me Im*lda will also be featured on W Magazine (April). Apparently, her new jewelry line (hate it!) is getting major international buzz.

    And what is all the drama of going to 168 Mall? What is she up to?!

    Age has really caught-up with the former Fir*t La*y. I agree with the earlier posts that she was at her best during the late 70s and early 80s.

    By the way, what cosmetic procedure has M*ldy C*juangco undergone? She looks a lot younger nowadays. Ma*y Pri*to also.


    PS. I just rediscovered this thread today!!! I certainly missed a lot!

  35. January 14, 2007 at 2:07 pm


    And that’s just an interview with Vanity Fair.

    You have to be with her in private. You’ll just be blown away!!!

    Toto Gonzalez

  36. January 14, 2007 at 2:05 pm


    Do you believe in Destiny??? I think I should.

    Some people are just destined for the most spectacular lives. Like Madame Imelda Romualdez Marcos. It’s just the way it is. *lolsz!*

    Toto Gonzalez

  37. January 14, 2007 at 2:03 pm


    It was the news in New York at the time of Madame Marcos’ trial that even top designers like Calvin Klein and Oscar de la Renta had reserved places on the rooftops surrounding the courthouse just to witness her expectedly spectacular appearance. And she did not disappoint!!! *giggles*

    Toto Gonzalez

  38. January 14, 2007 at 1:58 pm


    Of course, the media, be it national or international, always has a field day whenever Madame Imelda Romualdez Marcos is the subject!!! 😛 😛 😛

    Toto Gonzalez

  39. myles g. said,

    January 12, 2007 at 8:12 pm

    Part 2. I have to reprint this Q&A from said interview (Parentheticals are of course, mine.)

    Q: And the first thing you did after being found not guilty was to head to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where you got on your knees and crept down the entire aisle to the altar.

    A: And yes, it was only coming from heaven on my brithday. What a gift. You know, George (Wayne, the interviewer, not Hamilton), my dreams were always small and puny. (*Almost chokes with laughter*) All I ever needed was a little house with a little picket fence by the sea. (Yes, if it was in Malibu or the Hamptons or the Cote d’Azur…) Little did I know that I would live in Malacanang (damned “enye” – why does the Spanish alphabet have to have this? It doesn’t come out in Anglo-Saxon keyboards!!) for 20 years and visit all the major palaces of mankind. (And salivate for all of them…) And then also meet ordinary citizens and the leaders of superpowers. (Did you respond to Jiang Jing’s winks? Mao’s equally addled, repressed lesbian widow.) And I prevailed. The world may ask, “Was she a genius?” No. “Did she have a great mind?” No. (Finally, some honesty at the ripe old age of 77.) “What did Imelda have?” What Imelda had was common to all: … (R u guys sitting down or standing up? Hold on to your chairs)…. COMMON SENSE!!

    Unfortunately, the review never reflected the facial expressions of Mr. Wayne; but one can only imagine.

    BTW, all of this is on public record, on page 129 of the February 2007 issue!!

    She never ceases to entertain. She should really have gone into stand-up comedy. Y’all should really run out and buy a copy. Have the maids buy a copy!


  40. myles g. said,

    January 12, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    Guess who has a 2-page interview in the latest issue (Feb 2007) of VANITY FAIR? HINT: She, with the bouffant hairdro, refers to her trial in New York as the “…trial of the century…” more than once. *rolls eyes* So even greater than the OJ, Bruno Hauptmann or World War II crimes trials (Nuremberg and Tokyo). You come out of reading it with more ‘halos’ around your head than there are crop-circles in England! *revolves neck a la Exorcist*

    I can send a PDF repro to whomever requests for it.


  41. cara y cruz said,

    January 9, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    toto! what moral compass? Manila ain’t Manila if it truly existed! LOL

  42. January 7, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    myles g.:

    You’re probably right.

    Perhaps we should ask our other online friend, who is obviously a savvy money man with interesting connections, what the current state of Apo Lakay’s holdings are…

    There are so many kinds of rich people in Manila…

    Moral Compass. Everybody pretends to have it here [ to high heavens! ], but Nobody really does. Why would you??? It spoils all the fun of doing all the deliciously bad things!!! *lolsz!*

    Toto Gonzalez

  43. myles g. said,

    January 3, 2007 at 12:52 am

    Toto wrote: But then, the visible fortunes of the other Southeast Asians are still bigger, right??? And as for hidden wealth, surely no one in the Philippines — or even in the world for that matter — can top “Apo Lakay”!!! *lolsz!*

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    U know, I’ve wondered about that. Remember the so-called ‘substantial overseas’ deposits of Nicholas II and the Shah at the time of their demises? Turns out those were more mythical than pragmatic. (Frankly, I think the Duvaliers and Noriega had spirited away more than the former rulers.) So insofar as the stolen riches by the Mac*ys, I think there might be a little left — no longer on the $10+ billion scale bruited about. Remember, there is great dishonor among thieves, so I think the various conspirators, covers, shills and shells, have already claimed a lot of the old master’s loot they were supposed to cover for.

    And if a few years ago, Im** and Gr*ggy were clumsy enough to go to Frankfurt or (was it Zurich?), and try to withdraw or juggle a few accounts, IN PERSON (rather than let undercover lackeys do it), then I think there’s very little left. But I could be wrong.

    Also, the way Manila’s elite likes to comport itself, I don’t think it’s any different from the rich of France or Mexico or Brazil or Argentina or Beverly Hills — except that (1) their lifestyle used to be circumspect. This was before the media age and a so-called more ‘egalitarian’ environment. But with bigger families, more staff, break-ups, etc., etc., it’s a little harder to hide such luxurious comings and goings. And (2) in what is still a developing country where 95% of the population just manages to get by, the disparity is still all that glaring. Yeah, there is a bigger middle class, a larger proletariat, more people with more means, but the uber-rich also have more material things and pleasures to obtain and use — and a lot of which is difficult to hide. (Besides, isn’t that what money is for? To be spent?)

    Of course, the moral compass sways in HOW you spend that money when there is a lot of NEED all around you.

    Hope the above spiel didn’t bore ya.


  44. cara y cruz said,

    December 31, 2006 at 1:16 pm


    Also I can’t seem to figure why these heiresses have turned up to be the way they are while they have pardigmatic provenance. I guess you’re right about the signs of the times. Apparently they are made of lesser stuff. The REAL classy people set the trends and mood of the times rather than being sucked in the quasi-vulgarity of some posers! (Excuse the angst-i-ness! LOL)

    n.o. lopez:

    You’re right! I guess filipinos spend so much time fluffing their feathers, posing like a peacock when it’s their territory that they should be fortifying and protecting. I wish the new generation end up as (or more) astute, sharp, competitive, and wise like the grandees, grand dames, businessmen of the Philippines’ golden era!

  45. n.o.lopez said,

    December 30, 2006 at 1:44 am


    but funnily enough, in the grander scheme of things, the elite in the philippines pale in comparison with the rest of southeast asia. well, that’s according to forbes magazine. filipinos just really love to be glamorous, ostentatious, (rich or poor).

    n o lopez

  46. December 29, 2006 at 6:27 am

    cara y cruz:

    You’re right.

    But then, the visible fortunes of the other Southeast Asians are still bigger, right??? And as for hidden wealth, surely no one in the Philippines — or even in the world for that matter — can top “Apo Lakay”!!! *lolsz!*

    Toto Gonzalez

  47. cara y cruz said,

    December 28, 2006 at 9:13 pm


    you have to remember that what these surveys chronicle are apparent wealth not the hidden ones! LOL

  48. December 28, 2006 at 8:41 pm

    cara y cruz:

    I know what you mean… I know what you mean. *lolsz!*

    Perhaps it’s just the “zeitgeist,” the spirit of the times, don’t you think???

    Toto Gonzalez

  49. cara y cruz said,

    December 28, 2006 at 8:33 pm


    LOL! to think that some of those wanna-bes are also heiresses (you know who they are) of the Old Guard (direct and not thru osmosis or “kalabit-potpot”). A case of class turning into crass.

  50. December 28, 2006 at 10:50 am


    I have no idea what time I write my posts and replies. The time specified online is GMT, so one has to add 8 hours for the actual time in Manila. I am an insomniac, and like a vampire, I sometimes cannot sleep until the sun rises. It is good that I am a businessman and that I fully control my schedule.

    I have to admit that I do not know everything about all Filipino families. A friend, the art and antiques connoisseur-collector-scholar-historian with an elephant’s memory Man*el “So*ny” Imper*al T*nio Jr., a scion of grand landowning Nueva Ecija and Albay families, has been planning to write the definitive tell-all book about grand Filipino families but it has been on his drawing board for 30 years already… So when???

    Thank you for your compliment, but I am no treasure. I imagine that I may actually be a pest, since I resurrect many [ often unpleasant ] things that the subjects had mistakenly thought they had succeeded in burying in the deepest depths of social consciousness ]. It is, in fact, predictable that many of the subjects are actually relatives and friends.

    I am glad to meet you, even online. You join my roster of 23,000 well-informed [ and needless to say, well-to-do ] readers. Do keep the interesting comments coming!!!

    Toto Gonzalez

  51. December 28, 2006 at 10:24 am

    myles g.:

    No, there’s no logical structure to this website. I come and go as I please to the confusion of my dear readers. After all, it is only meant to entertain one person… me!!! Just joking!!! *lolsz!*

    I don’t feel like writing a book about Manila society. It’s just not my idea of “society.” It’s hopelessly Third World. Even the Philippines’ rich, according to the latest Forbes survey, are the least of the Southeast Asian rich. To be the least, and of Southeast Asia, is something else… Isn’t that embarrassing??? Just look at the Russian, Chinese, and Indian “nouveaux riches”… Now those people are RRRIIICCCHHH!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    For “Manila society,” stupid snippets like these should suffice. *lolsz!*

    My new, latest-model scanner is right in front of me. I’m just too lazy to open the box, connect it, and use it.

    Do tell us about the Ongs*akos. The more “skeletal” the better? *lolsz!*

    I did respond to your comment about Am*lita Reysio Cruz. I don’t know what happened to her…

    Toto Gonzalez

  52. December 28, 2006 at 10:10 am

    cara y cruz:

    I suppose you’re right…

    If you look at the “society” magazines [ only while your hair is being done at your salon; certainly not on one’s coffee table at home, puh-leeze ], there is a whole new crop of “wannabe” grande dames…

    It’s just that… it’s just that… oh never mind.

    Look at it this way… if Paris Hilton is currently America’s idea of “Society,” then trust the stupid Fil*pinos to follow that ideal.

    Toto Gonzalez

  53. myles g. said,

    December 27, 2006 at 11:00 pm

    OMG, we’re having a lovefest here.

    But let me digress. Toto, I still have to figure out a logical scheme/structure to your blog website — or is it really meant to be scatter-shot?

    See, as Norberto has opined, as I had too previously — you should write a book on Manila Society. Better yet, why not make it a group project? AND photos – please!! Have yet to check out those gem websites — but those would certainly be dazzling in any book.

    U did send me your email. Am just recovering from holiday events with my family. Will try to communicate with you there, too.

    I also have a tale or 2 about the Ongs*akos. My maternal grandmother knew the old lady Ongs*ako from Marikina — but I would rather not put that out in the ether yet.

    BTW, did you respond to my comment about Am*lita R*ysio-Cruz?


  54. cara y cruz said,

    December 27, 2006 at 7:36 pm

    I suspect that M*ldy “Dowager” C*juangco is trying to set her own trademark with the orchids and dripping chokers. Nevertheless, she remains regal in whatever way, form, or shape you see her. LOL.

    Who will replace the M*ldy, Ch*to, C*nching, Mary and other doyennes and grande dames of societies past? Are the current in-training “dragon”-ettes at par?

  55. n.o.lopez said,

    December 24, 2006 at 8:48 pm

    hi toto,

    i have noticed that some of your replies and posts, you write them quite early (5ish, 6ish), I truly believe you should write a book about prominent Filipino families. Nobody could duplicate your knowledge and the way you articulate your facts fascinatingly. You even, perhaps, know more about these families than they themselves. I think History is not a subject matter that mainstream Filipinos are really interested in, which is why from generation to generation, facts, fables, stories are buried with them. What Filipinos are interested at are what is trite and shallow and what’s in at present. I’m only 32 years old and I have seen how our society embraces what’s popular at present (and that’s mainly cheap, tacky showbiz issues), once its popularity dwindles, we move on to the next in thing. As you remarked previously, Filipinos do not take things seriously. I do sense a deeper reflection on what you said, in a way, even irony.

    You are a social, if not national treasure. I don’t even know anything about the Ongs*akos except what i have read on this site. I once asked my mummy questions about her father but she shrugged me off as I get the impression he had many wives, which was common in those days (was it really??).

    Perhaps on one of your posts you could please.

    I take my hat off you, just knowing you for the past 72 hours.!!!

    n o lopez xxx

    ps yes, very very cold and i absolutely detest it.

  56. December 24, 2006 at 5:46 pm


    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You in what I imagine is cold, cold, cold Edinburgh!!!

    Toto Gonzalez

  57. n.o.lopez said,

    December 24, 2006 at 4:12 pm

    i wish toto!!!

    merry christmas mate!

    obet xxx

  58. December 24, 2006 at 4:56 am


    Not really.

    *lolsz!* @ Robin Leach. Howtheh*ll can you have “Champagne Dreams” in this Third World cesspool???

    This is my song for the Ph*lippines, paraphrasing Eartha Kitt:

    “With my champagne tastes, and your beer bottle budget,
    I’ll be having caviar and pheasant,
    while you’re dining with the peasants,
    dunkin’ donuts in a diner… without me!!!”


    Toto Gonzalez

  59. December 24, 2006 at 4:37 am


    How can you be a mere mortal when you’re an Ongs*ako, for chrissakes??? Do tell us about the Ongs*ako connection to the Cavite de los R*yes [ P*cita de los R*yes-Ph*llips ] and to the Tondo / Nueva Ecija de S*ntos [ *rturo de S*ntos / the descendants of the uberrich “hacendero” Don M*rcelino de S*ntos ] families…

    Do call me Toto.

    Toto Gonzalez

  60. n.o.lopez said,

    December 23, 2006 at 11:26 pm

    i haven’t read your site on its entirety but its a who’s who of philippine aristocracy and nobility!!!are you not robin leach from lifestyles of the rich and famous?? : >>>

    obet xxx

  61. n.o.lopez said,

    December 23, 2006 at 11:23 pm

    i have found a friend in you my dear sir and i have to say this blogsite is so fascinating to read, very tasteful. i dont know you personally my good man but i get the impression that you are socialite of the highest order (unlike the rest of us mere mortals (and that is the declassed middle class) who, to survive, has to undergo hours grinding labour but nevermind..

    i have always been fascinated by these ladies, im not quite sure if what we see outside, if it does reflect a certain fulfillment on the inside. sometimes, i just wonder if these ladies dont get tired of their endless dizzying parties.and dont you think a lot of our ladies who grew up in a very catholic and repressed society turn to religion as like a shield (?scourge maybe). remember juliette romualdez who became an opus dei member??

    yes, i agree with you, the philippines shall never achieve political maturity, in fact, we are going backwards.there is very little depth to our politics if there is even! philippines is such a very “young”country and society and our tendency to be too pro-american doesn’t help…

    the documentary about madame marcos is like food and water to me. thats all i need to live.there wasn’t really any need on her part to restrain it from being shown because she came across as a natural, a lady with abundant charisma, one might just retort negatively if it wasn’t madame but somehow, you are compelled to listen and just believe!

    mr. gonzalez, i think im just rambling now! i had a little drink (xmas party) but i do love you site sir.keep it up!!

    another lady that i admire is rosem*rie ar*nas..mmm deliciously intriguing (she does look slightly similar to mrs c*juangco doesn’t she) and what a voice..i remember her (1994 or 1995) singing “kailangan kita” to a hall full of generals!!!

    about madame c*juangco’s penchant for these chokers and orchids (and she always is in white isn’t she??), i guess it’s justslight eccentricity.remember joan crawford, when, everyday for almost the rest of her life, held, wore, pinned to herself gardenias??

    what are your plans this xmas??have a good one toto!!!!

    obet xxx

  62. December 23, 2006 at 2:35 pm


    Thank you for finding your way here all the way from Edinburgh. Thank you for enjoying the comments. As I tell everyone, they’re more interesting than the posts!!!

    Yes, Madame Imelda Romualdez Marcos has made the unimaginable transition from Lynchable Lady to National [ and International ] Darling…!!! And to think that she has been a gay cult icon all these years. For me, the current affectionate response to her newest, beloved incarnation is proof that the Filipino never takes anything seriously, and that is why the Philippines will never achieve serious things as well.

    Yes, I have been told several times that she wore the spectacular “Idol’s Eye” diamond to the 1983 Araneta-Marcos wedding at the Santa Monica Church in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte. I have yet to confirm this directly with her. Yes, she had mastered the art of “spectacularly simple and simply spectacular” understatement by the 1980s.

    Well, your aunt has always been a sight to behold. Sometimes fantastically beautiful, sometimes… oh never mind. She was so quaint when she would daintily wipe her seat with her expensive [ French? Swiss? Belgian? ] handkerchief. She was quite a sight — unerringly fashionable as always — with her two maids seated in the front pew at the daily 12:15 p.m. holy mass at the Santuario de San Antonio. Nowadays, understandably because of her delicate health, she no longer goes to church… instead, the church willingly goes to her. Many priests, monsignors, bishops, and archbishops definitely make a beeline to her residence to say holy mass and to receive donations.

    I have never understood why she liked to pile on orchids, chokers, and whathaveyou on herself when she has always been so pretty and attractive [ yes, I know that she found herself plain compared to her sisters, but as one grand Manila heiress pointed out, her sisters eventually looked like “the wrath of God”… that from a lady who is also described to look as such nowadays, bwahahah!!! ]. She and the dapper and debonair M*nching C*juangco made such a beautiful pair in their time!!!

    Of course she’ll remember you, her nephew. She is a very intelligent lady.

    Toto Gonzalez

  63. norberto ongsiako-lopez said,

    December 23, 2006 at 9:13 am

    wow! the comments posted on this website just blew me away, talking about manila’s most glamorous ladies, namely imelda ongsiako – cojuangco and imelda romualdez marcos. i have met these two ladies when i was just a little boy, although the most recent meeting i had was with madam marcos 10 years ago during conchita romualdez-yap’s birthday early december of 1996. what has struck me in philippine society is that a lot of ladies (and people for that matter) would like to narrow the gap of aristocracy when there really is a very very few truly rich in the philippines.

    i have lived in edinburgh for many many years now and i still miss the “old” manila when imelda reigned as queen.i guess history has started to be slightly kinder to madam marcos as ironically here in europe, it has become quite hip to idolise her. i guess it , whether good or bad, has a not-so-positive shade of youth’s preoccupation of what is trite and shallow.not that madam marcos is such but it’s what people want to believe she is. whatever people might say, madam marcos is a very complex woman.

    i believe it is only these two women who own not just jewels and diamonds but important pieces of jewelry with historical significance.the brooch madam wore during her daughter’s wedding (when the entire solar system was invited) is the famed idol’s eye. it’s a big as a pigeon egg and madam purportedly bought it for a cool $5.5 m. earlier in her life as first lady, she had the tendency to wear many spectacular pieces of jewelry at one time.however as the years went by, especially in her halycon days during the80’s (which i believe madam marcos was her most absolutely stunning best) she wanted to give an impression of a more subdued glamour which is why she only wore this brooch (did i spell it right).

    imelda cojuancgo on the other hand is a sight to behold, with her alabaster beauty and queenly bearing.yes, she’s in her early 80’s now but still, her beauty and regal bearing is uncontested.hers is a beauty that one has to repeatedly look at in order to appreciate more. she is unforgettable. i believe she’s the first cousin of my mummy but i doubt if she remembers me (or even know me!) i did not grow in forbes park! : . . ((

  64. December 18, 2006 at 2:24 pm


    Speaking of that particular wedding gown, didn’t the wrong attribution trigger “contretemps” between sassiety society magazine editor and young fashion designer some time ago…???

    Toto Gonzalez

  65. December 18, 2006 at 2:22 pm


    Confirmed: Audrey Puckett-Chiu’s wedding gown was indeed by Philippa Lepley of London.

    Toto Gonzalez

  66. December 10, 2006 at 1:48 pm


    Yes, I am aware of that. It does sound logical because he did do the gowns of the wedding entourage. But Reina [ Puckett-Tan ] did tell me that it was by Philippa Lepley of London. I’ll ask Audrey [ Puckett-Chiu ] again when I see her.

    Reina Puckett’s husband Jerome Tan is from Manila. He was a longtime executive of the Singapore-based Kwek Group under M. Yong here in Manila.

    Yes, the Hong Kong taitais are fabulous. They are so inured to French and Italian couture and leather and the highest quality jewelry that they carry themselves with an unparalleled panache.

    Toto Gonzalez

  67. taitai said,

    December 10, 2006 at 10:06 am


    Oh my! Indeed, it has been widely written that A*drey Ch*u wore Ra*o to her wedding!

    Is Re*na T*n’s husband from Manila, Singapore or Hong Kong?

    Ah… the HK taitais! It must have been such a parade of exquisite couture and magnificent jewels!


  68. December 5, 2006 at 3:58 am


    I agree with you. Senior, affluent, WASP friends in New York speak of the time when Harry Winston was the place they most preferred for diamonds. Everything was of the highest quality — the diamonds, the settings, the workmanship, the Fifth Avenue salon, and the service [ !!! ] — and they felt that they got their money’s worth, even if it meant foregoing the other luxuries for a little while.

    All these major jewelers have their own periods of gloire. Laurence Graff and Robert Mouawad are the most resonant names for uberjewelry these days.

    The very capable Gabriel “Gabby” S. Panlilio and his formidable eldest sister Pamela “Pam” S. Panlilio-Valdes [ Mrs. Gabriel Abad Santos Valdes ] are at the helm of the Fe S. Panlilio jewelry business. Even in Fe S. Panlilio’s lifetime, the truly magnificent jewelry was only presented to major clients like the Al-Saud and the Bolkiah.

    Every Oriental lady must have imperial jade for good luck!!!

    It will be interesting to see what will eventually happen to the fabulous Mouna Ayoub… Perhaps a new husband? A new boat? New houses? Even more fabulous jewels?

    Hmm… if I remember right, there were only two round tables [ maximum of three ] of Filipinos during the receptions of the November 1997 Chiu-Puckett Wedding.

    There was a contingent of prominent Ilonggos who hung out with the bride’s father, Panchito Lopez-Puckett. The other Filipinos were Pabling and Loleng Panlilio, Raffy Rufino, Maritess Alava-Yong, her husband M. Yong, and their daughter Yimmy, Maurice Arcache, Rajo Laurel, grandmother of the bride Baby Gala de Villa, mother of the bride Ampy Gala de Villa, et. al..

    The bride, Audrey Puckett, wore a restrained but very elegant gown by Philippa Lepley of London. No, her wedding gown was not at all by a Filipino couturier, as insinuated by some Manila “society” magazines.

    Even more beautiful than the bride that day was her slightly older sister, Reina Puckett-Tan, wife of successful banker Jerome Tan. She was absolutely ravishing — She looked like a dropdeadgorgeous Parisienne! — as the maid of honor in her lavender gown during The Wedding Ceremony and the luncheon reception. She wore a dark-colored gown by Rajo Laurel for the dinner reception. Joey Panlilio, the antique collector and creator of the magnificent “Museo De La Salle” [ also a grandnephew of Fe S. Panlilio ], took notice and complimented Reina: “Nice gown, Reina.” She answered sweetly: “It’s by Rajo…” He comically rejoined: “By Rajo??? Why is it nice???!!!” Rajo overheard it and shrieked “Hoooy!!! What’s that supposed to mean???!!!” with arms akimbo. Everybody around laughed.

    The beautiful aunt of the bride, Maritess Gala Alava-Yong [ first cousin of the bride’s mother, Ampy Gala de Villa ], wife of an important Singaporean businessman, stood out among the Filipinos. She was dressed in an ivory Chanel suit which she wore with simply set but large South Sea pearls for the Repulse Bay luncheon reception; at the dinner reception at The Regent, She was dressed in a shimmering light-colored Chanel gown which she wore with large, very white, and exceptionally lustrous South Sea pearls. Maritess Alava-Yong and her family occupied the premiere suite of the Island Shangri-La Hotel. She rode everywhere in a nice gold-colored Rolls Royce.

    The Hong Kong taitais, led by Alice Chiu, were the ones who dripped with serious contemporary jewelry. I vividly remember a barrage of Asscher cuts, briolettes, emerald cuts, and round brilliant cuts [ oftentimes ++ 10 carats ] all in new, up-to-the-minute platinum settings [ none of the matronly Czarina-type jewelry so favored in Manila ], all worn so casually and stylishly with the “air of the everyday”… *sigh*

    Toto Gonzalez

  69. taitai said,

    December 3, 2006 at 9:37 am


    I feel that House of Harry Winston has lost its magic since Mr Winston and their legendary house-designer Shinde passed away.

    In that level of selling the most rare and expensive jewels, unrivalled passion (to the point of obsession) is required. I believe that is the reason why the House of Graff is doing very well now.

    On the local front, how is Mrs Fe Panlilio’s jewelry business doing? I know she still maintains a store at 6750. Not much spectacular pieces…

    I don’t really like jade, but I continue to dream of a magnificent strand of imperial jade!

    Mouna Ayoub is said to favor emeralds and rubies. As expected, her collection of these 2 major stones are impressive.

    So, how did Manila elite fare during the Chiu-Puckett wedding? Who struck you the most? Which couture was most fabulous? And more importantly, who had the most exquisite jewels? hehehe


  70. November 19, 2006 at 4:18 am


    Well, diamonds are Harry Winston’s traditional metier. But I wonder how its clientele feels now that the company has passed from family hands?

    The Aaron Chiu – Audrey Puckett wedding in November 1997 was grand in a cool, sleek, very contemporary way. It did not have the characteristically kitschy froth and froufrou of Manila weddings. During the champagne reception at the lobby of the Regent, there was so much Cristal Roederer and Dom Perignon flowing I could have taken a long shower. During the dinner at the ballroom, I ate so much of the yummy sea whelk I nearly developed indigestion *burp*. I was tired enough from the long, very social day to refuse all those invitations to “JJ’s” afterwards.

    Laurence Graff in Manila? Only at Madam* M*rcos’. There’s “Graffiti” in the malls though. *lolsz!*

    Mouna Ayoub is a fantastically gorgeous woman. I saw her at a New York gala drenched in incredible rubies. She looked almost extraterrestrial.

    Thank you for enjoying my silly blog. I am particularly gratified that you enjoy grand jewelry and know a great deal about it. As a child, I saw the beautiful jewelry of my grandmother and those of Lola Gely Lopez. As a teen, I saw the famed jewelry of Madam* *melda Rom*aldez M*rcos on various occasions, private and public. In my early 20s, I was introduced to truly magnificent, world-class jewelry and its standards by the international jeweler Fe S. P*nlilio. I also make the rounds of the reputable jewelers in major cities, to know exactly what is going on.

    I bought the latest idiot-proof scanner. I should have pixes soon.

    Toto Gonzalez

  71. taitai said,

    November 18, 2006 at 3:44 pm

    Hi Toto!

    Surprisingly, Harry Winston has very little (if any) inventory of jade jewels.

    Mrs. Alice Chiu’s jade suite must have been spectacular! She is a top HK socialite and philanthropist. There is no doubt on the Chiu’s financial capacity. The HK socialites’ love for anything luxurious is legendary. That wedding must have been so grand.

    Graff already has a salon in Moscow, but is planning to open another! Good move, as more Russians (along with the Chinese and Indians) are getting extremely wealthy. Will we ever see a Graff store in Manila?

    I agree that the photos of Mouna’s emeralds were just badly taken. Those emeralds are from legendary middle-eastern jeweller Tabbah, and knowing Mouna, those would be top-quality stones.

    Let me congratulate you for such a wonderful blog. I really love your stories. I do hope that, if possible, you can also add photos.

    Thanks and keep up the great work!

  72. November 17, 2006 at 1:04 pm


    The things I know but cannot speak of… *sigh*

    Toto Gonzalez

  73. November 17, 2006 at 1:02 pm


    I have no doubt that Laurence Graff will do very well in Hong Kong. He will have to be very trendy to appeal to the “taitais” the rich Hong Kong ladies.

    The company should also consider opening in the increasingly affluent cities of Shanghai, Beijing, Moscow, and Saint Petersburg.

    Toto Gonzalez

  74. November 17, 2006 at 12:56 pm


    Mouna Ayoub is Mouna Ayoub. Although I wouldn’t have divorced my husband if I were her. I would have just kept the petrodollars flowing…

    It’s a pity that the photographs of the emeralds are badly taken. They make the emeralds look far too light than they should be if they’re Mouna Ayoub’s.

    Toto Gonzalez

  75. November 17, 2006 at 12:41 pm


    It’s good that there is a Harry Winston salon in Taipei.

    I am certain that their jewelry lines are geared for Oriental [ Chinese ] ladies and their tastes…

    I saw the most spectacular suites of Chinese imperial jade during the fabulous November 1997 wedding of Hong Kong foreign exchange heir Aaron Chiu to Fernando Lopez’s great granddaughter Audrey de Villa Lopez-Puckett. The luncheon reception following the wedding ceremony was at the Repulse Bay country club; the evening reception was at the Regent hotel. Apart from the lady guests who dripped with serious contemporary jewelry, the very chic mother of the groom, Mrs. Alice Chiu, wore a magnificent suite of the very best Chinese imperial jade reportedly purchased for USD $ 5 million.

    According to the late international jeweller Fe S. Panlilio, Madame Liem Sioe Liong [ Mrs. Soedono Salim ] of Indonesia has a magnificent jewelry collection.

    Don’t forget the opulent Indians…

    Also, one of the greatest concentrations of important jewelry in the world is in the Royal Palace of Brunei. Every waking morning of their married lives, the Filipina wives of the Bolkiah princes wake up with a piece of significant jewelry from the world’s best jewelers.

    Toto Gonzalez

  76. November 17, 2006 at 12:22 pm


    I suppose one receives certificates with purchases in the USD $ 2 million levels. If not…

    Toto Gonzalez

  77. taitai said,

    November 16, 2006 at 12:30 pm

    on the subject of emeralds, check out this blog’s july 12, 2006 post featuring D*yee T*mpalan and her 40 ct emerald brooch. nice size!

    T*na Mar*stela Oc*mpo also has a similar sized emerald she wears as a pendant/necklace.

  78. taitai said,

    November 16, 2006 at 12:23 pm

    and soon, a graff store in hong kong!!! (dec 2007)

  79. taitai said,

    November 16, 2006 at 10:17 am

    here’s a photo of legendary couture and jewelry collector mouna ayoub and her exceptional emeralds (i learned that she has an unparalleled emerald and ruby collection)


  80. taitai said,

    November 16, 2006 at 10:13 am

    they don’t need to go very far as there is a Harry Winston salon in Taipei (Taiwan)!!!

  81. taitai said,

    November 16, 2006 at 10:12 am

    for such ladies as Mrs. *melda Coj*angco and Mrs. M*ly H*chanova , cost is definitely never an issue.

    i hope that they were able to buy quality stones – unheated Burmese rubies and natural yellow diamonds – with corresponding internationally recognized cert.

    (esp for M*ly H*chanova since there’s a lot of heat-treated yellow diamonds in the market)

  82. November 15, 2006 at 1:56 pm


    I wouldn’t know. In her good financial state of USD $ hundred millions wherein cost is no object, jewelry is a matter of personal taste.

    There are reputable sources of first class Burmese Mogok rubies in Bangkok, Thailand.

    I don’t understand why it is so difficult for very rich Filipina women to go to the world’s best jewelers on Fifth Avenue, Bond Street, and Place Vendome when they are all just flights away…

    They prefer to go to Greenh*lls. Disgusting.

    Toto Gonzalez

  83. taitai said,

    November 15, 2006 at 2:03 am

    I have always wondered why Mrs. *melda Coj*angco would choose cabochons. maybe it’s for the “gulpi-de-gulat” look that is so popular with the majority of our socialites. I heard she got the ruby cabochons from Thailand.

    how I agree with you! they should have gone to graff (although he has gone a lot more mainstream) or mouawad. or harry winston or van cleef…

  84. November 14, 2006 at 6:26 pm


    Apologies for the *.

    It prevents the various search engines from quoting and misquoting me.

    Toto Gonzalez

  85. November 14, 2006 at 6:13 pm


    That was a nice party.

    As a grand jeweler once told me: “Hijo, cabochons are exactly what they are… cabochons!!!”

    Yes, that necklace with the big yellow diamond was said to be worth ++ Php 100 million. For a little more, I would have already gone to Laurence Graff or to Robert Mouawad.

    Erl*nda M*randa Ol*dan consistently wears marvelous jewelry. Those rubies were very, very nice.

    Toto Gonzalez

  86. November 14, 2006 at 6:06 pm


    I saw that necklace. The rubies had a good red color but they were not pigeon blood.

    Toto Gonzalez

  87. Taitai said,

    November 13, 2006 at 4:04 am

    There was a quite a parade of notable jewels when the H*chanovas celebrated their golden anniversary.

    – Mrs. *melda Coj*angco in her overwhelming cabochon emeralds reportedly worth Php 200 million (Her incredible cabochon rubies are said to be worth US$2 million, although I find her rubies’ color is far from pigeon-red)

    – Mrs. M*ly H*chanova in yellow and white diamonds (necklace set with a 50ct yellow diamond) said to be worth Php 100 million

    – Mrs. Lid*ng Ol*dan in amazing rubies (oval shaped and HUGE!)

  88. Taitai said,

    November 13, 2006 at 3:46 am

    During the wedding of Ms. Edn* C*mc*m’s daughter, she also wore a staggering ruby necklace. However, it appeared to me that the rubies’ color were not as nice compared to those of Madam* *melda’s.

  89. November 12, 2006 at 6:18 pm


    I remember those jewels.

    I thought it was a rather stupid attempt to bring those lesser jewels out of the country in such an amateurish manner.

    Millions of dollars in gems and metals cross countries smoothly everyday in the most expert ways. I simply don’t understand why they didn’t use those networks.

    Yes, the bracelet of rubies is magnificent. Also the necklace of Colombian emeralds.

    Beautiful things. But certainly not the major pieces of Madam* M*rcos’ Collection.

    As usual, the Philippine government is looking at the wrong things…!!!

    Toto Gonzalez

  90. November 12, 2006 at 5:28 pm


    OhmyGod. That is a fabulous site:
    *pulse quickens* Thank you for directing me to it.

    I will tell my sister about it. She is a graduate of the GIA Gemological Institute of America. She absolutely adores diamonds and I know she will like Graff’s presentation.

    Hahahah! So you also remember those pigeon blood rubies [ most probably Burmese Mogok ] Madam* M*rcos wore to her big 70th birthday celebration seven years ago [ in 1999 ] at the Manila Hotel. Yes, they were absolutely spectacular!!! But only for those “in the know”…

    The funny thing was that She did not seem to be wearing them when she addressed the crowd from a balcony of the hotel with the usual spiel: “Tayong mga mahihirap… na inaapi ng mga mayayaman…!!!” [ “We the poor… who are oppressed by the rich…!!!” ] [ huh??? ]. Now, after the loyalist rabble was dispersed to the Quir*no grandstand where they were fed with endless Jollibee Chickenjoy, we thought that She must have turned to her dear friend Dr. Ele*terio “T*yet” Pasc*al and instructed him: “T*yet, ikabit mo na.” [ “T*yet, put them on.” ]. She then triumphantly entered the Fiesta Pavilion of the Manila Hotel wearing those spectacular rubies *breathless*. We just had to jostle beside her to take a really good look at her stunning jewelry.

    Actually, Madam* M*rcos appeared understated, even with those magnificent rubies, because they hung so casually over her silk dress. The oval rubies were not large, but they were of that elusive but distinct orange red color which is the hallmark of the finest Mogok pigeon blood rubies. Extremely expensive. Because she had owned and worn the most spectacular jewelry in the world all her adult life, Mrs. M*rcos seemed utterly oblivious to the splendors that she was wearing…

    It was Ms. Edn* C*mc*m who truly stood out that evening. She had the style to wear three enormous necklaces — diamonds, rubies, and emeralds — strung one after the other all at the same time. She was the sybaritic cynosure of the evening.

    For me, no one in Manila quite knew how to display grand jewels to greatest effect on one’s self than the late international jeweler Fe S*rmiento-P*nlilio. The combined effects of her icy countenance, calculating mind, magnificent jewelry, Paris couture gowns, and French shoes and purses were nothing less than monumental!!!

    Toto Gonzalez

  91. taitai said,

    November 12, 2006 at 3:44 pm

    This website features the fabulous Roumeloites collection:

    my favorite piece is the van cleef ruby bracelet with ten 5-carat pigeon blood rubies!

  92. taitai said,

    November 12, 2006 at 3:40 pm

    sorry, i forgot to attach the link

  93. taitai said,

    November 12, 2006 at 3:38 pm

    please check out for more of laurence graff’s fabulous jewels

    Mrs M*rcos still wears exquisite jewels to this day. I still can’t forget the over-the-top rubies she wore to her 70th birthday!

  94. November 11, 2006 at 1:20 pm


    That is a very nice website: !!! Thank you for the link!!! What fantastic gems!!! I haven’t seen such magnificent diamonds in person since the height of Madam* *melda Rom*aldez M*rcos, the prime of eminent jeweler *rlinda “L*ding” M*randa Ol*dan, and the zenith of international jeweler Fe S*rmiento P*nlilio [ of course, there is always the Smithsonian Institution all the way in Washington ].

    I promise to ask Madam* M*rcos what jewelry She really wore on that morning of 11 June 1983 — The Ar*neta-M*rcos Wedding.

    I really don’t know if Madam* M*rcos was the buyer of those three fabled diamonds — “The Idol’s Eye,” “The Emperor Maximilian,” and “The Sultan Abdul Hamid II” — in January 1983, even if it seems obvious that She was one of the very, very, very few people in the world [ along with the Sultan of Brunei, the King of Saudi Arabia, Prince Alwaleed, et. al. ] with the immense wherewithal, and the luxurious inclination, to do that.

    One very early morning years ago, at her neighbor Dr. Ele*terio “T*yet” Pasc*al’s luxurious apartment, Madam* M*rcos recalled some memories of her life at the Malacanang Palace for the three of us and T*yet. In the early 1970s, She was visited by a rising London jeweler named Laurence Graff, who specialized in rare and large gems. She found his jewelry beautiful.

    On the evening of the M*rcos departure from the Malacanang Palace — towards the end of the E*SA R*volution — on 25 February 1986, a Tuesday, thirty four [ or thirty six ] “Louis Vuitton” traveling jewelry cases containing magnificent jewelry had been prepared for transport. Their Fate is unknown to the public.

    Toto Gonzalez

  95. taitai said,

    November 11, 2006 at 12:10 pm

    There are talks that Mrs M*rcos actually wore the famous Idol’s eye to the 1983 wedding of daughter Iren*.


    here’s some info from

    The Idol’s Eye weighs 70.21 metric carats and is clearly a Golconda diamond, possessing a slight bluish tinge so characteristic of many diamonds from that source.

    The Chicago jeweler Harry Levinson bought the Idol’s Eye for $375,000, for his wife, Marilyn. In 1967 he loaned it to De Beers for an exhibition at the Diamond Pavilion in Johannesburg. Six years later in 1973, Mr. Levinson put the diamond up for sale in New York but subsequently withdrew it when the bidding failed to reach his $1,100,000 reserve. In 1979 Laurence Graff of London purchased the Idol’s Eye. Harry Levinson loaned the diamond, before it was sold to Laurence Graff, for display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, at a 1982 reception celebrating the 50th anniversary of Harry Winston Inc. In the following January, Mr. Graff sold the Idol’s eye, together with the Emperor Maximilian and a 70.54-carat Fancy Yellow diamond named the Sultan Abdul Hamid II and thought to have once been part of that ruler’s jewelry collection. The sale of these three diamonds to the same buyer is considered to have been one of the highest priced transactions ever known.


    The 3 famous diamonds were bought in January 1983.
    So, does Mrs M*rcos still have these fabulous stones?

  96. September 24, 2006 at 4:57 am


    Imelda Ongsiako-Cojuangco is older than Madame Imelda Romualdez-Marcos. Madame Marcos turned 77 last July. So Mrs. Cojuangco must be in her early 80s.

    It has always been the story that prosperous Chinese families are socially sidelined until they become very, very, very rich to the point that they simply cannot be ignored. But ironically enough, the richest Filipino families have traditionally always been of “Sangley” Chinese ancestry: the Tuasons [ “Son Tua” ], the Paternos [ “Ming Mong Lo” ], the Limjaps [ “Ling Hap” ], the Gregorio Aranetas of Manila [ Soriano of Molo, Iloilo; Ditching / Dy Ching of Binondo ], the Lopezes of Iloilo [ the Villanuevas of “Parian” / Molo, Iloilo ], the Cojuangcos [ the Chichiocos and the Cojuangcos “Co Yu Hwan” ], the Madrigals [ Vicente Madrigal was of genuine Spanish ancestry; “Ming Mong Lo” through Susana Paterno ], the J. Amado Aranetas of Cubao, et. al.. And the pattern is repeated throughout all Philippine provincial towns…

    The strongest case in point is the uberrich Roxas-de Ayala-Zobel-Soriano clan.  The official history and genealogy of the Roxas-de Ayala-Zobel-Soriano clan states that the early Roxas ancestors were Spaniards from Spain, and sometimes from Mexico.  But according to prominent historians, some of those early Roxas ancestors could have been “Sangley” Chinese, and that those Spanish progenitors could have predictably and inevitably intermarried into prosperous “Sangley” Chinese bloodlines…

    According to Salvador Araneta:  “”The origin of the Roxas family in the Philippines is shrouded with the mist of time.  Among the thousands of Spaniards who emigrated to the new world in the first century after the discovery of the Philippines we find the name of Francisco de Rojas [ spelled with a “j” instead of an “x” after the Spanish pronunciation of that name ], “son of Pedro de Rojas and Ines Martinez,” a native of Granada who sailed for the Indies in 1527… On June 23, 1695, records in the Archives of the Indies  at Seville revealed that Antonio Fernandez de Roxas landed in Manila as the third pilot of the galleon ‘San Jose’ from Acapulco… He had been born in the Canary Islands… He was given an encomienda in Palawan and became governor general of the Palao or Pelew islands in 1715…  Pedro Rojas, an ‘oidor’ or justice in the Royal Audiencia who in 1586 denounced to King Philip II of Spain that “nothing else has wrought such ruin in this country as the trading and trafficking [ in the galleon trade ] of those who govern it.”  It has not been possible to determine which of these three Rojases was the early ancestor of those who bear that family name in the Philippines.”

    “In a sketch made by the late Enrique P. Brias Roxas of his family tree, he stated that Mariano Maximo Roxas, his grandfather, was “born in Mexico of Spanish parents.”  However, records at San Juan de Letran College where Maximo studied from the earliest grade, show that he was born in Taguig, now in Rizal province on Laguna de Bay.  Mariano’s father was Juan Pablo Roxas who, according to a sketch of the family tree drawn by another member, was “un Vizcaino” or a Basque.  In the latter case, this group of Rojases were not related to either the man from Granada, the man from Seville, or the ‘oidor’ mentioned earlier.”      

    Salvador Araneta continued:  “What is clear and definite is that the members of the Roxas family mentioned in the chronicles of Don Felix have a common ancestor in his great grandparents Mariano Roxas and Ana Maria de Ureta, who had three sons, according to one family tree, and five, according to another.  In both family trees, Antonio and Domingo are included; Antonio, the progenitor of the “poor branch,” as classified by Don Felix himself, to which he belonged; and Domingo, the progenitor of the “rich branch.”  Antonio married Lucina Arroyo and had fifteen children; and according to Don Felix, twelve of them sat together at one table and lived together in the paternal home at San Vicente Street in front of Chino Velasco’s Bazaar.  To this branch belonged my grandmother, Dona Rosa, a cousin of Don Felix, and Dona Lucina, a sister of Don Felix, married to Don Enrique Brias.  Mentioned in these chronicles are the other Roxases of this branch, all of them first cousins.” 

    “The founder of this branch, Domingo, died in Fort Santiago in 1843 for his libertarian ideas.  He was the father of Jose Bonifacio, who enlarged his inheritance by buying the Hacienda Makati; of Margarita who married Antonio de Ayala of Alava, Spain, and became the most prominent businesswoman of her generation; and Mariano, who was instrumental in the establishment of the first school of Fine Arts in the islands.  Jose Bonifacio’s only son was Pedro Pablo Roxas who married his first cousin, Carmen Ayala.  The younger sister of the latter, Trinidad, married Jacobo Zobel Zangroniz, an enterprising businessman who was the son of Jacobo Zobel Hinsch, a pharmacist from Hamburg, Germany, who emigrated to Manila earlier and married a wealthy Spanish – Filipino woman named Ana Maria Zangroniz y Arrieta.  Trinidad’s son, Enrique Zobel, married Consuelo, the daughter of Pedro Pablo Roxas.  These marriages between cousins consolidated the family fortune into the present vast Roxas – Ayala – Zobel family holdings.”

    “… let me clarify that the spouses Don Pedro Roxas and Carmen Ayala were the parents of Antonio, Consuelo [ married to Enrique Zobel ], and Margarita [ married to Eduardo Soriano ].  They are the grandparents of the late Don Andres Soriano, the present Roxases [ Antonio and Eduardo ], and the Zobels [ Jacobo, Alfonso, who died a few years ago, and Mercedes, married to Joseph McMicking, the builder of fantastic modern Makati ].  And they are the great grandparents of Enrique Zobel [ son of Jacobo ], now the head of all the Ayala interests, and Jaime Zobel [ son of Alfonso ], the president of the Cultural Center, and Jose and Andres Soriano, the present chief executives of San Miguel Corporation.””


    The Spanish mestizo Domingo Roxas [ in official histories; however, some historians argue Chinese mestizo ] and the Chinese mestiza Maria Saturnina Ubaldo, from one of Binondo’s richest families, had three children: Margarita, Jose Bonifacio, and Mariano. Domingo became very rich with his pioneering businesses.  But because of his liberal ideas, he was incarcerated in Fort Santiago and died in 1843.  

    According to the book “Ayala: The Philippines’ Oldest Business House,” Jose Bonifacio Roxas [ o 1814 – + 8 June 1888 ] at a late age married the widow Juana de Castro [ y LIM ] viuda de Fernandez [ o 1807 – + 15 July 1888; obviously a Chinese mestiza based on her photograph ] and had one son, Pedro Pablo “Perico” Roxas y de Castro [ + 4 February 1912 ].

    Domingo Roxas’ only daughter, Margarita [ o 1815 – + 1869 ], continued to “mejorar la raza” improve the race by marrying the Spanish aristocrat Antonio de Ayala [ + 15 February 1876 ], whose certifiably noble “limpieza de sangre” family [ traceable to the court of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella ] was originally from Alavar, Spain. They had three daughters: Camila Ayala [ y Roxas ] de Zarate, Carmen Ayala [ y Roxas ] de Roxas, and Trinidad Ayala [ y Roxas ] de Zobel. Juan Valentin de Ayala had settled in the Philippines in 1795.

    Jacob Zobel Hinsch was a pharmacist from Hamburg, Germany.  He emigrated to Manila and married a wealthy Spanish – Filipino lady, Ana Maria Zangroniz y Arrieta.   Their son, Jacobo Zobel y Zangroniz [ + 1896 ], married Trinidad de Ayala y Roxas [ + 1918 ], a younger daughter of Antonio de Ayala and Margarita Roxas.  Their son, Enrique Zobel y de Ayala, married his first cousin on the de Ayala side and second cousin on the Roxas side, Consuelo Roxas y de Ayala, a younger daughter of the first cousins Pedro Pablo Roxas y de Castro and Carmen de Ayala y Roxas.  

    The elder daughter of Antonio de Ayala and Margarita Roxas, Carmen de Ayala y Roxas [ + 1930 ], married her maternal first cousin Pedro Pablo Roxas y de Castro, the only son of Jose Bonifacio Roxas and Juana de Castro [ y Lim ] viuda de Fernandez. The eldest daughter of the first cousins Pedro Pablo Roxas y de Castro and Carmen de Ayala y Roxas, Margarita Roxas y de Ayala, married the Spanish engineer Eduardo Soriano y Sanz [ + 1912 ].  

    Jose Bonifacio Roxas and Margarita Roxas de Ayala were siblings.  Pedro Pablo Roxas y de Castro and the sisters Carmen and Trinidad de Ayala y Roxas were first cousins.  Carmen Ayala [ y Roxas ] de Roxas and Trinidad Ayala [ y Roxas ] de Zobel were sisters, the daughters of Antonio de Ayala and Margarita Roxas.  Enrique Zobel y de Ayala and his [ first ] wife Consuelo Roxas y de Ayala were first cousins on the de Ayala side and second cousins on the Roxas side.  Margarita Roxas [ y de Ayala ] de Soriano and Consuelo Roxas [ y de Ayala ] de Zobel were sisters, the daughters of the first cousins Pedro Pablo Roxas y de Castro and Carmen de Ayala y Roxas.  It was inbreeding on a grand scale ala Rothschild.

    Enrique Zobel y de Ayala and his de Ayala first cousin and Roxas second cousin Consuelo Roxas y de Ayala had three children:  Jacobo, Alfonso, and Mercedes, surnamed Zobel de Ayala y Roxas.  After Consuelo died from a cholera epidemic [ + 1908 ], Enrique married Fermina Montojo y Torrontegui, a niece of Spanish Admiral Patricio Montojo, and had four more children:  Matilde, Consuelo, Gloria, and Fernando, surnamed Zobel de Ayala y Montojo. 

    Jacobo Zobel de Ayala y Roxas married Angela Olgado y _____; Alfonso Zobel de Ayala y Roxas married Carmen Pfitz y Herrero; Mercedes Zobel de Ayala y Roxas married Joseph McMicking y Rico (de Ynchausti).  

    [ The use of “y” [ “and” ] in nomenclature is a tedious Filipino tradition. In Spain, the maternal surname is simply mentioned after the paternal surname without the “y.” Thus, their names would simply be: Pedro Pablo Roxas de Castro, Carmen de Ayala Roxas { de Roxas }, Trinidad de Ayala Roxas { de Zobel }, Margarita Roxas de Ayala { de Soriano }, Consuelo Roxas de Ayala { de Zobel }, Enrique Zobel de Ayala { the son of Jacobo Zobel Zangroniz and Trinidad de Ayala Roxas; not the contemporary Enrique “Enzo” Zobel Olgado }… The “de Ayala” is an aristocratic Spanish family; thus, the prefix “de.” In contemporary Spain, it is the ancient, aristocratic “de Ayala” surname that matters, not the “Zobel,” the “Roxas,” nor the “Soriano.” It is the “de Ayala” — dating from the “Reconquista” time of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella — that ranks alongside the oldest and the grandest families of the Spanish aristocracy like the Alba and the Medinaceli. ]

    According to the new book, “Anos del Premio Zobel,” written by Ateneo de Manila University professor Lourdes C. Brillantes, their Zobel ancestors in Hamburg, Germany were — surprisingly enough — not Jews.  Their early Zobel ancestors were from Denmark and their descendants migrated to Hamburg, Germany.  Three generations of early Zobels were baptized, married, and buried in Protestant churches in Hamburg.

    But how does one explain the name Jacob Zobel Hinsch, actually signed “Yakob Sobel” [ according to the Spanish registry ], which is obviously Jewish? 

    It must be the interesting mixture of bloodlines of the family that make them such excellent businessmen.

    The Roxas clan of Capiz is actually descended from the Roxas clan of Manila.  Salvador Araneta said:  “To find the relation of the Roxases to President Manuel Acuna Roxas, we have to go back to the father of Mariano [ as stated, the common ancestor of the Roxases mentioned, who was Juan Pablo Roxas, who had four sons:  Mariano, Marcelino, Raymundo { who became a priest }, and Caetano ].    President Roxas comes from this branch.  President Roxas’ father, Gerardo Roxas, was murdered by a ‘”guardia civil”‘ in Capiz, and his grandfather Antonio [ who had the same name as his granduncle ], was a descendant of Caetano.  We do know that Margarita Roxas de Ayala placed Antonio as administrator of her nipa palm hacienda in Capiz in the 1850s.”   

    These days, we have the phenomenally rich Sys, Tans, Gokongweis, Yuchengcos, Tius, Que Pes, Ques, Yaps, et. al.. And, unlike their marginalized predecessors in times past, they are now at the very center of Philippine high society.

    Yes, Gr*tchen Bar*etto is a niece of Glenda Barretto — the owner of “Via Mare” — through her husband, who is of Spanish mestizo descent. I know Glenda Barretto personally because we also have interests in the food business.

    For me, the great Filipina pianist Cecile Buencamino Licad is one of the greatest cultural accomplishments of the Marcos regime in general and of Madame Imelda Romualdez-Marcos in particular.

    I so enjoyed the Fidel Ramos presidency!!! Business was very good and one could do everything else!!! I always tell him that every time I see him… When-oh-when can we have that again???!!!

    Toto Gonzalez

  97. sdvsdvc said,

    September 24, 2006 at 2:30 am

    You mentioned a number of things….

    Mrs. C*juangco’s age is a big question mark. But she is old. Very old. The Ongs*ako family is one of the very few Chinese families accepted into the upper echelon of society then. You know, prior to the M*rcos Presidency, many Chinese-Filipinos were considered parvenus, and illicit millionaires who dabble in the textile and food smuggling, to drugs…had they not married to Filipinas they would have have no foothold in our country. But the Ongs*akos are known to be good lawyers. They’re one of the first Chinese families who moved from Manila to Forbes Park…back when it only had cogon grass.

    And Gr*tchen Baret*o. Or is it Bar*etto. Not sure. Don’t care either. But I find it funny that people think she was an unacceptable match for T*nyboy because a.) she had liaisons………… b.) she was an actress………… that and she was merely a sobrina of the lady who owns Via Mare. So I guess people quipped that she’s unacceptable. Imagine if you’ve been giving parties left and right and the caterer’s family starts dating your son…that’s a bit scandalous to the perfect little world of Mrs. C*juangco has weaved all through these years.

    Mrs. Ar*neta is an accomplished pianist. You are correct in that she appreciates music quite a bit. Very much like their world-renowned little scholar, Cecil* L*cad. Whenever L*cad comes to Manila she is on call for a performance to the M*rcoses or Rom*aldezes she has utang na loob and she is a kind woman too.

    And yes, F*del R*mos is too American to be great. He’s still a consultant for the Carlysle (?) Group I think. He’s like a headless chicken. WIthout Apo he could not realize his true calling.

    But I was happy R*mos became president. It was hard during the Aq*ino years. Everything was restricted. And everybody we knew had to “lie low.”

  98. September 23, 2006 at 5:44 pm


    Thank you! You have an incredibly fun blog yourself!

    Toto Gonzalez

  99. September 23, 2006 at 5:42 pm


    Goodness, if one was already helping First Daughter / First Lady Victor*a “Vi*ky” Syq*ia Quir*no [ later Gonzalez, then D*lgado ] entertain at Malacanang Palace in the 1950s, that’s… my grandmother’s generation.

    As one famous international jeweler quipped when she was asked if she was a contemporary of *melda Ongs*ako C*juangco: “Excuse me, hijo. I was only a child and she was already ‘*melda Ongs*ako C*juangco’!!!”

    Gr*tchen Bar*etto. She is called “La Gr*ta” in show business circles, probably an allusion to the great beauty of the German-American actress Gr*ta G*rbo. I have met her [ at a CCP Reception that honored Mr. *ntonio C*juangco for His Support of the Arts ] and I have to say that she is really beautiful, totally alluring, and completely seductive. I understand Mr. *ntonio C*juangco. I understand why the Greeks and the Trojans went to War for Helen of Troy.

    Madam* *melda Rom*aldez M*rcos was supposed to have worn the ultrarare Red Diamond at the 1983 Ar*neta-M*rcos Wedding. That was the talk of the leading jewelers at that time. The next time I will see her, I will ask her what she really wore on that Wedding.

    Renato Balestra. Of course. But if I remember right, there were also gowns by Yves Saint Laurent and Valentino Garavani waiting in the wings…

    Yes, Greg*y, Iren*, and their family still reside at Don L*is Ar*neta’s elegant residence along McKinley Road in Forbes Park.  Iren* has imprinted her own irreproachable high style on the house, something that the late Don L*is, with his impeccable taste, would have heartily approved.

    Madam* M*rcos herself told me that Iren* had been deliberately raised to be the beautiful, intelligent, articulate, and elegant lady that she is. In short, a Princess. She was, in fact, sent to a school for young royals.

    I have had the honor and the pleasure of her company on several occasions, and I have to say that not only is she very pretty and most elegantly dressed, but that I am most taken by her intelligence, her eloquence, and her wit. She is like an aristocratic French lady from eighteenth century Paris. At one dinner for Lord Montagu of Beaulieu at my home, I was absolutely enchanted as she spoke of the current European musical scene, from the classical to the avant garde, surprising Lord Montagu, who had never met a more erudite, aristocratic, and regal Filipina in his life.

    Yes, there are now many Filipinos who look back at the M*rcos Regime with nostalgia. The thing that I most admire was his Iron Hand and how it kept the Filipinos in total control. That was good because we are such an undisciplined populace, and that is why we do not get anywhere as a nation. President F*del R*mos, President M*rcos’ cousin, came close, but he lacked the time to fulfill his vision. When we will finally get the Leader who will heave, ho, and haul the Philippines to First World stature, I don’t know…

    Toto Gonzalez


    September 23, 2006 at 10:10 am

    Great blog! My parents are from Sarrat!
    For more nostalgia, check out:

    Maraming salamat!

  101. sdcjsdpe said,

    September 23, 2006 at 5:28 am

    Mrs. C*juangco’s always been best dressed. She even outflanked her sister Carmenc*ta R*yes of Marinduque and Edm*nding R*yes, the ex-immigration commisioner I believe. She capitalized and up to know she still does capitalize in her skinny figure. Lolo said that she hasn’t changed…she’s been like that even when she was helping Victor*a Quir*no D*lgado in the luncheons in Malacanang during the Elpid*o Quir*no presidency. She’s an antique herself. Hahaha.

    I think nowadays she’s been in and out of the hospital, and in the care of her Y*lo daughter and her B*nzon daughter-in-law with Patty in Dasmarinas.

    Last time I heard the other Gr*tchen had a spat with her…but thankfully through Kris and P*ping and Tingt*ng things have subsided already, or at least before she passes away and the battle for the inheritance begins.

    But yes. the First Lady wore one piece of Jewelry… I’m not sure if it was called the red diamond. But I was told it came from an eye of some Idol in continental Africa, and the Sor*anos even teased that it may have been scooped from the elder Andr*s’s mines in British East Africa of all places.

    All the girls wore Balestras. Renato Balestras. I think they each had three fittings for that one day, not including the ones for the rest of the week.

    The Ar*netas are especially nice to Irene. They moved to the Ar*neta house on McKinley, and I believe they still maintain it as their residence, although I hear they’ve been busy buying up adjacent lots in Forbes and outside San Fran again after Greg*y’s family failed to secure a less than a hectare property within Ayala Alabang…(It was alright I guess for them…Lest they be direct neighbors to E*zo Zob*l’s American partner and F*del and Am*lita Ramos) Everybody has to be nice to Iren*. She’s harmless I tell you. She doesn’t have the calculating sly of a M*rcos. She’s the innocent version her mother once was, and that’s what even L*reto R. R*mos even says herself.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with most Filipinos looking back to the M*rcos years with nostalgia. M*rcos was and is a great president. Apo was not a good president, but compared to all presidents after 1986 he is the greatest thus far.


  102. September 21, 2006 at 2:40 pm


    I thought that *melda Ongs*ako C*juangco outshone all the ladies during that 1983 Ar*neta-M*rcos Wedding. Even Madam* *melda Rom*aldez M*rcos in her “terno” [ Renato Balestra or Joe Salazar? ], wearing the Red Diamond, nor even the Bride, Iren* Rom*aldez M*rcos, in her “traje de mestiza” [ Renato Balestra or Joe Salazar? ], were not as visually memorable…

    I no longer remember that Ramon C*juangco passed away in 1984. The Marcos Era seems so long ago, specially now that the Post-Marcos Youth are idealizing, admiring, and extolling that period of our history. Somewhat like the Nazi Wehrmacht.

    Toto Gonzalez

  103. x said,

    September 21, 2006 at 12:43 pm

    Mrs. C*juangco’s one of the godmothers. Don Ramon died the next year.

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