Comedy Relief: Dishing the Dirt

In the early 1990s we met an old, reclusive, and rich Spanish mestizo Ilocano.  Even in his 70s, he was still handsome, with such elegant, courtly manners ala the Duke of Windsor.

I was incredibly charmed when I was introduced by Joey Panlilio to him the first time.  It was mid-afternoon and he was resting in bed, albeit well-dressed, but he stubbornly insisted on rising to receive me properly.  It was a feat considering his painful arthritis.  It reminded me of La Condesa de Romanones’ [ Aline’s ] recollection of the dying but gallant Duke of Windsor insisting on standing up and dressing suitably to properly receive Queen Elizabeth II, his niece, in his Neuilly residence during her official visit to Paris in 1972:  “No, no, no, I certainly will not receive Her Majesty that way [ lying in bed ]!”

He told us about his life.  About his family.  About prewar.   And of his doomed romance.  And why he never married in honor of her memory…

Senorita Margarita “Bai” Syquia was pretty.  She was the younger daughter of a very rich and prominent Ilocano family, the Syquia de Vigan.  She was killed along with her elder sister Alicia Syquia de Quirino [ the wife of the future President Elpidio Quirino ] and her family in Malate by Japanese snipers during the war.

We commiserated with his tragedy of long ago.  It was all sooo romantic, sooo “Somewhere in Time” [ my generation’s favorite mushy movie ]…   🙂

A few days later, we were with our favorite Ilocana doyennes “Tita Betty” Beatriz Favis [ y Gonzalez ] de Gonzalez and “Tita Cecing” Cecilia Favis [ y Gonzalez ] de Gomez — heiresses of the grandest late 1800s – prewar agricultural fortune in Pangasinan, “Gonzalez de Pangasinan” — for afternoon “merienda.”  We told them that we had met the Ilocano gentleman and how sad his love story was…

Tita Betty and Tita Cecing looked at each other quizzically.  Their eyebrows arched aristocratically and they breathed deeply.

“That’s not true!!!”  Tita Betty snapped in her chichi Hispanized English.  “She never liked him!!!”  She pointed to her younger sister, Tita Cecing.  “Ask her…  She and ‘Bai’ [ Margarita Syquia ] were best friends!!!  Her real love was ‘Paco’ [ Francisco Arranz ]!!!”

And then the unexpected happened…

“How could he say that he was in love with her???  HE WAS BAKLA!!!”  spewed Tita Betty.

“Guapo, pero bakla!”  she added.

Huh???!!!  *shocked*

The great lady Beatriz “Betty” Favis [ y Gonzalez ] de Gonzalez, the embodiment of Old World refinement, elegance, and sophistication, educated at Saint Scholastica’s College, and finished at Manhattanville in New York, had spoken.  She did not even use the milder terms:  “different,”  “eccentric,”  “binabae” [ ladylike ], or even the derogatory “marecon” [ Spanish:  gay ].  She pointedly said:  “BAKLA!!!”

My friend and I were laughing uncontrollably the whole night…  not because of what she said, but because of how she said it!!!

With a Spanish intonation at that!   😛   😛   😛



  1. spendaholic said,

    May 24, 2008 at 9:06 am

    is the first guy M*n*l*ng M*r*to????

    2nd guy….Ma*ric* Arc*che?

  2. Garganta Inflamada said,

    July 10, 2007 at 12:48 am

    BTW, whatever happened to poor Maggie after that horrible chapter in her life? Did she move to Spain or Australia?

    Just wondering.


  3. zippo said,

    April 18, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    Hmmmmm. The 1st guy is a friend of my parents. He used to frequent my parents’ house way way way before he dabbled in public life. I have 1 word to describe him: LOTTO. If you still can’t guess it, try this clue: MAGGIE DE LA RIVA (please do not confuse him with her brutal rapists).

    The 2nd guy I don’t know.

    The Swiss expatriate has been dead for years: H.M.

    The antique dealer: is it O.E.?

  4. January 6, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    cara y cruz:

    myles’ email addy:


    Toto Gonzalez

  5. cara y cruz said,

    January 6, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    myles: what is your email add! Was surprised about the first guy but i think i know who he is.

  6. myles g. said,

    January 4, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    Catching up on this latest thread… Soooooo circumspect and discreet.

    C’mon, spill it out so there won’t be any misunderstandings!! Just kidding!!

    But then, 3 identities come to mind — and I don’t think it’s any of those. One was a Swiss ex-patriate who also owned one of Manila’s leading dailies — but then he didn’t have the ‘Spanish mestizo’ provenance. 2nd is indeed an extant columnist in another Manila daily (or at least on the online version that I read); and the 3rd, altho no such connotations have ever been associated with him, is also a renowned bachelor-painter who does reside part of the year in Paris.

    Am I hot on any of these? First who emails me with the correct identities of the 2 initially talked about here, gets a prize!!


  7. December 20, 2006 at 9:14 pm

    cara y cruz:

    Those are exactly the words to describe his current youthful and dewy looks: “extremely freshened up”!!!

    Toto Gonzalez

  8. cara y cruz said,

    December 20, 2006 at 7:56 pm

    I think 2nd guy just had some procedures done (whatever they were). Looks extremely freshened up from last year.

  9. December 7, 2006 at 6:03 pm

    Cousin Paz:

    Yes, the second gentleman was actually a classmate of my late father [ born 1932 ] at the De La Salle College. He is 74 years old. But he doesn’t look it!!!

    Ever heard of the Baklish term “siyensiya”??? 😛

    Toto Gonzalez

  10. cousin paz said,

    December 4, 2006 at 6:42 am

    Hi Toto,

    The 1st and the 2nd guys you are referring to are pretty obvious. I am just a bit shocked that the 2nd guy is almost 75! Really? I don’t think so… unless he has actually been the handiwork of the “science of beauty.” Actually, the 1st guy looks more 70ish…. Just a thought.

    Cousin Paz

  11. November 22, 2006 at 5:13 am


    Those two gentlemen are famous for who they are.

    I’ll tell you a funny story: The second gentleman was actually a classmate of my late father at the De La Salle College. When my father used to see him on TV in the late 1970s, he would say that the gentleman must already be the son of his classmate, *beep,* who was “not very smart.” My Dad did not know that he was actually seeing his onetime classmate!!! My father was born in 1932, so… *lolsz!*

    Toto Gonzalez

  12. Rafael said,

    November 22, 2006 at 4:50 am

    Hello Toto,

    There’s more so it seems. I was referring to a son of the first mayor of QC where a street is named after him. The other one is quite visible in high society and has a column in one of the leading papers and is an editor of one high society magazine. Something like a social eventologist. Both of the persons I’m referring to have the letter * as a first name.


  13. November 21, 2006 at 9:21 am


    I’m not sure I know the people you are referring to…

    Yes, there was this reclusive gentleman, a confirmed bachelor, who lived in a villa in old Santa Mesa. He was a collector of art and antiques. He was a scion of a grand old Spanish-Chinese-Filipino Manila family. He was well-known in Manila high society; he was one of their own. His peers were Felipe Hidalgo, Luis Ma. Araneta, and Arturo de Santos. Unfortunately, after he passed away, his collection was dispersed by his nieces.

    He had a gardener, whom he mentored, who is now a top Manila antique dealer with an international clientele.

    Yes, there is this handsome gentleman, also a confirmed bachelor, who lives in an elegant house in Makati, at least when he is in town. He is the scion of an uberrich Manila clan. He is eccentric and has very high artistic tastes. He lives in Europe most of the year.

    He has very handsome bodyguards.

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

    Toto Gonzalez

  14. Rafael said,

    November 21, 2006 at 6:50 am

    This story is similar to the one I heard of a Spanish mestizo who also happens to have (I believe) Chinese blood. He or his family used to own vast tracts of land in QC but I’m not quite sure if they still do. Educated abroad and is something of an art connoisseur. Anyway, the story goes that the reason why he did not marry was that his fiancee or girlfriend died in a fire in Pasay many years ago. Thus the reason for being single.

    There’s also this story also of a mestizo but from the South (think hacienda and azucarera) who’s quite visible and very much into the crowd of alta sociedad. But I can’t remember much of the story here, I heard that back during this person’s La Salle days, he used to date twin girls. But I don’t know what happened next. Maybe you can fill me in here. Are both of these guys really gays?


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