The Difference

I have all kinds of friends from all kinds of backgrounds.

I have friends who come from the most venerable families and are fortunate enough to have inherited the vast resources to match their august surnames.  Surprisingly enough, for all the lineage, culture, and assets, they are mostly the ones who live simply, in that peculiar, understated way no one outside their circle would understand.  “Lifestyle editors” would find them a disappointment.        

Then there are those friends whose parents have recently made enormous amounts of money and they do live “The Lifestyle” — Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan & Co. style — that is trumpeted by the glossy magazines.  But apart from The Big Money, I do wonder if anything else will make them tick??? 

And I have always wondered what the essential differences are…



  1. Enrique Bustos said,

    December 8, 2011 at 3:44 am

    Why am I not impressionable?
    By Manuel L. Morato

    Not even as a child was I ever awed by anyone, much less mesmerized. Only a person beatified for sainthood leaves a deep impression on me.

    My father’s discipline was so imbedded in me to respect everyone and to treat them the same, rich or poor. My father was the disciplinarian whom everybody followed. My mother was a docile and understanding wife and mother.

    Modesty aside, when I graduated from Georgetown Prep School in Garrett Park, Maryland, Ambassador Carlos P. Romulo (my father’s friend) was my guardian as Georgetown Prep School was just in the outskirts of Washington D.C. As an intern, I was off on weekends and spent them in the house of the ambassador, his wife Dona Virginia, Greg, Dick, and Bobby Romulo who was with me in Georgetown Prep. Bobby was behind me in high school by one year.

    When I entered college, I decided to continue my studies at Loyola University of Los Angeles, now Loyola Marymount. During my time, it was not coed. That came much later. I decided to continue my studies at Loyola University of Los Angeles, for I found Washington D.C. too cold for me. It snows heavily during winter.

    Conrad Hilton was my guardian, and I stayed with him in his house in Bel Air, then the most expensive mansion in the US with two English butlers and 15 European maids. Wala pang OFWs noon.

    Mr. Hilton had just divorced Zsa Zsa Gabor.

    I once asked him (as a Texan, we spoke in Spanish) why the room of his ex-wife Gabor was monochromatic all in gold – gold carpet, gold walls, and gold furnitures. He retorted: “Because she was a golddigger.” We both laughed heartily.

    At the time, Conrad’s son Nicky and Elizabeth Taylor had just divorced, but he continued to like Liz more than his own son whom he eventually disinherited for being a drunkard and a gambler.

    Taylor would visit him often as did Ann Miller, the Fontaine sisters, Loretta Young and Anne Blythe – all top Hollywood stars at the time. Ann Miller was his favorite dancing partner.

    To me, it was just that, and I spent most of my time in the playroom beside the swimming pool as they chatted and danced the night away.

    Hilton’s mansion Casa Encantada (the enchanted house) was worth $25 million at the time with 18 carat gold faucets and fixtures in all the comfort rooms.

    Kaya siguro hindi ako nagugulat ng so-called “malalaking tao,” ni artista ni kung sino man sila. Ang ugali ng isang tao ang mas importante sa akin, and Conrad was such a good man, a gentleman of the old school. He was a friend of my father.

    Then came the engagement of Zsa Zsa Gabor to George Sanders, which was featured on the front cover of TIME magazine with Gabor showing off a 25-carat emerald-cut diamond ring. As related in the story, it was the engagement ring. But when Conrad saw the magazine, he reacted and very emphatically told me: “I gave her that ring.” Zsa Zsa made it appear that George Sanders had given it to her.

    When I graduated from Loyola University, Mr. Hilton wanted me to work at the Waldorf Astoria which he partly owned. But before I could accept it, my father passed away in Manila. I had to take over the family corporations in 1965.

    Conrad loved to go dancing. When the Hilton Hotel was inaugurated in Manila during President Marcos’ time, Mr. Hilton came accompanied by a young stewardess, his dancing partner, and people in Manila were talking how much of a playboy he was. He had such a reputation worldwide. But knowing Mr. Hilton well, they were wrong in judging him.

    Hilton was a Catholic. He divorced his first wife with whom he had three sons – Nicky, Baron (Paris’ grandfather), and Eric. He married Zsa Zsa Gabor and had a daughter by her named Francesca.

    When Hilton and Gabor divorced, Conrad returned to the Catholic Church and became devout Catholic. Every morning at 6:00 a.m. he would drive to church to hear mass and received communion. He was a daily communicant.

    Little did the rumormongers in Manila knew that the 23-year-old stewardess he arrived with for the Hilton Hotel inauguration in Manila was only a dancing partner who stayed in a separate room at the Hilton Hotel chaperoned by her mother.

    Conrad called for me to attend the inauguration.

    I lament that a Manila Bulletin writer, Brenda Toquero Tuazon, borrowed but never returned some of the memorabilia that Conrad had given me: a book on his life, Be my guest, with his dedication to me, and a book on his mansion, of which he only printed 100 copies and numbered accordingly, also with his dedication to me.

    Brenda never returned them despite my many years of asking her to give them back to me since the late seventies. I never heard from her again. What are left with me are pictures and letters of Conrad to me.

    When Paris Hilton arrived in Manila, some friends were nagging me to go and meet her. I did not. What for? In the first place, she was not even born yet when I stayed with her great grandfather, Conrad Hilton. And maybe she never even got to know him for that was 50 years ago. Another thing, hindi naman ako publicity seeker.

    However, I got to know her grandparents, Baron and Marilyn, who lived in Malibu Beach at the time and had nine children, one of whom is Paris’ father.

  2. Steve Betts said,

    July 2, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    the new rich will walk into a store, get excited and buy everything in sight.

    the old, real rich will walk into a store, feels that he can afford anything that’s there and need not buy!

    its feeling everything in this store is mine. no need to bring them home…

    greed is a novelty…it wears off with wealth. (for the old rich anyway)

  3. ebony said,

    May 24, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    (New) money cannot buy class and breeding…. AMEN! 🙂

  4. periphery said,

    March 16, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    Scene from high school many, many moons ago:

    Old money classmate: Running extremely late due to horrible traffic, ends up skipping first period and apologizing to the teacher afterwards.

    New money classmate: Knowing all about the unusually horrible traffic that day, flies into school in daddy’s helicopter and lands in a nearby field.

    Old money came from orchards, residential real estate, and health care.
    New money came from the Filipino people, stolen with the help of Marcoses.

  5. Garganta Inflamada said,

    September 10, 2007 at 1:30 pm


    Although the Johnson “heiresses” ( of the Johnson & Johnson lineage ) are at it again — or at least in the pages of “Vanity Fair.” Petite ( “bansot” ) 26-year old Casey was spilling her guts and crying foul that her late 50s aunt, Libby, “snatched” her recent boyfriend — a John Dee, a ne’er-do-well music-type person. Casey, SoCal-based, runs around with and counts herself part of the “Paris Hilton” LA set. ( Libby had been dumped a few years ago by Frederic Fekkai — another Paul Mitchell-type entrepreneur. )

    Now it appears that the Polish interloper ( Barbara Piasecka) who married their uncle in the early 80s, has far more class than the actual ‘heiresses’ by blood — going by what good they are or aren’t doing for society.


  6. zippo said,

    September 8, 2007 at 10:54 am

    You are so correct Mangaranon.

    The old rich and the real rich eschew publicity. The old rich and real rich in the U.S., for example, laugh at the antics of Paris Hilton. One really rich WASP princess who could trace her bloodline from the Mayflower was even heard to have said that if you call yourself an “heiress”, then you really are not.

    The really rich and the old rich concern themselves with civic organizations and their donations are mostly made anonymously or through foundations that usually don’t bear their names.

    The really rich and the old rich never call attention to themselves. I remember a scene from “Bonfire of the Vanities” when the old rich Judy McCoy remarked to her husband after his arrest was shown on television, “I suppose, Sherman, I could forgive you, but seriously… television? I could never forgive that.”

    Z 🙂

  7. Mangaranon said,

    September 6, 2007 at 10:11 am

    The real rich live simply because they don’t have to impress anyone. Attitude is — if you like me, thank you. If you don’t, too bad for you. That is not my problem.

  8. cousin paz said,

    September 4, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    Hi Toto,

    Our dear Tita Miding used to say that sometimes, a person’s actions are already a giveaway of his real background. She had this great way of discerning who was old rich and who was “new rich.” How I miss the lady!

    Cousin Paz

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