TransPacific Conversations

In a Northern American city, in a multimillion dollar penthouse overlooking a great park and the sea, lives Tita Fabulous…

She has more in common with the sharp and sophisticated wives of New York billionaires, the intellectual and cultured peeresses of London, and the soignee grande dames of Paris than the inevitably dowdy ladies of Forbes Park, Dasmarinas Village, The Fort, and Ayala Alabang.

Her immediate family is still the richest branch of a prominent, wealthy, and elegant Spanish mestizo Manila family [ with its wealth, as always, rooted in its Chinese antecedents ].

Her mother was the daughter of a famous Visayan family, which, even today, is associated with staggering wealth.  In her pampered youth during PreWar, She was given over to elegant jewelry, to expensive dresses by a young Ramon Valera, and to the endless parties of a truly cosmopolitan Manila.  But as World War II neared, She developed a sense of social responsibility which was only heightened by her chastening experiences throughout The War.  In the PostWar, She became a beacon of charity, of work, and of simplicity.  The jewelry, the dresses, and the parties — although still parts of her life —were no longer the priorities of her existence.  She became a real partner in the actualization of her visionary husband’s manifold plans.  Her tireless efforts contributed significantly to the formation of a business empire which included vast holdings in real estate, manufacturing, and education, among others.   

Her father, dashingly handsome and expensively educated, was an aristocrat of the Old World.  His eminent father, of good family from the Visayas, had made a fortune from his excellent legal practice in Manila, but it was his mother’s birthright — her Spanish mestiza lineage and her blood relations to the best and the brightest of insistently Spanish Manila [ even in the 1910s – 20s ] — that assured his unimpeded entree to the corridors of Power and Influence.  In his late age, he very nobly donated a substantial part of his large fortune to an educational institution which would educate the marginalized youth of the country. 





  1. clementis said,

    March 4, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    hello toto… sorry i am not related to the gentle lady but i do know a nosy mouse who is.

  2. bestbudd said,

    February 19, 2008 at 2:06 am

    is it victoria lopez de araneta? 🙂

  3. February 5, 2008 at 7:35 am


    You’re brill.

    Actually, R.G.L.L.A.-T.. Are you related to her?

    Toto Gonzalez

  4. clementis said,

    February 5, 2008 at 6:16 am

    a wild guess from rumpelstiltskin… is the lady’s monogram R.A.T.?

  5. January 17, 2008 at 5:48 am


    Right you are!!! But She is Fabulous and Filipina nonetheless!!! 😀

    Toto Gonzalez

  6. January 17, 2008 at 1:19 am

    Toto, looks like the Lady in Question has not seen the light of day in Manila for so long that her skin has turned too alabaster to be Filipino— nobody seems to know! LOL.

  7. Garganta Inflamada said,

    January 16, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    OK! OK!! I know who it is.

    Carmen Soriano!! 🙂 🙂 🙂


  8. January 16, 2008 at 4:30 am

    Anyway Toto, I really like this. It’s like a cat and mouse game. So exciting.

  9. January 16, 2008 at 4:28 am

    The Roxas-de Ayala-Zobel-Soriano fortune, though it has its unknown past somewhat connected to the Visayas, is not a Visayan family. If there is ever a province to associate with this Old Guard family, I’m sure everybody would agree that it would be Batangas, seat of the old Roxas branch and now being marketed as Punta Fuego, Hacienda Bigaa, etcetera! Ask *** **** and her hubby. You might find them canoodling by the seas of Mabini, Batangas.

    And as for the Urq*ijo name, you remind me of R*cio Zobel. But I love Dee Ann more.

  10. January 16, 2008 at 4:23 am

    Consuelo Zobel is long dead. I’m pretty sure she was a half-sister to Dna. Mercedes, having been born from that Spanish Admiral with the surname Montojo — who made a zarzuela out of the Battle of Manila Bay at the turn of the previous century. Besides, she doesn’t have kids. So why include her?

  11. Garganta Inflamada said,

    January 15, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    OK, is that Consuel*, who like her aunt, also married an American military man, and retired in Hawaii? If so, I don’t think she’s still around, is she?


  12. January 15, 2008 at 10:57 am


    Very, very Low Profile but very, very High Style!!! 😀

    Toto Gonzalez

  13. Mangaranon said,

    January 15, 2008 at 10:42 am

    I know who she is! No one would ever guess her identity as she has a very, very low profile!

  14. Garganta Inflamada said,

    January 15, 2008 at 7:43 am

    I thought so. And it can’t be Ded*s Urqu*jo, is it?

    Other than her and Mercedes McMicking, I can’t think of any of the other expatriate RoxaSorianoZobeyala ladies who originally came from the Visayas.

    So you’re just going to have to tell us, Mr. T. 🙂

    Speaking of expatriate socialites, can you also write about another — OK, not as filthy rich as the Zobeyalas – one-time young pretty sort-of Manila society thing who came from one of the country’s leading educational families, Dee M*rquez, who used to host a singing show in the early days of Phil. television ( when it was just ABS ), broadcasting out of a building on — oh God, what’s that street parallel to Rizal Avenue (towards Binondo) where there used to a Republic Theatre ( movie house )?

    She then up and went to the States, and ended up marrying Bob Merrill, best known for being the composer of FUNNY GIRL and some other medium-hit Broadway shows. Dee was the first of the real pretty chanteuses that ABS-( then CBN ) nurtured and promoted to have their very own sophisticated TV shows. Dee was followed by Pilita, then Ditas Espina ( her show was called “DINA” ), and then Nelda Navarro.

    Just reminiscing.


  15. January 15, 2008 at 6:58 am

    Garganta Inflamada:

    You’re almost there…


    Toto Gonzalez

  16. Garganta Inflamada said,

    January 14, 2008 at 5:03 am

    I don’t think it’s her, but an early guess of mine is Chuch*y Tuason? Although I think it’s a very discreet member of the Roxas-de Ayala-Zobel-Soriano lineage.


  17. January 13, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    Thanks Toto… you know I kept on tossing myself from left to right in my bed… thinking who it was…for a while I was already enumerating the Filipinos who have nice houses in New York… the Cruz-Natori, the Siguion-Reyna, the Ponce Enrile, the Rocha, the Romualdez, the Nicolas-Lewis, the Banatao, the Madrigal-_____ but none of them are Visayan and Chinese and Sugar-rific like the Yulo, the Cojuangco, the Bautista, the Gonzalez, the Escaler, the de Leon, the Araneta, the Tuason Araneta. All I knew was that if they were Visayan, Chinese and Sugar-rific then they have GOT to have at least a droplet of Araneta or Lopez blood. It’s a PreWar requirement, right? *muah*

  18. curious george said,

    January 13, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    are you talking about e**a ar*neta?

  19. January 13, 2008 at 9:25 am


    You’re brill.

    Toto Gonzalez

  20. January 13, 2008 at 7:29 am

    I can only imagine an Araneta-Lopez heiress………… hmmm… but it can also apply to one of the Yulos, one of the Cojuangcos, and… er… please don’t tell me you’re portraying Loida N-L as an heiress?!

  21. taitai said,

    January 12, 2008 at 8:03 am

    Lourdes Reyes-Montinola?


  22. Garganta Inflamada said,

    January 9, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Sorry. My eyes glaze over sometimes — at the myriad of details your accounts enumerate that these little things slip by.

    Well, we await the rest of the story… 😉


  23. January 8, 2008 at 10:00 am

    Garganta Inflamada:

    Do read it again. 🙂

    Tita Fabulous’ mother was the PreWar society grande dame.

    Most definitely, Tita Fabulous is part of Manila’s Spanish mestizo elite. And She is also part of the Visayan sugar elite.

    It was Tita Fabulous’ aristocratic father who was a visionary with manifold plans.

    Better yet, wait for me to describe Tita Fabulous herself. 🙂

    Happy Guessing!!!

    Toto Gonzalez 😀

  24. Garganta Inflamada said,

    January 7, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    Speaking of MO (and not to hijack the thrust of this thread) but I’ve got to relate one vignette re the aforesaid MO.

    It was in the mid-80s, and a cousin was ‘temp’ing’ as a receptionist at a renowned Beverly Hills plastic surgeon’s clinic, when who should walk in but MO. Although they did not circulate within the same civic circles in Manila, and my cousin was a little older than MO, she of course recognized the more prominent socialite — altho she did it in a very professional way.

    MO, on being recognized from a Manila background and since plastic surgery was still something not to be spoken of at the time, haughtily replied: “You’re not supposed to have recognized me.”

    My cousin pulled back and give MO the space she needed. But in afterthought, when she related the incident to us, she said she wanted to reply: “Why then, Mrs. St*art, we’ll have the doctor work on your face right away.” BWAHHHHHHHHHH!!

    But of course, she bit her tongue — so to speak. MO at that time was living bi-coastally, being married then to Dwight St*art, president of the Carnation Company, based in Los Angeles, and also maintaining her digs in Park Avenue, NY.

    Let’s hope this mystery lady of Toto in question has better manners than MO.


  25. Garganta Inflamada said,

    January 7, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    #1 – Min*ie is NOT (or at least since last some looked) a pre-war prima donna.

    #2 – By herself, she is not part of Manila’s mestizo elite. (OK, maybe her 2nd marriage gave her that connection.)

    #3 – I don’t know that any of her 3 spouses had these ‘visionary… manifold plans.’

    Toto’s got to give us more clues.


  26. January 7, 2008 at 6:00 am


    No, however much it may sound like her.

    Toto Gonzalez

  27. January 6, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    Park and sea… Min*ie Osmena?

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