Bluer than Blue

It has already been twenty-two years since the end of the Marcos regime in February 1986, but all aspects of it still make for interesting conversations…

I sat down to lunch recently with a former, leading “Blue Lady,” and I thoroughly enjoyed the memories she shared with me.

“Oh, those were the days…”

“Basically, we were there to help Mrs. Marcos with her various activities.”

“Meldy [ Imelda de la Paz Ongsiako-Cojuangco ], Zita [ Zita Bartolome Fernandez-Feliciano ], and Lulu [ Lourdes Tiaoqui Hidalgo-Tinio ] were the ones closest to Mrs. Marcos.  Meldy Cojuangco liked to say:  ‘I’m ”the other Meldy”.’  But the truth was that Meldy Cojuangco was ‘the only Meldy who mattered’ in Manila society until Mrs. Marcos sallied forth from ‘nowhere.’  The ladies formed a ‘cordon sanitaire’ around Mrs. Marcos which made access to her quite difficult.  You couldn’t get near her just like that.  She was really like a queen.”

“The others who belonged to that inner circle were Ising [ Maria Luisa Paterno Madrigal-Vazquez ], Eloi [ Eloisa Bartolome Fernandez-Revilla, later -Yan ], Nitang [ Erundina Bartolome Fernandez-Lim ], whom we called ‘O-lay,’…”

“No, Chito [ Consuelo Paterno Madrigal-Collantes ] was not part of that inner circle.  Although Chito, by her sheer wealth, belonged to every high circle there was.  Liding [ Erlinda Salgado Miranda-Oledan ], not initially, but later on.”

“Oh yes, Teyet [ Dr. Eleuterio Pascual ] controlled all matters artistic in that circle.  He and Liding were constantly at each other’s throats.  The way he and Marietta are now [ Meldy Cojuangco’s close friend, Marietta Santos ].  He and everyone for that matter!  And of course, he poked fun at everybody else.  Poor ladies, no one was spared!”

“Ronnie Laing was the favorite for flowers and party arrangements.  But poor Ronnie always had to hear the carping of ‘everybody’ even before Mrs. Marcos got to see what he had done for the upcoming party.  Yackity yackity yack…”

“Ileana Maramag… she was Mrs. Marcos’ secretary.  I just forget the name, but Mrs. Marcos had this secretary of sorts, a former member of the household staff who was very trustworthy.  She was in charge of Mrs. Marcos’ jewelry.”

“When we were abroad and at a gala, say the opera, Mrs. Marcos wanted all of us dressed to the nines.  She would lend us fantastic jewelry and all we had to do was to return it to that trustworthy secretary of hers.  The crowd’s jaws would literally drop at the sight of Mrs. Marcos and her glittering retinue!!!”

“Did you know that Mrs. Marcos was very “hands-on”?  Whenever we would be at any of her houses, she would be busy moving plants, carrying cachepots, transferring vases.  Of course, we would help her.  Some of us anyway, specially Loleng [ Dolores Arguelles-Panlilio ].  Many of the ‘Blue Ladies’ would just sit down, eat, fan endlessly and gossip the day away.  However, Mrs. Marcos never complained.”

“Of course, I was there at the MIFF Manila International Film Festival.  I was assigned to entertain a whole European delegation.  Sooooo goodlooking!  We brought them to the beach and then to the discos at night.”

“You know, Malacanang was not the first time I saw Mrs. Marcos, but I never told her nor anyone else…”

“I first saw her in the house of her cousin, Danieling [ Speaker of the House Daniel Zialcita Romualdez;  son of former Manila Mayor Miguel Romualdez and Brigida Zialcita;  Miguel was an elder brother of Vicente Orestes Romualdez, Imelda’s father ] and Pacing / Pacita [ Paz Gueco-Romualdez ], along Speaker Perez street [ in Santa Mesa Heights near the Santo Domingo church in Quezon city ].  She was pretty, and simple.  Pacing said that she was Danieling’s [ first ] cousin from Leyte.”

“The elder Romualdez first cousins had concurred that it was a terrible waste for their undeniably beautiful cousin Meldy to stay in the Leyte backwash ( where her father Vicente Orestes Romualdez had brought his second set of children after the death of their mother, Remedios Trinidad ) and they arranged for her to come to Manila, where her beauty could probably lead to a ‘good marriage’ with an accomplished gentleman and thus secure for herself a good future…” 

“I also saw her through the window of that piano store in Manila where she worked.  Sometimes, she would be posed beside the piano, perhaps to make it sell.  Difficult work, I thought.”

“‘Meldy’ would take the jeepney everyday going to and from work.  Sometimes, the poor girl would have no money and would have to borrow her transportation money from Pacing’s maids.”

“In those postwar years, at least before the ‘activistas’ and Mayor Villegas came along and spoiled all the fun, we would have practices for the ‘rigodon de honor’ of the ‘Kahirup’ and the ‘Mancomunidad Pampanguena’ at Danieling’s and Pacing’s Speaker Perez street house.  But ‘Meldy’ just watched behind the doors of the kitchen and those of the staff quarters.    The men, who were all attracted by ‘Meldy’s’ fresh beauty, would ask Pacing for the girl to join us in the practice — saying all she needed was a dress — but Pacing declined.”

“But Pacing, despite what is commonly thought, was not all that bad to ‘Meldy.’  She would request the “Kahirup” and “Mancomunidad Pampanguena” organizers to let ‘Danieling’s cousin’ sing at their annual balls, because ‘Meldy’ really did have a beautiful singing voice.  Afterwards, Pacing would call her rich ‘comadres’ to lend ‘Meldy’ an evening gown, preferably by a top couturier like Ramoning Valera.  Of course, Danieling and Pacing had ambitions for ‘Meldy,’ marrying up certainly being one of them.”

“‘Society’ was so small then.  Everyone really did know, or at least knew about, everybody else.  One could hide money but of course not financial difficulty.  It didn’t matter that someone impecunious was related to someone rich, because everyone knew the difference!!!  It was cruel in a way.  And that was the case with ‘Meldy.’  Everyone knew that she was the prominent Danieling’s cousin, but well… Several rich people were ‘not nice’ to her, to say the least.  I felt for her.  Then of course she became Mrs. Ferdinand Marcos and nothing was ever the same again.  I couldn’t blame her for turning the tables on those who had offended her in the past; she was just giving them a dose of their own medicine.”

“Years later when ‘Meldy,’ against all odds, finally became the First Lady of the Philippines, Madame Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, she invited Danieling’s and Pacing’s daughters [ Danieling’s actual daughters ] to come to the Malacanang palace.  They initially did not know how to comport themselves because, as spoiled children who blurted out whatever they thought without restraint, they used to order ‘Meldy’ around, well, like household help:  “Meldy, ikuha mo ako ng tubig.”  “Meldy, kunin mo iyong sapatos ko.”  “Meldy, ayusin mo yung mga damit ko.”  “Meldy, sabihin mo sa chofer na aalis na ako.”   They were being entertained by the most powerful lady in the land!”

“And after all these years, hijo, I still think that Imelda Romualdez-Marcos was a good First Lady.  Not only good, make that GREAT!!!  Look at what she achieved during her days of power!!!  Do you remember the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Philippine International Convention Center, the Folk Arts Theater, the Manila Film Center, the Manila Hotel, the Philippine Plaza Hotel,  the Coconut Palace, the Philippine General Hospital, the Heart Center, the Lung Center, the Kidney Center, and all those other institutions IN THEIR PRIME???  Not to mention the Malacanang palace, Antique I & II [ the presidential guesthouses ], “Balay ti Amianan” in Paoay, the Santo Nino shrine in Olot, and the others.  We had so much to show to the world!!!  Now, we only have the cheapest scandal after the cheaper scandal after the cheap scandal…  We Filipinos no longer have a face to show to the world!!!  Embarrassing!!!”

“I also think that Ferdinand Marcos was the greatest president we ever had.  Tell me honestly, did we have anything better after him???  NO!!!  Not Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino with her mahjong quorums, nor Fidel Ramos and his under-the-table deals, Joseph Estrada and his quarreling mistresses, not even Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her thieving husband with his cheap, cheaper, and cheapest “queridas”!!!  Call me a Marcos loyalist, because I am proud to be one!!!”

Oh, O… K…  Whatever you say, Tita…   🙂



  1. john edward lopez dragg said,

    October 27, 2014 at 7:45 am

    to roberto i would like to know why are you looking for my mom mrs nenita lopez? are you somewhat connected to lola imelda bentley and lolo dave? Am jed the youngest son you could contact me thru 09461885180. Hope to hear from you soon

  2. Roberto "Parker" Bentley de Lucia said,

    October 24, 2012 at 5:45 am

    I would like to know if anyone remembers a lady named Nenita Lopez Conde. She went to school with Madame Marcos in Leyte and was also reportedly a Blue Lady, could anyone comment on this? Many thanks!

  3. John Christian Canda said,

    February 7, 2010 at 11:44 am

    For me, the Marcos Era has both good and bad sides. Marcos may be bad indeed, but the Aquino Presidency was worse, thanks to the Kamag-Anak, Inc. As Cardinal Sin said, “We removed Ali Baba, but we replaced him with Forty Thieves.” Even Tito Manoling, who worked as Mrs. Aquino’s MTRCB Chairman, knew what was happening under Cory’s watch. He even endorsed Dr. Cecilio Arillo’s book “Greed and Betrayal” in one recent episode of Dial M.

  4. Jorge H-Freyre said,

    January 30, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    I was in Manila in 1960 and 1961, and had the pleasure to meet many wonderful people. I remember many of them and the welcome they gave me. Wonderful memories of those eighteen months I spent in Manila next to the Chinese Embassy. And the parties, oh, the parties were fantastic, I Remember one in particular in the house of Ms. Conching Sunico… I went disguised as an Egyptian of some sort and so was my friend Manoling Morato whom I always remember with affection, good memories from those days…

  5. i know the truth said,

    November 20, 2008 at 5:35 am

    I am aware of a current murder / theft scandal within one of the biggest families mentioned above. This involves four family members who worked together in planning and executing the death of the family matriarch. There are a few who know the truth and this must not be left alone.

  6. talagang tsismoso said,

    September 11, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    here are some websites that shows pictures of the various marcos mansions around the philippines the 1st one is the marcos mansion in san juan the 2nd one is the sto nino shrine in leyte and the last one is the malacanang of the north in ilocos norte–NINO-SHRINE-AND-HERITAGE-MUSEUM.htm

  7. talagang numero unong tsismoso said,

    July 17, 2008 at 5:39 am
    Laurence Graff: The king of diamonds
    By Suzy Menkes
    Published: November 26, 2007

    LONDON: As the yacht slid across the dark waters, Laurence Graff wondered where President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines was taking him. By the time the floating royal palace had docked in Bamboo Island, he had sold to his hosts not only the “Idol’s Eye,” but also two other historic diamonds.

    That was in the early 1980s, when the rags-to-riches story of the 15-year-old apprentice from London’s rough East End had already transformed him into the “king of diamonds.”

    Graff learned to create “a big flash,” by bunching together tiny stones and at a young age set off to conquer Australia, Singapore, Brunei and the Middle East.

    “The Most Fabulous Jewels in the World,” privately published (with proceeds to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund), tells the story in words and pictures. In Tahiti in the 1970s, the jeweler had strings of local necklaces, a suitcase of sample rings and big hair – but not as big as the extraordinary coiffure he created where the model’s locks were threaded with $1 million of diamonds.

    Instinct and bravura led Graff to bid for all the pink diamonds in an Australian mine. He set them together in one “tremblant flower” and took it from the workrooms to the Sultan of Brunei’s London hotel suite. “I was out of the pink diamonds in two minutes,” Graff said.
    Today in Fashion & Style
    When conscience and closet collide
    Fashion fantasy still a star in ‘Sex and the City’ movie
    She dresses to win

    The book’s author, Meredith Etherington-Smith, has coaxed stories out of Graff: the sunburst of a golden yellow diamond that captivated the writer Danielle Steele; his experience of some of the most famous stones in the world from the Idol’s Eye to the Excelsior (sold to the Saudi royal family for £7 million). A collector of contemporary art, he kept one prized stone – the emerald from the Duchess of Windsor’s engagement ring – to give to his wife Anne- Marie on their 25th wedding anniversary.

    Graff’s mighty jewels are shown alongside their inspirations: a flower brooch reflecting Madame de Pompadour’s frills; or, beside a beaded Massai bride, a diamond necklace of marigold squares, ice blue circles and sugar pink hearts – a Graff signature.

    Ultimately, Graff bought not just stones, but a diamond mine, investing in the South African Diamond Corporation so that the company is now integrated from diamonds in the rough to his network of stores.

    Could a mighty diamond be just be too overwhelming to wear?

    “A diamond can never be too big,” said Graff. “I have never seen a diamond that couldn’t be worn. They are never, ever vulgar.”

    King of Bling
    Forbes Magazine
    Susan Adams 08.13.07

    How a poor boy from London’s East End became the most exclusive diamond merchant you’ve never heard of.
    British billionaire Laurence Graff, the man jewelry business insiders call the new Harry Winston, swears this story is true: A woman and her husband walk into Graff’s shop on London’s swanky New Bond Street and ask to see the stunning diamond-and-ruby necklace in the window. It’s the woman’s birthday and hubby wants to buy her a bauble. At $2 million, however, he feels the price is too steep. Instead he offers $1 million and exits the store, giving the jeweler 24 hours to cash the check. Later that day the lady returns with a second man, her lover. He, too, admires the necklace but finds the price too high. Another $1 million check is written and left on Graff’s desk. The dapper jeweler, ever discreet and always the consummate salesman, breathes no word of the birthday girl’s earlier visit to his store. Later she returns once more to scoop up her present, and presumably tells each of her benefactors that he has gotten a bargain from the jeweler. Graff cashes both checks.
    It has the flavor of a very tall tale. Why does Graff tell it? It adds to the mystique and drama that define his business, the upper tier of jewelry retailing. The 69-year-old Laurence Graff climbed from scrubbing toilets in a Hatton Garden workshop to the helm of a worldwide brand with 15 stores in the globe’s wealthiest spots, from Monte Carlo to Dubai to Moscow. Behind this retail chain is a wholesale buying operation: Graff Diamonds International is vertically integrated, taking stones from the rough shapes that come out of the mine to the display case. He sells stones of the greatest weight and highest quality and claims an average transaction price of $400,000. By that score he seems to easily surpass such classic outfits as Cartier, Winston, Van Cleef & Arpels and Tiffany (nyse: TIF – news – people ).
    Graff knows how to cultivate his customers. He once sailed out to meet Oracle (nasdaq: ORCL – news – people )’s Larry Ellison, yacht to yacht, in the Mediterranean to deliver a cache of diamonds Ellison had requested. Saudi Prince Turki bin Abdul Aziz, the Sultan and Queen of Brunei, Oprah Winfrey, Elizabeth Taylor, even soccer star David Beckham and wife, Victoria, all count themselves among Graff’s longtime clients. Donald Trump bought Melania’s 12-carat emerald-cut diamond engagement ring from Graff’s Madison Avenue salon in 2004 for a reported $1 million. “Laurence is a spectacular jeweler,” pronounces Trump. “The quality of his stones, the quality of the service and the reputation are the top.”
    Graff shares quite a few of Trump’s traits: charming and outrageously self-promoting, blunt and full of braggadocio, obsessed with superlatives. (He is about to release a glossy $150 coffee table tome, about himself, entitled The Most Fabulous Jewels in the World.) “I’m a complete thoroughbred in the business,” proclaims the trim, nattily attired jeweler (suits custom-made in Milan; monogrammed bespoke shirts), with no trace of irony.
    Graff also possesses Trump’s knack for making money. He’s probably worth some $2.5 billion, including homes in Geneva (his legal residence), London, New York and Cap Ferrat in the south of France; a new 150-foot Feadship yacht; a Global Express XRS plane; a winery and vineyard in Stellenbosch, the Napa Valley of South Africa; and a modern and contemporary art collection worth $250 million.
    To be sure, sellers of luxury goods–from yachts to art, watches and real estate–have had little trouble raking in fat profits since 2000, a period during which the affluent have been awash in money. Graff rode that luxury boom at his Graff Diamonds International (he owns 100%), where sales jumped from $90 million in 2000 to $400 million in 2006, while aftertax profit grew from $11 million to $48 million.
    What distinguishes Graff from the likes of Cartier and Van Cleef is a decision he made a decade ago. Wanting to expand globally and needing a steady supply of diamonds, especially bigger stones, in 1998 he bought a 51% controlling stake in a Johannesburg diamond wholesaler and manufacturer, South African Diamond Corp. (Safdico). Other retailers buy and sell finished diamond jewelry. Graff’s wholesale business allows him to cut out the usual middlemen–the brokers, polishers and manufacturers who each take their slice as a rough stone moves up the jewelry chain.
    Through Safdico, Graff now buys half of his uncut diamonds from the South African mining behemoth De Beers (Safdico is one of 93 sightholders, or wholesalers who are permitted to buy rough diamonds from De Beers). On the manufacturing rung he employs 370 cutters and polishers in South Africa and Mauritius, who handle smaller goods, and 19 master craftsmen in Antwerp and New York, who work on the larger diamonds. He makes all his own jewelry, in his London and New York workshops. (De Beers has developed its own retail brand in conjunction with luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, but it’s not competing with Graff at the highest end of the price spectrum.)
    This pipeline is especially helpful to Graff with big stones, his specialty. Gross margins at branded jewelry retailers like Tiffany and Cartier hover at roughly 50% for diamonds up to around 5 carats. For bigger stones, where the per-carat price is much higher, those margins get squeezed below 20%. “When you sell a big stone worth $2 million or $3 million,” explains diamond analyst Martin Rapaport, “you can’t mark them up that high. The person buying that stone is going to be smart and a serious handler.”
    Indeed, on very large stones of 20 carats and up it may make sense for a jeweler to take no profit: The monster pieces draw attention to the brand. A 50-carat flawless diamond of the highest clarity might wholesale for $100,000 a carat, or $5 million, and sell at retail for not much more than that. There is still money to be made on the very large pieces, however, by someone who buys rough and takes on the labor and risks of chopping up the rock.
    A publicly traded entity like Tiffany has to concern itself with inventory turnover; Graff cavalierly maintains a huge inventory of diamonds, with a retail value, he estimates, of $1.5 billion. The stockpile enables Graff to construct jewelry made up of multiple rare diamonds, like the $30 million necklace he sold late last year that could be worth 20% less if each of the diamonds were sold on its own.
    These two factors–bulging inventory and vertical integration–help explain why Tiffany’s net profit margin sits at 9.6% while Graff puts his at 12%.
    Graff can count one potent rival, the Israeli Lev Leviev ( see FORBES, Sept. 15, 2003), who has set up a diamond operation even more vertically integrated than Graff’s. Leviev owns mines and mining interests (in Africa and Russia), as well as manufacturing and wholesale operations. Now he seems to be gunning for Graff at the retail level. Leviev’s sumptuous first store, in London on Old Bond Street, sits a stone’s throw from Graff’s on New Bond Street, and his second, in Manhattan, will be less than a block from Graff’s new boutique on Madison Avenue. Graff is dismissive. “I don’t think he’s a potential competitor,” he sniffs. “He doesn’t have a clue what the retail business is all about.”
    Graff grew up on Commercial Road in London’s gritty East End, where he spent his first seven years living in a single room with his Jewish Rumanian immigrant mother, behind the corner sweet shop his Russian father opened just before leaving to fight in World War II. At age 14, in 1952, he was getting such poor marks in school that his family urged him to drop out and start a trade. Graff’s first job: apprentice (which included scrubbing floors and toilets) to a jeweler named Schindler in London’s Hatton Garden, historic center of the city’s diamond and jewelry trade. He was fired just three months later but got another job where he learned how to repair rings and make small pieces of jewelry.
    When that business folded a few years later, Graff, now 18, convinced an older man to take him on as an apprentice in a new venture. Soon the two men owed their suppliers $6,000, and Graff says he talked his senior colleague into letting him take over the debt–and the business. By the time he was 22 years old Graff had wheeled and dealed his way to a solvent, one-man enterprise. At age 24 he opened up two small jewelry shops.
    But Graff couldn’t convince London’s top jewelers to buy his competent but lackluster designs. He decided to hit the road. With $1,000 worth of diamond jewelry in a black leather briefcase, Graff stopped at Robinsons department store in Singapore. He ended up landing a jewelry exhibit there every other month. “All of a sudden I was selling $10,000, $20,000 worth of diamonds at a time,” he recalls.
    He also made an important contact in Singapore, the then prince of Brunei and his wife, formidable collectors of art and jewelry. They became lifelong clients, as did dozens of moneyed Malaysians, Indians and Chinese. The Brunei connection proved extremely valuable. For a period of two decades starting in 1966, Graff says, he traveled to Brunei as frequently as once a month to visit with the royal family, who brought him along to polo matches and gave him an Aston Martin to tool around the kingdom. With him at all times was a briefcase loaded with diamond jewelry.
    By the 1970s the Middle East was awash in oil, and Graff’s Arab clients were jetting to London to spend their cash. Graff became their point person there. “If they needed a doctor, I found them a doctor. If they needed a car, I found them a car. The Saudi princesses would go shopping, and then they’d come to my office to change into their new clothes.”
    Graff closed his two small shops and in 1974 opened up a bigger one close to Harrods. One lucky day Saudi Prince Turki bin Abdul Aziz walked in unannounced and “bought out the entire shop,” Graff recalls, “including the largest diamond I had in stock, which was 14 carats.”
    Of course Graff would still travel when a deal was to be made. In the early 1980s, after seeing a Graff exhibition in Hong Kong, a lady-in-waiting to Imelda Marcos invited Graff to the Malacañang Palace for an audience with Madame Marcos. At the end of Graff’s week in the Philippines Mrs. Marcos bought three storied gems that he had carried to Manila, for a total of $10 million. Among them: the 42-carat Emperor Maximilian, named for the Austrian archduke who, legend has it, was wearing the diamond around his neck in a pouch when he faced a Mexican firing squad in 1867. Graff bought it at a Christie’s auction in 1982 for $726,000.
    By the early 1990s, with oil money tapering off and the Sultan of Brunei cutting back on his jewelry purchases, Graff decided his shop near Harrods needed an upgrade. Graff relocated to New Bond Street in the tony Mayfair neighborhood–and went on a real estate shopping spree. He now says that his commercial real estate in London is worth $500 million.
    America, where half the world’s diamond jewelry is bought, was Graff’s next big move. Competitors Cartier and Van Cleef had both been swallowed up by corporate conglomerate Richemont. The top diamond jewelry brand in America, Harry Winston, had descended into chaos after its founder died in 1978 and sons Ronald and Bruce engaged in a nasty legal battle that crippled the business. “There was really a vacuum at the top of the pyramid,” recalls Frenchman Henri Barguirdjian, 50, who runs the U.S. operations. “All of our competitors had neglected that end of the market.”
    Starting in 2001 Graff opened stores in New York, Chicago, Las Vegas (in Steve Wynn’s casino) and in Bal Harbour and Palm Beach, Fla. In addition, he cut a deal with Saks (nyse: SKS – news – people ) Fifth Avenue to build three in-store boutiques, in New York, Atlanta and San Antonio, and to sell Graff jewels at Saks stores in five other cities. Graff clients enjoy a range of perks you won’t get at Kay Jewelers. In June, for instance, Graff paid to send a burly bodyguard along with an American client who flew to London to attend a function where she planned to wear a multimillion-dollar piece of Graff jewelry.
    Graff’s one U.S. misstep: a failed attempt to open a store in Beverly Hills. Wynn caused problems, Graff says, because the contract between them gave Wynn a partnership interest in any store within a radius of the Wynn casino, which included Los Angeles, until September 2008. (Wynn declined to comment.) Graff wound up dropping his Rodeo Drive plans, losing $1 million on the deal.
    Barguirdjian says each of the U.S. stores has turned a profit within a year of opening. Graff’s 800-square-foot Manhattan store, the busiest in the U.S., grossed $65 million last year. A spokesman for Harry Winston declined to answer questions, but two sources in the jewelry business say sales at Winston’s Fifth Avenue store last year were 60% of Graff’s in New York.
    Graff still controls virtually every aspect of his business, including marketing. Graff wrote the ad copy nine months ago for a $30 million 267-carat multicolored diamond necklace: “It took Graff and nature one million years to create this necklace.” An Asian client acquired the piece shortly after the ad appeared. If Graff buys a stone that has no name or legend attached? No problem, says François Curiel, international head of jewelry and chairman of Christie’s Europe. Graff will simply christen it: the Graff Blue, the Graff Orange, etc., branding the gems and, Graff hopes, increasing their value.
    Over the years Graff has brought three family members into the business, including son François, 43, who holds the number two slot at Graff Diamonds, and, Graff says, will eventually take the top job. (François’ French mother, Anne-Marie, has been married to Graff for 45 years; the couple has two other children.)
    This fall Graff will open stores in Hong Kong, Tokyo and Geneva, double the size of his flagship store in London and undertake construction on a new 4,200-square-foot Manhattan boutique on Madison Avenue.
    At the same time, Graff’s Safdico wholesale business is expanding, constructing diamond factories and an office park that will eventually employ several hundred workers in Botswana. Graff says he wants to further extend his vertical reach into mining. Last year he failed in his attempt to buy a controlling stake in the Letseng mine in the mountain kingdom of Lesotho. Graff rues the lost opportunity, since just weeks later the 603-carat Lesotho Promise was unearthed there, the fifteenth-largest rough ever discovered. Graff’s Safdico ended up buying the stone in October 2006 for $12.4 million. He thinks he can double that investment.
    Graff says he’s not interested in selling out, even at a time when private equity firms like Ronald Burkle’s Yucaipa are investing in British jewelers Garrard and Stephen Webster. “In my thinking, I’m just starting out,” Graff says. And he has no taste for going public. He did that in 1973, selling a third of the company, but decided he hated dealing with shareholders and a board. By 1978 he had bought back all the shares.
    For now Graff stands alone in his domination of jewelry’s upper reaches. Observes Christie’s François Curiel: “The Jacques Arpels, Harry Winstons and Gerard Boucherons are long gone from the business. Where else can a customer walk in and see the man behind the brand?”

  8. talagang numero unong tsismoso said,

    July 16, 2008 at 4:17 am

    the idol’s eye diamond

    The various published accounts of the early history of the Idol’s Eye are worth of being included in A Thousand and One Nights, unfortunately, for the most part they must be considered to be entirely unauthentic. The diamond may have been found at Golconda around 1600, but seven years later it was certainly not seized from the Persian Prince Rahab by the East India Company as payment for debt. No such person is recorded in the history of Persia, and the East India Company was not created until several years later.

    The first authenticated fact in the diamond’s history was its appearance at a Christie’s sale in London on July 14th, 1865, when it was described as “a splendid large diamond known as the Idol’s Eye set round with 18 smaller brilliants and a framework of small brilliants.” It was knocked down to a mysterious buyer simply designated as “B.B.”. Later it is stated that the 34th Ottoman Sultan, Abdul Hamid II (1842-1918) owned the Idol’s Eye. However the Idol’s Eye would never, as has often been asserted, have been set in the eye of a temple in Benghazi because there are neither temples nor idols in that city, Benghazi having been Muslim since the 8th century AD.

    When consideration is given to the shape of the Idol’s Eye – something between an Old Mine cut and a triangular brilliant – it is not difficult to envisage its setting elsewhere as an eye. Indeed the stone compares favorably with others deemed to have been set in this manner which suggests that certain idols found in sacred buildings in the East have had very oddly-shaped eye-like orifices. 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.

    Abdul Hamid II presided over the most autocratic regime that the Ottoman Empire had experienced since the 1700s. He was eventually defeated by the internal opposition which coalesced as the Young Turks. After his deposition in 1909 he lived in exile, first in Salonika, then in Instanbul where he died in 1918. It is said that the Sultan, sensing in which direction the politcal wind of his country was blowing, made provisions for his coming enforced retirement, which included the despatch of his jewels to a place of safety. Unfortunately the servant entrusted with them turned traitor and sold them in Paris. Whether or not this is the true version of events, it is known that the Idol’s Eye was one of several large diamonds belonging to the deal Salomon Habib that came up for auction in Paris on June 24th, 1909. Afterwards a Spanish nobleman bought the diamond which he kept in a bank in London for some years.

    After the end of World War II the Idol’s Eye re-emerged when it was acquired by a Dutch dealer, from whom Harry Winston bought it in 1946. In the following year Mr. Winston sold the stone to Mrs. May Bonfils Stanton, daughter of Frederick G. Bonfils, the publisher and co-founder of the Denver Post. If many of the earlier characters associated with the diamond’s history have proved to be ficticious, Mrs. Stanton goes some way to make up for them. Once a great beauty, she became a legendary figure in American life. From her early childhood she displayed an interest in jewels and began to assemble a famous collection. In addition to the Idol’s Eye it was to include the Liberator Diamond and a diamond necklace studded with twelve emeralds weighing 107 carats, once owned by the Maharaja of Indore. She lived in beautiful isolation in a palatial mansion copied from the Petit Trianon in Versailles, and was said to have worn the Idol’s Eye at her solitary breakfast every morning. The gem was set as the pendant to a diamond necklace containing 41 round brilliants totalling about 22.50 carats, plus another 45 baguettes weighing about 12 carats. Mrs. Stanton was also a supporter of numerous philanthropic causes in her native state of Colorado. After her death, in her eighties, in March of 1962, her jewels were auctioned in November by Parke-Bernet Galleries Inc. of New York; in accordance with the directions contained in her will the proceeds were distributed among various charities.

    Harry Levinson, placing the Idol’s Eye necklace around the neck of his wife, Marilyn.
    This photo is from an article from 1973, the year he put it up for sale, but it may
    have been taken in 1962 when Mr. Levinson originally bought the stone.

    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 facet layout of the Idol’s Eye. Eventually this
    design will be retro-engineered into Gemcad so
    replicas of the stone can be faceted from CZ.

    The diamond is actually something of a triangular Old Mine cut, but rather than having 8 main facets it has 9, along with 9 pavilion main facets corresponding. There are also a number of non-symmetrical facets scattered around the crown and pavilion of the stone, as can be seen in the facet layout drawing. Sources: Famous Diamonds by Ian Balfour, Traditional Jewelry of India by Oppi Untracht, and Diamond Cuts in Historic Jewelry – 1381 to 1910 by Herbert Tillander.

    Emperor Maximilian Diamond

    Origin of name

    The Emperor Maximilian diamond gets its name from Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph, the Archduke of Austria and the younger brother of Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria (1848-1916), who by an international intrigue was placed on the throne of Mexico in 1864, that eventually resulted in his execution. Maximilian Joseph purchased the 41.94-carat diamond while he was on a botanical expedition to Brazil in 1860, and the diamond came to be known as the Emperor Maximilian diamond. He also purchased another 33-carat diamond, which was named the Maximilian II, sometimes known as the “Carlotta Diamond”, after his wife Princess Charlotte, to whom he presented the diamond.

    Characteristics of the diamond

    The Emperor Maximilian diamond is a 41.94-carat, near colorless, cushion-cut diamond, with a VS-1 clarity. According to the GIA color grading system near colorless diamonds can have a grading of G, H, I or J. The Emperor Maximilian diamond falls within the I-color range.

    An important characteristic of the diamond is the strong blue (somewhat violet) fluorescence shown by the stone in natural daylight, which tends to reduce any yellow tinge in the diamond.

    The I-color grading of the diamond and the blue fluorescence suggest that the diamond is a Type Ia diamond, which constitute almost 98 % of all naturally occurring diamonds. In Type Ia diamonds nitrogen atoms are found as aggregates of 2, 3 and 4 atoms, known respectively as A-aggregates, N-3 centers, and B-aggregates. A and B aggregates do not absorb visible light and therefore do not affect the color of the diamond. N-3 centers do absorb visible light in the blue region of the spectrum, causing its complementary color yellow to appear. A-aggregates also quench fluorescence, but B-aggregates and N-3 centers do not. Thus Type Ia diamonds are sub-divided into three groups.

    1) Type IaA – Nitrogen atoms occur as A-aggregates. The diamonds are colorless and do not show fluorescence.

    2) Type IaB – Nitrogen atoms occur as B-aggregates. The diamonds are colorless, but shows strong fluorescence.

    3) Type IaAB – Nitrogen atoms occur as A-aggregates, B-aggregates and N-3 centers. The diamonds vary in color from very faint yellow to medium yellow, and shows a medium to strong fluorescence.

    Thus the Emperor Maximilian diamond is most probably a Type IaAB diamond. The strong blue fluorescence shown by the diamond tends to reduce the yellow color of the diamond, making it appear somewhat whiter.


    The diamond is of Brazilian origin, and was purchased by Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph, in 1860, when he made a trip to the Brazilian rain forests in pursuance of his Botanical studies, a subject that had fascinated him since his childhood. It is not certain where the diamond was cut and polished, but in all probability it must have been in one of the diamond cutting centers in Europe, such as Antwerp or Amsterdam, as there were not many established diamond cutting centers in Brazil at the time.

    Maximilian Joseph also purchased a second diamond, which was a 33-carat stone with a greenish-yellow tint, which he later presented to his wife Princess Carlota, the daughter of Leopold I, the king of Belgium. Princess Carlota wore the diamond as a pendant to a necklace.

    Early life of Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph

    Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph, who was born at Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna on July 6th 1832, was the second son of Archduke Francis Charles of Austria and his wife Sophia, daughter of King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria. His elder brother Francis Joseph was the Emperor of Austria from 1848 to 1916. Maximilian Joseph showed a keen interest in the sciences from an early age, and had a fascination for the natural sciences particularly Botany. In 1851 at the age of 19, he joined the Austrian navy as a Lieutenant, and eventually became the Commander-in-Chief of the navy. He also served as the Governor-General of the Lombardo-Venetian kingdom. Subsequently he retired to a private life, residing at the Trieste with his young bride Princess Carlota, the daughter of King Leopold I of Belgium. But, he continued with his study of natural sciences and in 1860 undertook a journey to the tropical forests of Brazil, in pursuance of his studies in Botany. It was during this trip that he purchased the two celebrated diamonds.

    Developments in Mexico after 1855

    In 1855 the Liberals took control of the national government of Mexico, after defeating the conservatives who were hitherto in control of the government. Most of the liberal politicians who were living in exile in the United States and other countries, including Benito Juarez returned to Mexico. Juarez was appointed as Minister of Justice in the new liberal government, and under his guidance three major reforms were carried out by the Liberals:- 1) Abolishing special courts for the clergy and the military 2) Enacting legislation forcing the church and the aristocracy to sell their enormous land holdings, in order to broadbase land ownership. 3) Adoption of a liberal constitution promulgated in February 1857.

    Under the new constitution Ignacio Comonfort was elected as the President of Mexico, and Benito Juarez was appointed as president of the Supreme Court, which according to the new constitution made him the effective vice-president of the country. The conservatives who lost their properties and privileges went into exile in the United States and Europe, but those who remained in Mexico, regrouped and revolted ousting President Ignacio Comonfort in 1858. Benito Juarez who had a legitimate claim to the presidency withdrew from Mexico City to the eastern port city of Vera Cruz, where he set up his government. At Veracruz, Juarez succeeded not only in keeping the liberals together, but was able to enact further legislation curbing the ecclesiastical powers of the clergy, and nationalizing all church property except those actually used for worship and educational purposes. The legislations culminated in the separation of the church and state, and guaranteeing religious liberty to all citizens.

    By the end of 1860 the position of the conservatives in Mexico City had become very weak, and in January 1861 Juarez was able to return to Mexico City, and was duly elected as president of Mexico. In the absence of a legitimate government in Mexico City for three years, the conservatives had emptied the treasury and the country was almost on the brink of bankruptcy. To overcome this critical situation Juarez suspended payment on all foreign debts for two years. This provided the license for foreign intervention, and Britain, France and Spain landed troops in Veracruz in January 1862, under the pretext of safeguarding their investments. But, France’s intervention was more than safeguarding investments. Napoleon III had drawn up plans to conquer Mexico and colonize it, and install a puppet emperor from Europe, which unfortunately happen to be Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph. Britain and Spain withdrew their forces when they learnt of Napoleon’s plans. In June 1863, the French occupied Mexico City after defeating the Mexican forces. Juarez withdrew from Mexico City for the second time to the Texas-Mexico border.

    Installation of Maximilian Joseph as Emperor of Mexico

    The first request for Maximilian Joseph to assume the throne of Mexico was made in 1859, by conservative Mexican exiles in Europe, who had lost their property and privileges and painted a picture of absolute anarchy in the country. Maximilian turned down this offer. However in 1863, after French forces had captured Mexico, under pressure from Napoleon III and requests made by the conservatives, who made him believe that the Mexican people had voted him their king, Maximilian Joseph consented to accept the Mexican Crown. Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria, who was Maximilian Joseph’s brother, however advised him not to accept the offer. In spite of his objections Maximilian Joseph and his wife boarded a ship and landed at Veracruz on May 28, 1864. Subsequently on June 10, 1864, Maximilian Joseph was crowned as the emperor of Mexico.

    Emperor Maximilian who was not only a natural scientist but an enlightened leader and a great humanist, planned to rule his domain with great benevolence, and to protect and uplift the position of Indian peasants in the country. In this respect he was on par with Benito Juarez, the national hero of Mexico, who was born of Indian parents, and contributed a great deal to the social and political development of the Mexican people in general, and the Indian community in particular. Both Emperor Maximilian and Benito Juarez had a parallel vision for the future of the Indian community of Mexico. Accordingly, when Benito Juarez’s sweeping political and land reforms came up for review, Emperor Maximilian upheld these reforms much to the indignation of the clergy, the landed proprietors, and other vested interests. In particular he antagonized the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, by refusing to restore vast church holdings confiscated by Juarez. The Mexican treasury was almost empty, and Emperor Maximilian did not make use of the state resources for the up keep of his family and his palace. Instead he made use of his own inherited income for this purpose. The honesty and integrity of Emperor Maximilian was another factor that was on par with Benito Juarez, who was said to be impeccably honest, and never used public office for personal gain.

    The downfall of Emperor Maximilian

    During the period of foreign intervention in Mexico, beginning from January 1862, Mexico’s giant neighbor the United States of America, was in the midst of a devastating civil war (1861-65), and was indifferent to the dramatic events taking place inside its southern neighbor. However soon after the end of the civil war in 1865, the United States demanded the withdrawal of French troops from Mexico, as it violated the Monroe Doctrine, and in support of this demand amassed troops on the Mexican border. Princess Carlota rushed to Europe seeking help for her husband’s kingdom, from Napoleon III and Pope Pius IX, but was of no avail. In March 1867, the French forces withdrew from Mexico, but Emperor Maximilian refused to leave with them, as he felt he could not desert his people. Within a matter of days Benito Juarez and his army was back in Mexico City. Maximilian refused to abdicate and was still supported by a group of diehard conservatives. Finally on May 15, 1867, Emperor Maximilian surrendered to the forces of Benito Juarez.

    The execution of Emperor Maximilian

    Emperor Maximilian and two of his highest ranking generals Miguel Mira-Mon and Tomas Mejia were court martialed, found guilty and sentenced to death. Appeals for clemency from international figures like the novelist Victor Hugo, and Italian patriot and soldier Giuseppe Garibaldi, and other crowned heads of Europe, went unheeded. On June 19, 1867, Emperor Maximilian, who was only 35 years old, and his two generals were executed by firing squad on a hill outside Quere-taro. So ends the sad story of Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph who met his tragic end, by being a willing pawn in the international power politics, that served the ulterior motives of certain nations and their rulers.

    Maximilian diamond found on the Emperor’s body

    Soon after his execution it was discovered that Emperor Maximilian had been wearing the 41.94-carat diamond in a small satchel tied around his neck, when he faced the firing squad. After the execution the Emperor’s body was returned to his family in Vienna, and the diamond given to his widow.

    The problems faced by her husband ever since he was installed as emperor of Mexico, that eventually led to his execution, and her desperate attempts in seeking help for her husband, which was denied by those who installed him as emperor, had a profound effect on Princess Carlota, which led to serious emotional collapse and severe mental derangement. The princess remained mentally deranged until her death near Brussels in 1927, almost 60 years after the tragic incident. The Emperor Maximilian diamond was sold in 1867, in order to pay for the medical expenses of the princess. Since then the whereabouts of the diamond was unknown, until it reappeared in America in 1919, when it was purchased by a Chicago gem dealer, Ferdinand Hotz.

    Maximilian diamond displayed at the 1934 Chicago World Fair

    The Emperor Maximilian diamond was exhibited by Ferdinand Hotz, the owner of the diamond, at the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago held in 1933-34. The diamond was the highlight of a $ 5,000,000 exhibit, which reproduced a South African diamond mine in operation with native laborers.

    During his ownership of the diamond since 1919, there had been several offers by interested individuals to purchase the diamond, but Ferdinand Hotz refused to part with it. However after his death in 1946, it was sold to an anonymous private collector in New York City.

    The Emperor Maximilian diamond then came into the possession of Laurence Graff, the King of diamonds, the founder of the internationally renowned Graff Diamonds, who is said to have handled more important gem-quality diamonds than any other living dealer.

    Last transaction of the Maximilian diamond

    The last transaction of the Maximilian diamond took place in 1983, when the diamond together with the 70.21-carat Idol’s Eye diamond and the 70.54-carat Sultan Abdul Hamid II diamond was sold to the same anonymous buyer, by Laurence Graff in one of the biggest single transactions in the history of diamond sales. According to rumors the three famous diamonds were actually purchased by Imelda Marcos the wife of the former President of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos.

  9. Myles Garcia said,

    July 15, 2008 at 6:26 am

    talagang tsis —

    Thanks for those links. Good job!!

    Interesting to know. Maybe someone should notify the International Art Registry that some of the items on their missing list now appear to have found “homes” in the Pacific Plaza Apts in da Port and on Ortega Street in San Juan. 🙂 (Boy, her units look so ‘kitschy.’ Just wait for a strong earthquake, and she might have a less cluttered look!! 🙂 )

    TT, you should work for Interpol!! 🙂 Maybe you’ll get a finder’s reward!!


  10. talagang numero unong tsismoso said,

    July 14, 2008 at 5:32 am

    also check out these two website

    it is about Laurence Graff as king of diamonds in both article Mr Graff told a story about selling to then First Lady IRM three very important and historical diamonds for $10 million dollars in 1983 the three diamonds are
    1.the Idol Eye diamond It is 70.21 blue diamond further research about the diamond in revealed that the diamond history was it’s appearance at a christie’s sale in london on july 14 1865 when it was describe as a splendid large blue diamond know as the idol eye set round with 18 smaller brillinats and a framework of small brilliants it was knocked down to a mysterious buyer simply designated as B.B later it is said that the 34th Ottoman sultan, abdul hamid II 1842-1918 owned the idols eye.
    2.Emperor Maximillian diamond is 41.96carats it was owned by emperor maximillian given to her wife empress carlota. Maximillian Joseph was born at schonbrunn Palace vienna on july 6 1832 was the second son of archduke francis charles And his wife sophia daughter of king leopold I of Belgium and his elder brother is
    francis joseph who was the emperor of austria from 1848-1916 the diamond is of brazilian origin from the website
    3.Sultan Abdul Hamid II it is a 70.54 carat fancy yellow diamond

    the article in the international herald tribune states that mr graff was on board in a yacht i assuming it is in the ang pangulo presidential yatch and it docked on bamboo island i am assuming again it is in puerto azul resort cavite because the marcoses owns a vacation house there designed by bobby manosa mr graff was able to sell the idol’s eye

    in the article in forbes magazine it says there that a blue lady saw an exhibit by graff in hong kong and he was invited in malacanang palace to meet mrs marcos and he was able to sell to her three important diamond for $10 million dollars in 1983 and he was able to sell the maximillian diamond

  11. talagangtsismoso said,

    July 14, 2008 at 5:23 am

    some of the paintings that used to hang in the east 66th town house of Mrs Marcos are with her it is currently hanged in her apartment in pacific plaza and in her house in san juan check this website to view some so the painting in full color like a painting by Paul Gauguin titled fruits, a Pablo Picasso titled reclining of a woman ,a Francisco Goya portrait of the Marquesa de Sta Cruz as euterpe the muse of poetry that used to hang above the library mantel piece of her new york town house this piece was bought from malboro art gallery in london now hanged in her san juan house a mother and child by michaelangelo and at a top of her piano is a sculpture of a head of a man also by michaelangelo a bernard buffet above her piano two paintings by fragonard other paintings not in the website but is hanged in her apartment are a grandma moses a miro a pissaro and a bonnard
    several Paule gobillard and other famous artist

  12. zippo said,

    June 17, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    I’ve known Mr. Morato since I was a small boy ( calling him the obligatory “Tito” ). He was a friend of my parents. We used to frequent his house and he used to visit my parents often. My brother, sisters, and I would always scare one another by reminding ourselves about a particular artifact we saw in Mr. Morato’s house ( or rather, penthouse flat in his Galeria Bravo Building on Tomas Morato Avenue ). There was this wooden humanoid figure about a foot-and-a-half long displayed in a glass case which was mysteriously found inside a wooden log which was being cut in their sawmill. I found it to be a really creepy thing but Mr. Morato valued the figure because it supposedly brought him luck.

    Anyway, I’ve always known him to be proper ( although there are a lot of times I don’t share the views he espouses on TV or radio ).

    Many people remember the fear of the Marcos Era. I, however, don’t remember any fear. I loved the Marcos Era and won’t apologize for it. I have many good friends who despise that era. We have learned to respect each other’s views and leave it at that.

    Z 🙂

  13. June 16, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    Mr. Morato:

    Thank you for allowing us further explanations regarding the dishonorable transactions the “Marcos crowd” inflicted on you during the Marcos Era. We now understand the whole picture as never before. Very difficult situations indeed, as in “between the Devil and the deep blue sea”… It is truly a wonder on how you were able to protect your family holdings at a time when lucrative family businesses were fair game to the powers that be.

    Of course I remember the FEAR of the Marcos Era all too well. It was its most distinguishing characteristic, as well as its most effective. It is a pity that the Filipino nation has not learned the lessons of that time well [ or any other time for that matter including the Post-EDSA Aquino presidency, the Ramos, the Estrada, and now the Arroyo 😛 ], that it has so easily and merrily forgotten, and in so doing dooms itself to repetitions of that difficult era in its history.

    Toto Gonzalez

  14. June 16, 2008 at 3:45 pm


    Thank you for sharing that excellent explanation from Mr. Manuel Morato himself. He is truly a gentleman of the Old World.

    I hope Everyone gets to read this.

    Toto Gonzalez

  15. Juancho L. Baylon said,

    June 16, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    LetterMonday, June 16, 2008 5:33 AM
    From: This sender is DomainKeys verified “” Add sender to Contacts
    To: ************

    Dear Juancho,

    Thank you very much for your letter. It was indeed a pleasant, very pleasant surprise.

    For years I kept quiet about what had happened to me – for a larger good.

    During those days, Juancho, it was not easy to cause trouble because the incidents occurred during the martial law years.

    Birds of the same feather, as the saying goes, flock together; and if you touch any of those thieves, the whole flock would gang up on you.

    I am sure many are wondering why I did not speak out sooner. But I want to explain to you that speaking out is easier said than done.

    At the time, I had to protect a larger good that could affect my entire family business. As president of Philippine Plywood Corporation and Sta. Cecilia Sawmills, Inc., I had to be protective. I took over the family businesses when my father passed away.

    At the time, my family was the biggest plywood manufacturer in the country, supplying plywood locally as well as plywood and veneer internationally under the brand name “philply”. We also owned the biggest logging in the country to supply the plywood plant and the sawmills with raw materials. But we never engaged in log export, only in finished products because my father in his lifetime told me never to export logs to other countries as all other politician-loggers were doing for a fast-buck. My father told me that that’s sabotaging the country’s economy; and does not give employment to our people. I followed his instruction to the letter.

    My late father, Tomas B. Morato, was the first Mayor of Quezon City, appointed by his closest friend, President Manuel L. Quezon in 1939. Then he became the first congressman of Quezon Province in 1946, in the First Congress of the Republic. One of the bills he authored in Congress is the Reforestation Bill to preserve our forests; that for every grown tree cut, young trees must be planted to replace what had been harvested so as not to denude our forest.

    I was named Manuel after President Quezon who was my baptismal godfather.

    Anyway, Juancho, I just kept quiet with my personal losses for those people then were well connected to the powers-that-be and could retaliate against the family businesses and make the entire family and thousands of our employers suffer the consequences. Prudence dictated that I just don’t do anything for the welfare and protection of the many innocent ones. Maybe those who did me wrong knew that I am not the type who’d cause a scandal, or quarrel over money. That’s why they did it to me. This is what the readers of my columns might not know – why I did not do anything for those people managed to reconnect with the following regimes. And they are still around with their terrible wagging tongues. They might even

    suspect that I am lying. But I’m glad that I can now, at least, tell someone like you. Thank you for the privilege.

    Juancho, I really don’t know how to use the computer, much less the blog you are talking about. But I have three assistants to type and send out my columns and letters for me in my private office here at home – confidentially.

    I had that blog you told me about downloaded. However, I don’t know if we are talking of the same thing for I found no questions being asked for me to answer. Can you forward it to me, please? I really would like to know what were said. I do accept, however, that there are those I might have hurt who would really persecute me for my 3-part series, even if I did not mention any name/s.

    Yes, I did take pity on Myrna Diones and I am still supporting her pa for over fifteen years, financially. But she has a very complicated life. When the husband was still alive, he was good for nothing and relied on what Myrna would get from me. Now that he died, Myrna has become more demanding. A tragedy had befallen her. Her brother who was a drunkard stabbed Myrna’s husband to death some two years ago. Now she is left with four children to care for. I try to do my best to help her out up to now. I resent, however, that she had squandered the big sum of money I raised for her, including the amount she got from the movie producer for the right to her life-story. That bothers me a lot for I had hoped that the said amount could have tided her up to secure her future. But she mishandled it all. Up to now I continue to give her a monthly stipend for over fifteen years already.

    I just try to do my best, short of abandoning her.

    Juancho, I speak out in my TV program, “Dial M” every Monday night at 10 to 11 pm. on NBN channel 4, or channel 6 on Sky Cable. It’s aired live on Monday with my co-host, Maggie de la Riva with a replay every Wednesday at 11 to 12 midnight, same TV station. Tonight we are on-live at 10 pm.

    “Dial M” has been going on for nine years and we comment on current events.

    I must admit that after my secretary downloaded Mr. Augusto Gonzalez’s blog, I got this feeling that he indeed knows a lot. He writes well and is very well informed for I can almost agree with everything he said. I, too, am aware of its veracity. I also know all the people he had mentioned who are really what he said they are. They were the more visible ones and talked about in town. Thus, I was careful in dealing with them. But some of those who did me wrong were not even being talked about and kept themselves behind the scene. That’s why I was caught off-guard.

    The blog that my secretary had unloaded seem to know the names of those who did me wrong. It’s a 30-page letter, I think, rather long and really went to town. He or she related the entire story of the thieves in the country. But I did not see direct questions addressed to me but more of a garbled notes, under different pen names. It was full of hatred which frankly I have

    none in my heart. I know how to get angry, but honestly, Juancho, I have not experienced the feeling of hatred for it is very unchristian to nurture it. I may not forget what had happened to me, but I’ve forgiven those who did me wrong.

    I hope to meet you someday.

    As always,

    Tito Manoling



    Juancho, if it is not too much to ask of you, just forward this letter to Mr. Augusto Gonzalez’s blog because I really don’t know how to operate the computer.

    This letter explains it all. I really need not go into a debate with anyone. I just related some things that happened in my life. Those people can either believe me or not. But those things must not be left unsaid for moral theology tells us to at least let the people know what had happened to me which I don’t want to ever happen to anyone else. It is only a way of protecting them and to let them know that such kind of people exists in this country and elsewhere, I guess.

    I can only be faulted for being too trusting. Unlike others who are doubtful and distrustful of people, who espouse the philosophy in life that all people are bad until they prove themselves good. I feel much better taking that way for I do not want to go through life distrusting and suspicious of everyone I meet. On the contrary, I accept people at face value until they prove themselves not worthy of my trust. But in spite of everything, I still believe that the majority of our people are good.

    It was a tough lesson, but I feel at peace with myself knowing that I am not the one who did wrong to any of my fellowmen.

    Watch my TV program at 10 tonight. I’ll thank you on the air.


  16. Garganta Inflamada said,

    June 11, 2008 at 10:29 pm


    Athina Onassis Roussel is auctioning off some of her mother’s ( Cristina Onassis, only daughter of Aristotle Onassis and Athina Livanos Onassis-Blandford-Niarchos ) largest pieces of jewelry and other baubles on Wednesday at… ready? Christie’s in London. Try this link:

    There’s time to catch a “red-eye,” Meldy C., Ayen M., Gretchen B., Mely H., and Mellie A.!!! 🙂 🙂

  17. June 10, 2008 at 12:48 pm



    Toto Gonzalez

  18. Babblefish said,

    June 10, 2008 at 4:31 am

    Hmm… Wasn’t the local representative of “Sotheby’s” in the Philippines Maria Clara “Kim” Acuna-Camacho, wife of our former Secretary of Finance, Jose Isidro “Lito” N. Camacho?

  19. Garganta Inflamada said,

    June 9, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    T.J. wrote:

    if we can’t trust those fabled auction houses, how about selling them on EBay? LMAO!!!


    That’s certainly a possibility… except people like, say, the late Brooke Astor, or that Mona something-or-other, or any of the Mrs. Khasoggis or the ‘legit’ bin Laden women, or the Arab sheikhs’ wives or people of that category, I don’t think would exactly do a Search for a “Hope Diamond choker” on eBay!!! 🙂 🙂

    I can’t imagine the likes of the Begum Aga Khan sitting in front of a lap top scrolling for eBay bauble bargains any more than IRM would play the video game, “Where did the Crown Jewels Go?” (Although, she might…)

    And what? Shipping costs of $75,000 by private jet??? Payment only by PayPal? LMAO!!

  20. T.J. said,

    June 9, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    I agree, though, that if left intact, IRM’s jewelry collection would have attracted viewers if displayed in a museum, or maybe just as a part of the Malacanang Palace tour, as tribute to folly. I don’t think tourists would come in droves just to gawk at her sparklers. Now about selling those treasures, if we can’t trust those fabled auction houses, how about selling them on EBay? LMAO!!!

  21. Garganta Inflamada said,

    June 9, 2008 at 6:42 am

    talagang tsismoso — other than thanks for reprinting and sharing this unbelievable series, what more can one say… but a big DUUHHH?

    The man is the height or depth, as the case may be, of naivete personified.

    Did anybody else think, as the series progressed, what a sucker this man is? Or was I the only one? Not only is he a repeat offender of Being Fool #1, but:

    – he publishes a litany of it for the whole literateknown world to see;
    – how much he supposedly spent and what they are/were worth;
    – what’s still left — and
    – possibly where he lives.

    Hello, Manoling? How about the combination to your safe? You left that out, too. Jeez.

    A few other dubious statements Morato tries to claim about the int’l art world:

    – how about the Phil gov’t selling the sequestered ‘crown’ jewels piece by piece and bypassing Christie’s and Sotheby’s? In theory it sounds good, but in reality I think it is easier said than done. Those 2 auction houses, despite his personal sordid experiences with them, have the know-how and the international apparatus to get the biggest bang for one’s buck. However, one has to be a little wise and savvy in dealing with them, and watching them with a hawk’s eye. I mean the auction houses in London and New York, etc., consummate thousands of transactions year in and year out — yet, other than the price fixing of Sotheby’s chairman, Mr. Taubmann (for which he paid the price — fines and calaboose), you certainly don’t hear of class action law suits that would invalidate all the sales they have handled over the years. The 2 houses and others are still standing and still doing business.

    – The 5 or 6 Canalettos, etc.? Didn’t anybody bother to tell Morato that most of what IRM (and her agent Glyceria T.) purchased were really Grade B or C+ art either of “The school of so-and-so;” or “Attributed to the Atelier of xxxx”, that the Madison Avenue galleries were only too happy to unload to cash-rich but really unsophisticated Filipina matrons? (I know it’s been discussed here before, but it seems pretty germane to the subject at hand, to bring it up again.)

    If said artwork were indeed so rare and valuable, then why were they purchased in ‘private sales’ kuno, and not at open auction where the real gems — pardon the pun, Manoling — are available? Because those were pieces that the more discerning collectors and museums really didn’t want. I don’t believe they even had the purchases authenticated by reputable, independent sources. It’s like the oils were barely dry on the canvas and they were hustled off in jets for Manila for that IMF confab. The best of the lot that IRM purchased with Philippine funds were kept for her New York residences.

    Now the IRM jewels + the Shoe Collection in Malacanang would bring in the tourists — not those “Canalettos.’ Who goes to Jakarta to see some, just hypothetically, minor Gauguins or Vlamincks? No one; not even so-called Manila aesthetes would be caught dead doing that. Tourists would go to Jakarata to see Borodabur, Bali, the Komodo dragons, etc., etc., not western art incongruously hyped up there.

    And the Philippine gov’t is supposed to take advice from a man duped countless times over? <> Please, Mr. M, I still have parts of the fabled Amber Room to sell you…

    Mr. Morato’s altruistic intentions are all well and commednable, but one can only wonder at what other ‘mishaps’ Mr. M might’ve been left out.



  22. MikeJ said,

    June 9, 2008 at 6:24 am

    Hi Toto! 🙂

    I’m glad we had the chance to talk the other day. 🙂 I’ll do my best to post the story about Imelda’s stint as my dad’s receptionist at the Central Bank (around the same time she was Miss Manila). Contrary to popular belief, this is where Ferdinand Marcos met Imelda, since Ferdinand used to go to my dad’s office to negotiate on behalf of his clients (my dad was with the Foreign Exchange Department of the Central Bank. He was also a “founding officer” of the Central Bank).

    My dad isn’t sure if Ferdinand was still with his common-law-wife, a certain Ms. Ortega, when he first met Imelda. I wonder where that branch of the Marcos family is now?

  23. talagang tsismoso said,

    June 8, 2008 at 9:44 am

    Here is the continuation of Mr Morato’s article about international auction houses

    Beware of international auction houses
    By: Manuel L. Morato

    (Part II)

    In the 1990s, TIME magazine featured a scandal that involved the two chairmen of Christie’s and Sotheby’s who were charged for conniving with each other and for malpractice in cheating owners of important art pieces from private collectors who were willing to unload part of their collection. All collectors go through that stage at one time or another. Collectors cannot keep their collections forever. There are art collectors who buy art pieces for investment because they know that these pieces appreciate tremendously in price as the years go by.

    In 2001 and 2002, I started dealing with Christie’s and Sotheby’s again, thinking that since their shenanigans had already been exposed by TIME magazine, they are now on the level, free of syndicated bidders and anomalous practices.

    I began unloading important jewels to raise funds for the hotel we were putting up in Makati. As one of the investors, I helped the project in order to finish it as it had suffered from non-release of the approved loan we availed of from the Landbank in 1997 and was stopped during the term of then President Erap. The finishing of the hotel was being delayed, and the delay was costing the corporation so much losses.

    My co-directors could not put up additional funds. So, I did.

    I auctioned one of the very expensive watches in my collection with 52 carats of perfect D Grade diamonds. I bought that watch for $189,000 many, many years ago, and Sotheby’s was excited about the piece as only three pieces exist in the world. I was offered $75,000 as starting bid. They said: “Let it go up during the bidding from buyers from all over the world.” Guess what, they paid me the $75,000 after deducting “expenses and commission.” I lost a lot on that piece. For sure, the house bought it and resold privately.

    Sotheby’s branch put up in Makati had wiped out so many old matrons of their jewels nationwide. Then it closed down matapos malikom ang magagandang gamit ng mga private owners sa bansa.

    For the sake of brevity, my Cartier ring with diamonds and a rare blue sapphire in the center, certified from Paris, and which had cost me 51,000 pounds was “sold” by Sotheby’s for only $15,000! Another Cartier brooch of the 1950s with genuine colored stones forming a sunflower sold for only $8,000! On a direct sale, that piece should go for not less than $50,000. Another diamond bracelet with big Russian amethysts worth $25,000 was sold by Christie’s for only $2,000. And several other beautiful pieces went down the drain that I don’t want to enumerate anymore, for it will only break our hearts.

    I will never forget how the representatives of Christie’s came over to entice me to put part of my collection on the block. For sure, many other old families in Manila were also victimized as they did the rounds to meet potential victims. But they remain quiet, moping on their personal tragedies. Speak out as I am doing now.

    After investing on so many important pieces since I was a 13-year-old student in Europe and inheriting also from my family, I practically lost most of my jewelry collection. But the ones I have left (and there are still quite a few) I will never auction in the international auction houses again.

    It was my father who cultivated and supported my interest along the arts and funded my very expensive hobby.

    Now, what direction am I leading to? Mrs. Imelda Marcos’ collection confiscated by the government through the PCGG suffered the same fate as I did. It was a big, big mistake of the government at the time to have sold them through those two biggest international auction houses, Christie’s and Sotheby’s.

    Mrs. Marcos’ silver collection had generated so little money for the government when any museum in the world would have wanted those pieces. They sold for so little, but they are worth a hundred times more in the world market — if you can find them. Those silver pieces carry the hallmarks of the best silversmiths in the world centuries ago, found only among the royal families of Europe and in the houses of nobles. They are worth a fortune.

    But what really broke my heart was the disposing of the five or six huge oil paintings of that world-famous artist Canaletto who painted the scenes of Venice. As exposed by the late Max Soliven of the Philippine Star sometime in 2005(?), all five or six Canaletto (nee Giovanni Antonio Canal, 1697-1768) paintings of the 1700s then hanging in the Metropolitan Museum of Manila were auctioned off by Christie’s sometime in 1990 for only $16 million for all. That’s only about $3 million a piece.

    Any museum in the world would die just to have one Canaletto. To think that we have had five or six of them. What a boost to our tourism industry.

    If we still had them, those paintings would have attracted millions of viewers from all over the world to Manila.

    Now, if you find one, the Italian government would never allow it to be repatriated as it is a national treasure in Italy.

    I feel bad, for those pieces could have paid part of our foreign debts. Those five or six pieces would have easily generated more than a billion dollars �” if not more.


    Putting aside other negative remarks on Imelda Marcos, there is one plus factor I must credit her for, and that is her being able to bring to the country all those art treasures that could very well have enhanced our culture, put the country on the world map as a center for the arts and catapulted us to a First World Country.

    Why do I say this? Because all the art treasures Imelda Marcos was able to acquire could have stood as collateral to our foreign debts.

    I am sure that she never meant to take them out of the country. She meant to share them with all of us, for the people and for the country. That’s restitution enough — if at all the money to buy them were stolen.

    If there is one thing I can credit this administration with, it is the transparency in the PCGG’s attempt to sell the magnificent jewels of Imelda Marcos. Had it succeeded to unload them secretly, we would have lost a great fortune again.

    I called on PCGG Commissioner Rick Abcede, my kababayan and friend from Quezon Province, and told him not to even entertain the idea of disposing them through the international auction houses of Christie’s and/or Sotheby’s or any other. Sinabihan ko talaga si Rick kung ano ang nangyari sa akin; that I have all the documents to prove how I was taken for a ride. Sabi ko sa kanya, I’ll come out into the open and cause a scandal to cause people’s awareness.

    Had it pushed through, I would never have spoken with Rick ever again for being a party to the raiding of the nation’s coffers. And I mean it up to now.

    If at all the government wishes to sell them, I suggest it goes on direct sale with the Arab sheiks of the oil-rich countries or to whoever has the money to pay — on a piece-by-piece deal and not on a lock, stock, and barrel basis.

    In my honest opinion, instead of having them all in a vault, put them in the museum for everyone, for local and foreign tourists to see. Imelda’s jewels could be the best tourist attraction we can ever display. I’ll bet my neck that the local tourism industry will boom instantly.

    Put them in a secure wing of the Metropolitan Museum or the National Museum; build a fireproof room constructed like a walk-in bank vault on a larger scale; and insure them with Lloyd’s of London. The entrance fees to be generated can pay for all the expenses, including yearly insurance premium. It would be an income-generating undertaking for the government.

    Those jewels are so hard to find in the world market nowadays. Maipanlalaban natin sa mga museums all over the world — what are left of the items. And before they disappear, let them earn money for our fight against poverty.

    If only we had all those Canalettos, and all those magnificent world masters lost by the PCGG in Imelda’s apartment in New York which were stolen by people we don’t know but we hear of who they are, this country would not at all feel “poor” which is not the right psychological attitude to have or it will even pull us all down.

    Think rich and we’d all be rich. Positive thinking does it. If not, even pang feel-good na lang.

    The idea for this series telling you what I know is to keep our people informed.
    For one, bear in mind that all those who pretend to be clean are full of holes sa kanilang pagkatao na hindi na natin nalalaman. At least, President Arroyo has never used her powers to secretly sell government properties and always remains open to discussions for the public to know. Like in the Imelda Marcos sequestered properties, she has maintained a hands-off policy for the discussions to percolate. She makes her final decision after, not before sa likod nating lahat. Tama ’yan.

    Kung alam lang ninyo ang alam ko, magkakasakit kayo. Not even the PCSO can help you get well.

    Alin bang bansa ang nagbebenta ng treasures sa mundo? On the contrary, naghahanap pa sila ng mabibili para ariin ng kanilang bayan, for that would give their people a sense of pride necessary in giving them hope as well.

    Art treasures promote tourism. Tourism creates jobs and livelihood for the people. ‘Pag may trabaho, may kabuhayan. ‘Pag may kabuhayan, nawawala ang krimen at corruption. ‘Pag bumaba at nawala ang krimen at katiwalian, may progreso at katahimikan. ‘Pag may progreso at katahimikan, umpisa na ng pag-unlad ng ating bayan.

    Puwede ba, tigilan na ang nakawan in any formut the transaction was done so quietly by the PCGG that nobody knew of their secret disposal.

  24. talagang tsismoso said,

    June 3, 2008 at 8:27 am

    Here is the part two of Manoling Morato’s Article about High Society Thivies

    Beware of international auction houses
    By: Manuel L. Morato

    Before I move on to another topic, allow me to add to my three-part series entitled High-society thieves which came out May 20, 21, and 23 in this newspaper. As I continue to reminisce, more and more incidents of similar nature come to mind.

    Two Fernando Amorsolo paintings of mine done during the best Amorsolo period, 1927 (or 26?) and 1932(?) came to mind. I can’t recall the exact dates on the paintings anymore, but I distinctly remember the works. One is a still life depicting a variety of local fruits on top of a table. The rendition is so realistic that one can almost pick the fruits and eat them. The other is Claire de Lune, a night scene beside a riverbank with the moon shining on the water.

    Both paintings are now in the private collection of a well-known businesswoman. She is still alive.

    The two oil paintings were stolen from me and sold to the famous woman. They are registered in the National Museum as far as my ownership is concerned.

    The then director of the National Museum was the one who pointed to me who bought them and where they are hanggang ngayon. Because of the anti-fencing law, I tried to retrieve them but was unsuccessful in my many attempts. The lady just won’t budge. I left it in God’s hands na lang. Anyway, lahat silang mga nagnakaw sa akin will never enter the gates of heaven unless they (or their heirs) make restitution to me. I’m still alive and will try to outlive the heirs (and dependents) of those “high-society thieves.” Baka akala nila natapos na sa kanilang mga magulang ang pasanin para sa mga kasalanang hindi naituwid ng mga ito bago sila namayapa.

    It’s my turn to teach them a lesson or two on Christian principles. Sins of the father or mother are borne by the offspring –- and the cycle goes on and on till the end of time, unless restitution is made to break the chain. Only then can the next generation start anew.

    So, dead or alive, amends must be made for the ill-gotten wealth acquired, for it concerns material possessions that can be returned.

    Many don’t seem to know about moral doctrine and moral principles. It is based on the universal law on morality, and it is the same moral principle applicable to all religions.

    The universal principle on morality applies to all the peoples of the world whatever religion they profess or type of government runs their countries.

    It is an obligation to return a stolen object to its owner. It is called the act of restitution -– the giving back to the real owner what one does not own. Whatever one has stolen must be returned.

    A thief, male or female, is obligated to return any stolen object to the rightful owner. Otherwise, the thief suffers eternal damnation for all eternity in the afterlife.
    * * *
    Let me now proceed to the two international auction houses, Sotheby’s and Christie’s.

    In 1969, I went to London to consign my collection of antique “paper-weights” with floral designs imbedded in them done in the 1800s by Baccarat, Cliché, and other outstanding glass artists so rarely seen in the market. If I recall correctly, I consigned 16 pieces for auctioning.

    At the time, the cost of each piece was running anywhere between $7,000 to $9,000. God knows how much they cost now -– if you can find one.

    Anyway, when I consigned them in the month of June of 1969, Christie’s offered a starting bid of $350 each. When I asked why so low, I was told: “Let the price go up in the bidding.” I believed them. To my surprise, all sold at $350 each only. I naturally complained why the said items fetched so low a price. The one in charge said that it was the highest bid that they could get.

    I had a friend in Christie’s, Anthony Derham, a world-renowned expert on antique Chinese porcelain. Because of his expertise, he was often in Manila to meet with the late Lindy and Cecile Locsin who would consult with him on their Chinese porcelain collections. But at the time I went to London, Anthony Der-ham was in Scotland.

    When I related to him what had happened to me, he said: “Why didn’t you tell me first? Don’t you know that auctions are easily rigged if you are not known to the auctioneer?”

    There is evidently a group or a syndicate of 25 buyers who bind themselves together to bid in connivance with the auctioneers. They tell the auctioneer to bang the gavel at the price they want, and once that gavel is banged by the auctioneer, no one can question.

    I learned later that the syndicate buys low and sells at extremely high price to private customers.

    That’s how it works.

    I stopped auctioning the important pieces in my collection after that incident. I also learned later that my pieces were precisely auctioned in the month of June when no big bidders are in London. These bidders are vacationing in many resorts in Europe during the summer months.

    Sure enough, to my surprise, I saw my paperweight collection being re-auctioned in the month of November when the big international bidders are in London during the winter months.

    I got hold of the auction review published on that month and saw my very own pieces that had been sold for a measly $350 each in June sold from $7,000 to $9,000 each that November.

    Hard to believe? I have the records with me to this day to prove that what I am telling you now is true. (To be continued)

  25. HRH said,

    May 31, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    the lopezes are indeed “maalwan” very kind… when the late junjie lopez was still alive ( the one who owned the longest limousine in the country ), every christmas people would flock to his home and the staff would not only give groceries but cash as well — not in pieces but in bundles…

  26. zippo said,

    May 31, 2008 at 12:04 am

    During her heyday, IRM had her own little cliques: “the 7 Dwarves”, “the 1,000-Club”, etc.

    Z 🙂

  27. JLB said,

    May 30, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    Here is a Lopez story which happened in the 1960s that I got from a firsthand source:

    When Eugenio Lopez Sr. went on a cruise ship with his entourage, he had a valet with a suitcase full of USD dollars who gave wads of dollar bills to the ship’s staff. Now, that cruise ship was the best of its kind on earth, and the Lopezes ( about 30 to 40 of them ) traveled with European royalty during that time in the 1960s.

    As the Lopez entourage entered the cruise ship ( complete with aunts from Iloilo ), the valet would say as he gave out wads of USD dollars: “From Mr. Lopez, from Mr. Lopez ( hands out a big sum )…from Mr. Lopez….from Mr. Lopez…from Mr. Lopez… ”

    An aunt ( my source, hehe ) approached him and asked: “Baw Nonoy, daw ka daku guid sang guina hatag mo hau?” ( “Why are you giving them so much money?” )

    Eugenio’s reply: “Daw ‘amo’ ( monkey ) na ngadaan itchura ta, ari mo tagaan ta sila kwarta… ” ( “We already look like monkeys here with all these rich white people, I want to teach them a lesson… ” )

    I really don’t think they were “racists”… The Eugenio Lopezes had style way, way ahead of their contemporaries — during their time.

  28. Garganta Inflamada said,

    May 30, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Senor Toto wrote:

    “ …the early years of Ferdinand Marcos and Imelda Romualdez were spartan and sensible with no tinges of the great power and ineffable splendor of their future. But it was precisely those years of simplicity and frugality that prepared them [ nay drove them ] for the spectacular success…”


    Why, you hit the very nail on the head, Toto!!! Doesn’t it make indisputable sense that when they were on their own in San Juan, like any couple starting out in life, the young Ferdie / Meldy were, as you said, spartan and sensible, and frugal maybe ( after all, what was he Ilocano for, huh? 🙂 ) –– being on their own ( although having one eye set on bigger things down the road ).

    Now, once they moved into the new digs and found it very much to their liking, WHY… why bother watching the bills or the housekeeping budget… or any such mundane matters? There was a new benefactor to foot the expenses!!! No, not old man Ening Lopez. He was finished; used up during the 1965 election. ( He was “finished” / “spent”; old news; he had his uses in paying for the 1965 presidential run! ) There was none other than stupid Juan de la Cruz. Only trouble was, no one bothered to tell the overstaying residents of the mansion that the new benefactor was really a poor man.

    In a variant of the reefer-induced “Don’t worry; be happy!” philosophy of Bob Marley, the new slogan from 1965 – 1986 was: “Don’t worry; spend happy –– it’s not my money anyway.”

    I rest my case.


    @qwerty: My bad. I got the dates mixed up. On checking my records, yes, indeed it was around mid-1970 that JZA presented his credentials to QE II. But wasn’t it strange that none other than IRM should show up at the embassy door in London come September with her son B*ngb*ng in hand?

    ( subtext: The ambassadorship didn’t come “free,” you know. Nothing in the world does. Besides, if he was told beforehand, JZA might not have accepted. ( strains of “The Godfather” theme dying away in the background )

    And soon thereafter, one ward became three!!!


    @L*ding with the asterisk!!! 🙂 )

    Well, hija, some other folks like it. Honey, a lot of what I say is the truth except not too many people want to articulate it. I’m a straightshooter.

    You can always read it or chuck it.


    Final word @ Toto: your blog is so therapeutic and emancipating. 🙂 🙂 Thank you.

    Everyone, have a nice day.


  29. May 30, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    talagang tsismoso:

    As usual, you are right.

    I just spoke with Armida’s daughter Monique Siguion-Reyna Villonco and she said that her mother was a “Lakambini” during the Macapagal presidency. Armida was NOT a Blue Lady during the Marcos presidency. If at all, She was simply a sister of Juan Ponce Enrile “JPE,” who was one of the three most powerful officials during the Marcos regime.

    You are also right about Gretchen Oppen-Cojuangco and Cristina Castaner-Ponce Enrile.

    Toto Gonzalez

  30. talagang tsismoso said,

    May 30, 2008 at 11:26 am

    Armida Ponce-Enrile Siguion-Reyna was not really a “Blue Lady” because she was on the camp of President Diosdado Macapagal during the 1965 Presidential Election. She was even the godmother of Juan Miguel Arroyo on his baptism. She was a close friend of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo before. But now she is one of the worst critics.

    Gretchen Oppen-Cojuangco and Cristina Castaner Ponce-Enrile
    could not really be considered “Blue Ladies” because Mrs. Marcos considered their husbands threats to her and for sometime they were not invited to the palace.

  31. Myles Garcia said,

    May 29, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    ***************next item************

    @qwerty: My bad. I got the dates mixed up. On checking my records, yes, indeed it was around mid-1970 that JZA presented his credentials to QEII. But wasn’t it strange that who should show up at his door in 3 months’ time, that following September with son in hand? Why, it was none other than Mrs. M and Bling-Bling. (“Surprise, Jimmy and Bea!! We’re also a long way from home, so can I entrust the care of my only son with you?” Smiles charmingly.)

    (Subtext: The ambassadorship doesn’t come free, ya know. Nothing in this world does. Besdies, if we told you beforehand, you might not have accepted, jimmy. Ha – ha. ) Strains of the Godfather Theme die away…

    And soon thereafter, one ward became three!!

    ******************next item*********************

    @L*ding with the asterisk!! (Wow! talo si Liza with a “Z”!! 🙂 🙂 )

    Well, hija, some other people like it. Honey, a lot of what I say is the truth except not too many people want to articulate it. Masakit ba? But you will bounce back. I’m sure you are resilient as a lot of people are.

    In the meantime, Toto, will you please get a blog with the “Ignore” feature for Tita Liding –oops, sorry, I forgot the **? But for now, m’dear, you can always sk*p ’em or just ch*ck it all out!! Why hold back, h*ja? A little bulem*a is good for the s*ul. (I know *t was ‘ch*cken soup,’ pero pareho lang. Just kidding, t*ta.)

    As they say *n Z*belian L*ndon — Cheerio, chumps.

    🙂 G.I. 🙂

  32. periphery said,

    May 29, 2008 at 3:59 pm


    Read the entire set of posts again. It was not G.I. that was harping on the distinctions between Old Rich and New Rich. It was another poster. What G.I. was pointing out was the silly notion that IRM only became turned into her current “Imeldific” self due to unjust snubs and slights from the old ruling class.

    The attempt to justify or rationalize IRM’s voracious thievery of the people’s money by making it appear that she was a champion of the downtrodden is what G.I. was mocking. And you know what? G.I. is absolutely right.

  33. May 29, 2008 at 2:31 pm


    Wasn’t that when “Tosca” was staged with THE Placido Domingo??? What year was that again?

    In the memories of those present during that glittering performance, it was an unutterably splendid evening: from Placido Domingo, to the opera production, to the distinguished audience, to the fabulous decor by T*yet Pasc*al!!!

    Toto Gonzalez

  34. qwerty said,

    May 29, 2008 at 9:39 am

    Jaime Zobel de Ayala Sr. “JZA” championed the CCP Cultural Center of the Philippines from the drawing board in 1966-67 to its inauguration in 1969. He was Ambassador to the Court of Saint James from 1970 to 1975.


  35. divina said,

    May 29, 2008 at 3:16 am

    The fabled “manton de manila” were hung on the CCP main theater’s balconies many years ago. Naturally, they all disappeared after the event. A few years back, P*toy M*reno reminded IRM about those “manton de manila” that vanished… with an insinuation that they were taken by… his “archenemy” / “nemesis.” Guess who???

  36. L*ding said,

    May 29, 2008 at 2:38 am

    garganta inflamada:

    shall i call you “hija” or “comadre” or “tita”? it’s sickening to hear you talk about the old rich of manila. to quote my friend ki*ty g* ( niece of jg summit ): “compared to our asian neighbors, the rich in manila are poor!” so please end this “old rich vs. new rich” talk. i’m nauseous while reading your posts. so what if imelda is not old rich? will that prevent her from enjoying life’s pleasures? Your talk is just the product of your delusions and “inggit” [ envy ]. so please, probably even “JZA” does not care if one is old rich or new. those who care are those who are not really rich. Puh-leeze!!!

  37. Garganta Inflamada said,

    May 28, 2008 at 5:48 pm


    Shall we just say I am not a huge fan either of ‘abstract expressionism’? I’ll put an Elvis portrait with puppies on black velvet, or a capiz Last Supper on my dining room wall any time over a few dashes of paint, scribbled while the so-called ‘artists’ were either high, drunk, depressed or in delirium. 🙂

    Did you ever see the book “Why Cats Paint?” Totally exposes the idiocy of abstract “art.”

    Or maybe I should take lessons under that master or ‘royal’ portraiture, Ralph W. Cowan? 🙂 🙂


    P.S. I don’t really “hate’ IRM. I just can’t take her seriously. I reserve my ‘hate’ for other more deserving things. 🙂

  38. Garganta Inflamada said,

    May 28, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    Oh yeah, “Love…,” “Beauty…,” “Star to the People…,” “a hole in the ozone…,” etc., etc., and other such ‘Imeldiotics.” Barf. If you actually believe such crap, qwerty, then, boy do I have a miraculous, weeping, brass Buddha to sell you.

    Anyway, Jaime Zobel de Ayala Sr. “JZA” accepted the early CCP leadership only to get out of his other ridiculous role: being the most highly titled “yaya” to Imelda’s brats in London, under the guise of the portfolio of Ambassadorship to the Court of St. James. And of course, come 1986, he and Bea Sr. repaid the Marcoses’ earlier underhanded duplicity ( and better judgment ) by backing Cory Aquino. Kinda, as you said “…outdid them at their own game…”

    Also, spare us the “crap” about the Marcoses “booting out the old elite.” Yeah, only because they would not accept them nor could they buy their way in, even with promises of ambassadorships. In turn, the “uber-ladrones” created their own set of oligarchic monsters — from their own relatives, hangers-on and sycophants — all in cahoots and made the Filipino people pay for all the so-called ways she was “…treated (her) shabbily.”

    It’s really depraved how you justify their excesses and immorality by such shallow drivel. So what you’re saying — and here I agree with you — is that the Conjugal Dictators’ ambitions were propelled by revenge and the desire to get even. How wonderful; how heroic; how unselfish. Actually, all rather avaricious and base, petty and “muy pequeno.”

    Please stop spinning your warped versions. Some of us weren’t born yesterday. One can see through your porous spins so easily. If you want to keep believing such twisted fantasies, then do so — but kindly confine them to the cramped corners of your cortex and the vacuous recesses of your moral compass.

  39. zippo said,

    May 28, 2008 at 3:03 pm


    I can’t imagine anyone calling Willem de Kooning — arguably the Father of Abstract Expressionism — as somebody who produced “garbage.” I know you hate IRM and I know you can’t stand “qwerty” BUT give the artist some respect. Not everyone’s “garbage” can fetch USD $ 140 million!!!


    Z 🙂

  40. Garganta Inflamada said,

    May 28, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Once a fool, always a fool. And self-delusion is the best form of such foolishness.

  41. May 28, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    I am not sure if it would be accurate to term the social upheavals during the 21-year Marcos era as “the old elite versus the new rich”… the distinction does not seem to hold in my view…

    Both President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos and First Lady Imelda Trinidad Romualdez cannot be described to have come from “nouveau riche” / “arriviste” Filipino families. No, no, no. Years ago, I came across certifiably genuine genealogies of the Marcos and Edralin families of Ilocos Norte / Sur / Abra and they are from a long line of Ilocano personages and achievers. The Romualdez family of Leyte — while having a penurious Indochinese [ Chinese-Vietnamese ] immigrant “Pei Ling Po” and later a Spanish friar who had relationships with two sisters as antecedents [ in their own words ] — are also from a long line of prominent people. And of course, the Trinidad family are old Bulacan to the core.

    Of course, even in old families — and more so in them — the vicissitudes of time take their toll. Inherited wealth is inevitably dissipated, then sometimes regained; social prominence is leveled, then sometimes achieved again in another generation. By all accounts, the early years of Ferdinand Marcos and Imelda Romualdez were spartan and sensible with no tinges of the great power and ineffable splendor of their future. But it was precisely those years of simplicity and frugality that prepared them [ nay drove them ] for the spectacular success — all other factors notwithstanding — that they achieved together.

    DESTINY. Some people are just destined to be. It is the only explanation I can offer.

    Toto Gonzalez

  42. qwerty said,

    May 28, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    It is indeed so easy to hate Imelda Marcos and call her names. But, like I said, she has established her reputation as a Legend. Call her a thief and scoundrel, but do so at the peril of being ignorant of history. She is a pivotal historical character, a historical phenomena that was waiting to happen, as James Hamilton Paterson had also explained. After centuries of plundering and oppression perpetrated by the Philippines’ banana republic elite, various countergroups emerged ( the Huks became a serious threat inthe 50s and 60s, replaced in the 70s by a growing NPA insurgency ). But it was the Marcoses who emerged triumphant from the fringes of the mainstream as the true scourge of the elite.

    The remnants of that Old Society elite are bitter because the Marcoses used them and outdid them at their own game, making them, hee-hee, run around like headless chickens. Prime example was the Lopezes, autocratic kingmakers that they were, who had their world turned upside down and it came to the point when the scions ended up selling in the late 1970s the very Murano glass fountain that spouted champagne during the fabulous 1969 Don Ening Lopez anniversary that even flew in ersatz European royalty for the affair. But the Old Elite had it coming anyway… Known as “the most rapacious in Asia” ( refer to Agoncillo and I don’t think Constantino would disagree ), they were landgrabbers, political players and major, longtime recipients of government largesse. If the Marcoses didn’t shove it to them, the communists would have done so anyway, given the historical tendency of tinpot republics like ours. So, in hindsight, these people who claim to have been robbed by Marcos should actually thank them for saving them from being massacred by communists, Huks and other class-struggle-type groups.

    To equate Imelda with Marie Antoinette, Jiang Qing and Phoolan Devi betrays an ignorance of history ( clouded by dollops of bitterness? ). Antoinette represented the last gasp of a dying order ( just like our Old Elite, but older and more historically relevant ) shunted aside by the French Revolution. Imelda was, in this light, revolutionary. She goosed the inbred, selfish, self-absorbed old Pinoy elite and brought in new blood, new ideas. None of the Old Elite would have had the vision and courage to build the CCP. Jaime Zobel de Ayala Sr. “JZA”, to his credit, was a firm supporter of that project. Jiang Qing was certainly not Imeldific and ended up executed. Phoolan Devi was an outlaw bandit, a Robin Hood figure and was executed. Now, Evita was probably a prototype of Imelda. A woman who clawed her way up a male-dominated power structure and became a national leader in her own right who, after death, was promptly demonized by Argentina’s bitter old guard. Now, what sets Imelda apart is that she is alive ( not guillotined ), she is not in jail ( in spite of all the crimes she is accused of ), and that she can very well have the last laugh if she cares to.

    Lest we forget: There would be no over-the-top Imelda if there was no Old Elite who treated her shabbily and planted those tendencies. If she is a monster, she is the old elite’s very own creation, their Frankenstein who eventually gobbled them up.

    At least, Toto had the grace to say “If you say so, Tita.” to his Imelda-loving lady friend. To all those displaced Old Elite types who hate Imelda up to now, because they cannot look beyond their self-absorption, or the banality of their middle-class lives in the US, and continually engage in self-pity, “joskoday,” get a life!!!

  43. L*ding said,

    May 28, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Toto hijo,


    We should post pictures of the jewelry of my top 10 as they wear it. I have some pictures at home.

  44. Garganta Inflamada said,

    May 27, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    @ qwerty —

    you wrote:

    “Imelda, after all is said and done, is a Legend. No other Filipina has a story as dazzling and dizzying, played out on an international scale. Ang galit hanggang ngayon ay inggit, hahaha … Alfonso Ossorio used his parent’s sugar gazillions to live the life of an artist and patron of the arts in New York and became widely recognized as a leading supporter of early 20th century American abstractionists, including Pollock, de Kooning and that Long Island gang.”


    What’s so impressive about being a “… leading supporter of early 20th century American abstractionists, including Pollock, de Kooning, etc.? Their output was nothing but pretentious garbage.

    I guess it takes one to know one — a connoiseur of such fakery ( like yourself ) to see and admire that in others ( Ossorio ). Similarly, for all your adulation of the Marcoses and shameless pride in it, you’re nothing but one piece of churlish Pond’s Cream…, err I meant pondscum. 🙂


    @ ichiro — you wrote about Alfredo Montelibano, Sr.

    Montelibano was Ening Lopez’s “adjutant” ( or set things in motion for the late tycoon. Old man Lopez, I guess, didn’t want to dirty his hands in dreary details concerning the Ilocano-Waray horses his family was duped into consorting with. ) The Montelibanos were one of the satellite clans spinning around the Lopezes. Ening was the kingmaker and financier behind the successful 1965 run of “Ali Baba” and Ening’s brother, Nanding. Of course, history shows us how the winner and major recipient of the spoils of war ( unfortunately, it was the Philippine nation and Yamashita’s treasure ) repaid his benefactor.


    @ Babblefish —

    Thank you for your kind words. I don’t know that I could do so well in having my own blog. I’m better at bouncing off of other’s posts. Just doing my part to make sure that vermin that reigned 1965-1986 and the parasites that fed off of them aren’t forgotten and will not be allowed to leech again. ( Besides, I am a technical doofus. )

    Just keeping everyone honest and making sure that the stashed dirty laundry doesn’t become too ‘mabaho’ to endure. 🙂


  45. spendaholic said,

    May 27, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    in my opinion, p*toy m*reno should just retire… look at valentino garavani, he retired at his prime…

  46. Babblefish said,

    May 27, 2008 at 10:55 am

    I think P*toy IS getting his comeuppance. People laugh behind his back whenever he unveils his “latest” collection.

    G.I. :
    You should have your own blog. Love your posts. You and Toto can put other bloggers to shame. Infinitely better reads than the “I-went-here-and-this-is-what-I-ate” blogs. : )

  47. periphery said,

    May 27, 2008 at 4:53 am

    “Madame” Imelda Romualdez-Marcos admittedly had many accomplishments.

    Some, good: the CCP, the various “organ” centers, Metro Aides.

    Some, dubious/debatable: the Ministry of Human Settlements, the Coconut Palace, the cosmetic cover-up of squatters’ areas along the Papal Motorcade Route.

    A lot, self-aggrandizing vanity crap: the Metro Manila Film Festival, Irene’s wedding, the Palace In the Sky.

    Yes, in her prime she was beautiful, strikingly so, even. From a purely visual standpoint the Philippines would’ve been hard-pressed to find a better goodwill ambassador.

    But at the end of the day she ( and her ilk ) ought to be remembered for being one thing: a “MAGNANAKAW,” plain and simple. Plunder of the people’s money to a degree previously unimaginable.

  48. Garganta Inflamada said,

    May 26, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    ichiro wrote:

    I didn’t know why there was so much fuss and fanfare in 1986 when the private quarters of Madame Imelda Romualdez-Marcos were opened for the whole world to see… There was nothing grand in her windowless boudoir at the Malacanang Palace. It was connected to a chapel but that was about it. The clothing racks and shoe shelves below her bedroom were simple, nothing extraordinary at all.


    Well, the ‘boudoir’ was the nerve center — the secret bunker if you will — of an uber-ostentatious ruler’s wife of a poor country, exposed; the key words being “poor country,” ichiro. Simply the latest in a long line of similarly excessive, self-aggrandizing co-ruler(s) of illegitimately placed regimes of banana ‘republics.’ (See Il Gattopardo’s post #24 of this thread.)

    Need one say more?


    ichiro also wrote:

    East Asian Royal Families like those of Korea and Japan adhered to a strict moral code of austerity based on ancient court traditions. The Japanese and Korean Royal Palaces were simple and elegant with no fancy furniture yet were serene and went well with their natural surroundings. The main palace and the detached palaces in Seoul were built based on perfect geomancy principles.


    And you would hold ‘the inimitable Imelda’ to those standards? What planet have you been on, child? She’d probably have preferred to be tied to a BBQ spit than live ‘simply.’ Most sane people go by ‘less is more.’ The “lady” went the other way — “more is more”!! 🙂

    How old are you, ichiro? (rolls eyes)


  49. ebony said,

    May 26, 2008 at 3:48 pm


    I think you meant Cecile Blanco (not “Franco”)-Mitra. 😉

  50. May 26, 2008 at 10:26 am


    What’s so admirable about being celibate???!!!


    Toto Gonzalez 😛

  51. May 26, 2008 at 10:07 am


    My obsessive-compulsive, manic-depressive self never uses towels other than my own for sheer fear of infectious odors, head and pubic lice, skin mites, fungi, bacteria, viruses, and whatever else!!!

    While I never would have taken the resort towel, I wouldn’t have bothered to return it if someone had taken it home as a souvenir. What a lot of bother.


    Toto Gonzalez

  52. zippo said,

    May 26, 2008 at 10:05 am

    to ichiro on comment no. 35:

    april 1 — april fools’ day — was weeks ago!

    Z 🙂

  53. JLB said,

    May 26, 2008 at 4:02 am

    The late Alfredo “Peding” Montelibano Sr. always claimed that he was the No. 1 person who made Ferdinand Marcos win as President in 1965. From the time of Quezon PreWar to 1965, the Negrense Sugar Bloc was the force to reckon with… BTW, one of the sons of “Peding,” Rodolfo Montelibano, married Myriam de la Paz Ongsiako, the sister of Imelda Ongsiako-Cojuangco.

    During the time of President Aquino, she had Bea Miranda-Zobel, Mercy Arrastia-Tuason, and Cecile Blanco-Mitra in her kitchen cabinet. In the 1986 campaign, Minnie Osmena was more allied with Laurel than with the Yellow Camp.

    I didn’t know why there was so much fuss and fanfare in 1986 when the private quarters of Madame Imelda Romualdez-Marcos were opened for the whole world to see… There was nothing grand in her windowless boudoir at the Malacanang Palace. It was connected to a chapel but that was about it. The clothing racks and shoe shelves below her bedroom were simple, nothing extraordinary at all.

    All of it certainly paled in comparison to the lifestyle and the palaces of the Royal Families in Europe. East Asian Royal Families like those of Japan and Korea adhered to a strict moral code of austerity based on ancient court traditions. The Japanese and Korean Royal Palaces were simple and elegant with no fancy furniture yet were serene and went well with their natural surroundings. The main palace and the detached palaces in Seoul were built based on perfect geomancy principles.

  54. May 25, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Garganta Inflamada:


    Toto Gonzalez

  55. Garganta Inflamada said,

    May 25, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Ha! Missing from that (black &) Blue 🙂 ladies list were:

    1. Zeny Cabral
    2. Menchu Rodriguez ( later Salas ) ( now RP ambassador to Prague )
    3. Trining Enriquez ( or one of her subs )

    Prominent Lakambunge(s) 🙂 …err, Lakambini. (Lakam’bunge’ was the street colloquial nickname for Eva’s group) left out:

    1. Judy Araneta-Roxas ( her hubby was Diosdado’s VP candidate )
    2. Baby Araneta-Fores
    3. Lily de las Alas-Padilla ( Imelda’s glamour rival )
    5. Chona Recto
    6. Dina Jacinto
    7. Armida Ponce-Enrile Siguion-Reyna
    8. Chit Mutuc

    One forgets that there was a 3rd force running in 1965 – the Manglapus-Manahan ticket, so I believe Elvira Ledesma-Manahan was not an out-and-out Lakambini but on her brother-in-law’s ranks. Also, the LaOs, Manila intelligensia and quite a bit of the Negros sugar bloc ( since there was a Feria and a Nieves on their senatorial list ) were behind the 3rd force. ( Our family was )

    Odd that none too many of the tsinoy/taipan wives and the old guard ‘mestizo’ women ( with an exception or two ) were in the forefront of the women’s political auxiliaries.

    I thought the ‘Pink ladies’ were Serging Osmena’s women’s brigade headed by his daughter, Minnie, in 1969?


  56. May 25, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    talagang tsismoso:


    *snickers like Muttley*

    Toto Gonzalez

  57. talagang tsismoso said,

    May 25, 2008 at 9:59 am

    this is the list of some of the blue ladies of mrs. imelda marcos, the lakambinis of mrs. eva macapagal & the mare group of mrs. loi ejercito [ estrada ]::

    blue ladies:

    1. ising madrigal-vasquez
    2. lulu hidalgo-tinio
    3. sonia gandionco-mathay
    4. reme ferrer-ramos
    5. josie villanueva-vergel de dios
    6. ingrid sala-santamaria
    7. baby rodriguez-magsaysay
    8. edith nakpil-rabat
    9. tessie jugo-yulo
    10. meldy ongsiako-cojuangco
    11. carmencita ongsiako-reyes
    12. zita fernandez-feliciano
    13. eloy fernandez-revilla
    14. nenita del rosario-floirendo
    15. offie martinez-recto
    16. liding miranda-oledan
    17. glecy rustia-tantoco
    18. baby leido-araneta
    19. helen torres-cu-unjieng
    20. vicky abad santos-madrigal
    & many others who fell out of grace with ma’am during her stay at the palace

    the lakambinis or the pink ladies of fmr FL eva macapagal:

    1. pilar revilla-lagdameo
    2. rosemarie tuason-toda
    3. entang david-perez
    4. meding sunico-rufino
    5. conching sunico
    6. mandy abad santos-madrigal
    7. inday dizon
    8. chits melchor-hechanova
    9. irene roces
    10. meding rodrigo
    11. nena madrigal-de leon
    12. chito madrigal-vasquez
    13. elvira ledesma-manahan
    14. nenita del rosario-floirendo [ after FM beat DM, she became a blue lady ]
    and many others i can’t recall right now

    the mare group of Fmr FL loi ejercito [ estrada ]:

    1. justa katigbak-tantoco
    2. brenda reyes
    3. evie luz-costa
    4. chit dee
    5. chit salud
    6. fanny blanco
    7. myrna panlilio-borromeo
    8. fortune aleta-ledesma
    9. ruby tuason
    10. geny tan
    11. chit gohu
    12. pacita de guzman
    13. nene leonor
    14. gilda salonga
    15. fe yu
    16. zeny cabral
    17. roi philips
    18. fe ng
    19. fely avecilla
    20. baby rodriguez-magsaysay
    & many others i can’t recall

    all the first ladies of the philippines had their own kitchen cabinet. the “blue ladies” only became popular during the tenure of mrs. marcos because at that time she became a center of attraction because of her beauty,style & “imeldific” way of life. Her first friend among the blue ladies was zita fernandez-feliciano because the house of zita’s parents in san juan happened to be at the back of mrs. marcos’ house on ortega street. it was zita feliciano who introduced many other blue ladies like meldy cojuangco to mrs. marcos, because mrs. marcos used to play pelota with zita feliciano during the time when she was still a wife of then congressman ferdinand marcos.

  58. May 25, 2008 at 8:01 am

    “taitai” is our resident haute j*welry expert. I wonder what her opinion is…

  59. May 25, 2008 at 7:46 am


    What are you doing still up??? You’re supposed to be in your deathbed. 🙂

    Toto Gonzalez

  60. L*ding said,

    May 25, 2008 at 7:37 am

    My own piece of this article will revolve on who has the B*st J*welry Col*ection among M*nila’s 400. I see it and my friends witness it as well. The truth is that some of the most *xpensive di*mond pieces are not used in big gatherings by these women but wear it in the privacy of their own homes for their select friends. I have grouped them into two: the *stablishment and the New G*ard. They invest in high quality j*welry because unlike real estate, these can easily be hidden and passed on to the next generation. No *state t*xes in actuality.

    M*nila’s 400 T*p 10 Women with the B*st J*welry Col*ection ( if converted to monetary value could be a good percentage of the Philippines’ GDP ):


    1. Imelda Romualdez-Marcos
    2. Meldy Ongsiako-Cojuangco
    3. Chito Madrigal-Collantes +
    4. M*ly C*ncepcion-*echanova
    5. Tes*ie S*-C*son

    New G*ard:

    1. Ayen Munji-Laurel
    2. Imee Marcos
    3. the young Panl*lio ladies [ daughters of the late F* S. Panl*lio: Pam*la Panl*lio-V*ldes, Non* Panl*lio-Lob*egat, Vic*y Panl*lio- Clap*rols, P*tricia Panl*lio, granddaughter Be* Panl*lio V*ldes ]
    4. Kris Aquino
    5. Be* Zob*l Jr.

    Need I say more? Gr*tchen Barret*o if and when she marries TBC could be in the list as well. Her B*lgari Collection is to die for.

  61. qwerty said,

    May 25, 2008 at 6:57 am

    Did someone say ouch?

  62. Il Gattopardo said,

    May 24, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    qwerty wrote:

    Imelda, after all is said and done, is a Legend. No other Filipina has a story as dazzling and dizzying, played out on an international scale.


    Well, by your standards, then she’s in good company with the guillotined Marie Antoinette; those other dictators’ wives: Elena Ceausescu, Evita Peron, Michelle Duvalier, Ziang Zing; poisonierre extraordinaire Lucrezia Borgia; Phoolan Devi, the bandit queen of India; and a host of other predatory clowns with less than sterling reputations.

    Funny, how in the same breath you crucify others who have gone abroad with fortunes “…earned from Filipino backs…” while at the same time elevate Imelda Marcos to a pantheon. Excuse me, where else did she spend the Filipino people’s hard-earned millions? ABROAD!! She dared not display her mindless fun times and unacceptable ostentatious lifestyle at home. At least the others you condemn spent their own “moolah.” “Madame Torquata” spent OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY. It’s amazing how blinded some of us can still be in this day and age by a few baubles, bangles and beads — like magpies.

    It’s precisely parties like you that have allowed people of little conscience or low ethicality like IRM to play out her expensive, self-serving, self-delusional games at cost to others. Please don’t assume that others have as low standards or are as naive.

  63. qwerty said,

    May 24, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Imelda, after all is said and done, is a Legend. No other Filipina has a story as dazzling and dizzying, played out on an international scale. Ang galit hanggang ngayon ay inggit, hahaha. As for Manoling, tama kayo, what goes around comes around. Pero I am glad that his treasures, despite the hazards, are here and that he lived his life here in these islands, unlike other heirs to big fortunes who ran off with their loot to live comfortable lives abroad, becoming middle-class kibitzers in the US. Hee-hee. (Come to think of it, I can only think of one Pinoy expat who did exceedingly well with the fortune his parents earned from Filipino backs. Alfonso Ossorio used his parent’s sugar gazillions to live the life of an artist and patron of the arts in New York and became widely recognized as a leading supporter of early 20th century American abstractionists, including Pollock, de Kooning and that Long Island gang. )

  64. Garganta Inflamada said,

    May 23, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    On re-reading Mr. Morato’s account, it struck me on the first related incident — an original copy of the U.S. Declaration of Independence:

    1. Was this the basis of the first “National Treasure” movie — the Nicholas Cage film? 🙂 and

    2. Why would “…Marcos or Malacanang want to give an American item to an American president as part of a state visit?” The exchange of gifts during state visits involve items of an indigenous nature to the giver and therefore something new and unique to the recipient.

    So, if L*z R*yes-B*kunawa ( what a surname! ) insisted on seeing or getting hold of that document, that should’ve immediately set off a red flag to Morato that the request certainly didn’t seem to be on the up-and-up. How strange would that be if a Philippine president would present an original signed U.S. Declaration of Independence to his U.S. host? It surely would’ve been to me. But then again, I am not Mr. Morato — nor he me.

    Indeed, it is also supremely strange that the man allowed these things to happen to him time and again.

    How does the saying go? Fooled me once, shame on you. Fooled me twice, shame on me.

    And to think MM is graduated from a fairly prestigious U.S. university and is well-traveled. He even has his own page on wikipedia. The scope and brazeness of the heists (and/or the stupidity or bad luck of Mr. Morato) is simply mind-boggling. Why he has not reported the loss (or at least not having publicly declared so; and providing he has all the proper documentation of ownership to it) to the NBI, Interpol and/or to the International Art Registry which tracks these things (and such a document would only find a buyer in the US market), is beyond me.

  65. periphery said,

    May 23, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    Re: thievery by people in power… The same principle governs love and property…

    With matters of the heart, a person who will cheat on his spouse to be with you will just as soon cheat on you to be with someone else.

    With the powerful magnanakaws… if they’ll brazenly steal from someone, they’ll just as easily steal from you, even if perhaps you are currently benefiting from their largesse.

  66. Garganta Inflamada said,

    May 23, 2008 at 5:04 pm


    But I am not surprised. After the outright thievery of:

    1. the Republic of the Philippines finances 1965-1986;
    2. Meralco post-martial law; and
    3. the surrounding then-empty land around it (circa 1966-67) in a helicopter ride between Don Paco Ortigas and a certain F. Lady– constituting one of the most brazen land-grabs in history,

    poor Snr. Morato’s woes seem almost trivial. (Of course, not meaning to minimize his unlucky breaks.) However (and his nephew was a classmate of mine in high school), there must’ve been a sign hovering over MM’s head saying: this guy is an easy make. Certain types pick that up very easily.

    I am glad I no longer have my “Rembrandt” and “Vermeer” canvases and “parts of the fabled Amber Room.” Pinamigay ko lahat sa Metropolitan at sa Hermitage — and I got my tax breaks!! BWAHHHAAAAA!!

    Perhaps S. Morato can console himself with 2 lessons: ‘what goes around, comes around’ and ‘you can’t take it with you.’ Of course, that’s small consolation…

    Talagang T, I await the other 2 installments of poor Mr. Morato’s “adventures.”

  67. zippo said,

    May 23, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    talagang tsismoso:

    Let me make some guesses:

    secretary: L*z R*yes-B*kunawa ( a distant Romualdez relative from Leyte who became Congresswoman from Masbate )

    couturier: P*toy M*reno

    couturier’s friend: T*yet Pasc*al (yes, this was one of the reasons why T*yet and Viring NEVER spoke to each other).

    Z 🙂

  68. May 23, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    talagang tsismoso:

    OH MY.

    Toto Gonzalez

  69. talagang tsismoso said,

    May 23, 2008 at 6:19 am

    I would just like to share the column of manuel morato about his article, high society thieves that was printed on people journal dated May 20,21,22

    High-society thieves
    By: Manuel L. Morato

    The losses I suffered from people I least expected would resort to stealing. I can’t say that I am stupid, naïve or gullible when it comes to things I personally own. But there are simply undesirable people with bad genes in them who are clever and scheming.

    That’s when it comes to what I own. I am very careful, however, than all of them put together when it comes to money I do not own. Nobody can put one over me when I am tasked to safeguard the people’s money. Never would I allow anyone to abuse.

    But I must admit that I’ve been a victim many times over of people known to me who ran away with my expensive possessions. Kahit pala mayaman, may magnanakaw pa rin. O baka kaya sila yumaman ay dahil nagnakaw sila. The crime of cellphone snatchers is nothing compared to the illegal acts of these high-society thieves.

    Allow me to relate some incidents of such nature to you:

    Since the age of 13, I’ve accumulated numerous works of art of enormous value, which I acquired in my travels abroad.

    I cannot relate them in chronological order, for it would be very difficult to do so. Also, I cannot name names.

    Sometime in 1981-82, a Malacañang secretary to then President Marcos came to my residence and asked me if I had some American pieces in my collection. She told me that President Marcos had tasked her to search for a gift to be given to President Reagan on his planned state visit “the next day.” President Marcos needed one right away as he was leaving for the US the following day.

    I told the lady who, by the way, became a congresswoman after the Marcos regime, that I had one, but it’s not for sale. It’s one of the most expensive pieces in my private collection –- one of the 14 originals of the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America signed by all the framers of the Declaration of Independence. It was framed under glass, hanging in my penthouse.

    The woman begged me to just show it to her, which I did. She held it and told me to allow her to show it only to President Marcos, for if she went back to Malacanang empty-handed, the President might get angry. She promised to return it to me the next day. That day never came to pass. I never heard from her again despite my many calls. To this day, I have never heard from her again.

    For your information, the international auction houses made an offer with a starting bid of $3 million. But I didn’t succumb to the offer. Had I known, I should have disposed of it before that unfortunate incident happened to me.

    One of the originals is in a vault at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, and no one can tell how many of the 14 originals still exist and how many of them were lost during the American Civil War.

    After the EDSA I People Power Revolution, I laid claim to it through some friends in Malacañang when the Cory regime took over. I wrote a letter stating that should the palace come across that document, I wanted them to know that I own it. Nothing happened.

    I am convinced that the document was never shown to President Marcos, and the palace secretary has it.

    * * *

    Let me now relate an incident which involved a well-known wealthy matron who visited my private collection. She prided herself to have been the classmate of my mother in college in Centro Escolar. I knew her and her children well. She was no stranger.

    As we went along my private collection, she spotted my cut glass with sterling silver cover and big Russian amethysts on top forming a flower. I did not want to open the glass cabinet, for the said item was not for sale. She asked me what it was, and I made the mistake of describing the piece; that it was a Russian Faberge piece commanding high prices in the world market. She insisted to hold it so I took it out of the locked cabinet. As soon as she held it, she quickly turned it over to her nurse who was accompanying her and told her to run to her Mercedes Benz. The old matron soon followed and locked the doors of her car. I could not believe what was happening, which left me motionless, stunned by what I was seeing.

    I later learned from my guard that the matron lowered the window of the car a little, enough for her hand to pass through and gave my guard P2,000 at iabot daw sa akin at ‘yon na lang daw ang bayad niya. The car then sped away.

    Honestly, I could not believe what happened that I could not even tell my mother, or anyone in the family what that woman did to me and just kept quiet all these years. That incident happened way back in the 1980s.

    What pains me is the piece at the time was valued at over a hundred thousand US dollars. What it could be worth now I don’t know.

    The woman who ran away with that expensive item died a few years ago.

    During the 1970s up to the ‘80s, I was known to display my collection in some exhibits in town. On one occasion, I exhibited my collection of antique Mantones de Manila, 14 pieces of them that cost me so much money and time searching for them in Europe and California. Because of the proximity of the US West Coast to Mexico, old 19th century mantones could be found there. Incidentally, I bought one of them from the daughter of world-famous violinist Yehudi Menuhin who lived across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. I paid a good sum for it. All in all, the 14 pieces must have cost me around $80,000, then. They are now so rare that you can’t find them anymore.

    One evening as they were on display at the Peninsula Hotel mezzanine, tagged “not for sale,” a local couturier close to Mrs. Marcos just took them from the display rack and left. I happened to be in the area inspecting the pieces late that night when that person arrived. The exhibit was already closed, but he insisted to see them. He hauled them all while I kept telling him not to do that. The couturier was close to the powers-that-be at the time that I could not do anything short of creating a scandal. His driver arrived days after with a P40,000 check and a note from that “thief” saying “’yan na lang ang kaba-yaran.”

    Again to this day, I cannot accept what had happened. It breaks my heart everytime I see them worn by his models in his fashion shows, here and abroad. They were even featured in an international magazine with the couturier bragging about “his collection”.

    He is still alive.

    * * *

    On another occasion, a friend of that couturier who is a known antique dealer came to my exhibit in Manila Hotel. He hauled my remaining eight mantones and told my assistant that he would just send the payment. But thank God, Viring de Asis of Jo-Liza Antique shop who was exhibiting as well and who witnessed it, as I was not there, went to that person’s home and retrieved them all for me. I never displayed them again. But I lament that he took with him a very expensive gold-gilded Russian frame with the picture of the czar of Russia worth $19,000 at the time. He gave my lady assistant P1,700 and told her “Sabihin mo kay Manoling tama na ‘yan” and scooted out of the exhibit. But the piece was labeled “not for sale.”

    He is still alive.

    * * *

    Let me now relate to you maybe the biggest frontal thievery that happened to me that could match the American Declaration of Independence document.

    In 1983, the wife of an undersec-retary of a department insisted that I consign to her and her daughter three pieces from my collection that I had acquired from the estate of Helena Rubinstein in an auction in New York in 1957. The set of three included a platinum crown, French Royalty of the 1700, with dangling diamonds of various shapes forming a ribbon with a total weight of 52 karats; a flawless heart-shaped diamond ring weighing 18 karats; and a French Royalty necklace with diamonds weighing 52 karats. All three pieces had pure white perfect diamonds, G grade.

    The lady and her daughter came to my house on several occasions to convince me to consign the said items to them. But I kept on refusing until that day they told me that they had a buyer. They issued me a receipt, and I allowed them to take the pieces with them.

    Suddenly, I got a call from Hong Kong, which surprised me because they told me that their buyer was in Manila. They had also promised they would return the pieces to me the next day.

    As I suspected, they called me for something bad had happened. They claimed that their Pakistani buyer in Hong Kong ran away with the pieces.

    I filed a case in court, but the daughter died of brain tumor soon after. Then, the mother died, too. The case was lodged against the governor-son of a province way up north. I won the case, but the governor-son wanted to repay me with lands in that God-forsaken place infested with NPAs.

    I decided to let go and forget the whole thing.

    There is also a well-known lawyer-matron who did me in not just once but twice.

    I had a Volkswagen camper imported from Germany with elevated bed that folded on top, a kitchenette, and other amenities. This was during the seventies.

    Anyway, going back to the Volkswagen camper, the lawyer-matron called me that she wanted to buy it; that she would send her driver to test-drive the vehicle. I don’t know where they drove with it. The vehicle was never returned to me. Again, a P60,000 check instead was sent to me.

    I called her up, telling her that the vehicle had cost me P380,000 and thus I could not give it away at the price she wanted it for.

    But come to think of it, before that incident, something more serious had happened, which should have taught me a lesson never to deal with her again. But I gave her the benefit of the doubt and prayed that she is really not a bad person.

    She called me up, looking for a Colombian emerald necklace. I said: Yes, I have one. My female secretary took it to her office just to show it to her. That piece was never returned. She gave my secretary P8,000, and that was it. She would not part with the emerald necklace in spite of my secretary’s earnest request to return the piece to me.

    Do you know what it was? A necklace with about 25-karat emeralds on the crucifix of the highest quality, with the chain studded with two-karat emeralds as well.

    At the time, the value could easily reach over $200,000.

    Maybe it is important to note that most of these incidents, if not all, had transpired during the martial-law years when people well-connected to the powers-that-be were really flexing their muscles – or else. What I mean is, if you tried to quarrel with them, they destroy you. My family, being in the plywood, lumber, and logging businesses, any intrigue that involved us could affect our businesses.

    Also in the ‘70s, we suffered a robbery in the compound where part of the family-estate jewels that had been farmed out to my sisters were stolen by armed men early morning. It was headlined in the newspapers, but we decided to kill the story thereafter. We never recovered those estate jewels that were brought home from the bank overnight for cleaning. Natiktikan nang ilabas sa bangko.

    Noong panahon ni Marcos, ‘yung NACIDA headed by Sen. Pacita Madrigal Gonzales Warns, auntie of Jamby, once said that “the rich don’t steal” when she was questioned for some missing funds. But Marcos simply removed her in the ‘70s.

    In another series, I’ll relate about what the two big international auction houses did to me. Offhand, don’t ever deal with them, for based on experience, they rig the prices to the detriment of their customers. In turn, they sell the items privately to their favored customers.

    The two international auction houses are syndicated as featured in TIME magazine when the chairmen were caught commiting anomalous practices.

    These happened to me in 1969 in London and more recently in 2001 to 2003.

    I thought that after the scandal, they’d reform. No. To this day, tuloy pa ang panloloko nila which made me a victim

  70. rdsgvzdfv said,

    May 23, 2008 at 4:11 am

    It is Fe Roa-Gimenez. Not Fe Roa-Jimenez.

    And you forgot to mention who among Pacing’s distant Capampangan cousins / nephews she tasked to escort ‘Meldy’ from Escolta to Santa Mesa… a certain “Magsaysay yuppie – cum – photographer – cum – government worker-for free” become “I’m – too – wealthy- to – accept – a – government – salary.”

    The same man whose brother in law Pedro… made a mockery of Imelda Marcos at “Hacienda Luisita.”

    Does Benigno Aquino sound familiar?

    A venom given is venom warmly given back!

  71. JLB said,

    May 22, 2008 at 4:34 am

    Why, that’s 4/5ths of Manila’s “socialites,” so how different could she be from the rest?

    Maybe she’s using better make-up, courtesy of Madame Imelda Marcos?

    Some of the “alalays” of Madame Imelda Marcos looked/look “unique” and “interesting” ( I’m using the adjectives “unique” and “interesting” to be polite and politically correct )…

    Some of these so-called Manila “socialites” would look better eating “kangkong” and hanging out at a “carinderia” than the salons of Malacanang… ( oh, i miss eating my fave snack in the whole world: “banana-cue” cooked fresh at a roadside stall in the Philippines )…

  72. JLB said,

    May 22, 2008 at 2:41 am

    She is fun! A few years back, she got intoxicated during a New Year’s Eve celebration in a private function room in one of the 5-star hotels in Hong Kong… She took off her shoes and “boogied” the night away in her stockinged feet…

  73. divina said,

    May 21, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    thank you, zippo!

    Somehow, I have the impression that she’s not married… or is she a widow? Most of the time, she’s unescorted at social functions.

    I’m also intrigued by her fierce loyalty to IO-C.

    JLB was correct about the make up. ( complete with constant fanning ) 🙂

  74. zippo said,

    May 21, 2008 at 8:39 am

    She’s a kind woman although, truth to tell, during IRM’s heyday, she was not at all connected with IO-C. The connection with IO-C only happened post-EDSA but I’m not privy to the circumstances surrounding how the two hooked up.

    Pre-EDSA, I remember her ( M-S ) being known for making “pinukpok” cotton dresses for the “ladies-who-lunch” set because I remember my mom sending me to her ( M-S’ ) house in Dasma to pick up some dresses. Mom sent me because I hung out with her ( M-S’ ) son, Chichos, in high school.

    During the campaign heading up to the snap elections, I remember seeing her in Malacañang on an almost daily basis ( obviously she wasn’t part of Cory’s “Yellow Brigade” ). Well, I guess now you all know whom my folks supported then.

    She’s a really nice lady. When I see her now, she’s still the same towards little old inconsequential me — warm and friendly. She may be a lot of things to different people but she’s been a very loyal friend to IO-C.

    Z 🙂

  75. Garganta Inflamada said,

    May 21, 2008 at 7:00 am

    … she with the fully made-up face with lots of white powder but with a brownish neck…


    Why, that’s 4/5ths of Manila’s “socialites,” so how different could she be from the rest?

    Speaking of IRM, there was an anecdote going around shortly after Irene’s wedding in Sarrat that while the streets of Paris ran red with blood during the French Revolution, the sewers of Sarrat ran, nay, clogged beige with washed down “Pancro” make-up from the hordes of Manila matrons and pseudo-socialites that were hauled up there to attend the Ilocano version of the “Charles-Diana” nuptials. And it would take a whole generation to clean up the toxic infestation of Sarrat’s water tables. 🙂 🙂

    La Milagrosa, I like your idea of the Imeldific being ensconced at Mme. Tussaud’s. Why, they should even make her wax figure shed those “crocodile tears” on cue — and like Tammy Faye Bakker, have her eyeshadow also run!! 🙂 🙂

  76. divina said,

    May 20, 2008 at 3:51 pm


    She’s a CHARACTER!! LOL!


  77. May 20, 2008 at 3:38 pm


    What’s this fascination with M-S?

    Toto Gonzalez

  78. JLB said,

    May 20, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    she with the fully made-up face with lots of white powder but with a brownish neck…

  79. divina said,

    May 20, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Hello zippo,

    Could you tell us anything about Mariet*a S*ntos?


  80. La Milagrosa said,

    May 20, 2008 at 7:07 am

    Looking at ‘Meldy’ now in some of those video clips, especially the one where she said she was praying for archenemy Cory, she looks like she’s ready to be her own wax figure at Mme. Tussaud’s. I’m sure she would like that — she would be standing cheek-by-jowl with the late Princess Diana, Elvis, Liberace, etc..

    Calling Mme. Tussaud’s…

  81. zippo said,

    May 18, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Among the Blue Ladies who stabbed IRM’s back post-EDSA, it was ZFF’s “treachery” which hurt her the most.

  82. zippo said,

    May 18, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Fe Roa-Jimenez (formerly Fe Roa-Aquino). That’s the secretary’s name. She lives in London now but her husband still owns several business concerns in the Philippines like “Buy and Sell” (the classified ads publication).

    Z 🙂

  83. Garganta Inflamada said,

    May 18, 2008 at 6:21 am

    And if she only stayed her former, sweet, simple retiring self — the Philippines might have been a lot more different. But alas…

  84. JLB said,

    May 17, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    … and according to Dominick Dunne, Madame Imelda had a passion for canary yellow diamonds until the color yellow became associated with Corazon Aquino…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: