Having it All… Today!

[ OK, for those of you who are “tired” of reading about the “Traditional Elite” and “Old Manila,” here is one about a Manila family who is richer-than-rich NOW, TODAY, 2008.  Everything about them is new, new, new, and chic, chic, chic.  If this doesn’t “satisfy” you, I don’t know what will. ]  

“Dad always knew he would make it.  But it was a long hard climb.”

We sat there in the “lanai” overlooking the vast front garden and the vast back garden of their new, contemporary residence set amidst +- 10,000 m2 in one of the city’s most exclusive enclaves.  As with all Great Wealth, Everything had the air of Consummate Ease.  And Sheer Expense.  Even the plants, the grass, and the stones looked expensive.  A Japanese firm had been summoned to design and execute the fantastic garden.

The dining room had a frankly new “narra” dining table for 24 persons [ the top was 42 feet long, 5 feet wide, and 6 inches thick ], courtesy of the Dad’s lumber magnate friend in Surigao and the Dad’s general friend who facilitated its DENR-free and hassle-free transport to Manila.  The entire dining suite was Neoclassical in style.  Over the dining table hung three rare Art Deco lamps of Lalique glass, acquired last year in Paris.  On the French Art Deco sideboard was a stylish Art Deco coffee service by Puiforcat, acquired for an unimaginable sum in Paris.  The room was hung with four large 1930s Fernando Amorsolos and four large 1950s Vicente Manansalas [ certified as originals by the authorities ], artistic trophies purchased from the unraveling estates of various Marcos crony friends.

The large “kitchen” actually looked like a living room and  was a serious chef / restaurateur’s dream:  The refrigerators were “SubZero,” the ovens “La Cornue.”  The kitchen cabinetry had been ordered in Germany.  Most of the kitchen’s accessories were Italian, “Alessi.”  One side of the kitchen was a casual living area with a large plasma TV and contemporary Italian furniture.  Two large and important BenCab canvases casually hung in the kitchen’s living area, underscoring the wealth of the owners.   

He took me to what he referred to as the “garage” at the far end of the property.  It looked more like a chic loft at Rockwell instead of a garage.  It was airconditioned and humidity-controlled; the lights were LED.  There was a carpeted lounge, a bar, and men’s and ladies’ washrooms.  Inside were parked some 100 cars, some luxury sedans, several sports cars, some SUVs.  Several valets and mechanics were at work polishing and maintaining the cars.  It was a scene guaranteed to get any man’s testosterone going.



  1. rob said,

    August 22, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    hi i am really wondering what posh place has such thing ? its so cool i’ve never seen a private garage of such 100 cars and obviously this really must be assorted in carparks of the coolest condo’s in hongkong you cant even see that much assortment 100 different cars ??thats really cool thats like car from different era’s

  2. isabella said,

    December 23, 2008 at 12:29 pm


    i am really nailed to your blog.Very juicy and very amusing at the same time.Can you give more clues who is the guy living in a 1hectar property with 100 cars in his garage? Truly mind-boggling!

    Thank you.


  3. Cedric C. Dimacali said,

    October 10, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    I knew Chona from Philamlife Homes, QC Philippines. Her brother George L. Mejia is my best friend but we lost contact when they moved. I’m here now in the Central California and would like to get in touch with them again. I would appreciate any assistance. Please call me during the day/weekdays at 831-386-2270 or email ccdimacali@yahoo.com (make subject as George Mejia). Thanks.

  4. juanito said,

    June 30, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    HI Toto. Could not help notice that in all your blogs and their posters about the Illustrados and hacenderos of Pampanga, no mention has been made of the Spanish (mostly Basque) and Spanish-mestizo sugar planters in the province, such as the Yfantes, the Todas, the Climents who all spoke Kapangpangan fluently. Is it because they no longer exist in the province, like the tobacco planters in Isabella?

  5. June 29, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Mrs. Osmena:

    Thank you for finding your way here.

    Yes, your grandfather Fernando Lopez courted my grandmother Rosario Arnedo in the 1920s. They remained good friends throughout their lives — saw each other at various social gatherings — and occasionally teased each other about the “what ifs” had they ended up together, which gave my conservative, scrupulous, and pious grandmother the jitters…

    Your mother, Chona Mejia-Lopez, is invariably described by various Lopez family members as “hija de buena familia” and “the real thing,” an exemplar of elegance and refinement. How interesting it is to learn that she was a Lazatin and therefore Capampangan on her maternal side.

    The Lazatin are a very old Pampango family that originated in Mexico town in the 1700s and perhaps earlier. They are now found in San Fernando, Angeles, Mexico, and of course, Manila. The most prominent branch these days are the Lazatin-Singian family of San Fernando.

    [ I had an uncle, Joaquin “Quincho” Salgado Gonzalez { a first cousin of my father }, who married Beatriz Mejia of San Fernando, so I wonder if there is any connection there… ]

    As for your Lopez de Iloilo cousins, they are all over this blog, lurking and commenting on anything and everything. There is a blog post “To the Sugarcane Born: The Lopezes of Iloilo” but there is so much information I have difficulty finishing it!!!

    There is a blog post “The Gonzalez Singson-Chiong Veloso: livin’ la dolce vita” which is about Mr. Osmena’s Chiong Veloso relations.


    Toto Gonzalez

  6. Bettina Osmena said,

    June 29, 2008 at 3:33 pm


    I was doing some research on Andres Luna and ended up in your blog. I just read with great pleasure your entry about my grandfather Fernando “Nanding” Lopez courting your grandmother Rosario Arnedo. Nice to know because I did not know much about his youth. I am the daughter of his son Albertito Lopez with Chona Mejia. By the way, my maternal grandmother is Gloria Lazatin from Pampanga.

  7. June 1, 2008 at 6:04 pm


    You’re brill.

    Toto Gonzalez

  8. periphery said,

    June 1, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    A 100-car garage sharing a ***-hectare lot with the main house? Seems a bit cramped. 😉

    I bet I know who you’re talking about. Was there a silver-blue Aston Martin DB9 convertible in that garage?

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