“Desconocidos”

The Established, Old, and Still Rich call them “Desconocidos.”  They have waxed spectacularly rich in a short period of time and overnight have appropriated all the visible trappings of wealth.  Their numbers are increasing, proving that Not Everyone is Poor in Third [ or Fourth, or Fifth? ] World Philippines…

An industrious couple — no longer considered “desconocidos” for years now — effortlessly entered the ranks of society with their discreet but formidable arms and ammunitions business.  The wife became the favorite client of the most important Manila jewelers because of her penchant for large, truly large, diamonds of high quality. 

Not really a “desconocido” but with an immense, relatively rapidly accumulated fortune during the 1990s [ but having its seed in the 1970s and consistent growth in the 1980s ] is a lawyer businessman who started his professional life as an assistant to the all-powerful Defense Secretary of the 21-year Marcos regime.  His first big breaks in the 1980s were the syndications of big contracts between big local companies.  Then came the influx of Southeast Asian investments into the Philippines, of which he was a major organizer and negotiator.  His personal fortune hit a record high of USD $ 600 million at its height.  Then he lost some USD $ 250 million with Argentinian bonds.  But still…!!!          

There is currently a Mining Boom, brought about by China’s insatiable demand for all kinds of metals.  It has certainly brought a wave of unimagined prosperity to a whole group of hitherto “desconocidos.”  From the mines of Mindanao to Luzon, Filipino “nouveaux riches” with fantastic fortunes from mining have been created.  To underscore their newfound prosperity and power, they have been establishing bases in Manila in the most expensive residential enclaves, paying top dollar for prestigious expanses of land.  Their families are among the best clients of the city’s most expensive foreign boutiques, that is, when they are not abroad vacationing. 

A most interesting “desconocido” is a secondary gambling lord in Central Luzon.  “No read, no write.”  How he managed to rise through the ranks to almost trump his boss, The Ultimate Lord, is anyone’s guess.  He has accumulated a fortune in the Php billions through the usually derided numbers game.  He built an immense Corinthian Gardens-style mansion, complete with helipad, on one hectare of gardens on the outskirts of the provincial capital.  His wife spends her days attended by a retinue of staff, expensively tutored by mentors in the art of living, selecting jewelry from the Manila jewelers that visit the mansion daily, and choosing expensive furniture, Persian rugs, and European decorative accessories from the decorators and interior designers that also call at the mansion daily.  He has managed to parlay his large fortune into legitimate, lucrative businesses like hospitals, hotels, and resorts.  However, he has a philanthropic streak and is particularly supportive of priests, nuns, students, and sick people.   

One very respectable “desconocido” — with a completely legitimate fortune — started out in life as a poor relation to an affluent, landed, “Old Rich” Central Luzon family, hence the patrician family name.  In the ultimate dream rags-to-riches story, he migrated to the USA in the 1970s and worked the usual 9-5 jobs.  He was very focused:  he succeeded in accumulating working capital and in establishing a network of business connections.  In the 1990s, He was the only businessman awarded by the US Government the first gambling concession in that progressive western state.  And the rest is history.  His was a triumphal return to the Philippines and to his Central Luzon hometown.  He built a contemporary mansion, complete with helipad, right smack in the new center of his hometown that dwarfed his originally more affluent relatives’ ancestral house where he grew up.  His name is associated with Philanthropy, Philanthropy, and Philanthropy.  

The most spectacular “desconocido,” bar none, is of course my personal favorite [ as well as a personal acquaintance ], “Eminence Gris.”  In the relatively short span of 10 years [ 1986 – 1996 ] in the USA, he accumulated an unimaginable fortune [ especially to Filipinos! ] in the single USD $ billion range.  The immense fortune was supposed to have been made from a virtual monopoly of computers and other high-tech gadgets sales in several “Banana Republic” Latin American countries from a Miami, Florida base.  That, and other businesses as well.  During the heyday of his power-mongering days during the Estrada administration [ 1998 – 2001 ], he was doubtless the most powerful man in the Philippines.   

I like them.  I certainly would like to be one of them.  All that Shopping Money!!!  Hahahah!!!   😛   😛   😛

 

 

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17 Comments

  1. July 20, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    Toto,

    Great post, can’t help quoting and linking this article with my entry at POGB.

  2. talagang tsismoso said,

    July 17, 2008 at 3:26 am

    i will make wild guesses:

    “the industrious couple” may be f*bian v*r and e*na g*iyab c*mcam because she is well-known for her jewelry collection and she supplied the government with arms and ammunitions during the marcos regime.

    “the lawyer businessman who started his professional life as an assistant to the all-powerful defense secretary of the 21-year marcos regime” is alf*nso r*yno.

  3. July 15, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    talagang numero unong tsismoso:

    I transferred your very interesting comment with its excerpts about Haute Jewelry to the post “Bluer than Blue” where it belongs.

    Cheers!!!

    Toto Gonzalez

  4. jeremiah said,

    July 14, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    hi toto,

    a cousin who still lives in the old forbes house asked me to log on to luxuryreal estate.com and see if i recognize any of the houses on sale. do you?

    i guess the buying spree has abated. cousin said there have been no moving trucks sighted in the village for a while now.

  5. talagang numero unong tsismoso said,

    July 14, 2008 at 5:33 am

    to II Gattopardo 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 http://pa.photoshelter.com/gallery-show/G0000DCDxgeqBqH8/ 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

    in two website http://www.forbes.com/business/forbes/2007/0813/084.html
    http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/11/26/arts/fgraff.php

    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 http://famousdiamonds.tripod.com/idolseyediamond.html 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 http://www.internetstones.com/emperor-maximilian-diamond-famous-jewelry.html
    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

  6. talagangtsismoso said,

    July 14, 2008 at 5:13 am

    to II Gattopardo 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 http://pa.photoshelter.com/gallery-show/G0000DCDxgeqBqH8/ 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

  7. asdfg said,

    June 28, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    mr. mario cr*spo changed his name supposedly for numerological reasons but we can speculate further why a change of name has its benefits for a “multi-faceted” person like him.

  8. Garganta Inflamada said,

    June 27, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    isagani asked:

    there must be a compelling reason why mark j*menez changed his name from mario cr*spo. does anyone know? thanks.

    **********************************

    Because “Jay Gatsby,” “Andrew Mellon” or “William Gates” were already taken/inappropriate? 🙂 🙂

  9. isagani said,

    June 26, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    there must be a compelling reason why mark j*menez changed his name from mario cr*spo. does anyone know? thanks.

  10. santA santitA said,

    June 25, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    Babblefish:

    Gambling Lord #2 is really *** ***. When you look at him, it is not obvious, but when he talks, you’ll know that he’s really *** ***. Maybe, he underwent SALAMAT, DOC. I heard that he was once a three wheeler (pedicab) driver. The people in his place loves him because of his charity works.

    santA santitA

  11. J. Marqués-Tayag said,

    June 25, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    Toto, maybe you can help me straighten out my family tree, since you know so much about the Hensons. My great grandmother was Manuela Henson de Suárez. She had a sister named Inés Henson-Dizon. Her parents were José P. “Don Pepe” Henson and M. Rosario Sadie. I cannot figure out if Don Pepe Henson and José Henson y Miranda (who married Gertrudes David) are the same person. I know Don Pepe had an illegitimate kid named María Rosa (the Japanese comfort woman) with a criada named Julia. Inés and Manuela had a brother named Mariano, but I don’t know if Rosario Sadie was his mother too. I figure the names Mariano Henson and José Henson pop up a couple or more times in the family tree. Enlighten me if you can. Thank you.

    J.M.Tayag

  12. Il Gattopardo said,

    June 24, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Doesn’t this kind ever learn?

    * The Queen of Mean, Leona Helsmley thought she was untouchable and wiggle her way out even with the best lawyers that money could buy. No dice, Leonie.

    * the very same Mario B*tacan Cr*spo opted for a plea bargain but still spent some 18 months getting to know the dimensions of a Miami jail ( too bad, “CSI Miami” I think wasn’t on yet… ) :-), 🙂

    * now this M*dina;

    and pretty soon…

    * the LBC Cargo owners, Carl*s Ar*neta and his kids’ funds-transfer shennanigans will catch up with them…

    The one saving grace in all this is that it seems these overnight magnates seem to be giving back to the community and sharing some of their largesse.

    Speaking of shifty operators and scoundrels, I still wonder where the some 150 Matisses, Cezannes, van Goghs, Degas’ — all of which should have been hanging in a Manila museum rather than in certain Manhattan addresses from whence they all quickly disappeared in late February 1986 are? ( So far, only one canvas, Picasso’s appropriately named “Head of a Woman” { no, it’s not a bouffant-styled head 🙂 } turned up at a Christie’s New York May 1998 auction; but was immediately impounded and embroiled in a legal morass of “true” ownership. )

    I also wonder if the holders of the still-unrecovered Isabella Gardner Museum stolen art pieces are working out a barter deal with the holders of the missing Marcos collection? 🙂 Alam mo na, “dishonor” among thieves…

  13. June 24, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    talagang tsismoso:

    You’re brill. Too brill.

    I already have a rather good idea of who you really are… 🙂 Not to worry, for I don’t squeal anyway.

    Cheers!!!

    Toto Gonzalez

  14. talagang tsismoso said,

    June 23, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    from the website http://www.federalcrimesblog.com/2007/10/medina-pleads-guilty-to-tax-fraud.html

    R*nato M*dina, a casino owner in Colma, CA, is at the heart of a federal public corruption probe in California that has led to several arrests.[1] M*dina has admitted to cheating on his taxes and illegally deducting $2.6 million in personal expenses.[2] M*dina’s niece and nephew, who were also arrested, have pleaded not guilty to helping M*dina set up sham companies to help funnel casino revenue into M*dina’s personal holdings.[3]

    The public corruption probe also caught Colma’s former mayor who was sentenced to 18 months in prison in July after pleading guilty to accepting airline tickets from M*dina while the casino had business pending before him.[4]

    M*dina could face up to five years in prison when he’s sentenced Feb. 28 for felony tax evasion.[5] He has also agreed to pay $591,000 in back taxes after admitting listing home furnishings, a new Mercedes Benz and other personal luxuries as “Lucky Chances” Casino expenses.[6]

    The IRS is the only federal agency that can investigate potential criminal violations of the Internal Revenue Code.[7] The Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS takes attempts to evade the tax laws of the United States very seriously. But the Investigation division is not limited to mere tax crimes; they can also pursue crimes such as money laundering and bank fraud.[8]

    Tax evasion is covered under 26 U.S.C. § 7201 and in that statute it states that it is a crime for any person who willfully attempts in any manner to evade or defeat any tax imposed by this title or the payment thereof shall, in addition to other penalties provided by law, be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $100,000 ($500,000 in the case of a corporation), or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution.[9]

  15. talagang tsismoso said,

    June 23, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    1. R*dolfo “Bong” P*neda; 2. Renato “Rene” M*ndoza M*dina; 3. Mario B*tacan Cr*spo a.k.a. “Mark J*menez”

  16. June 23, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    Babblefish:

    You’re brill.

    Toto Gonzalez

  17. Babblefish said,

    June 23, 2008 at 10:37 am

    Gambling Lord #2 got his big break when Gambling Lord #1 went to the US to cool his heels. I wonder how he got his moniker ( ***-*** ). I suppose he did not support Gambling Lord #1’s wife when she ran for governor? Or have they settled their differences?


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