Flashback: When the really rich Dona A passed away in 1982, she willed her extensive jewelry collection — stored in twelve SDBs safety deposit boxes at the main BPI Bank of the Philippine Islands along Ayala Avenue — to the two female family members who mattered most to her: to her only daughter A and to her only son’s only daughter A. She did not will any jewelry to her only daughter-in-law L because she felt, as most mothers-in-law usually do, that she was not of her own flesh and blood and therefore, not really family.
Dona A had come from an old, landed family from Batangas province that had waxed even richer with their vast mines in nearby Mindoro island during the late 1800s to the early 1900s. She married an equally rich gentleman from Tayabas province and they had a daughter and a son.
Dona A had known nothing but affluence her whole life: important jewelry, couture dresses, gala parties, grand mansions, luxury cars, and world travel. During the prewar, she became one of the earliest clients of the emergent Ramon Valera, and he used to travel to Tayabas to deliver her wardrobe: both evening gowns and cocktail dresses [ which he really didn’t do for other clients ]. PostWar, Dona A traveled constantly, like the ladies of the hacendero class, and she never failed to buy jewelry in her forays, like Lane Crawford in Hong Kong and Tiffany & Co. in New York. Back home in Malate, Manila, she purchased jewelry from all the major Filipino jewelers throughout the decades: Elisa Miranda [ mother of Liding Oledan ], Ines Sarmiento [ mother of Fe Panlilio ], Tinay Gonzalez, Gely Lopez, Mrs. Carapiet, Ramon Moreno, Liding Oledan, Fe Panlilio, Hans Brumann, et. al.. And that excluded the jewelry she inherited from her mother, grandmothers, and other ancestors: 19th century Filipino colonial jewelry as well as pieces from the famous “La Estrella del Norte” and the Nakpil atelier.
What happened afterwards: To cut the long story short, Dona A passed away and her jewelry was divided into two equal parts by her only daughter A and by her only son’s only daughter A.
Only daughter passed away a few years after her mother Dona A. Her three daughters subsequently engaged in a cold war because each one felt that the other had “done her in” with the division of their Mama’s jewelry. That, despite the fact that they all inherited hundreds of Php millions in commercial properties and cash, in both USD $ and EE Euro. They have not spoken to each other since.
As for the only son’s only daughter A, she was happy and content to keep her Lola A’s jewels in the six remaining SDBs at the main BPI Bank of the Philippine Islands along Ayala Avenue. She appreciated fine jewelry but never really cared to wear them. She stayed in her house in Hillsborough, San Francisco, where she had a thriving real estate company. Daughter A left the keys of the SDBs to her octogenarian but youthful Mother L, who had returned to the Philippines, to her Makati house, to resume a life of endless parties, mahjong sessions, and her advanced age notwithstanding, even ballroom dancing.
Leaving the keys of the six SDBs bursting with jewelry to Mother L later proved to be a big mistake for Daughter A…
Everything went well for more than twenty-five years until two years ago…
Somehow, perhaps due to sheer dottiness brought by old age as well as a thousand other reasons, Mother L silently decided that Daughter A did not need all those jewels from her mother-in-law Dona A languishing in the six SDBs at the main BPI. So, slowly but surely, without even telling Daughter A, Mother L unilaterally made it her prerogative to distribute them to her three daughters-in-law, as well as to herself. What followed was sheer disaster…
At a party in the Hillsborough house…
“I like your ring! About ten carats?” complimented Daughter A to Sister-in-Law A.
“Thank you! Yes, about ten. Mommy gave the old ring to me but I didn’t like the 1970s setting so I had it set like this.” replied Sister-in-Law A.
Daughter A thought: “Why hasn’t Mommy given me anything like THAT?”
“I like your earrings! About five carats each?” complimented Daughter A to Sister-in-Law B.
“Thank you! Yes, about five each. Mommy gave the diamonds to me so I had them set like this.” described Sister-in-Law B.
Daughter A thought again: “Why hasn’t Mommy given me anything like those?”
Daughter A remembered that she had a very considerable collection from her Lola A anyway, so she decided that upon her arrival in Manila she would finally look at them and wear them everyday.
That’s when the trouble really started…
“MOMMY, WHERE ARE MY JEWELS???” snorted Daughter A.