The “Mine-ing” Business

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.



  1. February 13, 2010 at 4:46 am

    Hi Cito!!!

    Hahahah!!! So nice to see you here!!!

    Does it sound familiar? Does it sound like your “favorite cousin”?

    Best regards to Tita Tess and to Obot!!!


    Toto G.

  2. Cito Reynoso Gala said,

    February 13, 2010 at 2:07 am


    You are so…so funny. Shhhhhh…someone might hear you. We are all bursting with laughter reading your insights to Manila Life. What a JOY to read.

    Cito Gala

  3. AA said,

    August 30, 2009 at 12:02 am

    Thanks, Talagang Tsismoso.

    I thought it had something to do with Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

  4. talagang tsismoso said,

    August 29, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    MARTHA’S Vineyard is one good organization whose and mission has always been clear, thus it has withstood the test of time.

    Martha’s Vineyard was started by five ladies – Frieda Tueres (now deceased), Violet de Borja, Mila David, Cecille Oppen, and Ditas Lerma – with Msgr. Fidelis Limcaco as spiritual advisor, 25 years ago to answer an inner longing to serve others and share their own blessings.

    They chose the name Martha because they were all housewives then whose families came first and foremost. In organizing Martha’s Vineyard, they began their journey of embracing and serving not only their families but their community and country as well.

    From the initial five founders, the organization has now grown to 80 active members who serve in any of their three ministries: medical care and rehab (through medical missions), education (at their pre-school in Barangka), and providing supplementary livelihood for others at their livelihood center.

    Although these Marthas are busy with their ministries, they find the need to develop their “Mary” side, too. They hold prayer meetings on Monday afternoons not only to feed their souls, but their minds and spirits as well.

    They hear mass, hold mini-catechisms, and regular retreats or recollections. They try their best to practice centering prayer in their lives. What is so beautiful is that they pray for others aside from their own personal intentions through their weekly 2,000 “Hail Marys”

  5. AA said,

    August 28, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Can someone please enlighten me — what is the Martha’s Vineyard Group?

  6. talagang tsismoso said,

    August 28, 2009 at 5:22 am

    I used to see Anita Chan with Tinay Gonzalez and the first cousin of Liding Oledan, Mrs Roman they used to play Mahjong, Anita Chan’s jewelry shop in Hong Kong is located before in the basement of Holiday Inn Golden Mile Kowloon now she has two shops here in the philippines one in Rockwell Mall and the other one is in Shangri-la Mall she is the jeweler of Maritess Lagdameo Lopez, Ching Cruz and the other members of the Martha’s Vineyard Group.she also partnered with Congresswoman Lorna Silverio and Aleta Suarez the wife of Congressman Danny Suarez who treated President Arroyo’s & members of her delegation at a Dinner in Bobby Vans restaurant in Washington DC together they own the Brazil Brazil restaurant and three other defunct restaurants Macau Pigeon House Spring Moon and Duck Duck restaurant

  7. August 27, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    talagang tsismoso:

    You’re too brilliant. You know Everything!!!

    We will let the other readers have fun.

    Toto Gonzalez

  8. larry leviste said,

    August 27, 2009 at 10:01 am

    Does anyone know about the jeweler Anita Chan ?

  9. Presy Guevara said,

    August 26, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    Here’ another song Larry., tot he tune of “This Land is Your Land”, modified of course:

    This land is my land, this land is my land
    From far Aparri, to Tawi-tawi
    From the hardwood forest, to the reef rich waters
    This land was made for only me

    As I was passing a ribbon of highway
    I saw above me an endless skyway
    I saw below me a golden valley
    This land was made for only me


    I’ve roamed and rambled and I’ve followed my footsteps
    To the sparkling facets of diamond bagets
    And all around me a voice was sounding
    This land was made for only me


    The sun comes shining as I was strolling
    The rice fields waving and the dark clouds rolling
    The frog was croaking a voice come chanting
    This land was made for only me


    As I was walkin’ – I saw a sign there
    And that sign said – no tress passin’
    But on the other side …. it didn’t say nothin!
    Now that side was made for only me!


    In the squares of the city – Among folks simple
    Near the relief office – I see my people
    And some are grumblin’ and some are wonderin’
    If this land’s still made for only and me.


  10. talagang tsismoso said,

    August 26, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Gely Lopez used to borrow her jewelry pieces from Mrs Eugenio of baclaran one of the biggest importer of diamonds during that time

    Ines Lugue Sarmineto and her daughter Fe used to borrow their jewelries from Simang Santos one of the major Filipino jewelers at that time Ines Sarmiento then will sell it to her buyers in Divisoria

    Elisa Salgado Miranda also used to borrow her Jewelries from Simang Santos and from Maria Cruz Tancinco who’s daughter Marina Tancinco Imperial owned the Arabesque Jewelry shop in Makati

    Aureo Alonzo was the one who introduce Fe Panlilio to the German Baron Arndt von Bohlen und Halbach who died at the age of 48 and was deeply in debt

    The Filipino Pioneer who imports the best and biggest diamond pieces from Antwerp Belgium was sisters Zosima Garcia and Victorina Laperal

  11. Presy Guevara said,

    August 25, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    Don’t treasures end in tragedies? Well written, Toto. Is there a sequel to this?

  12. Myles Garcia said,

    August 24, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Another “Imelda” thread?

  13. Irames said,

    August 24, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    This could be the Mine-ing of Life after the Meaning of Life is fully appreciated.

  14. larry leviste said,

    August 24, 2009 at 8:22 am

    ” THIS land is MINE, God gave this LAND to ME, ” goes the song in GLORIA’S PIN head.

    Can’t seem to get that DARN song out of her mind.

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