“Laing” beside you… here in Albay

“Laing” is the signature dish of Bicolandia.  It is made from dried “gabi” leaves stewed in coconut milk seasoned with ginger and chilis.  When well done, as Bicolana cooks are wont to do, it is out of this world.  Simply delicious with a steaming mound of rice!!!  So popular is “Laing” that it is a well-known dish even in Manila restaurants and households.  And no, it has nothing to do with the 1960s actress Lilian Laing nor with the Marcos era society florist Ronnie Laing.  😛



  1. Ross Harper said,

    August 2, 2014 at 4:45 am

    Hello Don’t mean to intrude or jump into blog out of the blue but I’m hoping someone could help assist me with the feature on Ronnie Laing I’m writing for the Sunday Inquirer Magazine’s issue on the Marcos family (September 2014). Like many of you, his store’s window displays every Christmas mesmerized me when I was a child, even as a teenager. Story will highlight his house. Can someone provide a photo of Ronnie Laing please? His house on Manga Street Sta Mesa? Photo wearing trademark bow tie and white trousers? Picture to show he was a British gentleman? His friends have provided me with stories and details about him but no one has a single picture of him or can’t recall ever taking pictures at Ronnie Laing’s house whenever he had them over for dinner and parties.
    Please contact Rossana Harper 09172041052 rossharperalonso@gmail.com

  2. July 29, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    […] thanks as well to Remembrance of Things Gone Awry blog and Wikipedia for additional research […]

  3. Susannah Flanagan said,

    April 14, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    I had dinner at Ronnie Laing’s house in 1967 with my father, when I was 11 years old. He and Ronnie had been in prison camp together during WWII, and knew each other in San Francisco (he did the flowers for my parents wedding) That house was amazing … I remember the above-mentioned stream, a Japanese tea/guest house in the garden off the lanai, the open air dining room, some immense wooden church doors … Like Mr. Leviste, I also wonder what happened to that house, and if there were ever any photos taken. My visit to Manila and the Philippines 45 years ago was memorable in every detail!

  4. Enrique Bustos said,

    December 21, 2010 at 4:37 am

    Ronnie Laing designed the garden of Chito Madrigal Collantes mansion in Cambridge Circle in North Forbes Park

  5. Enrique Bustos said,

    December 6, 2010 at 3:03 am

    La Sorpresa De Don Valentín

    On a paseo one day, Don Valentín and his new wife saw a ruin. The lady remarked how nice the place could be if rehabilitated. She said the same thing when they passed it a second time. On their third pass, a grand house already stood where the ruin was—between Gral. Solano Street and the Pasig River—and the husband declared, “Es tuya” (“It’s yours”).

    This happened sometime after 1869 when Valentín Teus, 37, married the 24-year-old Teresa Ferrater, daughter of the Capitán-Generál. Born in a little town at the foot of the Pyrenees, the boy turned 15 in 1847 and decided to try his luck in faraway Manila.

    In time, Teus was able to buy a distillery in Hagonoy, Bulacán. He later merged it with Ynchausti y Cia. (ship owner, chandler and rope manufacturer) that survives as Tanduay Distillery, Inc. He was also Alcalde Primero del Ayuntamiento de Manila (City Council) in 1871 and in the following year was awarded by King Amadeo I the honor Comendador de Isabel la Católica.

    The Teuses had a son, also named Valentín. The family would travel to Spain every five years, where they would remain an entire year. It was on one of those three-month voyages that the boy died and was interred at sea. The devastated couple commissioned a life-sized portrait of the boy that stood on an easel beside their bed.

    Doña Teresa passed away in 1892 and two years later, Don Valentín married his late wife’s niece, Dolores. The patriarch passed away in 1909 while in Spain, leaving young children—a son (again named Valentín) and two daughters.

    The girls went to Assumption Convent and to Spain for college. The elder daughter, named Concepción, married and remained abroad. At some point, her widowed mother and younger sister decided also to leave. The ladies sold most of their inheritance and invested the proceeds in Madrid property. It seems the son “was a disaster and lost most of the family fortune playing poker.” His wife left him and he ended up in a lodge built against the ancestral manse’s front fence. (A friend tells me he used to play pelota at Casino Español and swore a lot.)

    Concepción occasionally brought her children to Manila. They would stay in the old home and one of them, a daughter now 89, remembers fishing from upstairs windows overlooking the Pasig, bicycling in the sala and wide central corridor, 17 servants, tinola dinners, washing taken away by boat, how her grandmother Dolores brought a cow aboard a ship from Barcelona for her children’s fresh milk.

    In the 1970s, the family sold the house to then First Lady Imelda Marcos. She demolished Valentín’s lodge, enlarged the sala, installed bathrooms, made guest suites of ground floor bodegas, brought in art and antiques. State visitors and Marcos friends (like Cristina Ford and Doris Duke) stayed there.

    Last month, three of Don Valentin’s descendants saw the house for the first time and pronounced their great-grandfather’s surprise magnificent.

  6. Enrique Bustos said,

    December 5, 2010 at 3:33 am

    Valentin “Tito” Teus Married Encarnacion Gargollo sister of Carmen Gargollo wife of Antonio Roxas

  7. Enrique Bustos said,

    November 24, 2010 at 5:12 am

    The Mi Novia painting the girl with a green hat was owned by Alfonso Ongpin but was later bought by Eugenio Lopez then he later gave it as a gift to Imelda Marcos

  8. Enrique Bustos said,

    November 23, 2010 at 8:29 am

    Former mansion of the Vicente Romualdez Imelda Marcos father was bought by the government in the 1960’s to be a government office building today it is known as Bahay Ugnayan, it is right across Malacañang Complex and the New Executive Building

  9. Enrique Bustos said,

    November 23, 2010 at 8:18 am

    The other “Mi Novia” painting by Juan Luna that Mrs. Marcos owns came from Don Eugenio H. Lopez.

  10. Enrique Bustos said,

    November 21, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Palace’s Teus House: Christina Ford slept here

    By Joseph Cortes
    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    MANILA, Philippines—Gonzalo Camacho was busy shuffling printouts of vintage photos from his family’s collection. He was trying to match the photos with the existing architectural details of what is known as the Teus Mansion in San Miguel district in Manila.

    The Teus Mansion, now one of Malacañang’s many guesthouses, was the home of Camacho’s forebears. His grandmother, Concepción Teus, grew up in the house. Concepción, or Concha in her youth, is now 87 and living in Spain. It is her dying wish to see the house where she grew up; however, she is not strong enough to endure the trip to Manila.

    Her grandson Gonzalo and granddaughters Maria Jose Camacho and Lourdes Cabral made the trip early this month in her stead. It is the first time Concha’s granddaughters are seeing the house for themselves. Gonzalo first saw it in 1985 when he went to Manila on his honeymoon.

    Gonzalo recalls his first visit to the Teus Mansion, located at the corner of Gen. Solano and J. Nepomuceno (formerly Tanduay) streets.

    “I knocked on the gate and pleaded to be allowed to see the house,” he says. The guards on duty relented after much argument with the Spaniard, who could speak only in halting English.

    The trip resulted in a photo of Gonzalo sitting by the fountain that stands right outside the Teus Mansion.

    That encounter only piqued his interest in the house and in his family’s history. He vowed to return to Manila and visit the house again.

    Last Tuesday, Nov. 16, he got his wish.

    Once a convent

    Gonzalo’s great-grandfather Valentin Teus Yrisarry bought the Teus House in the 1865. The Teus family used to live in the Ermita district, but after a particularly strong typhoon that destroyed a number of properties in the area, Valentin decided to move his family elsewhere. He told his wife Teresa he would buy the house for her.

    The Teus house was originally a convent, says Gonzalo. When it was put up on sale, his great-grandfather did not hesitate to buy it. It is located just a few meters away from San Miguel Church, where Valentin would wed his second wife Dolores, who was Teresa’s niece.

    Valentin was 15 when he arrived in Manila from Spain by sea. He and his cousin Jaime Venutia Yrisarry, then 13, were given permission to migrate to the Philippines upon the recommendation of their cousin Joaquin Marcelino Elizalde Yrisarry. It was common then to send children abroad to Spain’s colonies to evade military service when they were eventually of age and would need to pay for exemption.

    Elizalde, with his uncle Juan Bautista Yrisarry and Joaquin Ynchausti, established a trading partnership, that acquired the Manila Steamship Company. The firm, known as Ynchausti y Cia, supplied equipment needed by steamships, before eventually venturing into abaca-making. When Valentin joined the firm, he was able to acquire a distillery in Hagonoy, Bulacan. This business became the seed for the modern-day Tanduay Distillery, which for a time was considered the largest in the Philippines.

    Valentin’s first wife

    Valentin’s first wife Teresa Ferrater Ponte was the daughter of the captain-general of Manila. She was a woman of strength and courage. When Teresa had to travel from Spain to the Philippines, she always took the route that went around the tip of the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa rather than the shorter route by the Suez Canal. Going around South Africa meant a three-month voyage to Manila compared to the shorter one-month sea voyage via the Suez Canal.
    She died in 1892.

    Two years later, Valentin married Teresa’s niece, Ma. Dolores Menendez Valdes de Cornellana Ferrater, at San Miguel Church. The church still stands where it was first erected during the Spanish colonial period. In fact, the Camacho cousins visited the church after their visit to the Teus Mansion.

    Valentin had three children with Dolores: Concepcion, or Concha, Gonzalo’s grandmother; Valentin or Tito; and Dolores or Lolin. Dolores had another son previous to Tito who was also named Valentin. He died during a sea voyage to Manila, and his remains were cast off to sea. In remorse, she commissioned a life-size portrait of the young boy, which she kept on a stand at her bedside throughout her life.

    The Teus family was well-off and they had 17 servants for the house’s daily upkeep. Gonzalo recalls that in some of her grandmother’s stories, she would tell of life in Manila during that time.

    On one of Dolores’ trips to Spain, she bought a cow, which she took with her back to Manila. She was afraid her children would not have quality milk to drink while they were growing up.

    When it was time for the cacao harvest, she would hire Chinese workers to grind the cacao beans to a paste and make into tablea. She also had at her disposal a retinue of Chinese women to do the laundry. Gonzalo says her grandmother recalls their clothes would be smoked with a fragrant plant to give them a nice, clean smell.

    Tinola every night

    They needed all those clean clothes because dinner was a formal event. Even if only the family were having dinner, they all had to dress up for the occasion. It was tinola every night, a dish Concha taught all her grandchildren to cook.

    “Up to now, I still have tinola often,” says Gonzalo. “I would cook it with lettuce, carrots and pumpkin. Sometimes, we would have it with bananas and chayote, as they do in the Canary Islands.”

    He also knows how to cook pancit, another of her grandmother’s culinary legacies.

    Her grandmother also told them how big the house was. Concha and her siblings would ride bicycles in the sala on the second floor until they got tired.

    A cleaner Pasig River ran behind the house. Gonzalo says his grandmother recalls fishing from the river on most days.

    Return to Spain

    When Valentin Teus died during a trip to Spain in 1909—he would go back to Spain every five years to visit his family—Dolores was left to run the house and the family. It was unclear when Dolores died, but eventually Valentin’s daughters returned to Spain to study, while Tito stayed on in Manila.

    It was Concha and Lolin who decided to sell off the family’s stocks at Tanduay. With the money they made from the sale, they bought real estate in Madrid, apartment buildings which up to this day stand in the Spanish capital.

    Tito lost his part of the fortune in poker games. He lived at the Teus Mansion until shortly after World War II. From then on, the house stayed empty. Only a caretaker was left to watch over it.

    Concha would return to Manila every so often to look into some of the family’s remaining businesses. However, Gonzalo says she opted to stay with the Elizaldes on those visits. As the sisters grew older, their visits to Manila became even more infrequent.

    Sold to Imelda Marcos

    In the ’70s, the Teus family decided to sell the house to then-First Lady Imelda Marcos. She commissioned interior designer Ronnie Laing and antique dealer Viring de Asis to restore the house to its old glory. She also had the ground floor bodega fitted with 17 rooms.

    With the Goldenberg Mansion next door, it became one of Malacañang’s guesthouses. The jetsetter friend of the Marcoses and former wife of the car industrialist, Cristina Ford, was among the celebrity guests who stayed at the Teus Mansion.

    The Teus Mansion is now part of the Malacañang Museum, although it is not open to the public. It holds Mrs. Marcos’ collection of European silver, chinoiserie and Buddha statues, ivory pieces and a variety of porcelain and ceramics.

    The Camachos were forbidden to take photos of the restored Teus Mansion, but they had a chance to compare their photographs of the old house with the new one. In the old house, there were five rooms on the second floor, mostly decked out with elaborate period furniture. The ground floor had a porte-cochère where horse-drawn carriages would drive guests to the foot of the house’s grand staircase.

    Gonzalo says Dolores took almost all of the furniture back with her to Spain. He points out Dolores’ bed that has a high wooden canopy over it. The bed is now in the family home in San Sebastian, Spain. To fit the bed into a bedroom, they had to shorten the canopy posts.

    Gonzalo’s cousins point out that the basic layout of the old house has been retained. A hallway leads to the mansion’s sunroom, which overlooks the Pasig River. The sunroom was used as a salon where the family often entertained guests on balmy nights. The pillars around the house are still where they used to be, although the interior no longer sports the friezes that wrapped around the walls of the house.

    Gonzalo says his grandmother would have been happy to see the house now. It would have been more memorable if they were able to take photographs of the restored house to show her.

    In the end, the Camacho cousins contented themselves with taking photographs of the house’s exterior. They also took snapshots of themselves outside the house. These would be the only photographs they could show their grandmother Concha in Spain. Everything else about the house, they had to commit to memory

  11. July 21, 2010 at 3:13 am

    […] thanks as well to Remembrance of Things Gone Awry blog and Wikipedia for additional research […]

  12. Presy Guevara said,

    July 19, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Thanks to Enrique for republishing Jaime Laya’s comments and suggestions. I agree that the Coconut Palace is too big for a VP Residence. Can we find a suitable site in historic Intramuros?

  13. Alicia Perez said,

    July 19, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Regarding the Vice-President’s “official residence”: Why not a “bahay kubo” which is truly Filipino???!!!

    Alicia Perez

  14. Enrique Bustos said,

    July 19, 2010 at 5:22 am

    An Official Home for the Vice President

    Vice President Jejomar Binay points out that Philippine Vice Presidents are homeless, unlike, for example, U.S. Vice Presidents who are assigned a large Victorian home (“One Observatory Circle”) for entertaining or for actually living in when the Vice President has no Washington home and indeed, unlike some of our provincial governors, e.g., Batangas.

    Probably all our Vice Presidents past and present had Metro Manila homes, but chances are a private house would have inadequate facilities to elegantly entertain large numbers. Even a five-star hotel does not have the same impact as an official residence.

    High officialdom in the West receive visitors in style—Washington, D.C.’s State Department diplomatic reception rooms (with 18th and 19th century furnishings); London’s Lancaster House across Green Park from Buckingham Palace; Paris’ Quai d’Orsay salons; Rome’s 16th century Villa Madama (built by a Medici Cardinal).

    The Coconut Palace, on Manila Bay behind the CCP, has been suggested as Vice Presidential residence. It’s very presentable and very large. It’s also one of Manila’s few truly beautiful domestic buildings and will be a loss to private individuals and organizations, including officialdom and diplomats, who use it for national day receptions, international conference and large socials.

    Why not rescue one of Manila’s endangered heritage buildings. The purchase or perhaps a long-term lease of one such place would save part of our heritage while providing our Vice Presidents an official residence. Restored and hopefully furnished with top-grade art and antiques, it could be a showcase of Philippine culture.

    As Makati Mayor, Vice President Binay had been working on a heritage district encompassing the 17th century San Pedro y San Pablo church, a park along the Pasig River, and an area of mostly post-war and a few 19th and pre-war homes. There’s a large house by the park that could be transformed into an official residence to be proud of.

    Other heritage structures are begging for salvation.

    A few remain along the Pasig at Sta. Ana. One of them, originally a mid-1800s mansion, was placed on the market last year. Enormous bahay-na-bato still stand on Quiapo’s R. Hidalgo Street near San Sebastian Church (a declared national historical landmark). The street is unsightly and congested but the restoration and official use of one of those homes could upgrade and save the entire area. A historic house on Peñafrancia Street (once belonging to a Spanish Governor General and to President Jose P. Laurel) was restored years back but is now empty.

    The LRT line is a negative, but a few pre-war mansions remain on the Pasay City stretch of Taft Avenue. On Vito Cruz and New Manila are baronial 1930s homes, some with large gardens.

    Government owns properties that could be restored into something special, e.g., an art deco mansion, formerly office of a small agency, by the foot of Ayala Bridge, or the pre-war City Courts building in Intramuros that is too small for Comelec, its present occupant.

    How about giving a home to our Vice Presidents while preserving our architectural heritage?

  15. george shaw said,

    June 18, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    in high school then, there were lots of talks about that accident involving two known personalities associated with Imelda Marcos.

    so many questions left unanswered accurately…

    what was the reason why they were in Tagaytay…
    they did not use a driver as normally they in their positions would do..
    how did their respected spouses take it…
    there was lots of cold cash in their possession then, why…

  16. Enrique Bustos said,

    June 18, 2010 at 6:29 am

    Betty Bantug-Benitez was in charge of the construction of the ill-fated Manila Film Center when an accident happened where 28 workers were killed. She allegedly ordered the workers to pour the cement over the bodies of the dead because of the deadline to finish the construction of the Film Center. The families, they say, put a curse on her. A few months later, Betty Benitez was killed in an accident. She was a passenger in a car driven by former U.P. President Onofre Corpuz; they were on their way to Tagaytay. Betty was killed instantly when the car ran off the road on a curve and smashed on a tree. O.D. Corpuz survived.

  17. Alicia Perez said,

    June 17, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Betty Bantug-Benitez was actually decapitated in that Tagaytay accident with Onofre D. Corpuz.

    It was a horrible ending for a wonderful lady. Ala Princesse de Lamballe?

    Alicia Perez

  18. Ipê Nazareno said,

    June 15, 2010 at 11:29 pm

    “O-M-G. What happens now that the cursed “Mi Novia” painting is owned by the Philippine government?”

    Well, the painting was Marcos personal property from 1982 until 1986 when it was sequestered and the ownership transferred to the Philippine Government. So since 1986, has the Filipino government been lucky or cursed? Hehehe…. you tell me.

  19. Myles Garcia said,

    June 15, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    Baka underneath that “novia” is a countenance of “Imierda Wilde-dumaldez Marcoski”? That’s why it is cursed!! 🙂 🙂

    BTW, didn’t Juan Luna purposely shoot his wife because he caught her “in flagrante delicto”? And subsequently acquitted by the French court because a cuckcolded husband was entitled to the “temporary insanity” defense in a “crime passionel”?

  20. Enrique Bustos said,

    June 15, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Mrs. Marcos had another “Mi Novia” painting by Juan Luna the beautiful bust type portrait dated 1885, the portrait of a lady with her cheeks blush with peach tones and her gracefully tiled head is enhanced by a richly textured dress,her golden locks and her rich green hat i wonder what happened to it?

  21. Presy Guevara said,

    June 15, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Has the soul of the”Mi Novia” model been locked in oils on canvas? Has there been some derangement on completion of the painting?

  22. June 15, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    O-M-G. What happens now that the cursed “Mi Novia” painting is owned by the Philippine government? 😛

  23. Ipê Nazareno said,

    June 15, 2010 at 1:40 pm


    I also remember another “curse” of that Luna painting. In the early 1990s, the National Museum had several Luna and Hidalgo paintings cleaned by the Philippines’ foremost art restoration expert at that time — Susano “Jun” Gonzales of Paco. Shortly after cleaning that particular painting, Dr. Gonzales was brutally murdered at his Bulacan resthouse.

    Also, one of the sons of AN and VVA related to me that during the entire period that the “Mi Novia” was in their household, his dad, AN, was constantly in and out of Makati Medical for an ailment which the doctors could not diagnose. He only got better after the painting was sold. The funny thing is, the “Mi Novia” was offered to AN and VVA by an art broker together with another Luna painting, “La Bete Humaine”. It was VVA who chose to purchase only “Mi Novia” as she didn’t want a painting named after “The Human Beast” inside her household. “La Bete Humaine” was then sold to Dr. Eleuterio “Teyet” Pascual and is still in his collection.

  24. June 15, 2010 at 5:37 am


    OMG. It’s like reading the history of the “Hope Diamond”!!!


    Toto Gonzalez

  25. Ipê Nazareno said,

    June 15, 2010 at 2:07 am


    The “Mi Novia” was purchased by AN and VVA in 1981 or 1982 and it hung in their living room together with Amorsolo’s “Portrait of Fernanda De Jesus”, Simon Flores’ 12 foot “La Asuncion”, one of Luna’s “En El Palco”, and several religious icons from 17th and 18th century painters from Bohol.

    AN and VVA purchased “Mi Novia” a year before they purchased the Laguna relieves. Double bad luck for their marriage.

    Enrique is correct. It was originally thought to be a painting of Paz Pardo De Tavera. Legend has it that the painting was on the easel in Juan Luna’s studio at the time he accidentally shot his wife, Paz. Supposedly, this was the start of the “curse.”

    The relieves were sold in 1990 by AN after he received a small fraction of the collection as part of the couple’s marriage settlement. The relieves are amongst the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.

    The “Mi Novia” was sold by AN and VVA to Mrs. Marcos who offered, and did pay, full and fair market value for the painting after she saw the piece in AN and VVA’s home. After payment, the painting was picked up from AN and VVA’s home by Betty Bantug-Benitez who died shortly thereafter in a car accident.

    In August of 1983, VVA saw the painting hanging near the office of President Marcos in Malacañang.

    Thereafter, in 1984, when the office of the President was being remodeled, it was said to be kept in the home of Imee Marcos-Manotoc who suffered a miscarriage (a still-born daughter — all the Marcos children, as of the present, have sons and no daughters).

    It was transferred back to Malacañang in 1985.

    After EDSA, the Aquino administration transferred ownership of the painting to the National Museum but not before the painting was displayed in the Metropolitan Museum for a Luna-Hidalgo retrospective. During that exhibit, the halogen light over the painting was constantly on the blink (take note, it was only the lighting above that painting which was always on the blink) and, during the exhibit opening, one of the pipes of the Metropolitan Museum burst and there was a slight trickle from the ceiling directly in front of the painting. When AN and VVA’s sons attended the exhibit opening, they couldn’t help but laugh and conclude that the “legend of the curse” may indeed have some truth to it.

  26. Enrique Bustos said,

    June 14, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    The Portrait in the National Museum was formerly titled as Portrait of Paz Pardo de Tavera but if you go now to the National Museum it is now titled as Portrait of a Lady,Before the Edsa Revolution in 1986 Former First Lady Imelda Marcos owned a Juan Luna titled Mi Novia

  27. Enrique Bustos said,

    June 14, 2010 at 11:33 am


    Thank you for the additional Information about the Arlegui Guest House.

    Regarding Mariano Cu-Unjieng’s fraudulent acts It was a big scandal during the 1930’s,Mariano Cu-Unjieng was involve in a legal battle over charges of defrauding H.S.B.C using forged documents pledging warehouse receipts and crop loan agreements to banks thereby securing overdrafts facilities he was indebted to various banks in the Philippines & China during the court hearings it was discovered that much of the money realized from defrauding HSBC was transferred to his bank accounts Mariano the principal defendant fought the case up to the Supreme Court in December 1937 Mariano lost his seven year long court battle and was imprisoned and he was also ordered to pay more than P2 million pesos to the various plaintiffs though the Cu-Unjiengs may have lost their eminence within the Chinese business circles because of the scandal the Cu-Unjiengs and their close relatives the Cuyegkengs and Khu Yek Chiongs remained relatively wealthy during the 1930’s.

  28. June 14, 2010 at 10:19 am


    I’m familiar with that beautiful Juan Luna painting, although I can’t remember the title. Isn’t it titled “Mi Novia” and believed to be a portrait of his wife Paz Pardo de Tavera [ although I personally think the subject was too pretty to have been Paz, who looked rather masculine ]?

    It was once in the possession of Manuel “Manoling” Martinez Dizon and his wife Regina “Ina” Palanca Gonzalez. Their house in Forbes Park burned down in 1980 [ but was swiftly reconstructed ]. However, the painting was unscathed.

    The same thing is told about a magnificent “relleve” of the Crucifixion from an 18th century church in Laguna. It was believed cursed because “tinurukan ng mga kandila iyan,” meaning candles had been lit before it. The “curse” notwithstanding, it was purchased by the affluent arts and antiques collector AN and his wife VVA. Their marriage fell apart afterwards.

    A few years later, it was purchased by the couple AC and DY. Their marriage also fell apart afterwards. The cursed “relleve” languished in a storeroom for years.

    Not believing in precedents or even “feng shui” although he is pure Chinese, uberrich stamps, arts, and antiques collector MQ purchased the magnificent Crucifixion “relleve” and installed it in his spectacular Tamarind Street, Forbes Park living room. Collector friends are still waiting to see if any ill fortune will befall MQ and his family.

    “Caveat emptor.” Buyer beware.

    Toto Gonzalez

  29. Ipê Nazareno said,

    June 14, 2010 at 9:40 am

    “It’s rather comical to see how certain properties carry a pattern of misfortune… from one owner to the next.”


    Just like the Juan Luna portrait of a semi-naked lady holding a rosary which is now in the National Museum….

  30. June 13, 2010 at 6:23 pm


    Hmm… for a while I didn’t know what “Tarcila Laperal-Mendoza residence” all the hullaballoo was about. So it’s all about the “Arlegui guest house” which President Corazon Aquino used as her residence, instead of Malacanang palace, from 1986 – 1992. Well, it turns out I do know something about that place…

    That house, or mansion as many people like to call it, at # 1410 Arlegui street [ formerly Calle Arlegui ] was built by Rafael Fernandez y Santos for his wife [ and maternal second cousin ] Josefa Escaler y Sioco in the 1910s on property owned by her mother Sabina Sioco de Escaler. At that time, the very rich Pampanga “hacendera” Sabina de Escaler had purchased, for investment, most of the residential properties lining Arlegui Street all the way to San Rafael Street. The house was designed by an American architect whose name their family has conveniently forgotten, NOT by the eminent Andres Luna de San Pedro as some “authorities” claim. To this day, the couple’s initials “RF” for Rafael Fernandez and “JE” for Josefa Escaler are still there on the Art Deco-style, heavy wrought iron gates of the house. Originally, the house had only one wing, from the entrance to the tower. First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos ordered the second, “mirror-image” wing constructed in the 1970s.

    In the late 1920s, Rafael Fernandez and Mariano Cu-Unjieng became involved in a quedan loans fiasco of epic proportions. It was so ingenious that the top American colonial officials were oddly impressed and dubbed them “the good boys!” Many investors from Manila’s gratin lost big money, like Benito Legarda. Out of shame and “delicadeza,” Sabina de Escaler stepped in and surrendered her stretch of residential properties lining Arlegui street all the way to San Rafael street, including the house of her daughter and son-in-law [ and nephew ], to the various creditors of Rafael Fernandez and his partners. To this day, several homeowners along Arlegui street can trace their properties to the former owner, Sabina de Escaler.

    It’s rather comical to see how certain properties carry a pattern of misfortune… from one owner to the next.

    Toto Gonzalez 😛 😛 😛

  31. Enrique Bustos said,

    June 13, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    The House on Arlegui Street

    I didn’t notice the open manhole on the driveway of the Arlegui house and my car fell in. That was about 1968, when I was member of a Committee created by the Presidential Economic Staff (PES) to hear a proposed National Power Corporation rate increase.

    Hearings were held in a briefing room that must have been the sala when the house was still Laperal residence. We sat on a mezzanine inserted over part of the room above the witnesses, lawyers, and staff. Upstairs in former bedrooms were the big chiefs. The place was relatively small and most of the staff was in a large wooden office building at the back.

    Fast forward to 1976. The old manse had more than doubled in size. Then First Lady Imelda Marcos had added more bedrooms, reception rooms, and balconies upstairs and down. The office building at the rear was gone, in its place a landscaped garden and swimming pool. It had become a palace guest house, readied for some of the top boys of the IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings held in Manila.

    It remained an official guest house until 1986, when President Corazon Aquino moved in. The Marcos private quarters at the palace became a museum, memorable for Mrs. Marcos’ 3,000 shoes (actually 1,500 pairs).

    President Fidel V. Ramos decided to stay in Arlegui but reoriented the Malacañang museum, dedicating one room to each President beginning with Emilio Aguinaldo. His successor, President Joseph Estrada, decided to live in the Premier Guest House within the palace grounds, downgrading the Arlegui house to offices and rooms for senior officials for when they had to stay late. The palace private rooms remained open to the public.

    In 2001, after fifteen years as museum, Malacañang’s private quarters once again became presidential residence, for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her family. The adjoining Executive Office Building was restored for the Presidential Museum.

    The Arlegui house was the Japanese Embassy during World War II and was afterwards assigned to the National Library. Formerly on the ground floor of the Legislative Building (now the National Gallery of Art), it was just right for the Library which had lost practically all its books in the Battle of Manila. The place housed the PES during the Diosdado Macapagal administration (1961-65).

    Following the 1973 Constitution, PES and the National Economic Council merged to form the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). The new agency’s office was on Padre Faura and news reports imply that the Laperal-Mendoza family then moved back to Arlegui with their antiques and paintings, staying there peacefully until they were ejected by “Marcos security guards” in July 1975.

    The media also report that President-elect Benigno Aquino III is thinking of living in Arlegui, in which case the rent for the house and its 4,924.6 square meter lot is to be renegotiated. Otherwise, the announcement is that it will be for sale for one billion pesos. That would mean P203,062 per square meter, house thrown in free, presumably with manholes covered.

  32. Ipê Nazareno said,

    June 11, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    That is right Enrique. I stand corrected.

  33. Ipê Nazareno said,

    June 11, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Correct Enrique. I stand corrected.

  34. Enrique Bustos said,

    June 11, 2010 at 9:52 am

    The Teus house is where the Marcos Silver collection was displayed.It had floor to ceiling cabinet full of English Gregorian Silver some bought from Partridge’s and Spinks in London and many given by friends on the 25th Wedding Anniversary of President & Mrs Marcos in 1979 including a gift of King Hassan of Morroco a large platter by Paul de Lamerie considered as among the finest Silversmith of all time Most of the collection was sold in a 1991 auction by Christie’s in New York.but there a few left still in display in the Teus House

    What was housed in the Goldenberg Mansion was Mrs Marcos collection of Philippine excavated porcelain & pottery. Ban Chieng prehistoric pottery from Thailand

  35. Ipê Nazareno said,

    June 11, 2010 at 4:29 am

    The Goldenberg Mansion housed the Marcos Silver collection (gifts from dignitaries given during the celebration of the Marcoses’ silver wedding anniversary in 1979). It was used as a guest house. I wonder whatever happened to the silver pieces after EDSA?

  36. Enrique Bustos said,

    June 11, 2010 at 2:23 am

    May be The same as in the case of another Malacanang Guest House the Laperal Mansion in Arlequi St.The Supreme Court ordered the return of the Laperal Mansion to its rightful owner Tarcila Laperal Mendoza.

    The history of the Laperal house is During The Japanese Occupation the Arlequi Mansion used to be the official house of the Speaker of the House it was where Benigno Aquino Sr and his family lived during the Japanese Occupation because he was elected speaker of the house of the Philippine Assembly. Speaker Aquino asked architect Fernando Ocampo to renovate it.The house also became the Chancellery of the Third Reich after the war it later housed the National Library it was also used by the Presidential Economic Staff before Mrs Marcos remodeled and enlarge the Mansion.Mrs Marcos ordered to double the size of the mansion when it was converted as a guest house it now has two towers where it used to have one

    From an article in the Inquirer of how Mrs Mendoza was kicked out of her own house

    Marcos guards kicked out owners
    With only their clothes on their backs
    By Juliet Labog-Javellana

    MALACAÑANG can have her Arlegui property, but Tarcila Laperal-Mendoza wants just compensation for it.

    For well over three decades, Mendoza could not forget the day presidential security guards of the Ferdinand Marcos regime stormed her “Blair Mansion” and kicked her and her family out in 1975, with nothing but the clothes on their backs and memories of their house to take with them.

    The 93-year-old matriarch thought she had gotten justice when the Supreme Court ordered last week that Malacañang return the 4,924.2-square-meter property on Arlegui built in the 1930s, near the Palace compound, to her and compensate her.

    The mansion owned by the Laperal family was restored by National Artist Leandro Locsin in 1971.

    After it was seized by the Marcos regime, the Arlegui property served as an adjunct of the Office of the President and later as residence of Presidents Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos. It is now occupied by the Office of the Press Secretary.

    But Mendoza, now living in the United States, was dismayed by the outcome of her 32-year quest for justice, according to her lawyer Alberto Borbon Reyes II.

    Reyes said Mendoza recalled that when the presidential guards kicked them out of their house, they were not allowed to bring anything with them.

    He said all the antique furniture, including Mendoza’s favorite rocking chair, the priceless paintings and other possessions were left in the house with centralized air-conditioning.

    “Everything inside the house, besides the memories. How can you recover that?” Reyes said.

    For all the aggravation, the matriarch would receive P20,000 “rent” per month since July 1975, inclusive of a 6-percent interest rate and attorney’s fees.

    In its ruling, the high tribunal nullified the decision of Manila Regional Trial Court Judge Vicente Hidalgo to award Mendoza P1.48 billion in rent and P143.6 million in just compensation, saying the amount was “mind-boggling” and excessive.

    The Supreme Court pointed out that the assessed value of the Arlegui property was P2.38 million.

    Reyes said Mendoza was informed by phone about the high court ruling after reading about it in the papers on Tuesday and getting a copy of the decision.

    “She was dejected,” Reyes told the Inquirer Wednesday.

    “For us, P7 million is probably a lot of money. But what about all the things that she went through for 32 years? That is simply not enough,” he said.

    “It is not reasonable. It may even be unconscionable for all the sufferings she went through,” the lawyer said.

    A US general lived there
    The house was called the “Blair Mansion” after an American general occupied it. The matriarch belongs to a landed family which had properties in Mendiola, Manila, and in Baguio City.

    Mendoza, then a 60-year-old doctor who also taught at the University of Sto. Tomas, borrowed money from relatives after her family was forced out and purchased a unit at the Ritz Tower in Makati City to live in.

    She pursued her fight to reclaim her property through the four administrations after the Marcos regime was overthrown in 1986.

    Reyes said Mendoza moved to the United States in 2000. Her husband Perfecto, also a doctor, later died. She has a daughter, Fortunata, several grandchildren and nephews and nieces helping in her fight.

    Reyes said Mendoza could not believe that her house was only worth P20,000 a month.

    He said Mendoza never had any doubt that she could recover her property.

    Unreasonable amount
    “She expected to win but not to have this unreasonable amount,” Reyes said.

    Mendoza, whom Reyes described as still “very lucid” despite her age, would seek a reconsideration of the high court ruling.

    “She hopes we can enlighten the Supreme Court, that we can get a reasonable amount,” Reyes said.

    He said the high tribunal might have overlooked the fact that the property was almost 5,000 square meters, and the mansion itself about 2,000 square meters.

    “She was wondering which justice [of the Supreme Court] will rent his own house for P20,000,” Reyes quipped.

    Assessed value now: P1.7B
    While the high tribunal put the property’s value at P2.38 million, the two parties have already discussed a possible P600 million settlement before the high court handed down its ruling, providing for the P7-million compensation for Mendoza.

    The property’s assessed value now is P1.7 billion, according to the Asian Appraisal Company Inc.–a company agreed upon by the family and the solicitor general to look into its current worth.

    Reyes said Mendoza was no longer interested in returning to her house, particularly with its state of disrepair and neglect.

    Reyes said he saw how the old glory of the mansion had been lost, with the once stately rooms now turned into a warehouse and the swimming pool filled with filth.

    “The mansion is now dilapidated. It may not be right for the Office of the Press Secretary to return it to her in this state. Even an apartment owner expects that his property be restored to its original form,” he said.

    Reyes said Mendoza felt that the P7 million would not be enough to repair the mansion. Besides, he said the high court ruling did not put a deadline for Malacañang to vacate the property.

    “She thinks that she might be dead when they will return it to her,” he said.

    Too close to Palace
    Reyes said the neighborhood is also not an ideal place for Mendoza to live in.

    “It may be impractical for her to return to her house. She’s 93 years old and it may not be healthy for her to live in a neighborhood where you will be faced with tanks and soldiers. It may be a secured environment but when they bomb Malacañang, you will be bombed too,” he said.

    Besides, he said Mendoza was aware that her property had acquired a historical value with two Presidents calling it home.

    “Her position is that the government can have her property because of its historical value,” Reyes said

  37. Dr. Taddy Buyson Gonzales said,

    June 10, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    “Ronnie’s” was asked to set up the Palace for the aborted inauguration of Marcos before they fled to Hawaii.

    Typical of Laing, he brought out the best of his treasures for the event plus all the imported fresh flowers and plants he spread out all over the venue…

    Unfortunately, he was left unpaid to the tune of a million pesos then, as claimed by the lawyer.

  38. June 10, 2010 at 6:34 pm


    I wonder if the Teus manse was acquired in the same questionable manner as the Goldenberg manse?

    Then again, it is terribly naive of me to even ask as the answer is obvious. 🙂

    Toto Gonzalez

  39. Enrique Bustos said,

    June 10, 2010 at 6:50 am

    I remember the Teus house beside the Goldenberg mansion in the Malacanang complex. Mrs. Marcos bought it in 1974 and asked Ronnie Laing to decorate it.

  40. Ipê Nazareno said,

    June 10, 2010 at 12:15 am

    “Ronnie’s” at Mabini Street in Ermita was the best smelling shop I have ever been to.

  41. Dr. Taddy Buyson Gonzales said,

    June 5, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    After Ronnie Laing’s horrible death, supposedly bludgeoned by one of his stay-in wards, his lawyer, Atty. Ayuyao was the executor of his will and eventually sold all his treasures to settle the obligations of the estate.

    I remember the house had that massive one piece 3 meters or so “piedra china” block which was used as a table top placed at the side of the “lanai.”

    A Mabini antique shop owner Romy Bauzon acquired most of the things and infact took over Laing’s iconic shop in Mabini and retained most of the faithful staff…

  42. June 4, 2010 at 7:45 am

    Ronnie Laing had a most splendiferous shop on A. Mabini. Their Christmas windows were a joy to behold in my childhood years. Then I actually was able to visit his home in Santa Mesa. Wow, that was xeroxed into my mind forever. There was even a stream in the sunken gardens behind the house. What ever became of THAT house filled with Ali Baba’s treasures? Comments from my respected elders please ……..

  43. June 4, 2010 at 7:42 am

    “Laing” on pizza has been added to our fast food menu. Now that’s what I call “confusion on fusion cuisine.”

  44. Presy Guevara said,

    June 2, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    When out of “Gabi” leaves, kale is a suitable substitute. All other ingredients have no substitutes although canned coconut milk is a great convenience. Another favorite is guinataang langka – goes with anything fried.

  45. Josh Moya said,

    June 2, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Yummy… feels like eating now.

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