The memories of a city

As the famous writer Nick Joaquin wrote:  “Manila…  my Manila…”

Postwar, the First Lady knew that her husband’s heart was with another, more beautiful, more considerate lady.  She had a volatile temper and it led to scenes even during Malacanang palace receptions.  A snickering “de alta sociedad” was witness to banging doors and loud screams.  At times, she would adeptly lock the hapless President in his bathroom so he could not go out to see his lady love after dinner.

At the Bayview club, grand heiress sidled up to Visayan scion who was dancing with Manila patrician and asked dryly:  “Why are you dancing with that slut?”  Manila patrician retorted:  “And just who is the slut between us?”  A catfight ensued between Manila patrician and grand heiress [ ala Alexis Carrington Colby Dexter { Joan Collins } versus Krystle Carrington { Linda Evans } in the 1980s hit TV series “Dynasty” ] and became their claim to notoriety in the decades to come.

To the social Baby Boomer generation now in their early 60s, one of the most memorable wedding receptions they attended was that of a presidential grandson and an aristocratic bon vivant’s daughter in Forbes Park.  The desserts had been surreptitiously spiked with “marijuana” [top growth] and the city’s “de alta sociedad” became “high” with it.  Even the most staid members of high society found themselves dizzy or off-balance and had to sprawl on the grass or sit on the “piedra china” Chinese granite steps in the garden.  Everyone had such a great time.

At an IMF International Monetary Fund conference in Manila, the Marcos blue ladies were shocked to discover bigtime jeweler and pretty Blue Lady in a catfight in a guest bedroom.

The jealous son of a lumber magnate shot the pretty daughter of a Visayan “de buena familia.”  Mrs lumber magnate sought the protection of the First Lady so her son would not get the death sentence;  Mrs knelt in front of the First Lady at the Malacanang palace and implored her assistance.  First Lady:  “Alright.  I will help you.  But I never want to see your face again.”  Thus began the end of the family’s fabulous fortune.

During the First Lady’s “reign,” the Malacanang kitchen staff were always on their toes following her every dictate and whim.  A cursory look at the loaded buffet table at any time of the day and the inevitable question with a raised eyebrow “Yan lang ba?” [ “Is that all?” ] would send them scurrying everywhere to prepare more dishes to be served.  A second question “Nasaan yung…?” meant that they better have that item served ASAP.  The correct and only answer, no matter how difficult or impossible the request, was “It’s coming, Madame.”  The staff could not answer in the negative because that meant instant termination.  The First Lady kept a bountiful table from breakfast to midnight supper.  She required a certain number of dishes at any one time.  She required that the serving dishes always be full, no matter how many guests had eaten already.  She required that there always be fresh, not reheated, food on the buffet tables, from morning until midnight.  During her time, no guest at the Malacanang palace could say that he had not been well-fed.

At the Malacanang palace, bigtime jeweler brought her splendid jewels to sell to the First Lady.  Unfortunately, Herr doktor, whom she never liked [ the feeling was mutual ], was hanging around, as usual.  The First Lady fitted the ruby parure [ suite ] with obvious delight before a grand mirror.  When bigtime jeweler insisted that her ruby suite was from Van Cleef & Arpels, and that the clasp of the big necklace had the acronym VCA, the First Lady requested Herr doktor to confirm.  He did.  Comically.  “Ma’am, I see VCA…  VULACAN!!!”

After a while, beautiful and refined patrician lady started avoiding her erstwhile good friend grand heiress, including the latter’s willful sisters.  When asked by close friends why, she said:  “So foul-mouthed.”  Not about bad breath, but the endless cuss words.

At the funeral of an affluent Visayan grande dame known for her style and jewelry, the younger daughter was desperately tapping the glass top of her mother’s coffin:  “Mommy, Mommy!!!  Wake up!  They’re fighting me!  Mommy, Mommy!!!”  The grande dame had just passed away in the hospital when the protracted war for real estate, USD $ placements, & magnificent jewelry erupted between her children.

The First Lady and an irrepressibly elegant Blue Lady got into an argument about the First Lady’s daughter dating the son of an automotive magnate.  First Lady:  “Why are you interfering in this?  Remember…  You’re only an adopted daughter.”  Elegant Blue Lady:  “I may only be an adopted daughter, but I was not poor and never had to sleep on milk cartons like you.”  First Lady slapped elegant Blue Lady.

At times, the First Lady would hold receptions at a pavilion on the other side of the Pasig river.  But all the guests would first assemble at the Malacanang palace and then cross the river by a prettified ferry.  On one of those occasions, everyone was shocked when an elegant overweight lady, the heiress of one of Manila’s grandest, old line, “de buena familia,” clumsily slipped from the planks and fell into the murky Pasig river.  In a gesture of chivalry, her equally overweight husband, a tycoon and ladies’ man, promptly dove into the river and rescued her along with some PSG men.  It was only right because all of his big business ventures were practically bankrolled by his wife’s large inherited fortune.

At a big reception at the Coral ballroom of the Sheraton hotel, irate wife — a daughter of a prosperous market vendor — attacked her husband’s mistress — a beautiful mestiza of distinguished southern Luzon bloodlines.  They mussed up each other’s hairdo in a catfight that had them both rolling on the carpeted floor, and irate wife left in a flurry.  Nonplussed, Cool Mistress asked fellow guests at the table:  “Whooooo was that???”

To shrug off her son’s disappointing marriage to a country girl, leading uberwitty socialite sighed:  “At least, someone at home can do my nails now…”

In Paris, at the Clignancourt antiques market, Herr doktor was advising his best friend, the czar of fashion, on a Louis XVI [ Louis Seize / Louis the Sixteenth ] “lit ala Polonaise” canopy bed.  When told of the [ expectedly ] exorbitant price, czar of fashion asked Herr doktor:  “If we buy Louis XV [ Louis Quinze / Louis the Fifteenth ], maybe it’s shorter, and cheaper?”  Herr doktor bonked czar of fashion on the head, just like in cartoons.

Observing that her daughter-in-law had kept her petit bourgeois ways, leading uberwitty socialite quipped:  “Aw, you really can’t spin cotton into silk, can you?”

After a notorious bombing in the south where scores were killed and injured, medics were attending to a beautiful and elegant “de buena familia” Blue Lady who was one of those badly hurt.  When they had to remove her dress to see the extent of her injuries, she pleaded:  “My dress!  Please do not tear my dress!  It’s Chloe, from Paris!  There’s a zipper at the back…”

During the first MIFF Manila International Film Festival, the maids and the valets at the Malacanang guesthouses had a field day attending to the celebrity guests, some of whom liked to lounge naked in their guestrooms in between engagements.

When leading uberwitty socialite was told that an aging former Vice-President would be leading the Opposition to Ferdinand Marcos in the next election during the mid-1980s, she quipped:  “We don’t mind a dark horse… but what are we going to do with a dead horse???!!!”

After Herr doktor and his BFF the czar of fashion had a terrible and final falling-out, Herr doktor rechristened his erstwhile friend as “the scar of fashion in Asia.”

19 Comments

  1. enrique bustos said,

    January 13, 2016 at 11:39 am

    From the book of Erlinda Panlilio

    The first lady’s birthdays were epic three-day or week long affairs.beginning with breakfast,morning snack,lunch,segueing to merienda,dinner and ending with midnight snack at which the first lady always expected pospas and bibingka to be served.we were instructed to ensure the buffet table was never bare.Kuh Ledesma,Pilita Corrales,Mitch Valdes,Nannette Inventor,the RayCards duet,the Bayanihan dancers,Ramon Obusan’s folk dance troupe and others were flown in to entertain the guests.

  2. enrique bustos said,

    August 2, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    This is the Supreme court decision in a case of Jacoba Tirona vs the illegitimate children of her husband Dr Jose Paterno

    Dr. Paterno had borne the expenses of the birth and baptism of said children, who were born in the same year (1938) within eleven months of each other; that in that year, after the birth of the first child, Beatriz, mother and daughter had moved from A. Luna in San Juan, Rizal, to Rubi Street in San Andres Bukid, Manila, where the second child, Bernardo, and a third, Virginia, who died at four, were born; that in 1940, the family moved to a house in A. Lake Street in San Juan, Rizal purchased by Dr. Paterno; that in both places, they had lived with and been maintained by Dr. Paterno in the company of the Miranda and Macapinlac families; that shortly before the outbreak of the war in December 1941, Dr. Paterno left for Hongkong where he stayed until war’s end; that in his absence, mother and children received monthly support from Don Vicente Madrigal at the instance of Dr. Paterno who was Madrigal’s brother-in-law; that for sometime after Liberation, they lived in the Madrigal compound in Gen. Luna, Paco, Manila; that when Dr. Paterno thereafter returned to the Philippines and until he again left for Hongkong, he lived with mother and children, first in Antipolo, Rizal and later in Marilao, Bulacan; that when Felisa decided to get married — this while Dr. Paterno was in Hongkong on his second sojourn there — she sought and received the forgiveness of his wife, Dona Jacoba, who even consented to act as sponsor at her wedding; that when Dr. Paterno returned once more from Hongkong, to be assigned to the Madrigal cement plant in Binangonan, Rizal, he made it a point to see that Beatriz and Bernardo went or were brought to visit him, especially during weekends, and on these occasions, he and the children slept in his room in the same bed, he would tell them to come or send word to him for anything they might need, and would give them money when they left; that Beatriz, then about thirteen or fourteen, was being sent to school in Sta. Isabel College by Dr. Paterno, who did the same for Bernardo, who was enrolled at the University of Santo Tomas; that these reunions continued until he fell ill and had to keep to his house in Mendoza St., Quiapo, Manila, and Doña Jacoba forbade the children to see him on the excuse that he might suffer a relapse; that on the some five occasions that they tried to see Dr. Paterno in his residence while he lay sick, the children were given money by Doña Jacoba upon leaving; and that after his death and burial, Doña Jacoba gave them money for their tuition.

  3. enrique bustos said,

    April 4, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    This incident Happened before martial law. Brothers from a prominent Batangas family whose relatives included a Governor a Congressman and wealthy Coconut Plantation Owners. made a reservation for a table at Manila Hotel’s Fiesta Pavilion,When they came in with their group they found their table had been occupied by another group of young people headed by a scion of another wealthy family who own fisheries in Malabon the young men began arguing over the table the management was called to settle who should occupy the table when it was established that the brothers from Batangas indeed reserved that particular table the management asked the group from Malabon to please leave the premises They left but the young man who was evicted simmered over the incident going to another establishment nearby he found some more friends two of whom were professional boxers he aired his grievance after a few drinks backed up by his two stalwart friends he came back to the Manila Hotel to settle the score. a fight ensued unfortunately one of the Batangas boys had a gun when he saw one of boxers hit is brother and knock him down he drew his gun and fired in the ensuing shoot out the boy from Malabon was killed it was a Saturday night many people remembered it all too vividly some of the customers went under the table when they started shooting at each other.

  4. enrique bustos said,

    April 3, 2015 at 8:08 am

    The Brother of Jose Paterno. Simon Paterno also worked for Vicente Madrigal he handled the administration aspect of Rizal Cement his grandson Simon Roces Paterno had also a clash with the Madrigals regarding the sale of Solid Bank to Metro bank he was then with JP Morgan he advised against the merger plans of Solidbank with Metrobank. Simon Paterno said The great Chinese philosopher Confucius must have been turning in his grave at that time because I was a family member and I was advising against the wishes of my relatives. It was a hostile takeover by Metrobank, their bid to merge with Solidbank. My relatives, the Madrigals and Paternos, wanted to sell their Solidbank shares to Metrobank, but kawawa naman yung partner nila, the Nova Scotia Bank of Canada. It was nothing personal, because I was a professional in banking, and I had to act for the best interests of our clients.

    I will buy a copy of Armida Siguion Reyna’s Book i heard it is very interesting to read.

    Thanks Toto i will keep on posting what little knowledge i know to the topic you post in your fantastic blog.

    Happy Easter.

  5. March 20, 2015 at 4:33 am

    enrique:

    Yes, I read this story in Vicente “Ting” Tirona Paterno’s very interesting autobiography “On My Terms.” I was riveted for many nights reading, rereading, and analyzing the life story of one of the country’s most accomplished technocrats.

    What was amazing was “kung paano umikot ang mundo” how the world turned for Vicente Madrigal and Vicente Paterno in about 20 years. In the 1950s, Vicente Madrigal’s war-torn empire was recovering its immense fortunes (although Vicente Madrigal would suffer a debilitating stroke in late 1955) and Vicente Paterno was a young married man making his way through the corporate world. By the early 1970s, Vicente Madrigal was near death but Vicente Paterno was at the summit of power as one of the top brains of the Marcos administration. The Vicente L Madrigal-Susana R Paterno children needed to settle with their Dr Jose R Paterno first cousins because they needed to keep the peace with the all-powerful President Ferdinand Marcos.

    Please also post this in the Comments thread of the blog post “The Wars of Inheritance.”

    Another very interesting autobiography/biography that has kept me awake many nights reading and rereading (and laughing so much) is “Armida” by Armida Ponce-Enrile Siguion-Reyna and Nelson Navarro which is written with matchless honesty and frankness.

    Kindly keep your great comments coming!

    Thank you.

    Toto Gonzalez

  6. enrique bustos said,

    March 19, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    The Fallout
    By Vicente Tirona Paterno

    My Father (Jose Paterno) went to Hong Kong in late 1941 to attend to two Madrigal ships repairs He entrusted to mother (Jacoba Tirona Paterno) a valuable paper a stock certificate of Rizal Cement Corporation Years earlier he received the shares in recognition of his successful work for Madrigal & Co particularly in having put the former Krupp cement plant into profitable operation,Midway during the Japanese occupation My Uncle Vicente Madrigal told my mother that he was required by the Japanese authorities to transfer the full ownership of Rizal Cement to Mitsui Bussan Kaisha and therefore asked mother for the share certificate mother complied with the request in the belief that is was made in good faith nothing in writing documented the handover for she was complying with it as an intra family accommodation.

    After the Second World War father returned from Macau he was actively involved in supporting the legal work for Vicente Madrigal’s defense of charges filed against him for collaboration with the enemy during the Japanese occupation Mr Madrigal was incarcerated in Iwahig Palawan with other Filipino citizens charged with collaboration.Some months after Mr Madrigal exoneration from charges of collaboration with the Japanese Mother asked for the return of the shares certificate Mr Madrigal refused saying that the money he had given to mother during the Japanese occupation was payment for the shares That was a lie for the money had been used to buy medicines for the American internees in University of Santo Tomas This aid to elderly American internees must have played an important role in Madrigal defense what money received from him was not used for our family’s living expenses Mother and her children had work hard to earn the family’s keep during the entire time of the war.After father verified with Mr Madrigal himself that he refused to return the shares certificate he decided with mother to sue for the return of the certificate in court and in 1951 he left the employ of Madrigal & Co disappointed at the denial of his request for the return of the stock certificate he held periodic consultation with lawyers pursuing the case he was not in good health and rarely left the house.Father resented very much his brother in law’s perfidy he knew that if his elder sister Susana Paterno Madrigal were alive (she died in 1940) Vicente Madrigal would not have had the gall to withhold that certificate.It was his sister who asked my father to join her husband Vicente Madrigal in his rapidly growing business although he had already had an active medical practice He was not able to refused his sister had been surrogate mother to Tio Simon and to him since she was twelve years old she had been their main financial support using her training skills for a couturier business which sent her two brothers through high school and college an indication of my father deep love and high regard for his Ate Sanang is found in the names he assigned to his eldest born to my sister Susana and to me Vicente after Tia Susana husband.Mama must have had reservation about Papa’s change of occupation after all he was asked to leave the profession he had studied and was trained for as well as the clientele he had accumulated during his decade long medical practice he would engaged in work he had not trained for and the future of his family would be hostage to his in laws but with little evident hesitation Papa turned over his medical practice to a doctor friend and shortly embarked on his new work.The ill treatment he receive from Madrigal and Company as its recompense for his hard work for the company in devotion to his revered Ate Susana the Madrigal lawyers Bausa & Ampil employed legal maneuvers to keep postponing court action on our side’s petition for the return of the shares certificate father died in April 1956 his illness was clearly aggravated by his deep resentment of Madrigal’s refusal to return the shares certificate after father death mother abandoned the case and let it lie undecided.

    Mr Madrigal tried to visit the coffin of my dead father as he lay in state at our home i took it upon my self to prevent Madrigal’s entry to the wake it was too late for him to tell father anything i also took it upon myself to wave him away as he moved to join the pallbearers wheeling Father coffin down the church aisle to the hearse That was the last time i saw Vicente Madrigal. I made career decision throughout my life with my mother admonition about being independent and self reliant she used to say Do not forget your fathers sad experience with his sister husband. Before my Tio Vicente Madrigal offered me a job after graduating high school as his secretary which we took as his invitation to learn from him and eventually become involved in the management of Madrigal & Co i never considered the offer it would have run counter to mother’s emphasis on value of independence she said one family member in the Madrigal business was more than enough that admonition was made in 1941 ten years before my father left his management post in Madrigal & Co but i did not extend my ill feeling toward Vicente Madrigal to his children i socialized with a few and paid my respect at their wakes Macaria,Pacita,Josefina,Antonio,Jose and Consuelo for the sin was only their father’s Their mother Tia Susana had been a second mother to my father she would never allowed her husband to do what he did to her brother.

    In the late 1970’s Imelda Marcos requested that we settle the families quarrel mother obliged her instructed that we settle for whatever amount the Madrigal’s offered we were not after the money but their acknowledgement of our parents right to the shares. Their first offer was for two million pesos but this was amended by Pacita Madrigal Gonzalez who of Vicente Madrigal daughters was closest to mother said that her father told their brother Antonio to give Father a million pesos as gratuity for his contribution to Madrigal and Co so they offered two and a half million pesos one million for service rendered by father and one a half million for the shares.

    We accepted the offer of two and a half million pesos although it was small compared to the real value of our share in Rizal Cement i believe father soul was gladdened i hope he did not resent that the shares were paid for at such a low price our quest was not money but for father’s victory in his court case Mother was content that the Madrigals were thereby accepting that the shares belong to my parents she knew we could hold out for a much bigger settlement but preferred early closure of a distasteful case it seemed that even on a matter of honor to the Madrigals it was mainly a matter of money. Rizal Cement was sold to Cemex a Mexican Conglomerate two decades later for billions of pesos .

  7. January 12, 2015 at 11:23 am

    Happy New Year 2015, Dawn & Jiggs!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  8. Dawn Ona said,

    January 12, 2015 at 4:21 am

    Toto,

    Happy New Year! So glad you are back on-line!

    Dawn

  9. January 5, 2015 at 10:28 am

    Happy New Year 2015, Gilbert & Nikki!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  10. GT said,

    January 5, 2015 at 2:04 am

    Happy New Year Toto!!!!

  11. Sheryl Mañago said,

    December 27, 2014 at 2:33 am

    Toto:

    I am very happy that you’re posting again.

    Sheryl

  12. toffee tionko said,

    December 12, 2014 at 6:47 am

    Been wondering about your blog. Glad to have something cool to read again. Keep it coming!!!

  13. Toffee Tionko said,

    December 12, 2014 at 6:15 am

    Glad you’re back. Finally! Something good to read again.

    All the best.

  14. November 27, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Enrique:

    Glad to see you back here!!! Please keep the great comments coming!!!

    Because of some “troublemakers,” we will officially not discuss anything beyond 21 September 1972 in this blog anymore. That should spare our friends some trouble.

    As the esteemed Philippine social historian Martin Imperial Tinio Jr aka Sonny says: “The years before 21 September 1972 were THE BEST.”

    Cheers and more!!!

    Toto Gonzalez

  15. Enrique Bustos said,

    November 26, 2014 at 3:22 am

    While reading this i remembered the cat fight between International Socialites Minnie Osmena and Dewi Sukarno

    FACE OFF
    by Douglas Thompson

    The characters: Minnie Osmeña (granddaughter of former President Sergio Osmeña) and Dewi Sukarno (one of the wives of former Indonesian leader Sukarno)

    The connections: Osmeña is from a politically well-connected clan. She is also the ex-wife of Carnation heir Dwight Stuart. Sukarno, who is Japanese, became “an international social butterfly” after the 1967 coup that ousted her husband, who died in 1970.

    Opposing sides: Minnie Osmeña vs. Dewi Sukarno

    Conflict points: In the article, “It’s high noon in Hicksville for the goddess of the Glitterati,” Douglas Thompson wrote that in January 1992, there was an altercation between Osmeña and Sukarno at the Primavera Restaurant at the Aspen Club Lodge in (yes) Aspen, Colorado.

    Thompson noted: “The lady otherwise known as Ratna Sari Dewi Sukarno, ’53’ (our quotation marks), the former Japanese bar girl and one of the seven wives—now widows—of Indonesia’s first President, goes on trial here on December 15, 1992, charged with gashing the face of another Asian beauty who is also her neighbor on New York’s Park Avenue and in Paris.”

    Sukarno had reportedly attacked Osmeña in the face with a wine glass, “leaving a gash that needed 37 stitches to repair.” Thompson pointed out: “It was an extremely public happening. Ivana Trump was at the door when the ambulance from Aspen Valley Hospital screeched to a stop. Supermodel Elle Macpherson, Cornelia Guest, billionaire oilman David Koch, George Hamilton and Barbra Streisand were among the guests of the Austrian host of the private party, Prince Heinrich Han-au-Schaumburg.”

    Thompson also provided the alleged “story” behind the Osmeña-Sukarno encounter: “It’s been widely reported that Madame Sukarno insists that Minnie Osmeña called her ‘a whore.’ The bad feeling between the two apparently began in the summer of 1991 when the two beauties were off Ibiza on the yacht of the Marquis de Campo-florido.” Sukarno was eventually sentenced to 60 days in the Aspen country jail.

    The incident may have happened in Aspen, but people in Manila were certainly talking about it. It’s worth talking about for the star power of the witnesses alone.

    It’s worth noting that in 1993, Sukarno, then 53 (going on 54, if the reports have her real age right), had her nude photos published in a book. In fact, the entire book contained her nude photos. The book was banned in Indonesia and is now considered a collector’s item. (Well, it depends on what kind of things you collect, of course.)

    From the hit Television series of the 1980’s Dynasty to another famous show of the era Dallas

    Vicente T. Paterno’s autobiography
    By Gerardo P. Sicat

    A major family tie that affected the Paterno fortune negatively was with Vicente Madrigal. A brother-in-law of his father, Madrigal was a tycoon of Philippine industry and shipping during American colonial times and, later, a senator of the new republic.

    During the war, his father’s substantial stocks in a cement company got entangled in the forced transfer of the company to the Japanese occupation force. After the war when proper restorations were made by the government, Madrigal refused to honor the part that belonged to Paterno’s father. The story was almost one from Dallas, the American 1970s TV soap opera of family life and deceit and hard feelings.

  16. Jing Trinidad said,

    November 21, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Toto,

    You’re back! You’re so back, I feel we’re breathing the same air, hahaha! Kidding aside, I miss reading from your blog! Fun times ahead, dahling!

  17. Nena C Itchon said,

    November 21, 2014 at 8:22 am

    Hi Toto,

    Thanks for mentioning the spyware. I personally don’t trust yahoo ph because of advertising.

    Hope this blog is secured.
    Thanks///Nena

  18. Nena C Itchon said,

    November 21, 2014 at 8:19 am

    Hi Toto,
    I am reviewing your Categories and I could not find any “The Isabelans” from Isabela province. There are Angco in that province and there are Itchon as well who hailed from Vigan to Moncada, Tarlac and who are descendants of Eduardo Itchon married to Marcelina , then migrated to Santiago city, Isabela.

    I would like to know the ancestors of Eduardo Itchon. I noticed that there are dons and donya — I do not care much about the dons and donyas. What I want to know are the descendants of Eduardo if you could provide the info.

    Thanks.///Nena

  19. November 17, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Dear Friends,

    Yes, I took a year off from this blog.

    Some unscrupulous people were using this as a form of “spyware.” So I’ve reformatted it so that can never be done again.

    From now on, “Remembrance of Things Awry” will only talk about people, places, and events BEFORE 21 September 1972.

    Toto Gonzalez


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