Revillas’ ‘telenovela’: Death, debts, demandsBy Cathy C. Yamsuan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The backstory of the crisis roiling the show-biz-and-politics Bautista-Revilla clan has all the high points of a telenovela.
The way a show biz insider told it, former Senator Ramon Revilla Sr. was forced to build a house at BF Homes subdivision in Parañaque City for Genelyn Magsaysay and their brood because his children by the late Azucena Mortel objected to the much-younger girlfriend’s plan to move into the family mansion after their mother died.
Revilla Sr.’s children by Mortel were convinced that letting Magsaysay transfer to the mansion in Imus, Cavite province, would desecrate their mother’s memory, said the source who asked not to be named because of the delicate nature of the subject.
Mortel died at 64 on May 31, 1998, shortly after Revilla Sr. won his second term in the Senate. At that time, her sons Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., now a senator, had also won the governorship of Cavite, and Strike, a seat in the provincial board.
The triple victories of her husband and sons so “overwhelmed and excited” her that her blood pressure rose, leading to a fatal heart attack, Revilla Jr.’s sister Princess was quoted as saying at that time.
Magsaysay was then in her late 20s. Her eldest child, Ramgen Bautista, who was killed at 23 on October 28, was then only 10.
Revilla Jr. and his siblings considered Magsaysay’s wish to transfer to the Imus mansion “brazen and audacious,” the source told the Philippine Daily Inquirer Tuesday.
“They cringed over Genelyn’s sense of entitlement. She was very insistent on becoming the next matriarch,” the source said.
In an attempt at a compromise, Revilla Sr. had the house built for Magsaysay and their nine children in Phase 6-A of BF Homes. The two-story structure lorded it over the humbler houses in the area, but Magsaysay found it difficult to accept that she was living in a middle-class house that was a far cry from the mansion she longed for, the source said.
If Magsaysay felt antagonistic toward Revilla Sr.’s children by Mortel, the feeling was mutual.
“The older children complained that Genelyn had an attitude problem. And even then, she was already a spendthrift. She was always asking for money,” the source said.
In one of Magsaysay’s posts on Facebook, she assailed unnamed parties for considering her a “parasite.”
She also lamented that her children’s paternal relatives appeared unsympathetic to her family’s financial woes.
The source quoted Revilla Sr.’s children by Mortel as saying that among their father’s numerous girlfriends, Magsaysay had distinguished herself by continually asking for money.
During the man’s incumbency as a senator, it was a well-known fact among Senate insiders that he provided his girlfriends capital to start small businesses like beauty parlors and sari-sari (variety) stores.
The insiders fondly called this form of assistance “kabuhayan (livelihood) package,” as it was supposed to enable the women to become financially independent in the event of Revilla Sr.’s death.
It was not clear whether Magsaysay’s foray into business failed to take off or she simply chose to stay dependent on Revilla Sr.
What became clear, the source said, was the older children’s objection to her purported constant demand for money.
“But while [Mortel’s] children disliked Genelyn, they adored Ramgen,” the source said. “He was really close to Bong’s sons Jolo and Bryan because they were about the same age.”
Reports of Magsaysay’s alleged multimillion-peso credit card debts did not surprise the older children, the source said, adding:
“As it is, they are shouldering all of Genelyn’s expenses. She does not work and only demands sustento (financial support).”
Brother in the House
On the phone with the Inquirer, Representative Eulogio Magsaysay of the party-list group AVE (Alliance of Volunteer Educators) on Tuesday said he and his family were backing Genelyn Magsaysay, his half-sister.
“I will not intervene in the case but we are fully supporting her,” he said.
The lawmaker adamantly denied having had a hand in the departure of Ramona Bautista, another of his half-sister’s children and a suspect in Ramgen’s murder, for Turkey via Hong Kong on the night of November 4.
He said that while he was backing Genelyn Magsaysay and her family, he would not go to the extent of breaking the law in the process.
“I appeal to everybody not to prejudge the case until all evidence and all sides have been aired,” the lawmaker said. With a report from Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.