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Looking Back

‘Pinoy Scandal’

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Young people who see the term “Pinoy Scandal” presume it is short for Pinoy (Sex) Scandal and expect graphic porn. If the couple is famous, that leads to more hits on the Net. Sex always sells, thus the concubinage case filed by Susie Madrigal Bayot-Ortigas against her husband Paqui Ortigas wouldn’t have raised eyebrows except for the juicy details. Then there is the legal tug-of-war between the late Rep. Iggy Arroyo’s legal wife (with whom he was long separated) and the woman who was with him in his last moments, the woman who now has physical custody of his corpse. One day a historian will look back on these scandals and write a more sober report because all the materials are in, and the passion and fashion have subsided.

Last Wednesday I wrote about Juan Luna who, in a fit of jealousy, murdered his wife, Paz Pardo de Tavera, and his mother-in-law Juliana Gorricho in front of his son Andres. Our history books do not carry this engaging story, the emphasis being on Luna as a great Filipino painter and patriot. If the murder is mentioned at all, it is swept under the rug either as an “accidental” shooting. Worse, Luna the murderer is painted as the victim—his wife was unfaithful, his in-laws meddlesome. Beyond the newspaper accounts, the police report and the court decision that set him free after paying one French franc (FF) and court costs amounting to 1,651.83FF plus 25FF for postage (or documentary stamps?), the documents that have been left to the historians point to something more basic: how to divide the cash and property left by the wealthy Juliana Gorricho. Luna may have been a great artist but he could not support his family on the sale of his paintings. Documents show that rent and other expenses of the “Luna household” were shouldered by the mother-in-law.

Then there is the issue of Juliana Gorricho’s estate. Since she died intestate—that is, without leaving a written, notarized will—the partition of her estate was complicated. When Luna shot Juliana in the head, killing her instantly, her estate automatically passed on to her three children: Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera, Felix Pardo de Tavera and Paz Luna. When Luna shot Paz in the head, she fell on the bathroom floor and died almost two weeks later without regaining consciousness, thus her one-third share in Juliana Gorricho’s estate passed on to her son Andres who was a minor and thus his share in the estate could be controlled by his father Juan Luna. As a matter of fact, the site of the old Philippine National Bank on Escolta is where the pre-war Crystal Arcade once stood. This beautiful building, our first shopping mall, was designed by Andres Luna. Near the PNB building is a small alley, an esquinita called Pasaje de Paz that was reputedly named after Andres’ ill-fated mother.

Luna’s brothers-in-law filed a petition to overturn his acquittal by the French court but they lost. Then there were other legal tangles in Manila and they had nothing to do with the murders but seemed to be attempts at keeping Luna’s hand away from the honey pot. There are documents naming the legal heirs of Juliana Gorricho, as follows: Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera (son); Felix Pardo de Tavera (son) who lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina, represented in Manila by his elder brother Trinidad; Paz Luna (daughter/deceased), whose share was divided as there were two claimants: Andres Luna (grandson of Juliana) who was a minor and represented by his paternal grandmother Laureana Novicio; and Juan Luna (son-in-law of Juliana, husband of Paz) represented by his brother Jose Luna. I have to complete my research by finding out how big the estate was and how it was finally divided.

Another money matter not in our textbooks concerns Josephine Bracken who was immortalized in Jose Rizal’s “Ultimo Adios” as follows: “Adios dulce extranjera, mi amiga mi alegria” (Farewell, sweet foreigner, my darling, my delight). We all have romantic ideas of their life in Dapitan, and depending on the book you are reading, she is described as a common-law wife, or a wife who married Rizal shortly before his execution. In 1902 Josephine Bracken sued Teodora Alonso, Rizal’s mother, and claimed that Rizal left a will that stated she was to receive: all of the paintings done by Juan Luna, 1,000 pesos and Rizal’s library in Hong Kong under the care of Jose Ma. Basa.

As early as November 1897 Josephine wrote Ferdinand Blumentritt: “I let you know by these few lines that my late husband Dr. J. Rizal left all his books to you. There are three bookcases I mean libry (sic) in care of Mr. Jose Maria Basa’s house. I opened the Will last month and found that the bookcases were for you, he very often told me that those books cost him 3000$. I asked Mr. Basa for the books and he denied them, I think it is better for you to write over and ask him for the things that my husband left for you—The (Filipinos) out here now they are not Gentlemen, they deceived me a great deal their (sic) were 1000$ given to Rizal by the Freemason Lodge so it was to be given to me, but they took it and spent it all—they are not what I thought them to be like my husband, but I see that I am deceived.”

Did Rizal really have a will? How was his estate divided? These are the practical matters that we often forget when we think of love and sex in Philippine history.

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