Crime, politics, show biz and ‘other families’ | Inquirer Opinion
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Crime, politics, show biz and ‘other families’

/ 09:51 PM November 09, 2011

Also guns, money, power and treachery. They make for a long-running telenovela.

The only telenovela I ever followed closely was “Falcon Crest,” which ended in the 1990s. The plot got so corny and convoluted toward the end that I lost my interest in the final episodes. That’s why I don’t remember how it ended. I only remember the earthquake that rocked the wine valley.


That was before Mexican telenovelas became so popular and addictive here. After the success of “Mari Mar,” Philippine TV networks imported more of them and the rest is history. Locally produced Filipino teleseryes are now here to stay and competing with Korean soaps almost all hours of the day and night. This phenomenon is a great subject for social researchers.

And now a true-to-life teleserye unfolds in the media, with the Revilla/Bautista clan in the limelight. For about two weeks now, the hourly news and the daily newspapers have been “serializing” the progress in the investigation of the crime that rocked a known political and showbiz clan of Cavite.


The plot and subplots are getting more and more interesting as characters past and present, dead and living, are woven into the story. There should be more to come in the form of flashbacks and fast-forwards. One thing about this real-life teleserye is that it serves up surprise after surprise every step of the way. Those who have been following the developments from Day One can’t seem to have enough of the twists and turns in the plot. A scriptwriter of fiction would be amazed at how this true story is unfolding.

The main plot is the fatal shooting and stabbing last Oct. 28 of Ramgen Bautista, 23, eldest of nine children of action star-turned-senator Ramon Revilla Sr. (Bautista in real life), aged 80 or so, and one-time showbiz aspirant Genelyn Magsaysay, now 42.  Shot in the face was Ramgen’s girlfriend, showbiz aspirant Janelle Manahan, now recuperating in the hospital. The crime, carried out by an assailant wearing a Halloween mask, happened in Ramgen’s bedroom, in the Bautistas’ BF Homes residence. Among the main suspects are Ramgen’s two younger siblings, Ramona, 22, and RJ, 18. Ramona has since left the country and was supposedly headed for Turkey via Hong Kong. She’s said to be married to a Turkish national. RJ is in jail. Dispute over money is eyed as the cause of it all.

These Bautistas are “the other family” of Revilla Sr. He built them a big home and provided regular financial support, reportedly in the millions. Who knows how many “other families” he has out there? And will they soon come out of the woodwork? Revilla Sr. is said to have sired 70-plus offspring, some 30 of whom have been recognized. The numbers vary.

The legal family is the one to whom action star and Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Mayor Strike Revilla and several other siblings belong. Their mother was Azucena Mortel, who died in 1998. Not too long ago these show biz and political Revillas had their own family dramas (an errant sis, unplanned pregnancies) unfolding in the media, but that is another story. Though not the eldest, Senator Bong, married to actress and now Rep. Lani Mercado, seems to be the de facto paterfamilias after the older Revilla became wheelchair-bound. Genelyn is obviously hostile to her senator-stepson, who is much older than she is.

But Genelyn is a story by herself. Some days ago I visited her Facebook account and saw a lot of photos of her, Revilla Sr. (whom she refers to as “Don Ramon”) and their brood of nine in happier times. One shows the aging Revilla Sr. in bed with his young children crawling over him. Genelyn looks like one of his children.

In FB, Genelyn does not hide the fact that her father was the late Sen. Genaro “Gene” Magsaysay, brother of the late charismatic President Ramon Magsaysay. Her father’s photo is posted on FB and so is her photo with cousin Sen. Ramon “Jun” Magsaysay. Genelyn’s mother is former one-time showbiz person Lyn Madrigal. And so the name Genelyn. Senator Gene’s “other family,” they may be called. So many Ramons in Genelyn’s life. She is in the lineage of a political clan. What genes, I thought. How did she and her brood come to this?

Genelyn first emerged as a distraught mother whose eldest son was killed and two of her children implicated in the murder. Rolly polly and looking frumpy, she had yet to compose herself. She was far from showbiz-looking and was many kilos heavier than the comely showbiz teener shown in her FB photo gallery.


But later, after her son’s funeral, with a son in detention and a daughter at large (she also has a son in the Philippine Military Academy), she would come out with guns blazing against Senator Bong, a development that puzzled many. She reminded me of the title of the latest teleserye “Sa Ngalan ng Ina” (In the Name of the Mother) starring Nora Aunor (which I tried watching for a week), which is also about family feuds, crime, death money, treachery, jealousy, dirty schemes, etc.

And so the latest real-life telesersye about the rich and the famous continues to unravel before us. I have written several long series on high-profile crimes (death, drugs, guns, high society) in the past and I can say that the Revilla/Bautista story is one for the books in terms of plot and characters. Horatio Caine (David Caruso) and his team of detectives and forensic scientists in “CSI: Miami” would have their hands full with this case. It would elicit from Caine unforgettable sunglasses moments and one-liners. How about, “We’re going to Cavite?”

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