Sharon Cuneta and Helen Gamboa Feud Spark Anew
Sharon Cuneta and her Aunt Helen Gamboa's years of non-speaking terms is now getting worst and out of control.
It will be remembered that Sharon publicly expressed her disappointed over Helen's husband Senator Vicente 'Tito' Sotto's decision in not supporting Sharon's husband Senator Francis 'Kiko' Pangilinan's bid for the Senate presidency years ago.
But what others believed to be a feud already settled years back is now again making its share of limelight that might forever ruin their family ties and left this known clan in showbiz and politics a painful scar.
How did it all started again?
Sharon, in a recent newspaper interview, brought up her "grudge" against Tito for not supporting Kiko in his bid for the Senate presidency years ago. An interview that hurts Helen so bad that she decided to answer back. And so Sharon answered back too.
Read the transcripts of their interviews below:
Sharon Cuneta's interview with Wilson Lee Flores published in Philippine Star on March 11, 2012:
If you’ve studied the book by the great leader Marcus Aurelius, you’re super smart, and with your political background from your late dad Pasay City Mayor Pablo Cuneta, next for you is to run for public office?
Hindi ako puwede sa politics (I’m cannot be in politics), the Filipino people may love me, but they won’t obey me. I am too frank for politics, also I have many non-conventional ideas and questions. Look at just the age-old war in Mindanao, I’ve asked my husband Kiko about the problems there. I’m frustrated with the crisis there. Do you know how naturally rich the region of Mindanao is? There’s so much economic potential there. The Visayas region is all right, but I’m very concerned about Mindanao’s socio-economic and other problems. I asked Kiko, how can there be real economic development if there are endless wars and conflicts? How can kids grow up to have a good future if their families keep on evacuating? How can we ordinary persons with good intentions help to solve the complex problems there, with their holding guns?
Maybe you can be the next Vilma Santos?
Ate Vi, she is really a very good example of a successful political leader. Her accomplishments help give a better image to us artistas.
Why not run in Pasay, your late dad’s bailiwick?
You know, I visited Pasay in November 2012 to look at my mom’s building. First, I passed by the City Hall (laughs), it was colorful, it had Mayor Peewee’s colors… Pasay, a lot of it was malinis naman (somehow clean)…They can fix more things in that city, if they want to really fix it…
You don’t see a future for yourself in politics, maybe in the future?
Hanggang mamatay ako, I can never ever… Kahit isang piso, hindi ko kayang nakawin. You know, tanga lang ako sa love, kaya magaling ako sa lahat and I try to over-achieve.
I think I’m not meant for politics, it is often so cynical, there’s corruption… I don’t know what my late father did, but my father had his business and as a child I remember going to my dad’s various real estate businesses, Ate Vi in Batangas she has a good teacher in her husband in handling politics, but I just personally don’t have the stomach for politics. Maybe in the United States puwede pa [laughs]. Politics I leave to my husband Kiko, because I don’t like the dishonesty, the betrayals in politics…
If not Pasay, maybe run for senator since you’re smarter than many of our politicos?
Kung senador, kailangan kasing talino na ako ni Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago… Oh my god, I really wish I’m as quick-witted and an intellectual as she is, and I need to read and study as much as she does so that maybe I can become even just one percent of her intelligence!
Perhaps mayor or governor of a province?
If ever I had married my ex before, I could have run for a local position in the province like Negros, but it wouldn’t be for any personal reasons, it would be to serve the local community.
Why not run for mayor of Santa Rosa in Laguna, where you have a home?
Hay, huwag doon, may patayan yata sa pulitika diyan? Sa Visayas na lang ako! Politics, it’s funny everybody wants me to run, except me!
You say you cannot stomach topsy-turvy politics, but isn’t it just like showbiz?
There’s a difference. In politics, it’s ungrateful, dirty and you even get death threats, but in showbiz, it’s only ungrateful but there’s no patayan. Showbiz is not half as dirty as politics, we don’t kill each other. And in my work in showbiz, I believe I can also affect the lives of many people, especially through television. In showbiz, even starlets have some influence, not just the politicos. We can also make a positive difference.
If not a politician, maybe as First Lady to your husband Kiko, if he someday runs for President?
Good luck to her! (laughs)
To her? Who?
Ay, iyan ang sagot ko, that’s my joke, whenever people ask about Kiko running for President, good luck sa First Lady niya! (laughs) Seriously, on political plans for the future, Kiko has said and I support him: “We go where God takes us.” I’m not saying BS to you, that’s really how we feel about the political future. Kiko just sincerely wants to do a good job in public service and I wholeheartedly support him.
Is Kiko running for senator again next year, or for another position?
No, it’s his last term as senator. He’s not running.
Kiko is with the Liberal Party, has he patched up already with Korina Sanchez, wife of Liberal chairman Mar Roxas?
Any other government post you’re open to consider, someday?
Maybe as ambassador to a foreign country, hopefully France or Thailand, because I’m tactful, diligent, I like to host… I want to help improve the international image of the Philippines.
Going back to the idea of First Lady, just even hypothetically if you had the chance to be such, who’d be your role models?
If I were a First Lady, I’d be a combination of Jackie O (Kennedy Onassis) and Barbara Bush! But I also like Eleanor Roosevelt… Hillary Clinton, I adore her, but I don’t want to be like her, and I’m also not a lawyer like she is.
Why Jackie and Barbara Bush?
It’s a funny combination, isn’t it? I’d like to have some style and glamour at home like Jackie, also some propriety like Barbara Bush. I want to improve the style, prestige and image of the Philippines like the way Jackie did for the US Like Bush, I will be proper and quietly supportive of my husband. I will not give my opinion, which, by the way, is highly regarded by my husband Kiko, if it is not sought. I’d like to be like the dignified and proper Barbara Bush, a supportive and dependable wife. As First Lady, I’d just entertain, read and fall asleep!
If your husband will not run for president in 2016, who then will you support?
Who’s running ba?
For sure Vice-President Jojo Binay is running. I heard Secretary Mar Roxas wants to run, maybe Erap’s son Senator Jinggoy or Lakas party’s Senator Bong Revilla, maybe a dark horse is Senator Bongbong Marcos… Who are you inclined to support?
This time, I will support the person who is in my heart. In the election before, my husband Kiko was with the administration, but the late Fernando Poe, Jr. was the person in my heart whom I really wanted to support. We were very close, he was a very good friend. I’m only thankful that I had talked to him during the election campaign. He was in the car when he called me, and his assistant Susan Tagle was there as witness. He used to call me by the nickname “Klatput.”
He said to me after I explained my need to support my husband’s political position, his exact words to me were: “Klatput, this is only politics, after this we’ll still be good friends.” The ending was “I love you.” I was pregnant then. Later on, I gave birth to Miel in September, and then he died in December.
So you admired the late FPJ, and it hurt you that you couldn’t support him then?
Mahal ko siya. We were really close. Sometimes he would even come to my house at 4 a.m. just to chat. Once I was taping at ABS-CBN, tumawag si FPJ at papasundo pa niya ako, I thought it was something important, gusto lang pala niya ipagmalaki sa owner ng sari-sari store sa tabi ng kalsada na kaya niyang papuntahin si Sharon Cuneta.
We were so close. FPJ was even the godfather of my daughter KC. In fact, ka tong-its niya si KC and he would then say: “Tinatalo na niya ninong niya!” KC was only nine years old then… And Wilson, you know what really breaks my heart is I don’t get to talk to Tita Susan (Roces) anymore.
You can do it the way the Democrat Maria Shriver and her ex-husband the Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger did before, vote independently of each other?
Yes, that’s a good example. I remember a TV interview of Schwarzenegger asking about their different politics before, and he answered that yes he’s a Republican and his wife’s a Democrat, and he jokingly added: “Well, you know, nobody’s perfect.” [laughs]
When you say politics divides people, were you referring also to your uncle Senator Tito Sotto’s past rift with your husband Kiko?
Yes, politics does divide families, like when my uncle says something bad about Kiko, you don’t understand why….
Helen Gamboa had this interview with Ricky F. Lo published in Philippine Star on March 14, 2012 to answer Sharon's hurtful statement about her husband Tito:
The interview was done at a private corner in the house of MTRCB Chief Grace Poe Llamanzares last Sunday during a birthday dinner with friends. Earlier that morning, Helen called, her voice trembling, presumably after she had just read the Sharon interview. She held back and said she would talk lengthily at a party she was attending that night. Funfare happened to be invited to the same party.
“Tito also read the article,” added Helen. “He said, ‘Oh my God, you know me. I never say anything bad about or against a person.’ I know that Tito never said anything bad about Kiko or against Kiko, and God is our witness.”
But Sharon could be right in saying that politics has a way of dividing families.
As Helen recalled, back in 2004, Tito was the campaign manager for FPJ during the presidential elections when he ran under the Coalition ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. During the Senate probe into allegations of cheating, Kiko, who belonged to GMA’s party, was the presiding officer.
“Nobody can deny that because Kiko was the one saying ‘Noted, noted, noted!’ Even when Tito was pleading to have even just one ballot box opened…isa lang galing sa isang lugar… to prove that there was cheating, hindi pinagbigyan si Tito. Kiko just said, ‘Noted!’ Everybody knows that.”
The misunderstanding between her and Sharon didn’t start there.
“In 2007,” continued Helen, “Tito joined GMA’s party that merged with that of Danding Cojuangco, and ran again for Senator. He lost. When that happened, walang nakiramay sa amin kundi sina Sen. Tessie Oreta and Sen. Gringo Honasan, and some of our closest friends. They were the only people who stood by us.”
In 2010, Tito ran again for Senator, this time as an Independent, and won.
“Several friends helped us, sila ang pinagkakautangan namin ng loob. When they were electing the Senate President, nag-request sina Sharon at Kiko na bumoto si Tito kay Kiko. But Tito couldn’t do that because of his commitment to those who helped him during the campaign. He explained that to Sharon. I thought that Sharon understood the whole thing; I thought that there was a closure already.
“Imagine how surprised I was when I saw Sharon on TV saying na masama ang loob niya sa Uncle Tito niya dahil hindi nya sinuportahan si Kiko. Look, Tito was only one vote; Tito’s vote was not the decisive factor para manalo si Kiko. Ang importante ay ‘yung boto kay Kiko ng mga kapartido niya. That’s the way I understood it ha. Ako, never do I meddle in my husband’s political career, kaya nagulat ako kay Sharon. Bakit siya nagka-ganun?” That was two years ago. Aunt and niece have not spoken to each other since then.
“Siempre, masakit sa akin kasi ako tiya n’ya, nakakatanda ako di hamak,” said Helen, tears fi nally falling. “I took care of her, ako halos nagpalaki sa kanya, I treated her like my own daughter, like my eldest child. The Lord knows how much I love her,” adding, unable to stop crying, “ang naiisip ko, siguro pag masyadong yumayaman ang isang tao, nag-iiba; nakakalimutan ang kanyang roots.”
Every now and then, Helen said she would still pay her ailing Ate Elaine a visit.
“I love Sharon so much na siguro nga, kung binigay siya sa akin ni Ate Elaine, hindi na ako nag asawa at aalagaan ko na lang siya. My children still look up to Sharon as their ate.”
Recovering herself, Helen said, “Not because I’m saying this doesn’t mean I don’t love her anymore. Hanggang mamatay ako, hindi magbabago ang pagtingin ko sa kanya. Kaya lang siempre, sumasama ang loob ko. I feel that it is not right na ang pamangkin ko ay masyadong matayog. I could feel that she’s so unreachable. Hindi ko na siya maabot.”
Sharon has let things off her chest in the STAR interview and so has Helen in this interview.
“I would have kept quiet,” said Helen, “until I read that interview last Sunday.”
Well, sooner or later, hopefully family would prevail over politics, and allow aunt and niece to let bygones be bygones.
“In the long run,” Helen sighed, “what really matters most is family. Politics is only politics. Nothing can replace family.”
Reacting to Helen's interview with Ricky F. Lo, Sharon granted Philippine Daily Inquirer this interview:
"The reason we stopped talking was that they never let up on hurting my family. How can they say they love me, and yet not give my husband a chance? Tita Helen said my Uncle Tito's vote (in the Senate) did not matter. But that one vote would have meant the world to us." Sharon said.
As for her Aunt's claim that Tito never said bad things about Kiko, Sharon also belied her aunt's claim: "It is not like it did not happen," she said. "It was reported on television and in newspapers."
Sharon further said: "She is my aunt. She is among the people who taught me… not to wash dirty linen in public. This feud is old news. Now, I have to talk about it again because it has been turned into a spectacle. I am shocked and confused."