Lotlot & Monching: It’s not yet too late
STARBYTES - Butch Francisco () - March 16, 2004 - 12:00am
When Lotlot de Leon and Ramon Christopher "Monching" Gutierrez decided to get married one summer day in 1989, the local movie business was thrown into a wild frenzy. They were the top love team that time and the movie press wanted to get a ringside seat to this event. To begin with, there was the possibility of the bride’s mother, the superstar herself, Nora Aunor, not showing up at the wedding since she initially didn’t approve of it. (She thought her daughter was too young to get married – which was actually true.) But Ms. Aunor showed up dressed to the nines nevertheless at the Club Filipino where the rites were held – to the relief of both Lotlot and Monching.

Then, there was the question of whether or not that marriage was legally binding because neither of them was of legal age (if my computation is correct, Monching was only 20, while Lotlot was 18) and the new family code then didn’t allow that even with the consent of the parents. (I am open to being corrected legally though.)

But since they both slowed down in their movie careers after that and were eventually admired as one of showbiz’ enduring unions, the press just left them alone and no one bothered to raise the issue of the validity of their marriage since then. (When I asked Monching regarding this matter, he said that as far as he is concerned, his marriage to Lotlot had always been legal and binding.) For many years, they were show business’ ideal couple and had a good marriage between them.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. As early as last year, Funfare’s Ricky Lo had been hinting in his delicious blind items about how this showbiz marriage was headed for the rocks. This turned out to be true sadly and by Monching’s own admission, Lotlot packed her bags and left their Fairview home on June 14, 2003. Neither Lotlot nor Monching bothered to confirm this and both were evasive on the issue.

The other Saturday, however, Monching’s mom, Pilita Corrales finally spoke up and talked about "how she wished Lotlot would find a man with a lot of money" because "Monching’s not being a good provider" had always been Lotlot’s complaint when the couple was still together.

Now, I do not blame Ms. Corrales for talking once and for all about the Lotlot-Monching issue because the movie press had always nagged her about this and she must be up to here with questions about the Lotlot-Monching separation. Finally, in one Gandang Ricky Reyes affair, she was cornered by the press and caught with her guard down.

Lotlot saw the interview in Startalk and, of course, she was agitated and this triggered her to answer her mother-in-law’s accusations the following day in S-Files and The Buzz. Even poor Jackie Lou Blanco was caught in the crossfire because the whole controversy erupted at a time when she is meeting with the press and making the rounds of television to promote her exercise video. (Even Lotlot’s Dad Christopher de Leon was caught in the same dilemma because he too was promoting his soap opera Hanggang Kailan last week in Startalk when the show aired the Pilita interview.)

Except for Nora Aunor who has yet to talk, only one other person involved in the issue had remained silent – Monching himself. Through Startalk, however, I was able to corner Monching over the weekend and ask him to talk about the whole controversy that had been on television and in the papers for over a week now.

Yes, he has talked to Lotlot after Pilita’s Startalk interview. Lotlot called him up and was understandably upset. Their conversation, however, wasn’t very long because he was on the set of the Magpakailanman taping The Janice Jurado Story (due for airing this Thursday – with Sunshine Dizon as the sexy comedienne).

Prior to the controversy, his communication lines with Lotlot were open – with absolutely no animosity between them. Even when Lotlot packed her bags last June, they were on very civil terms – except that when she finally left, he wasn’t home, which was all for the best because the sight of his wife leaving the house could have crushed his heart all the more. Oh yes, he sometimes cries at night pining for his wife and what has become of their marriage. "Iyakin ako, eh," he admits.

Under their present setup, two kids stay with Lotlot: Jessica and Maxine. The other two, Janine and Diego, live with him. "But now that Lotlot is very busy taping various shows, sometimes all the kids stay with me," he offers.

Monching himself has his hands full running a motor shop in Fairview near their home. On the issue about his "not being a good provider," he admits that, yes, sometimes work in show business is hard to come by.

"Ganu’n naman talaga, eh," he says matter-of-factly, "minsan maraming trabaho, minsan wala." He doesn’t deny getting financial help from his mother and at times even runs to his siblings and father, Eddie Gutierrez, for assistance – and even to his Tita Annabelle Rama (which warms my heart because for all of Annabelle’s feistiness, people can run to her for help – especially stepchildren Tonton Gutierrez and Monching, both of whom she obviously cares for very much).

With regard to his mother’s comments about how "Lotlot should find a man with plenty of money," Monching is quick to run to his wife’s defense. "Lotlot is not that type of person. I know her very well," he states firmly.

He also got to talk to his mother after the Startalk interview and mother and son have made a pact that they won’t say anything anymore to anyone after this. No, he doesn’t blame his mother for that TV interview. "Ganu’n lang naman talaga si Mamita – pabigla-bigla kung minsan. But she really loves Lotlot."

Actually, I also have it on good authority that Pilita really loves and cares for Lotlot because she was the one person who put direction in Monching’s life and tamed his reckless spirit. Even Monching acknowledges this – which is perhaps why to this day he has remained faithful to his wife... "kahit marami kayong naririnig that I’m seeing other women, which I swear (he puts both hands up) is not true."

Monching is obviously still in love with his wife and some quarters close to the couple claim that Lotlot is still in love with him.

Is he hoping to be reconciled with his wife this soon? "I’m actually hoping for the best," he tells me.

The reconciliation may or may not happen (but I hope it does), but this controversy will surely be blown away and be eclipsed by yet another showbiz scandal soon.

But during the entire week when the whole issue became tabloid fodder, both Lotlot and Monching still displayed admirable decency in the middle of all that controversy. (Even at the height of her anger, Lotlot still tried to control every word she uttered in her TV interviews.) It is to the credit of their parents that they were brought up well.

And it’s sad that all these had to happen to two very nice people. But it’s not yet too late for them to get back together and live happily ever after. However, it’s only Lotlot and Monching who can work things out between them.

At this point, all of us who care for them could only wish them well.

ANNABELLE RAMA CLUB FILIPINO DAD CHRISTOPHER EVEN LOTLOT LOTLOT AND MONCHING MONCHING NORA AUNOR PILITA STARTALK
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