How Willie Brought Home a Wife

- Ricky Lo -
Once there was a boy named Willie Revillame who was always home alone. Night after night after a day’s hard work, he would go home to an empty nest (except in some days when he had a girlfriend who would keep him company). He was married to a Princess (Punzalan) but their garden Christian marriage, solemnized at sunset, didn’t last. It was annulled. They had no kids.

Willie isn’t lonely anymore. Goodbye, lonely nights!

Last March 9 after they got married in civil rites in Lipa City, with Mayor Vilma Santos officiating, Willie brought home a wife, Floraliz Bendaña Almoro who, at 28, is 16 years his junior. She stands 5’8" and he is three inches shorter. But what difference do age and height make when two people are in love?

Coming from a prominent (socially and economically) family, Liz is the eldest of five daughters. (Her equally beautiful mom, Clavel Bendaña, co-produced the Chavit Singson bioflick with Golden Lions couple Donna Villa and Carlo J. Caparas who were among the select witnesses to the civil wedding.) She was a semi-finalist in the 2000 Bb. Pilipinas pageant and a former Pitoy Moreno model. An International Studies (major in European Studies) graduate from La Salle, Liz is now taking her Master’s Degree in Customs Administration (for Brokerage).

Besides school, she’s busy helping in the family business (customs brokerage dealing in import) and running her own restaurant (Zeno) inside the BMW Auto House in Libis, Quezon City.

A prize catch, isn’t she?

Willie beat his ex-wife Princess (she and Liz sound alike) to the altar. But Princess, who’s getting married to her foreigner boyfriend sometime in May, promptly texted Willie and Liz upon hearing the good news: Best wishes, Willie and Liz. Let God and His principles and unconditional love be your standard. God’s abundant blessing and favor be upon you and your precious baby. (Ehem. Does Princess know anything that the rest of the world doesn’t? – RFL)

Meryll Soriano, Willie’s daughter with Becbec (Maricel Soriano’s sister), was also happy for her Papa. She texted him this message: Hi, Pa! I’m here outside your house. I guess you’re sleeping already. Anyway, just wanted to see you before you get married; wanted to wish you luck personally. Call you tomorrow. Hope you’re resting well. Love you.

Meanwhile, let’s listen to this Easter kind of love story.

How did you meet – and match?

We met five years ago through our mutual friends. At that time, he had a girlfriend (Oops! No name, please! – RFL) and I had a boyfriend (Same. – RFL). We would hang out. I was then modelling and he liked watching fashion shows, with his friends.

It was a chance meeting. I think it was at a Randy Ortiz show where I met her. John (Estrada) is a good friend of Randy’s and John invited me to watch the show.

What were your impressions of Willie before you met?

Like everyone else, I thought he was very suave. Para bang he plays it cool and he knows how to get a girl. He’s a gentleman and he knows how to handle a girl. Contrary to what other people were saying, I found him very nice.

Hindi mayabang
as other people (wrongly) think he is?

Not at all! When I first met him, he was very quiet pa nga, eh.

And what were your first impressions naman of Liz?

Class! Parang she’s a gem. Parang ang bagay na mapangasawa niya ay isang lalaking mayroon ding "class."

Since you were both "attached" to somebody else, there was no way you could have, you know, gotten together romantically. How and when did you meet again?

After we first met, as I was saying, we would hang out. We moved in the same circles. His girlfriend then kasi was my best friend. So it was always a double date for us. Willie and his girlfriend, me and my boyfriend.

Oh, foursome. Ganoon?

Not really, not always.

We were just good friends, until finally he broke up with his girlfriend and I broke up with my boyfriend.

Una kaming nag-break ng girlfriend ko. Around four years ago when John, Randy (Santiago) and I were suspended from MTB.

We never saw each other again after quite a while. I lived my life, he lived his life. But we did keep in touch through texting. Every now and then, he would ask how I was and I would do the same thing, kinukumusta ko siya. Sometimes, we would bump into each other during social events.

Mga ganoon-ganoon lang.

Were your feelings for each other, well, "developed"?

Actually, hindi rin. Tapos, nang natanggal ako sa MTB the last time, around two years ago, she texted me, "How are you?" I texted her back, "I’m okay." Then, she texted back, "If you want, I’ll treat you to dinner" (at Zeno).

Did you go?

No, I didn’t.

Were you not disappointed na na-indyan ka niya?

No naman. It was just a friendly gesture. Kasi I’m like that to my friends and people who are nice to me. I mean, I’m there for them through thick and thin, especially when they are down. I texted him, "Hang on; it happens for a reason. Keep on praying. Everything will turn out well." But he didn’t text back.

Why? Basta. Parang ayoko lang. Besides, she had a boyfriend at that time. Dyahe naman, di ba?

You didn’t know na break na sila?

No. I just learned about it in October last year when I texted her that I was going back to ABS-CBN. That was after my meeting with Sir Cito (Alejandro, ABS-CBN big boss); Tita Arlene (de Castro, his manager) was with me. The next day, I was relaxing at the Gateaway Spa and I thought of saying, "Hi!" to her. Kasi noong natanggal ako, she was there to console me and I thought I should tell her the good news. "How are you?" Ganoon.

I texted him back, "I’m good but I’m sick." Sabi niya, "So where are you? Let’s have dinner." I told him I was at home. Sabi niya, "Let’s have dinner there na lang." Wala pang isang oras nasa bahay na siya.

I wanted to console her. She was sick and I thought she needed company. From that day on, hindi ko na siya tinigilan. The next day, we had dinner at Peninsula. But that night of October 28 when I saw her, I told myself, "This is the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with." Wala siyang boyfriend, wala rin akong girlfriend.

So it wasn’t a whirlwind courtship kasi matagal na kayong magkakilala, di ba?

I said "Yes" to him last Feb. 15, a day after Valentine’s Day.

Paano manligaw si

Noong Feb. 14, I was trying to call her but there was no answer. Nag-low-batt ang cellphone niya. So I went straight to her house and waited for her. She was in school. Naka-shorts lang ako. I didn’t have any plan of going out. Maybe she thought that I was going to surprise her and invite her out. Pero wala, eh! In fact, bumili lang ako ng tatlong bulaklak from a vendor while I was filling up my car with gasoline at a nearby Caltex station. I also bought Pringles. ’Yon lang ang binigay ko sa kanya.

O, nakuha ka sa

(Laughing): Parang! Actually, I was so upset.

Had we gone out that night, dapat pala sasagutin na niya ako.

But you had already an engagement ring ready, di ba? Segurista ka rin naman, ano?

Yeah. Nakatago na. I bought it earlier pa.

That ring ba was intended for Liz?

Oo naman! I told her, "Naka-reserved sa iyo ang ring na ‘to." But on the night of Valentine’s Day, we had a tampuhan. She thought that we were going out; akala niya we were going to watch the concert of Regine Velasquez. Disapppointed siya. ‘Yung three roses nga, hindi lahat sa kanya. I gave one to her Lola, one to her mom at isa lang ang sa kanya. Tig-P100 lang ang isa n’un. But the next day, nagkabati rin kami. But she was still somewhat mad; parang di ako pinapansin. So I said, "Sige, uuwi na ako." Sabi niya, "Wait. Let’s talk!" Right there and then, sa hagdanan ng bahay nila, sinagot niya ako.

Actually, I’d been asking for a sign. Since I met him again last October, I started becoming fond of him. He was also there during my ups and downs. And I think what really got me was his being cariñoso... his sense of humor. When you’re with a happy person, everything turns pleasant and positive. Para bang if you spend the rest of your life with him you have no worries. He’s good-natured and kind-hearted, contrary to what other people think.

What do you like naman in Liz?

Parang hindi siya marunong magsinungaling. She’s very humble. At simple lang siya.

You have different backgrounds...

It’s true. Siya, class; ako, kalye-kalye lang. I didn’t finish college; siya, nagma-master’s. She’s smart academically and I’m street-smart. I think we are a good combination. She’s for keeps. I was telling myself, "Pag ito pinabayaan mo, malaki ang mawawala sa’yo." Even ‘yung mga "ex" niya, I’m sure nanghihinayang sa kanya.

Paano manligaw si

Nakatutok palagi! He was always asking where I was – all the time! Very caring naman, and very thoughtful. He gave me flowers and showered me with gifts.

What do you have naman in common?

We have a soft spot for kids...

..and for poor people. But pareho kaming ma-pride. But once one gives in, bumibigay na rin ’yung isa.

Do you have the same zodiac signs?

I’m Aquarius (Jan. 27).

I’m Virgo (Aug. 24).

Aren’t you selosa (considering that Willie is in a field full of temptations)?

No. Not at all.

But she does get jealous when she calls and you don’t answer. She’s lenient, actually. Sabi lang niya, "When we get married, sagutin mo tuwing tatawag ako, ha?"

I guess that at your age, you’re sure about yourselves already.

I’m sure!

Di kaya nabigla ka lang?

No. Sure na talaga. As I’ve said, humingi ako ng sign and I got it. (She didn’t say what the sign was. – RFL). There were so many people kasi who were against him, telling me, "Anyone but him!" So I prayed and prayed for a sign. I thought hard about it talaga.

My life is an open book not only to the public but to Liz. I don’t hide anything.

Why did you choose Mayor Vilma to marry you?

Close kami. At mabait siya. When I called her, she asked jokingly, "O, bakit? Mag-aasawa ka na ba?" Nagulat pa siya nang sabihin kong oo, eh!

So when is your church wedding?

June 7, at the Santuario de San Antonio in Forbes Park, Makati City. The reception will be at the NBC Tent. We’re planning to have a special day for his fans and supporters. He wants to share me with them.

Where will be your honeymoon?

We can’t afford to have a honeymoon because of his daily show.

: It’s stated in my contract that for one year (after the show started), hindi ako puede magbakasyon.

So far, how has life been as Mrs. Willie Revillame?

Everyday is a holiday. Laid-back. He’s very nurturing. He’s spoiling me. He makes the bed, he prepares the food.

Baka ngayon lang yan?

(Joking): I hope not. He better get used to it. (Adding seriously) I’ll pursue my master’s degree until I take the board exams. Of course, eventually I will be a full-time wife and mother to our children.

How many children do you want to have? (Willie has three by three different women.)

Liz: One.

Willie: Muna.

(E-mail reactions at [email protected])

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