Trial separation for Dennis & Marjorie

- Ricky Lo -

Wednesday night, May 23, Marjorie Barretto, 33, was proclaimed councilor of Caloocan City. It was a moment of triumph for the first-time politician.

Wednesday night, May 23, Marjorie’s husband, Dennis Padilla (who also served the same city in the same capacity), left their conjugal home and slept alone in the apartment which was used by Marjorie as headquarters during the campaign.

“It was the loneliest night of my life,” Dennis, 45, told Funfare in an exclusive interview, his voice breaking a bit.

Yes, the couple, living happily ever after for 14 years, have decided to go into a trial separation. No, there’s no third party involved on either side, not even if Marjorie is being romantically linked by nasty rumors to a Metro Manila mayor who is very much happily married.

They parted as friends.

“It’s Dennis’ fault,” said Marjorie. “We’ve been having differences for one year and a half now but only those very close to us knew about it.”

“Yes,” Dennis admitted, “my fault.”

To outsiders, Dennis and Marjorie’s marriage looked like one of the few stable ones. They both came from broken relationships, Dennis from his first wife and Marjorie from a showbiz boyfriend who left her a “living” souvenir. Between them, the now un-couple has four children: Daniella, 13; Julia, 10; Claudia, seven; and Leon, two.

So what, besides those “differences” which Marjorie politely excused herself from discussing, caused the supposedly “solid” marriage to crack up? Did Marjorie’s entering politics have anything to do with it? Have they, like most showbiz couples, fallen out of love, gotten tired of each other?

“No,” said Dennis, “politics has nothing to do with it. I’ve served three terms as councilor and I was even the one who encouraged Marjorie to run.”

Long before anything political entered her mind, said Marjorie, she was already complaining against Dennis. Was he, uh, womanizing? “No,” Marjorie was sure, “he wasn’t.”

In fact, they parted as friends even if they did fight.

“But our fights were only like those between any typical couple,” Marjorie explained. “Our fights were never violent. We didn’t hurt each other physically.”

During the campaign, Marjorie found herself the target of mudslinging, you know, 1) that she had died, 2) that she was withdrawing from the race, and 3) that she was having an affair with a Metro Manila mayor.

“I never believed the rumor that Marjorie was having an affair with (the Metro Manila mayor) or with any other man for that matter,” said Dennis.

“My detractors spread those ugly rumors about me and the mayor to destroy him,” said Marjorie. “They thought those rumors would make him lose, but he won just the same. Luckily, the mayor’s wife and his family, like Dennis, don’t believe the rumors.”

“Marjorie has been a good wife to me and a good mother to our children for 14 years,” said Dennis. “Wala akong masabi. I can never find somebody like her.”

During the campaign, when the character-assassination went on without let-up, Marjorie kept quiet and kept her cool. And then blind items started coming out in the tabs, probably fed by Marjorie’s detractors, prompting the couple’s friends to ask if it was them people were gossiping about.

“At first,” according to Marjorie, “I didn’t mind the blind items, until they began attracting attention. I thought the rumors would die a natural death, kasi hindi naman totoo. It got to a point where the rumors were pointing to me as the one to blame. Look, you don’t throw away 14 years of marriage just like that. I want to make it clear that our trouble started even before I decided to enter politics.

“Kumalat nang kumalat ‘yung tsismis, lumaki nang lumaki, so Dennis and I decided to speak up. In July, I’ll be assuming office and I don’t want to start my career in politics on the wrong foot; ayokong nagtatrabaho ako and at the back of my mind there’s that ugly rumor (linking me to the mayor) bothering me. Now, I’m making a clean breast of it. I want to clear myself, Dennis and the mayor. I would never let anybody with an evil mind destroy me or anybody in my family, or get in the way of my obligation as a councilor.”

Asked why he didn’t ask Marjorie to withdraw from the campaign when muck-raking started, Dennis shook his head.

“I wasn’t prepared for the below-the-belt attacks which came when the campaign was halfway. When I permitted her to enter politics, I forgot that she’s a woman, she’s young (the youngest ever to be elected councilor of Caloocan City), that she’s vulnerable, that she’s beautiful.”

What pushed Marjorie to open up was a tab story that Dennis was leaving her because of her “affair” with the mayor.

“Actually,” said Marjorie, “I was the one who asked for a space; I need time and space to take stock of my life.”

How long will the trial separation last? Will it lead to a final break-up? Or will Marjorie and Dennis patch things up and get back together again?

“Only if Dennis would change his ways,” said Marjorie without elaborating. “He’ll be around, helping me adjust to my job as a councilor, seeing our children. The only difference is that we have decided to live apart.”

And that’s the real score.

“This is the first and only time we are talking to the press,” stressed the un-couple.

(E-mail reactions at [email protected])

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