Ali home for good

STAR BYTES - Butch Francisco -

“It’s good to be home!”

Those were the first words Ali Sotto told me when I picked her up a few minutes before midnight last Friday, Oct. 15.

Ali left the Philippines first week of February 2008 to join US diplomat husband Omar Bsaes (he was born in Tunisia, but is American-educated) in Madrid, Spain for his final embassy posting (he is retiring from service end of the year).

She actually left Madrid about a month ago, but spent several weeks in Pasadena, California where US-based son Chino had bought a house for himself. Ever the nurturing mother, Ali had to fix the house for his older boy (the late Miko Sotto will forever be her baby) and that included buying plants for the garden and installing blackout curtains to shield the house interiors from the afternoon sun, especially during the oppressive West Coast summers.

Before proceeding to Manila, Ali even had the chance to bond with Danica Sotto-Pingris, who, together with husband Marc and their son, stayed with first cousin Chino during their California visit. “That girl is so down-to-earth — it was wonderful spending time with her,” gushes Ali.

It was in Pasadena where Ali met up with Omar’s daughter, Cheyenne, and her four-year-old kid, Faith. Cheyenne and Faith are based in Texas and had to fly to California to take their Manila-bound flight with Ali.

The three girls flew Delta Air, along with Ali’s dog, Maja, a two-year-old Maltese that she acquired in Madrid. Of course, you know it can be quite complicated to bring over an animal from one country to another. Well, Atty. Aga Arellano to the rescue. He had to secure a permit from the Bureau of Animal Industry here for the canine to be allowed entry to the Philippines. Oh, he is truly one of Ali’s best friends. He agreed to do the paper work in spite of the fact that when Ali left her pet cat Brazen with him before flying to Madrid, the feline creature made a toilet bowl out of son Drew Arellano’s beloved sneakers collection.

Hours before Ali’s arrival, I had to coordinate carefully with Atty. Aga regarding the Maltese dog’s permit. He even made me bring supporting documents — just in case.

Mercifully, there was no problem at the airport regarding the animal. But NAIA 1 was chaotic that late Friday night. Three US flights landed all the same time and the arrival area spilled with hundreds of passengers who all came from America.

I didn’t see Ali at once in that crowd, but the porters quickly pointed her out to me. She had lost weight — obviously after all that walking in Madrid where you don’t bother to bring a vehicle to nearby destinations since parking can be scarce. Her hair is longer than the last time I saw her in 2008. And no, she didn’t age one bit.

“It’s good to be home!” That was what she said to herself when the plane was beginning its descent prior to the landing. She looked out the window and even if all she saw were just bright lights, she could tell that it was home. Ali even became teary-eyed at one point and couldn’t wait to get out of the plane. Of course, as soon as she got out of the airport’s air-conditioned premises, she was instantly assaulted by Manila’s humid weather. But never mind. It was still good to be home.

Driving Ali and her party to their Loyola Grand Villas home in Quezon City, we took C-5 and along the way, there were cops at one point and when we looked out the car window, we were shocked to see off the center island a dead body. He must have been a hit-and-run victim or must have been salvaged. Welcome to the Philippines! Never mind, said Ali. It was still good to be home.

Yes, she is home for good. And before tongues start wagging that she and Omar separated, I’m already telling you they are not. But you know how minds work in showbiz. The truth is, Omar is really just finishing his post in Madrid and will fly early December to the Philippines to retire — with Ali by his side, of course.

Christmas will be a family reunion for them. Aside from Omar staying for good, Chino will also make a trip to Manila toward January to attend the wedding of cousin Oyo Sotto to Kristine Hermosa.

Cheyenne, meanwhile, plans to take up one subject of Chemistry (she is already done with college in the US) at the State University since she needs that in her line of restoring old books.

As for Ali, it’s still wait-and-see for her. When she packed her bags for Madrid in 2008, she left behind a popular radio program on DZBB with Arnold Clavio and her job as anchor of TV5’s primetime newscast.

She left all that for a life in Madrid that saw her constantly flying in and out of the Spanish capital to travel all over Europe. Once, she spent 10 days on vacation alone in London where she saw musicals night after night.

As I type this, she is just in the process of reconnecting with friends (she lost her contact numbers when she was robbed while touring Maila Gumila in Barcelona). There is still a lot to do. “But it’s just good to be home,” she again tells me as we enter the gate of her Loyola Grand Villas house.

As we drive in, I say to myself: I’m just so happy my friend is home.

vuukle comment











  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with