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Ruffa shares what Yilmaz told her after reunion with their daughters

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Ruffa shares what Yilmaz told her after reunion with their daughters
Ruffa Gutierrez’s children Lorin and Venice Bektas finally reconnect with their father, Turkish businessman Yilmaz Bektas, in Istanbul. The girls are joined by their older half-sister, Ilknaz Bektas, who says of their reunion: ‘I think today is the happiest day of my life.’
STAR / File

“Tears overflowed” when Ruffa Gutierrez’s daughters — Lorin and Venice Bektas — reunited with their father Yilmaz Bektas in Turkey after 15 years of being apart.

The actress-TV host and former beauty queen first took to Instagram to share a touching video of Lorin and Venice being welcomed with long and warm hugs, as well as forehead kisses, from their Baba after flying to Istanbul over the weekend.

“The greatest love story of all time is between a father and his daughters. A beautiful and heartwarming reunion after 15 years of being apart,” Ruffa, who didn’t join her children on this trip, captioned the video clip with the hashtags #NewBeginnings and #TogetherAgain.

Ruffa’s mom, Annabelle Rama, was reduced to tears herself upon seeing the video. “Answered prayer” was how she described the reunion to The STAR. She was also able to talk to the Turkish businessman, who had assured them that the kids would be well-taken care of while they’re there.

“Natutuwa talaga ako. Naiyak ako. Pagkakita ko nung una (sa video) nabigla ako. Ito kasi si Ruffa (nag-patugtog ng music), yung Where Do I Begin?” she said, referring to the theme from the movie classic Love Story embedded in the video. “Favorite ko yun. Yun pala theme song nila ni Yilmaz kaya pala pinatugtog ni Ruffa yun habang nagkita sila sa airport. Siempre yung story ni Ruffa nakakaiyak talaga, ‘Day, no? Grabe!”

Ruffa and Yilmaz wed in the Philippines almost 20 years ago, in March 2003, separated in 2007 and got annulled in 2012. It’s public knowledge what led to the breakdown of their marriage. But through the years, Annabelle said that her apos, particularly Venice, hadn’t lost touch with her father. “Siya yung laging kausap ni Yilmaz nuon pa. Nasa Dasma pa kami. ‘Sino yan, Venice?’ ‘My Baba.’ ‘Hi Baba, I miss you, I want to see you now.’ Ganun, ganun siya.’”

From left: Sisters Venice, Ilknaz and Lorin Bektas bond while enjoying the view along Bosphorus Strait

According to Annabelle, Venice had the least memory of her father because she was just about a year old when Ruffa and kids came home to the Philippines. So when father and daughter finally reconnected, her granddaughter told Annabelle that “titig lang siya ng titig sa daddy niya.”

Throwback photos of Ruffa and kids with Yilmaz and Ilknaz more than a decade ago.

The veteran talent manager further revealed that it only took 20 minutes for the plane tickets to be sent to Venice and Lorin the moment it was decided that they were going to Turkey. Incidentally, Lorin was home on break from college studies at Pepperdine University in the US.

Lorin and Venice are being welcomed with a long and warm hug from their father upon arrival at Istanbul airport.

Meanwhile, upon the request of their paternal grandmother, the girls stayed at the house of Yilmaz’s mother for the first few days of their visit, while the rest of the vacation would be spent at their father’s home. They’ve also been updating the family here of the “touristy” activities they’ve been doing, from visiting palaces to cruising along Bosphorus river. They’ve also been bonding with their older half-sister, Ilknaz Bektas, who just posted a reunion photo with her siblings with the caption: “I think today is the happiest day of my life.”

In a separate interview, The STAR asked Ruffa about what it took to make this beautiful family reunion happen. (Photos on this page are courtesy of Jun Lalin, the Gutierrez family’s confidante and publicist.)

Below are more excerpts from our brief Q&A with Ruffa:

Fans and netizens were very touched by the video of your daughters reuniting with their father. What made you decide to let your children reunite with him? Why did you feel it was time?

“I never refrained Yilmaz from seeing his children. Because of the circumstances of our separation, I felt more comfortable if he would come to Manila or we could meet in the United States, a neutral country for both of us. Yilmaz promised to visit Manila for many years now, but unfortunately, initial talks between us have been unsuccessful.

“It took 15 years — as they say timing is everything. Wounds have somehow healed and it’s God’s perfect plan that father and daughters have finally reunited last June 10. After all, Lorin (18) and Venice (17) are of age.”

How difficult was it to make this happen?

“It was a long and difficult process because it took more than a decade for it to happen. I consider this reunion a life-changing milestone in the lives of our children. Hopefully, this trip will strengthen their father and daughter relationship.”

What was your first reaction when you finally saw the reunion video?

“Tears overflowed. Even my family, friends and followers were overwhelmed with emotion upon seeing the video. Maraming biglang na-touch at naiyak. Many families are in similar situations and they can relate to us. At the end of the day, Yilmaz is their father. When we were still together, he was a doting loving father.”

What was your message and reminder to your daughters prior to their trip?

“Learn the Turkish culture, always say please and thank you, form a bond with their Baba, have a great time and always keep me updated.”

How did your family react to the reunion?

“Everyone was in shock and at the same time, excited that the girls are finally going to see their dad. Mom wanted to go. Some Titos and Titas were also going to be with the children but Yilmaz said he wants alone time with the girls. There’s so much catching up to do. This is their moment.”

How’s your relationship with Yilmaz now?

“We are very cordial now. We haven’t spoken since last year but he messaged to say thank you for allowing the kids to visit him. He promised that he will take good care of them. At this point, we just have to trust him and hope that this trip will be the beginning of a new, exciting chapter in the lives of Yilmaz, Lorin and Venice.”

RUFFA GUTIERREZ

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