CONVERSATIONS With Ricky Lo (Photo - With husband Raymart Santiago and their kids Sabina and Santino during a family vacation in Boracay last April.)

“Yes, I’ve been seeing a psychiatrist.”

With that admission, Claudine Barretto finally decided to open up in this her first tell-all Conversation with a broadsheet, no holds barred, confronting every issue that have kept on piling up since nine years ago when she felt so helpless, facing a blank wall, that she needed to seek professional help.

I assured her that, contrary to general belief, there’s nothing wrong with consulting a psychiatrist. It’s just like seeing a doctor if you’re suffering from, say, migraine or other physical ailment; or seeing a dentist if your molar is bothering you or if you need to undergo a root canal.

“I never hide it,” continued Claudine. “I started seeing a psychiatrist in 2002 when Rico (Yan, her former boyfriend) died. Na-trauma ako. At that time, I felt that half of the world was blaming me for Rico’s death. I wasn’t allowed to go to Rico’s wake. Last year, I had to consult my psychiatrist more often kasi sunud-sunod ang intriga na dumating sa akin especially during the ‘ber’ months. I wanted to find out if all the negative things were really happening to me o kaya ay guni-guni ko lang.”

(Photo - Sealed with a ‘sunset kiss’ like the one during their sunset wedding (inset) at the Tagaytay Highlands on March 27, 2006.)

Thursday afternoon at a private room of Annabel’s restaurant (on Tomas Morato Avenue, Quezon City), I felt like Claudine’s psychiatrist as she freely poured out her long-kept feelings not lying on a couch but seated at a small table across from me, talking about the issues and confronting them point by point, I guessed perhaps the way she would do with her psychiatrist (unnamed).

Is everything okay between you and Raymart?

“Yes, we are very much okay. It’s funny but we really don’t fight. Lahat ng problema namin are always outside our marriage, never about us, always mga intriga na gawa-gawa ng ibang tao. Honestly, we don’t have the same problems that other couples have, okey kaming dalawa, and it may be because we undergo marriage counseling with Victory Christian Fellowship of which we are members.”

You share a birthday, July 20. That was only two weeks ago. You turned 32 and Raymart, 38. How did you celebrate?

“We had dinner at Paper Mill, owned by chef Vince Rodriguez who will be a partner of Raymart and some friends in a new restaurant, Red Garlic, which will open soon. We were only with family members and close friends.”

(Photo - Husband and wife are busy with their respective shows on GMA, Raymart with Futbolilits (top) and Claudine with Iglot (below, left) which will start airing soon. ‘I’m happy to be working again,’ says Claudine. ‘It’s a good therapy.’— Photo by VER PAULINO)

Is it true that you entered a hospital for a rehab? Again, I would say that there’s nothing wrong with that if you need it.

“I check into a hospital when I get sick but I’ve never been to a rehabilitation center for drug addicts or alcoholics. I don’t know where that intriga came from.”

I don’t think that a person enters a rehab to help him lose weight.

(Laughs) “I don’t think there’s a rehab center for that. I’ve been trying to lose weight through the seven-day General Motors Diet. I tried the Cohen Diet but I stopped it. I can’t do rigorous workout. All I do is brisk walking around the village where we live.”

What’s your weight now?

(Laughs some more) “I really don’t know. Hindi na ako nagwi-weigh. Takot na ako sa scale! I’d rather look at the inches. I bought three pairs of pants na iba-iba ang sizes. I’m on the second pants na at malapit na ako sa pangatlo which is the smallest.”

Let’s talk about the issues. Let’s start with the Martin Castro issue. How did it start and how did you resolve it?

“Martin is a good friend of Raymart. The issue started when somebody told two showbiz people that I was having an affair with Martin. You know, I’m a very private person especially when it comes to my family. Once kinanti mo ang pamilya, I won’t stop until I get to the bottom of it. Hahabulin ko talaga kung sino ang nagsabi at tatanungin ko kung bakit niya ginawa ‘yon, not to quarrel with her but just to sort things out, kung ano ang motibo niya. Apparently, may mga tao talagang traidor, walang magawa sa buhay. The issue has never been resolved.”

The “somebody” you’re referring to who started the rumor was Angelica Panganiban (photo), right? (Angelica is the girlfriend of Derek Ramsay who is good friends with Martin. It was Martin’s father, who was mayor of a Bulacan town, who reportedly married Derek and his Fil-Indian girlfriend in civil rites. Derek and his wife separated a long time ago after living together for only a few years.)

“Yes.” (Note: Claudine and Angelica used to be friends and to belong to the same circle of friends.)

Did the issue affect the friendship of Raymart and Martin?

“No, it did not, until Martin’s wife started talking to PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal). Raymart got angry with Martin. But Martin reached out. He kept on calling non-stop, calling me, calling Raymart. And then Martin’s mom died and that’s when Raymart and I reached out naman to him. Since then, okey na naman silang dalawa but of course things have never been the same again.”

Are you and Martin’s wife okay now?

“You know what hurts most…I don’t know what ‘okay’ and what friendship mean sa kanila. To me, malalim ang meaning ng friendship. For me to make you a part of our lives, ang papasukin ka sa buhay at pamamahay namin, malaking bagay ‘yon. You just don’t allow everybody to enter your life, do you? That’s what Raymart and I did to Martin and his wife — we let them enter our lives, and vice-versa. In short, we became friends. Martin and Raymart were inseparable; they were together every day. They were really buddies. Tuwang-tuwa ako kay Martin kasi maganda ang personality niya, he has a positive outlook in life. When the tsismis came out, Martin called Raymart right away and I called Martin’s wife right away. I thought everything was okay na, and then she talked to PEP.”

What about the rumor linking you to (Sen.) Jinggoy Estrada (photo)?

“It started when Bien Co, Bobby Andrews’ wife who was my bridesmaid and who works for Jinggoy, invited me to the birthday party of Lyn (Ynchausti), wife of Tirso (Cruz III) which was hosted by Jinggoy. I told Bien, ‘Huwag na, nakakahiya, wala kaming kilala d’un.’ But Bien was insistent, so we went. Nakakahiya naman humindi sa isang senador. There were many guests there, including press people. I went there ahead, Raymart followed. After that, if I remember right, Jinggoy invited Raymart to his place in San Juan for some drinks, kahit hindi umiinom ‘yung asawa ko, or for a sing-along. I went with Raymart once.” (Laughs again, adding) “Hindi ko maintindihan kung bakit ako ang natsismis kay Jinggoy at hindi si Raymart ganoong mas madalas silang dalawa magkita.”

The casino issue.

“I went to Resorts World Manila twice with Raymart and maybe people who saw me there concluded na nagka-casino ako.”

The issue about you and Atong Ang (photo) was connected with the casino issue.

“You know, it was Atong Ang who helped mediate between Raymart and Martin, siya ang naging bridge nina Raymart at Martin.

My sister-in-law works for Atong Ang who is also Martin’s ninong.

Nakakahiya nga sa kanya dahil nadamay pa siya when he was just trying to help patch things up between Raymart and Martin.”


There’s also a rumor about you and Wendell Ramos (photo).

“Ha? Kasali rin ba si Wendell? That’s new to me! Ngayon ko lang narinig ‘yan, a! We were just together in Jillian Namamasko Po (a GMA Christmas presentation last year, with child star Jillian Ward). That’s all.”

Your sister Gretchen and you. Good thing you have kissed and made up after a prolonged, shall we call it, “sister act?”

“It just happened one lazy afternoon. It was the right time, I guess. Our nephew John was going to a relative’s condo, saying that Ate Gretchen was also going there. I told John that I’d join him. Then, Ate Gretchen arrived. When I opened the door, she was there. Then, we hugged and let bygones be bygones. No more digging out the past. Puro na lang ‘I love you’ at ‘I miss you.’ It just happened naturally. No more recriminations.” (Note: When asked about the feud, Gretchen would beg off, refusing to make any further comment.) “The whole thing started with sulsol from other people who wanted to create intriga between us, at nagpadala naman kami. May nagsulsol kay Ate Gretchen. Sabi, ‘Gretchen hindi daw gagawin ni Claudine ang show ninyo kung mas mataas ang talent fee mo at mas magaganda ang damit mo.’ At may nagsabi naman sa akin, ‘Claudine hindi daw gagawin ni Gretchen ang show ninyo kung mas mataas ang talent fee mo at mas magaganda ang damit mo.’ Lumaki na nang lumaki; tinawag na nilang sibling rivalry, professional jealousy. It was a mistake na nagpadala kami sa sulsol.”

What about Angelica (Panganiban) with whom you had a running Twitter/Facebook feud?

“I haven’t seen her for a long time. All I can say is that sariwa pa ang sugat. There were so many things and so many people involved. Friendships were broken, including our friendship. My family was affected. Marriage namin ni Raymart muntik nang masira dahil sa malisyosang tsismis. You know, if you cross the line and try to destroy my family, that’s an entirely another story. My fault is that nagmahal ako sa isang kaibigan at siya pa ang muntik nang sumira sa pamilya ko.”

Gretchen and Angelica also have had issues between them and they seem to be okay now. In fact, they’re doing a teleserye together for ABS-CBN. How do you feel about that?

“Hmmmmm. I would feel bad if they liked each other. But I know that they don’t like each other that much.”

How did Raymart take all this gulo?

“I’m lucky to have a husband like Raymart who is supportive all the way, who believes me more than the intriga and the tsismis.”

(Postscript: In December last year, Claudine and Raymart, together with their kids Sabina and Santino, took a vacation in Hong Kong. Last April, they also went on a family holiday in Boracay where the pictures with this Conversation were taken.)

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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