Claudine & Raymart: This marriage is fine, thank you
This is a tad more than letting off steam. Claudine Barretto, of late a favorite moving target on show-biz gossip row, squares off with critics and trades barbs with some of them via a confession-style interview.
Claudine is on the cover of the August issue of Star Studio, which hits the stands this week.
Published by ABS-CBN, the home network that she left less than two years ago for rival station GMA 7, the magazine gives the actress enough space to clarify sticky issues, including why she bailed after two decades as a Kapamilya.
Unblinkingly, Claudine talks about three men romantically linked to her in the past year: Senator Jinggoy Estrada, Charlie “Atong” Ang and Martin Castro, a close friend of her husband’s. Ang was a close associate of deposed President Joseph Estrada and Claudine was reportedly seen with him at the Resorts World gaming complex in Newport City, Pasay.
She tells Star Studio that, at the height of the rumor linking her to Castro, Ang helped prevent a legal skirmish between her and husband, Raymart Santiago, on one hand, and Castro and wife, Cris, on the other. Claudine says a sister-in-law who worked for Ang laid the groundwork, and that Ang was a friend of Martin’s father, Mayor Reinaldo Castro of Balagtas, Bulacan (the official who was said to have wed Derek Ramsay and a 21-year-old Fil-Indian girl in 2002).
Yes, Claudine says, she was in Resorts World “one or two times” with Raymart, to meet Ang during that period. The Newport sightings generated parallel talk that Claudine had a gambling addiction. She flatly denies this. “Tong-its nga, hindi ako marunong, e.”
She also denies going to drug rehab, another persistent rumor: “I see a psychiatrist, I’m not ashamed of that, but I have no reason to do drugs.”
Claudine recounts running into Jinggoy Estrada on a few occasions. She says she went to the birthday party of Tirso Cruz III’s wife, Lyn, last year, which Estrada hosted. One of her (Claudine’s) bridesmaids, Bien Co, wife of Bobby Andrews, works for the senator. And at the October 2010 wedding of her good friend, Jenny Miller, Claudine and Jinggoy were among the principal sponsors.
Laments Claudine: “You just go to a party, all of a sudden, the other woman ka na. Hindi ba nakakahiya?”
Raymart, a quiet man, famously blew his top at a party where he was asked by the movie press if he and his wife had indeed separated. His retort: “Only the devil makes up stories like that one.” They’re okay, the couple insist. “Raymart and I go to counseling, it’s not something we hide,” Claudine says. “But at the end of the day, we’re home, together. Sino’ng dapat paniwalaan?”
Home is shared with (adopted) daughter Sabina, 7, and son Santino, 4. Once a movie-star showcase, the magazine notes, the house has been altered to suit the growing kids’ needs. Certified doting parents, Raymart and Claudine built a playhouse near the pool and, more recently, a mini-study center.
In the SS interview, Claudine admits she left ABS-CBN because “the projects were few and far between [and] I no longer had a contract.” The project conceived for her and Gretchen took too long to take off, Claudine says, and she couldn’t wait. She moved to GMA 7 in late 2009.
For the record, she points out, “I talked to my ABS-CBN bosses beforehand. I will forever be grateful to them and look back on my roots … they are my roots.”
As prized Kapamilya property from 1992 up till she left, Claudine was not just queen of soaps, she was queen of the lot. “But I really couldn’t stay,” she says. “Without a contract—and they were not offering one—I was operating on loyalty; there was no security. If you’re an artist, you have to secure yourself, especially when you have a family.”
Speaking of families, Claudine tells SS, theirs—on both sides—have proven to be the most dependable refuge. “Mama Cheling (Cielito Legaspi Santiago, Raymart’s mom) will just say, ‘Bakit may mga ganung chismis?’ But she’s on our side, no question about it.”
Raymart himself is unshakable: “I value our wedding vows and hold on to them. There is no perfect marriage. Obstacles present themselves to everyone; the best part is hurdling them together.”
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