“I just want assurance that he will be safe,” said Tanya Bautista, wife of beleaguered actor-TV host Vhong Navarro, as to why she opted to meet members of the media on Wednesday afternoon.
“We will continue to fight. We’ve already reached this point,” declared Tanya a day after Vhong surrendered to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and posted bail after the Taguig City Metropolitan Trial- Court ordered his arrest on acts of lasciviousness filed by model Deniece Cornejo. A few hours later, a Taguig court then issued a second warrant with no bail for Deniece’s rape complaint. Under Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code, rape is not bailable.
“What I want is that while we’re fighting, Vhong will be safe and that he will not be put in a situation similar to what happened to him before. He was deeply traumatized by that incident,” Tanya told the Inquirer Entertainment on Wednesday. She was referring to the time when, according to police reports from 2014, a group of men led by businessman Cedric Lee beat up Navarro inside a condo unit in Fort Bonifacio. They claimed Navarro sustained his injuries after Cedric and company caught him attempting to rape Deniece.
Tanya said the trauma that Vhong battled and has successfully managed in 2014 resurfaced when the court decision was reversed recently. “He has become too clingy lately. He would ask where I was going even though he knew it was just a trip to the bathroom. He really appreciated meetings via Zoom because when it was a face-to-face thing, he would feel too stressed,” she added.
Tanya said Vhong preferred to always be surrounded by friends. “He would invite them and they would always hang out at home. Now that he is detained, I can only imagine what he is going through. I can only pray for him. He’s quite friendly, but I know it’s different when you’re on your own,” said Tanya.
She said she is unable to communicate with Vhong since she left the NBI offices. “Phones are not allowed there. When the warrant was finally served and he was detained, I had to bring his phone home,” she added.
Tanya said that another reason she agreed to hold a media conference was to “set everything straight. I want people to know the kind of person and husband Vhong is. I already forgave him for what happened. Sobra siyang bumabawi. We’ve had many happy years before we got married,” she stressed. “I just want to emphasize that he is a good person. He is a thoughtful and loving husband, a true gentleman.”
After more than a decade of being lovers, Vhong and Tanya tied the knot in Kyoto, Japan, in 2019.
Did they feel burdened by the case through the years? “We’ve reached the point when we thought it has already ended. We knew we already won the battle…and then, this happened. Those eight years weren’t as bad because we believed in our justice system—we still do. This is what’s giving us hope. The case has been dismissed throughout those eight years. God knows and I guess a lot of people know, too, that we’re telling the truth; that we have all the evidence to prove it.”
As to the kind of support she is giving her husband, Tanya said: “I want to say that emotionally, I am able to give him strength. Spiritually, we leave all our worries to God. When it comes to his two sons, I promised him that I would take good care of them. They are staying with me and I don’t want Vhong to worry about them.”
These days, Vhong’s two sons are unusually quiet, reported Tanya. “I can only imagine what is going through their minds. They don’t ask questions much. I told them that if they are bothered about what’s happening to their Daddy, they can always talk to me,” she said. “I guess they also don’t want to show any emotion that could be misinterpreted as a sign of weakness. This is the exact same thing that is making me worried. How I wish they could be more open with what they’re feeling. It’s good that their respective moms, Bianca and Ciara, are also very supportive.”
Tanya said that she and the two mothers are united during this difficult time. “When I needed to focus only on Vhong, they made sure to be around and show support for the two boys. Grabe ‘yung dalawang moms,” she declared.
“I’ll be honest with you, the very first time I heard Vhong say that, I was surprised. We were praying together when he said, ‘Lord, napatawad ko na po sina Deniece at Cedric, silang lahat. Sana napatawad na rin nila ako.’ When we were done praying, I told him, ‘Grabe ka! I thought I was more prayerful and had stronger faith. What you said surprised me.’
In a recent interview, Vhong said he has already forgiven those who did him wrong. Asked whether she also felt the same, Tanya replied: “I couldn’t believe that despite what we are going through, he has managed to learn to forgive them. Honestly, I’m sorry, but I’m still angry. Vhong did me wrong—but he never deserved what they did to him—and I already forgave him. Why are they still running after Vhong? I’m not OK. I am still angry with them,” Tanya declared.
Meanwhile, Tanya said the support from Vhong’s friends is overwhelming. “They’re around when I am feeling weak. It’s during these times that I learned what kind of friend Vhong is to them. They are loyal to him, and they readily give spiritual support,” said Tanya, who works as a writer in ABS-CBN.
Tanya added that she felt the same from supporters of Vhong, who is among the hosts of the noontime game show ‘It’s Showtime!” “I appreciate Vhong’s fans. They always say I’m strong, but I’m really not. I honestly don’t want to read comments on social media for fear that I will not be able to handle them emotionally.
“Every now and then, friends would send me screenshots of beautiful messages from his supporters. These messages give me strength. It is during times like this when you know who Vhong’s true supporters are, those who aren’t around only when things are good. For you, we will continue to fight.” INQ