The Philippines has a lot of things to worry about — China’s presence in the West Philippine Sea, President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody drug war, and Manila’s transportation crisis, among other pressing issues.
But one roiling calamity has quickly come to dwarf all other concerns: the Barretto clan has set to feudin’!
The feud (or at least it’s latest iteration) kicked off with a bang last week after several of the Barrettos — sisters and former actresses Claudine, Gretchen, and Marjorie — got caught up in a catfight in front of Duterte at their late father’s wake (!). After the fight, the roots of the bitter conflict were laid bare in a catty tell-tall interview with Marjorie (and believe us, it was a doozy).
Now, a new chapter has unfolded in the ongoing saga, with businessman Charlie “Atong” Ang giving his own tell-all interview to the long-running news program “TV Patrol” in which he denied rumors that he is dating Gretchen, arch-nemesis of Marjorie and long-term consort of his business partner, billionaire Tony Boy Cojuangco.
The denial came just days after Marjorie claimed in her TV appearance that Gretchen stole Ang from their much younger niece, Nicole Barretto, who was Ang’s supposed girlfriend for five years.
But Ang — who was famous for his involvement in a scandal that wrecked a presidency before having his good name dragged through the mud by the Barrettos — denied the accusations.
“First of all, no stealing happened because Gretchen and I are not together. People would often see us together, but with Tony. We are all together,” Ang said in Filipino and English.
The businessman said he met Gretchen through Nicole, who worked for him right after she graduated from college.
“I met Gretchen through Nicole because she would often bring me to their family [gatherings]. She’s the one who introduced me to Gretchen, and then I met Tony. That’s how Tony became my [business] partner,” Ang said.
While he categorically denied dating Gretchen and Claudine — who was also rumored to have been dating him at one point — the sexagenarian was evasive when asked if Nicole was ever his girlfriend. This despite the existence of photos that showed him and Nicole looking prettaaaayyy cozy.
“If they say she was my girlfriend, there’s no problem with that. I don’t think it’s right for a man to claim her as my girlfriend. If that’s what people think we were, her relatives, go, there’s no problem with that,” he said. “I can’t say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ It won’t look good if I talk about it.”
That when host Noli de Castro brought down the “gotcha” hammer, asking Ang about a viral photo showing him cuddling with Gretchen while they slept on a plane. Still, the businessman was equally evasive, maintaining they just fell asleep.
“She’s like my sister,” he said.
Ang said he was not invited to the fateful wake where the presidential catfight broke out, but that he attended with Gretchen because Cojuangco had asked him to keep her company. Ang also insisted that, contrary to Marjorie’s (unsubstantiated) claims, he wasn’t about to attack her during the heated confrontation that took place in front of Duterte.
In fact, Ang claimed he stood in the way of Claudine — a Gretchen ally in the feud — for fear that she might slap Marjorie and hurt Gretchen and Duterte in the process.
“It was [Marjorie] and Claudine who had a scuffle. Gretchen wasn’t getting involved. When things got heated, I held Claudine like this, I told her, ‘Claud, stop.’ I was just trying to protect the president and Gretchen, who were standing on my right,” Ang said.
“Marjorie said I was about to grab her — I’m a good person when I was in front of the president. I don’t hurt women, that’s not how I am.”
Marjorie, in her previous interview, had pleaded with Ang not to hurt her because she went public with claims that he was dating Gretchen. But Ang last night said Marjorie had nothing to fear from him. Instead, she should be worried about her own boyfriend Recom Echiverri’s family because he’s still married.
Echiverri happens to be the father of Marjorie’s 7-year-old daughter.
“Marjorie, I have nothing to do with your conflict [with Gretchen]. Now, if there’s anyone you should fear, that should be Recom’s family. You declared that you are a mistress. You should be scared of his children.”
Ang, for those who are too young to remember, first gained notoriety for his alleged involvement in illegal gambling, and his prominent role in the scandal that led to the impeachment of then-President Joseph Estrada back in 2001.
Thankfully, he has rebounded from that scandal, and is now best known for being attached to a bunch of crazy celebrities who literally got into a fight in front of the president at their dead father’s wake. See, second chances are what you make of them.
Any thoughts on this latest installment of the Barretto family feud? Tell us in the comments below or by tweeting @CoconutsManila.