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SINGER-ACTRESS Sharon Cuneta flies in from Hong Kong Friday night with her daughter KC Concepcion while her husband, Sen. Francis Pangilinan waits at the Dignitaries Lounge. ROGER MARGALLO



Kiko denies talk of split with Sharon

By Christine Avendao, Alcuin Papa, Marinel Cruz, Bayani San Diego Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:03:00 10/11/2008

Filed Under: Celebrities, Entertainment (general)

MANILA, Philippines?Again, that rumor. And once more, the vehement denials.

Senate Majority Leader Francis ?Kiko? Pangilinan told the Philippine Daily Inquirer via a text message Friday night that it wasn?t true his wife, singer-actress Sharon Cuneta, had left the country following a major argument over a woman.

?I already said the reports are inaccurate, untrue,? the text message said. ?In fact, I am now on the way to the airport to pick her up.? Cuneta was flying in from Hong Kong.

A few minutes later, Pangilinan sent another SMS: ?Oh, by the way, kasama ko ang mga bata sa pagsundo sa (the kids are coming with me to the) airport and we may have dinner out after... para lang kumpleto ang storya mo (to complete your story).?

Cuneta arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport early Friday evening via Cathay Pacific Flight 903. Right after deplaning, the 42-year-old Cuneta told waiting media men at the tube, ?I give you one word: burned out. I?m burned out with intriga.?

All questions about alleged trouble in her marriage, she answered obliquely: ?You know what? Whoever started [this] intriga should end it. So I can read the ending.?

Cuneta was accompanied by KC Concepcion, her daughter from her previous marriage to actor Gabby Concepcion; stylist and confidante Fanny Serrano; Ciara Sotto and Lala Sotto, daughters of Helen Gamboa-Sotto, sister of Cuneta?s mother Elaine.

Reporters tried to interview Serrano, who said, ?Bawal magsalita eh (I?m not supposed to talk).?

Pangilinan waited at the Dignitaries Lounge. Before his wife arrived, he was on his cell phone looking grim, intermittently speaking to his and Cuneta?s two young daughters. He refused to be interviewed and asked photographers to refrain from taking the kids? pictures. ?Please spare the children,? he said, visibly upset.

The Pangilinans? daughters are Simone Francesca Emmanuelle or ?Frankie? (born in December 2000) and Mariel Daniella Sophia or ?Miel? (born in September 2004). Pangilinan has legally adopted KC.

The rumor had erupted anew?echoing talk that started in 2003?when the couple didn?t turn up at the Senate?s 92nd anniversary celebration Tuesday night at the Manila Hotel. Cuneta was supposed to sing a song during the program.

Theme of the event was, ?One Family: An Evening with Senators and their Families.?

A family friend, who requested anonymity, said Cuneta had left ?in a huff? on Sunday for Hong Kong after ?the worst spat in their 12-year marriage.? (The Pangilinans were wed on April 28, 1996). The source did not give details of the argument, but said the marriage had been shaky for quite a while.

Pangilinan insisted that their no-show at the Manila Hotel was ?not such a big thing.? He said in another text message, ?I have never attended a Senate anniversary since I became a senator in 2001.?

In any case, he said, he and his wife meant to attend the party last Tuesday, ?but had to change plans at the last minute.?

Pressed about the reason for the altered schedule, Pangilinan?s reply was, ?I think I have said enough. There are more important national problems that need our attention.?

The senator started fending off queries on the revived issue on Wednesday. By then it was also being said that the latest spat had included money matters.

On Thursday, the ABS-CBN evening news program, ?TV Patrol,? aired a hurried interview of Pangilinan by Senate reporters:

The intro was straightforward: ?Sinagot na ang maugong na issue... na may tampuhan daw ang mag-asawang Megastar Sharon Cuneta at Sen. Kiko Pangilinan... kaya nag-alsabalutan si Mega... Isa sa itinuturong dahilan ng away ay ang usapin ng pera... May ispekulasyon din na may ibang babae raw ang senador... (The persistent issue has been clarified... Cuneta and Pangilinan have reportedly argued about money... there are also speculations about another woman).?

Pangilinan?s soundbyte went, ?Ay, hindi totoo ?yung mga naririnig sa mga balita. Nasa Hong Kong nga, nagsa-shopping. Anu ba kayo (That?s not true... she?s in Hong Kong shopping. What are you talking about)??

The family friend said Friday that Cuneta was ?offended? by this. ?She is not so irresponsible as to turn her back on a prior commitment (the Senate party) if nothing serious had happened,? said the friend, adding that the singer had in fact rehearsed for the event hosted by Senate President Manuel Villar and his wife, Las Pias City Rep. Cynthia Villar.

Since the relationship hit a snag on account of the rumors about another woman, the friend said, the couple had not been spending much time together, with Cuneta shuttling between the two family homes?one in Wack-Wack in Mandaluyong City, another in Ayala Westgrove in Laguna.

People close to Cuneta are quick to deny the rumor, especially Pangilinan?s sister Angeli who, according to ?TV Patrol,? called to ask Cuneta to come home, but was turned down cold by the singer.

From Bali, Angeli told the Inquirer via SMS: ?That is so not true. Kiko... warned all [of us about the rumor].?

Several other friends saidCuneta had gone to Hong Kong for ?girl-bonding? with KC and the latter?s cousins Ciara and Lala.

A close associate of the couple insisted that the rumor was meant to divert attention from other controversial figures in the Senate.

Cuneta?s manager, Sandra Chavez, was also sure ?they?re okay.?

Speaking to the Inquirer by phone on Friday, Chavez conceded that the couple had ?the usual? tiff, ?nothing earth-shaking.?

She said Cuneta?s Hong Kong break was ?for a much-needed rest... on the advice of the senator himself.?

Chavez said ?the whole family? was planning a trip at the end of the month, ?probably to the United States.? The trip earlier this week, she added, was just because Cuneta ?needed time alone,? having been stressed with ?career obligations [and] being a wife, and mother to three kids.?

In 2003, Cuneta was also reported to have left the conjugal home and moved to the Gamboa-Sottos? house in Quezon City, purportedly because she had broken up with Pangilinan. Then as now, she denied the rumor, saying it was ?politically motivated.?

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