One of his claims to fame is his anting-anting or amulet,
which makes his film characters defy death.
In real life, it seems former senator Ramon Revilla Sr. has
the same powers to defy death's claws. He survived a stroke
just recently. Add to that his being the object of one of showbiz's undying
‘macho' rumors—that he had fathered more than 100 children.
Judging from the many articles written about the erstwhile
action star- lawmaker, the media have not really gotten a clear story from Mr.
Revilla ever. Once, when a newspaper reporter posed the question to
him, his response was simply: "I don't have many children... and it's far less
than a hundred."
One of his daughters, Rowena Bautista-Mendiola, bemoaned her
father's usually cryptic response, admitting that it adds to the speculations.
Another daughter, Andrea Bautista-Ynares, recounted an
incident: "Iniinterview yata siya, tapos he did not answer so sila lang ang
nag-conclude." His vague response is partly to blame for the persistent rumor
about his alleged numerous kids, she admitted.
"Alam mo naman ‘yun," Rowena exclaimed, hinting that Mr.
Revilla may just be enjoying a bit of the "notoriety."
A man's man.
Ramon Revilla Sr., it could be said, has always been noted for his macho image.
In his films, he looked tough, like he could kill you with a glance,
and he was pretty convincing as a man who had an agimat or supernatural power.
Real life was no different. Tall and muscled, his physical
features made it easy for others to think that he was no man to mess around
Born Jose Acuña Bautista on March 8, 1927 in Imus, Cavite,
he assumed the name Ramon Revilla when he entered the movies.
One of the 10 children of businessmen Ildefonso Bautista and
Andrea Acuna, he already had a degree in Commerce from the Far Eastern
University before he got discovered (while he was pumping gas) to appear on the
But in his initial showbiz entry, the young Ramon Revilla
was cast in bit roles, which was just not enough for him so he left the movies
to be head of the Secret Service Unit of the Bureau of Customs in 1965.
Showbiz saw his return in 1972.
Like the tough guy he was, he returned to showbiz on his own
terms, creating his own film production, Imus Films, for him to star in.
Together with wife Azucena, they ran the film outfit with Revilla writing and
directing his films.
In 1973, Revilla won a Famas Best Actor Award for Hulihin si Tiyagong Akyat. Imus Films
was also recognized as Outstanding Film production in 1975. The next year,
Revilla snagged the Outstanding Producer of the Year Award. In 1979, he was
Most Outstanding Actor and Box Office King. At that point, there was really no
stopping his popularity.
Later in his career, his characters in the films Pepeng Agimat and Nardong Putik gave him the image of being invincible—a
superhuman who had in his keeping a special anting-anting.
The image is somewhat alive until now.
The statesman, the
family man. In 1992, the action
hero became a senator, holding office until the end of his three terms in
Despite having a number of detractors, Senator Ramon Revilla
Sr., was able to mark his stay in the senate as the author of some important bills.
But the one he spearheaded that raised his popularity was the bill casually called the ‘Revilla bill'.
An amendment to the Family Code, enacted into law on
February of 2004, states "That illegitimate children
may use the surname of their father if their affiliation has been expressly
recognized by the father through the record of birth appearing in the civil
register, or when an admission in a public document or private handwritten
instrument is made by the father."
"The child should not suffer the stigma of his
illegitimacy," the senior Revilla was once quoted as saying.
The amendment made sense, more so because a celebrity
who was rumored to have sired a number of "love children" created it.
On paper, then senator Revilla was married to Azucena Mortel
who died in 1998. Azucena, or Cena as she was fondly called, gave him six
children: Marlon, Rowena, Princess,
Bong, Strike, Andrea, and Diane.
But there were also other offspring who called Ramon Revilla Sr.
‘Dad'. The more well-known included: Ramon Revilla Nicolas Bautista Jr., once the
Mayor of San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija; and Evelyn Bautista-Jaworski who is the wife
of basketball legend, Robert Jaworski.
Andrea, his daughter with legal wife Cena, admitted that
they were made aware of their other siblings since they were little. "Kasi we
were raised naman by our mother to accept our siblings—‘yung sa ibang anak ng
daddy ko sa ibang babae. We were raised that way... wala naman silang kasalanan,
you have to accept them, kung ano man ‘yun."
Giving a peek on her dad's character, Andeng said that his
way of bringing up his kids was through a firm hand. "When he [dad] was younger
he was very strict."
Girls were not permitted to date. Daughter Rowena recalled,
"Hindi ka puwede sa mga boys; sa pagdadamit lang, grabe, sobrang strikto. I got
married at the age of 30 na, ayaw pa niya. My goodness! Ganun siya."
But Rowena added that, "Nung nag-asawa na ‘ko dun ko
na-realize ‘yung sobrang strikto sa ‘min when we were young, tama lang kasi
maayos yung pagpapalaki sa ‘min, maayos ‘yung buhay namin."
Andeng agreed, "Parang I'm a daddy's girl [kasi], e...[Like]
when I got married, kailangan namin ‘yung blessings ng father ko...kasi my
relationship with my boyfriend before was on and off so para kasing, at the
time, hindi alam ng dad ko na he was my boyfriend. Ang feeling ko kaya on and
off, dahil walang blessings ng father... so finally nag-break kami.
"But nung binigay niya ‘yung blessings niya, ‘yun ‘yung sign
ko na we were meant for each other," Andeng, who is now married to Junjun
Ynares (Governor of Rizal), has a 10-month old baby.
"But now, of course, he's okay," Rowena remarked, pointing
out that their dad's iron hand has mellowed. It is not lost on
them that his reason for his parenting technique was to put much value on
"Having children is a big responsibility," the senior
The father of many
kids. "I should not be admired for this," when asked about his many kids
with different women. "It's wrong, very wrong. Although I don't regret anything
that I had done in the past, I have learned my lessons from it. I now want to
impart these lessons to the future generation. I want to set a good example,
and I am doing this now with my children."
So has he sired more than 80 children? "It's not true that
it's more than 80," wailed Andeng.
"It's not true," echoed Rowena. "Fiction lang yun!"
It's actually just 45," Rowena said finally.
"I have a list, eh... we're only 45. The oldest is...I'm not
sure, baka magalit eh...[mga] 50 plus, 50 plus, the youngest is 4 years old na or
Urged to give her siblings' names, she begged: "Di ko naman
memorize lahat... [And] para ano? ‘Wag
na...Huwag na lang mga names, baka mamaya maano pa...." She only laughed and
changed the direction of the conversation when encouraged to say more.
"Ay, lalo na!" She clamped down when asked about the mothers
of her other sisters and brothers. "'Yun di ko alam. Di ko na nabilang... lilista
ko din pala pati mga moms... Hayaan mo." Ending the topic as if promising more
details next time.
Rowena insisted that there was no ‘bad blood' between her
and her other siblings and repeated what Andeng had said. "Okay lang I'm used
to it na...pinamulat sa ‘min ni mommy [na] ‘wag kami magalit sa kapatid, walang
kasalanan ‘yan. Siya [mom] talaga [noon] nag-aalaga sa mga anak ni daddy sa
labas. Bata pa kami talaga ganun na. My mom is like that.
"Kami at that time, di namin maintindihan si daddy... s'ya
naintindihan niya talaga..she understood daddy.
"Kasi mommy ko,
grabe... puwede na siyang santo. Wala siyang... maski ‘yung mga girls, ‘yung mga ...
pumupunta sa bahay namin, ini-entertain niya, ganun siya. Sobra siyang
understanding. Malawak yung pang-unawa niya and she loved daddy so much and
maybe she loved us so, she was willing to sacrifice everything, ganun lang."
Would she be able to emulate her mom, if ever? "Oh no. I
don't think so. Kasi I prayed for it. I prayed, ‘Lord kung mag-aasawa ako ayoko
ng ganun parang hindi ko kaya... pero nakayanan ko sa mga kapatid ko. I'm willing and able to help them. Kung
anong kaya... May time, ang daddy galit sa kanila, sa iba. Ako, kami nila Bong,
we're not. We're there for them. Kung kailangan nila ng tulong, [tapos] takot
sila kay daddy, lumalapit sila sa ‘min.'Yun ang maganda."
She again insisted that there were no bad feelings
between her and her other siblings. "Wala, wala ako talaga." Rowena said that
her dad even gave her the duty as the one in charge of helping finance the
schooling of her siblings. "Accepted ko na ‘yun. ‘Yung [pinakabata], ako ‘yung
bahala sa school niya. [And] I handle ‘yung pang-school ng mga [iba pang]
kapatid ko sa labas, so I know lahat."
Rowena, in describing her other sisters and brothers, related:
"Merong nasa States kaya kung nandun kami, we visit them. They visit us din.
Meron din sa navy, real estate, sa business.
"'Yung brother din naming namatay... mayor dati ng Nueva Ecija, si Mayor Ramon Bautista. He passed away na. Nung nagkasakit siya we were
there—me, Bong, Strike. Si daddy nga, medyo masama ang loob, nagkaroon nga
sila ng problema, [pero] kaming magkakapatid, we were still there [for him]."
As for her siblings from both her mom and dad's sides, she
was enthusiastic to note: "We're close sobra, specially me and Andeng and Bong
and Strike... Even Princess naman and Diane.
"As much as possible, every other weekend we see each other.
Sana sa Cavite, eh," referring to their ancestral abode. "Dati every Sunday pero
dahil sa sobrang busy, hindi namin nagagawa. But still we see to it na... [the]
next Sunday we're there. Iba na [nga lang] ngayon ang panahon, sobrang busy.
[Pero] naiintindihan naman ni daddy ‘yon."
Among the 45, Rowena was hazy as to her number in the chronological order of
kids. "All in all, bale hindi ko na alam kung pang-ilan [ako]." She guessed she
was probably in the middle.
After some prodding, Rowena revealed that it was not easy to
be the one who held the "list". And it does not help that her dad does not put
a stop to speculations surrounding the true number of his kids.
"Sinasabi ko nga, ‘Daddy kung may maghabol diyan, ah! Kawawa
naman kami d'yan. Kawawa ka d'yan.' Tapos tatawa lang yun," she narrated, adding
that there are still fellows who approach them and claim they are Revillas (or
"Sabi ko [sa mga nagke-claim] kung kapatid kita walang
problema just show [proof]... eh di naman siya lumalapit kay daddy. Birth
certificate wala daw kasi ganun-gano'n, " she said.
"Tapos nung lumapit siya sa daddy, sabi ni daddy, ‘Hindi kita
anak', so ‘yun. Kasi kay daddy, hawakan niya lang ang ulo, alam na niya kung
anak niya. May ganun siya eh. Hawakan niya lang ang ulo, alam niya kung anak ka
niya o hindi... [Kasi] kung anak niya di naman niya itatanggi e."
There was one time when somebody was so insistent that he
was a child of Ramon but the patriarch did not believe him one bit. "'Yon,
nagkasakit, tinulungan ko [na din] basta sabi ko, ‘Stop calling me na lang Ate.
Tutulungan kita'. [Iniisip ko] daddy ko nga, di [siya] inaa-acknowledge, ako
The Revillas are actually prone to abuse. At one point, Ramon Revilla
Sr. decided to supply a specimen of his DNA to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) so that those who might run after him for
paternity could just submit samples of their DNA to test against his own
Last September 30, news broke that the elder
Revilla suffered a stroke and was in critical condition. He underwent surgery
on a clogged vein in the brain but is now recuperating.
Before the incident, sisters Rowena and Andrea were very
vocal that their dad still had a lot of things he has to do, things to
accomplish. "Nakakapagtrabaho pa siya. He's the chairman of the board sa Public
Reclamation Authority (PRA)," Andrea related.
Ramon Revilla Sr., as chair of PRA, has not finished his
plans to reclaim the coastal areas along Manila Bay and has yet to still
encourage business opportunities at Sangley Point in Cavite. He aims to
transform the former US Naval Station into an international logistics hub in
Southern Tagalog Region.
For Andrea, who looks forward to again producing films under
the family's Imus production, and Rowena, who heads the family business, JAB
Realty and Development Corporation, there are a lot more things in store for
their beloved father.
True enough, for a man who has weathered a lot of storms—and, yes, had sired 45 kids—it's not hard to think that he still has lots
of fight in him.