Raymond Gutierrez took a stand last Sunday, March 9, about the issue involving his family and talent manager-TV host Lolit Solis.
Taking a short break from his hosting duties, Raymond allowed himself to be grilled by Showbiz Central co-host John "Sweet" Lapus.
"Every issue na involves my family I'm trying to stay out of it, [if] I know I'm not involved directly. Pero this time kasi, 'yong mga below the belt comments, accusations, and insinuations that are false, masyado nang naapektuhan talaga si Ate [Ruffa Gutierrez] nung time na ‘to," Raymond began. He looked serious and composed.
But before buckling down to business, the young Gutierrez defended his sister's character by saying proudly: "Si Ate, people might see her as a kikay, bubbly, happy-go-lucky girl. But let me tell you, she's very driven, she's very strong, and I'm proud of her for working so hard for her two daughters and she's also... Maraming ‘di nakakaalam, but she's also a student now dahil she's taking up fashion merchandising in a school for fashion, and she's also concentrated on her career."
ADDING FUEL TO THE FIRE. The entire incident started last February 22 at the birthday celebration of GMA-7 senior vice-president for entertainment Wilma Galvante held at the Imperial Palace Suites in Quezon City.
During the celebration, actress Lani Mercado allegedly snubbed Ruffa Gutierrez. The latter, of course, was linked to Lani's husband Bong Revilla, and many surmised that Lani's indifference towards Ruffa stemmed from an old wound.
It was Ruffa who raised the snubbing issue, which immediately found its way through the papers, radio, showbiz talk shows, and cyberspace.
"So 'yong may mga articles na lumabas tungkol sa isnaban nila ni Lani Mercado dun sa birthday party ni Tita Wilma, I was there and Ate nga approached me after, she said, ‘Mond napahiya ako.' And I said, ‘Why?' ‘Because Lani turned her back on me I don't why.' So confused siya because sometimes daw nagha-hi sometimes daw hindi [si Lani]," Raymond recalled.
The issue heated up when Lani's manager, Lolit Solis, came into the picture and defended Lani's action, even touching on sensitive matters involving Bong.
"Hindi pa ba sapat na civil lang si Lani at kailangan talaga makipagplastikan yung tao sa mga nali-link sa asawa niya, sa mga sumasabit-sabit na babae kay Bong?" ranted Lolit to entertainment columnist Ogie Diaz during a radio interview in Wow, Ang Showbiz. The controversial interview was also printed in People's Journal last March 5.
The fiery talent manager-TV host went the extra mile by saying, "Malaki kasi ang nota niyang si Bong, kaya naeelya-elya ang mga babae sa kanya! Maglaway-laway man sila sa nota ni Bong, si Lani pa rin ang legal wife!"
Infuriated by Lolit's comments, Ruffa's equally feisty mom Annabelle Rama fired back at Lolit in an interview with news programs TV Patrol World and 24 Oras.
"Hindi ko maintindihan kung bakit sobra ang reaksiyon mo [Lolit] sa pagtira sa anak ko. Lolit, nakalimutan mo na ba kung saan ka galing? Dati katulong ka ni Mother Lily [Monteverde], hinaharbatan mo ako ng bag, ng pera, ibinibigay ko sa ‘yo dahil mahal kita, nirespeto kita," fumed Annabelle.
Annabelle continued the assault, "Ngayon di mo ako nirerespeto dahil kinakalaban mo anak ko, pati mga apo ko tinatamaan mo. Ngayon, Lolit Solis, kung matapang ka, hinahamon kita. Sabihin mo saan, ano'ng oras, gusto mo mag-upakan tayo ngayon din, okay sa akin."
SPEAKING FOR THE FAMILY. While trying his best to be objective, Raymond felt sorry for his sister. According to the TV host, Ruffa was badly shaken by Lolit's "below the belt" remarks.
"Insinuations, accusations na bastos kasi, Sweet. Si Ate, siya na nga ‘yong napahiya dun sa party, siya pa 'yong nabastos sa radyo at sa newspapers," Raymond complained.
"So naaawa talaga ko because on Tuesday [March 4] kinancel niya lahat ng appointments niya because she was crying all day in her condo, and I felt so bad for her kasi hindi naman niya gustong manakit. If you rewind her interview on The Buzz, sinabi niya na 'ayoko gawing issue ‘to.'"
Raymond shared his mom's surprise with Lolit's decision to speak publicly about the issue considering the agreement reached by all parties involved, which was to keep quiet and avoid further uproar.
"Ang isa pa diyan, may agreement na sila dahil tumawag nga si Senator Bong Revilla kay Mommy na sana ‘wag nang palakihin, ‘wag nang magsalita. At nag-usap din ang mommy ko at si Ms. Lolit Solis na huwag nang palakihin and they both agreed on that," revealed the identical twin of heartthrob Richard Gutierrez.
"Kaya lang, she [Lolit] went on the radio pa, there was an article that came out in the newspaper. Doon na nagalit ang mommy ko," continued Raymond.
For Raymond, digging up the past and hurling insulting comments only helped create animosity instead of patching up a petty misunderstanding.
"Kung gusto nila sanang tapusin na ‘yong issue, if they really didn't mean to ignore Ate—which is understandable naman kung ‘di nagkita, malabo ang mata because my eyes are very malabo, sometimes ‘di ko na nakikita ‘yong ibang tao sa party, minsan di rin ako nakakapag-'hi'. Sana hanggang doon na lang kung gusto man sanang i-clarify ni Ms. Lolit Solis ‘yong issue, sana hanggang doon na lang na ‘hindi ka nakita ni Lani, Ruffa pasensya na.'
"Kaya lang, ang nangyari, there were issues that belong to a different decade, early '90s pa ‘to yong mga issues na pinag-uusapan ngayon. Bata pa po ako nun, I'm 24 years old now, at ‘yon pa rin 'yong issue na hindi naman totoo."
Last Saturday, March 8, Lolit tried to diffuse the escalating tension by assuring the Gutierrez family that she had no intention of picking a fight, especially with a family she considers her own.
"Ayoko makipag-away kay Annabelle, hindi dahil sa natatakot ako sa kanya. Wala akong iiwanang laban. Kung kailangan ko makipag-away, makikipag-away ako. Kung kailangan kong tanggapin ang hamon, makikipag-ano ako. Pero ayoko makipag-away sa kanya dahil tinitingnan ko pa rin ang thirty years na nagging friendship namin. Wala pa si Ruffa, magkaibigan na kami. Kaya nagtataka ako bakit nagiging personal ang mga bagay na ‘to," told Lolit to StarTalk co-host Butch Francisco.
Ending his speech in a positive note, Raymond relayed that they appreciate Lolit's kind gesture and display of humility during the interview.
"To Ms. Lolit Solis, I don't think my sister will file a case against you because she appreciated the fact that parang pagpapakumbaba mo yesterday, and we appreciate that from you sincerely. [We] appreciate that from you na hindi mo na ginatungan ‘yong issue."