Gretchen Barretto, 43, today sent her most personal statement yet on her mother, Estrella Barretto, 76, with whom she has had an intermittent word war over the past several months.
The statement was sent to PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) from London, England, where Gretchen has been staying since September with Dominique Cojuangco, her daughter with businessman Antonio "Tonyboy" Cojuangco Jr.
Although the actress's latest statement was triggered by Mrs. Barretto's October 26 interview with PEP, which was in turn triggered by Gretchen's Instagram posts of October 23, the difficult relations between mother and child have, in fact, been an open secret among show-business insiders for decades.
This latest clash, it may thus be said, is not unexpected. The big difference is that, today, there is no buffer between the two women.
Today, the two are openly and directly clashing with each other, and no longer even bothering to invoke other major players in their personal war.
In their previous giant clashes, they clearly had Claudine Barretto, the family's youngest, playing a major role.
In their April 2013 encounter, triggered by Mrs. Barretto giving The Philippine Star her "official public statement"—which called Gretchen, her fifth child, "liar" and "EVIL" (which she spelled in full capital letters)—the Barretto matriarch invoked Claudine's name heavily.
She said the reason for her open letter was so that, as a mother, she could defend her good daughter Claudine, who was, she said further, being attacked by an envious Gretchen.
When Gretchen, in an October 2 letter published in PEP, weighed in on yet another Barretto issue—Claudine's estranged husband, Raymart Santiago, had just made the revelation that his wife was supposed to be a drug user—she also said she was doing so for Claudine's sake.
Addressing her parents Miguel and Estrella "Inday" Barretto, Gretchen called out: "We can hear Claudine's cry for help. Why can't you?"
But now, in their latest word war, Inday and Gretchen are by themselves, directly confronting each other over issues festering between them for the last two decades, at least.
GRETCHEN ON INSTAGRAM. Last October 23, @gretchenbarretto, offended by an Instagram basher with the user name @bullygretchen, fought back.
This was Gretchen's Instagram post: “...you must feel so awful knowing your children & grandchildren can’t love nor respect you because you are living a lie because you love only yourself (narcissistic) because you violate them in every way, you expect too much from them & most of all, you steal from them.
"All you want from Claudine is what ever little money she has!!!! From here on in I will correct your every single lie.
“...if you don’t stop I will finally speak about the molestation. I am no longer the Gretchen that you can hurt nor can you silence me. I will go all out.
“And I am blessed to have a narsisstic mother who is abusive in every way & an alcoholic father who made his 2 daughters work for the family.”
The Instagram post also mentioned a jewelry theft.
“…remember miladay jewelry store? When you were hanging out a lot there & pretending you would help sell the jewelry? An expensive piece got lost do you remember where you kept that missing piece?”
“I have reached a point wherein it’s time to protect myself. It has been 43years of abuse from you. I will not take it. Respect is earned, you have not seemed to earn it from anyone of your children.”
“…I don’t hide my identity, I can own up to what I say or do. You are afraid of the truth.”
“And oh I’m not out to humiliate you (You have done an awesome job in doing it to yourselves.”
@gretchenbarretto also said: “@bullygretchen I don’t need to seek attention, I have more than enough of it. I don’t conduct press conferences you do I have loads to do, I’m very busy human being…I’m productive. You are idle & bored & mentally ill. Go see your Dr. Mequita Tan.”
INDAY'S HANDWRITTEN LETTER. An agitated Mrs. Barretto responded to the Instagram posts by way of a handwritten letter to PEP.
Her letter, posted here on October 27—and published as is, as Mrs. Barretto specified—read in part:
"This one had always been stupid even in her evil ways!...
"That had always been her forte! Smear campaign and character assassination!
"Many who had been victimized by this creature do not believe her stories.
"Everyone thinks she should be left to your outrage as a form of 'self destruction.'
"At least people gets a confirmation of what kind of a person she is—destroying many lives by pitting people one against each other, including her partner's world of family and friends—
"You now turn on your own flesh and blood—her parents whom people admire and respect that she is trying to destroy now!
"Miss Buli (BULI) as in ass in Ilongo, two siblings do not constitute "all of my children" nor are you my world!
"I have a world bigger than yours where love and respect thrives!
"Who do you have? You don't have us! You don't have your partner’s world—Showbiz world looks at you with trepidation!
"They say you give the air that make people feel they are less than you are; better than anyone—
"On the same breath you put down, malign and belittle as nothing compared to what you have now—your beginnings!
"So who do you think you really are? Princess of the Nile?
"“Nakapatong lang sa kalabaw—akala mo malaki pa sa kalabaw.”
"To think the Cojuangcos, they say, are humble and well-mannered!
"They do not even swat a fly—they just shoo them away—the way they did the one on top of a kalabaw!"
GRETCHEN'S LATEST STATEMENT. Today, October 28, Gretchen sent a statement, via email, to PEP. We print it as is, in full. And as is standard, we adjust only the paragraphing, for reasons of easier web reading.
Here is Gretchen's full statement:
"By now, I think it is clear to the public that Inday Barretto has been and continues to be an abusive person to me, as illustrated by her recent statement published in PEP.
"It is also clear that I have not fully healed from the abuses, partly because the most harmful of the abuses continue through hate accounts in social media such as @bullygretchen and Rolexbaby.
"This is what I believe: these accounts are familiar to, are controlled or encouraged by, or are otherwise pleasing to, my mother, Inday Barretto.
"These accounts are fed, in great part, by the obvious hatred that Inday has for me and the lies that she continues to say about me.
"This is what I know of Inday, my abuser: She takes great pleasure in hurting me and she will take every opportunity available to feed her obsession with breaking me down, even if she makes a fool of herself on the way there.
"I realize that the public is torn. A part of them is drawn to the spectacle of our family’s painful, downward spiral. But a part of them is also tired of what they read about us and from us.
"I understand. It has been a toxic road, after all.
"If you’ve read this far, please allow me a minute to explain why I bother with this statement. Primarily, I want Inday to stop with the abuse, abuse that has harmed and continue to harm many victims.
"I am very thankful for my exceptionally good and happy life now, free from my abusers’ control.
"Just like many normal people, I take photos of my social experience and I like sharing them through social media as well.
"My mother, my abuser, who I know too well, has used this window over and over again to inflict whatever horror she could, to me, my daughter, my nieces and nephews, my siblings, or any friend and stranger who comes to our side.
"I want it all to stop.
"The only thing that has ever stopped my abuser in the past, if only for a little while, is when the story she has created and sold to her peers and the public at large is threatened by the truth.
"To that end, I’d like to straighten out a number of relevant lies, reveal a few facts, if only to buy me some time until the next avalanche of abuse.
"FACT 1: Inday Barretto just takes what she wants with no remorse. Here is a short list of examples.
"(1) ACROPOLIS LOTS. My parents purchased two lots in Acropolis from Mr. Totie Carino using the money that I earned from my Regal movies and commercials at that time.
"I was 16 years old at that time so knew nothing of the legalities of the transaction but I remember that [my brother] JJ and myself went along when we were choosing which lots to buy. My parents even told me that later on when I had more money, I could build a house for myself on these lots.
"These properties were resold and I did not receive a single centavo from that sale. I was never told that the lots were going to be sold. I just heard from my siblings that our parents had sold them.
"The lots were of course in their name as I was still a minor but my mother later claimed that those lots were purchased using their money.
"I ask her now, where and when did she ever earn enough to buy such lots?
"(2) ROLEX. In 1989, I gifted my sister, Marjorie, a Rolex watch. Inday borrowed the watch from Majorie sometime after. When Marjorie asked for the watch back, Inday said she had sold it.
"(3) ELECTRICITY. When I was young, I remember watching my parents repeatedly inserting a stick in the electric meter, and wondering what that was about. I would later be told it was a way of trying to avoid having to pay the correct electrical consumption.
"(4) MILADAY JEWELRY. One vivid memory I have as a 10-year-old concerned heated arguments my parents had about missing jewelry from Miladay, a store owned by Mr. and Mrs. Dayrit where my father worked at that time.
"I remember Inday being afraid, but finally telling my father, so what if the jewelry is stolen, the store does not pay you enough and, anyway, the Dayrits are 'evil people.'
"Take notice that Inday is fond of characterizing her victims as 'evil' somehow.
"FACT 2: Inday Barretto habitually fabricates stories. Let me list a few of these fascinating stories.
"(1) HACIENDERA AND RICH BACKGROUND. As far as I can remember, she would instruct us, her children, that we are to say that her family comes from a rich family (hacienderas) in Iloilo. She also told people that she was in buying and selling of houses. I challenge her now to produce facts to support these claims.
"(2) MILADAY JEWELRY. The story that Inday wants to sell to the public is that she was a client of Miladay, and that particular jewelry came to her possession because it was rightfully hers.
"Unfortunately, the Dayrits have passed on and are not able to attest that the story Inday is selling to you now is a complete lie.
"Just to be clear, at the time of the theft, my father was working for Miladay as a runner, earning 3000PHP a month. There was no way my mother could have afforded to buy any jewelry from Miladay.
"(3) PRAWN FARM. Contrary to Inday’s claim, as published here in PEP in April 2013, our family never owned a prawn farm in Iloilo. Of course, they could easily refute my statement by showing title to the property. Or if the property was sold, they can state the location of the property, the name of the buyers, and the day title transferred.
"I have never known of or seen a prawn farm in Iloilo, or anywhere else, that is or was owned by our family.
"(4) MY EARNINGS. In April 2013, she stated and published here in PEP, that I earned 15,000 PHP for the first movie I was in. The truth is, I earned 50,000 PHP from that first movie.
"She can easily refute this by publishing my contract that she claims she still holds. If she has that contract, I challenge her to show it to the public to prove who is speaking the truth.
"She also said that I didn’t have much work and could not have earned that much money.
"I ask her now how she could forget the many commercials she booked for me since I was 12 years old, namely Made in Heaven, Mirinda Orange, Hallmark, Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, Palmolive Soap, Bic Ballpen, even deodorant ad which I refused to do initially because of a teenager’s consciousness but she forced me to do.
"I never got an accounting of how much I earned.
"In 1985, I had a show in Singapore (of course, I was never told how much I was paid). She only gave me 50 Singapore dollars while she went on a shopping spree.
"In 1986, I did a teleserye for one of the networks then called “Agos”; I was part of a weekly variety show called “Big, Big Show”, a weekly comedy sitcom “In da Money” with Bert “Tawa” Marcelo, Nanette Inventor, Anjo Yllana, under the direction of Mr. Johnny Manahan.
"Around the same time, I also did a series of concerts around the country produced by Ms. June Torrejon-Rufino. Of course, I was paid good money for all these work.
"Fact 3: Inday Barretto suffers from narcissism and has been abusive to me for as long as I can remember. I want to draw attention to some of those that you’ve already witnessed.
"(1) Narcissistic mothers undermine their victim. Any accomplishment for which she cannot take credit for is ignored or diminished.
- The salary I made doing all the work I mentioned above were spent to provide for our family’s basic needs. Clearly, this was never appreciated. In fact, Inday made it a point to say that whatever I earned was measly and never enough.
"(2) Narcissistic mothers demean, criticize, and denigrate. They make sure you know that they think less of you than your other siblings.
- a. Despite the fact that my specific earnings went to help support the family, Inday demeans the source of that income that supported her, by insulting me as a woman, labeling me as an “ST Queen,” as a point of comparison with the label of “Teleserye Queen” for my sister, Claudine.
- b. In her latest statement, she referred to me as a “creature” and an “ass.”
"(3) Narcissistic mothers deliver barbs that are difficult to rebut.
- She opened her latest statement to PEP with, “This one had always been stupid even in her evil ways.”
"Having your mother abuse you for the world to see is heartbreaking. Inday knows this. Arguably, this is her goal.
"I have always known, and now the public does as well, that my mother never loved me the way a mother should love her daughter.
"I suppose you don’t need me to elaborate that she also treated me like a sub-human, a “creature” so to speak.
"Despite the long list of self-serving lies, Inday is spot on in one point about me: I am outraged.
"Inday’s abuse knows no bounds. Inday feels no remorse. And more importantly, Inday shows no inclination to stop.
"You know, sometimes I am both amused and exhausted by the ways in which my mother continually abuses me.
"She is trying to sell this story that I am an “evil” person who goes out of my way to destroy people’s lives. I believe she repeated that tale in her last statement.
"At every instance that she publishes this tale, and she does this numerous times across all social media platforms, the knee jerk reaction is to laugh.
"You just read Inday attribute to me the misdeed of “character assassination,” in the same instrument where she refers to me as a “stupid,” “evil,” “creature,” of an “ass.”
"I wonder if Inday is too ill to see the irony.
"The statement that she gave PEP was supposed to respond on two issues I raised: 1. Molestation, and 2. Stolen jewelry from Miladay.
"But her statement was non-responsive and simply devolved into another instance of abuse.
"You heard her try to diminish me by dismissing my very existence, my world composed of the people I love and love me back, as something negligible, compared to hers, of course.
"She made it a point to tell me, with you as her audience, that people do not like me, that they “look at me with trepidation.”
"As if that was not enough, she exploits what she believes is the status of my relationship with the family of my long-term partner and father of my child.
"She ends the statement by telling me that I am not worthy of them.
"And, she tells you, with such discomforting joy that she’s just getting warmed up.
"This is my mother.
"She is not like your mother, envisioned by our culture that places such premium on respecting our parents.
"My mother is the person who takes such pleasure in trying to break me and anything or anyone I love.
"My mother is the person who is deeply pained by my happiness.
"My mother is the person behind the names you encounter on the internet that says my partner does not love me, that my daughter is going to grow into a whore like me, and no one in this world likes me for who I am.
"As horrible as that is, the true horror lies in the lives of people who are given the same message and they believe it. These people accept the abuse and end up living their lives as outlined by their abuser.
"I am the lucky one, who despite the same abuse, got out, built relationships and flourished.
"I was able to raise a child, along with my partner, in a loving and healthy home.
"Most victims in my position end up repeating the abuse they suffered unto their children.
"I write this statement, primarily, to give Inday a courtesy notice. Stop the abuse, now. If not for me, to salvage what is left of your fantasy world.
"Beyond Inday, I write this message with the hope that I could help in shaping the right message that should be sent children in our society.
"Our culture dictates that we revere our parents. I value this part of our culture.
"But that practice does not exist in a vacuum.
"Parents have the absolute duty to take care of their children, ensuring that their helpless children are free of any type of abuse or harm.
"I do not think it is fair to expect the enjoyment that comes with having a child without fulfilling their role as a parent.
"As a society, we must also acknowledge that child abuse happens in so many homes among us. No one should be given the license to abuse a child simply because they hold the title of 'Mom' or 'Dad.'
"To my abuser, my mother, know that I am a person, not a creature at your whim.
"You can use religion and cultural norms to deflect from the fact that you are abusive.
"But I stand before you, unafraid, ready and able to stop your abusive ways.
"You have succeeded in breaking me over and over again because I am your child and you know me well.
"But I know you as well, and I know that the truth terrifies you, and I hold the truth. Stop the abuse. Stop it now."