Sunshine Cruz on wedding to Cesar Montano: "I was thinking na pag kinasal ka na, fairytale na, and we live happily ever after. Magkakaroon ka ng mga anak, and we'll be happy. Ganoong-ganoon ang iniisip ko noon."
"Sa sobrang saya ko ngayon, lahat ng kaaway ko, kahit yung mga may utang sa akin, patatawarin ko! Ngayong araw lang, ha!" a grinning Sunshine Cruz says within minutes of welcoming the Philippine Entertainment Portal.
This was on September 18, 2018--the day PEP.ph was in Sunshine's Paranaque home, following two postponements, for an exclusive pictorial of the residence that the Kapuso star had built for herself and her children.
It was also, it turned out, the day Sunshine got word that the court had finally come out with its ruling on her petition to have her marriage to Cesar Montano annulled.
After a four-year legal battle with Cesar, the court had finally ended their tumultuous 13-year marriage.
Sunshine was now, officially, on her own again, except that now she had three daughters--Angelina Isabelle, 17; Samantha, 14; Chesca, 12--all by Cesar.
"Annulled na ako!" the Kapuso star exclaims as she descends the stairs from her bedroom to greet PEP.
Like a young girl telling a story, she trills, "Napasigaw talaga ako nung nalaman ko. Yung malakas na sigaw, dinig hanggang baba! Nagulat buong bahay!"
And, what was supposed to be a house shoot and regular interview--by a reportorial team headed by PEP.ph editor-in-chief Jo-Ann Maglipon--turned into a baring of the heart by the 41-year-old star, on her first official day back as a single woman.
Sunshine was 23 years old when she married Cesar on September 14, 2000.
He was then, at 38, fifteen years her senior, but everyone in showbiz seemed to think everything was in its place for the bride and groom.
Theirs was a grand, high-profile wedding set against the sunset of Manila Bay, to which a veritable who's-who of showbiz and select politicians had been invited as sponsors and guests.
Shine--Sunshine's nickname--wore a princess-cut gown made of duchess satin, with intricate details of silk chording, beadwork, and cutwork at the hem, and a 20-foot-long train.
Buboy--Cesar's nickname--was quoted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer saying the Eric Pineda creation for his bride was a "very expensive gown." It reportedly cost in the vicinity of half-a-million pesos.
A COUPLE IN LOVE
Underlying all this, of course, was the big news: This was for real. A romance between two very attractive and well-regarded showbiz stars, walking down the aisle and toward the altar, looking truly in love with each other.
Indeed, they were.
"I know, I know that he really loved me, alam ko yun," Sunshine says today.
"Hindi niya ako papakasalan kung hindi niya ako minahal--at mahal na mahal ko siya, talagang I fell for him.
"Talagang kinilig ako sa kanya lalo na nung pinapanood niya sa akin yung Jose Rizal."
Jose Rizal was the big GMA Films' release of 1998, directed by Marilou Diaz Abaya, starring Cesar as the country's national hero.
Sunshine recalls, "Parang, shucks, di ba? Nililigawan ako ng isang ganun.
"He was really charming, napakasimpatiko talaga, e, and saka guwapo naman talaga. 'Tapos, napakagaling na artista.
"And yun nga, naniwala lang ako nung sinabi niya na, 'Sawa na ako sa kalokohan, sa pambababae.'"
Sunshine recounts that this was also the line that Cesar used with her dad, 747 band leader Danny Cruz, to win him over to his side.
"Yun din ang sinabi niya naman sa tatay ko before.
"Binisita niya ang papa ko that time sa Mandarin Hotel kasi dun nagpi-play ang papa, 'no, yung band ng papa ko.
"And sinabi sa kanya talaga ni Papa na, 'Cesar, kasi hindi talaga kita gusto. Kasi kung babaero ka, babaero din ako, e,' sabi niya.
"And, ang sabi niya sa papa ko, 'E, sir, pasensiya na ho kayo kung yung anak niyo ho yung magiging way para ho magbago ako.'
"So, di ba ganun, na may thinking naman talaga yung mga girls na, 'Maybe ako na yung makakapagpabago sa kanya.'"
She sees now that it was that mindset (she was the girl to change him) and her view of her parents as "role models" (her parents stayed married until her father died in 2003) that made her stay with Cesar through 13 years of marital blues, a number of them turbulent.
"Naging peg ko talaga yung mom and dad ko," Sunshine says.
"They married at an early age. Mom ko, first boyfriend niya rin si Papa.
"Naging maasikaso siyang asawa at mom sa mga anak. So yun yung peg ko--na tinalikuran ko yung showbiz, and ang plano ko na lang talaga is alagaan yung family ko.
"Though it was hard for me kasi, siyempre, pampered ako ng mom ko, e...Kahit kama, hindi ko tinutupi. Kahit magluto ng egg, hindi ako marunong.
"So yun yung, parang, I was thinking na pag kinasal ka na, fairytale na, and we live happily ever after.
"Magkakaroon ka ng mga anak, and we'll be happy. Ganoong-ganoon ang iniisip ko noon."
It did not take long, Sunshine says, for her to discover that married life was not what she had imagined or hoped it would be.
"Masakit man aminin, pero honeymoon pa lang," she says in tones tinged with hurt, "tinapon niya yung wedding ring namin sa ano, nung nag-Carribean cruise kami."
As early as then, she says, Cesar began taking issue with "lahat nung movies ko."
Sunshine had gone the sexy-actress route in her career, and on their honeymoon, she recalls bitterly, Cesar wanted her to admit to him that the sex scenes in her films had been for real.
That is, that she had had sex with her leading men--and not just with one, but with all of them.
She was frightened and shocked by all this, but she fought back.
"Sa honeymoon namin, sabi ko, 'Kahit balatan mo ako, kahit itapon mo ako sa dagat, wala akong aaminin! Kasi, hindi totoo!'"
She rues the memory of it, "Sabi ko, that was a time na dapat masaya, honeymoon, nag-e-enjoy. Ano talaga, grabe."
To this day, Sunshine says, she does not understand how Cesar, an actor himself, could get so fixated on the sexy movies she had starred in.
The actress became Cesar's leading lady in Bullet, released in theaters in 1999, the same year she starred in Ekis: Walang Tatakas, Ibinigay Ko Ang Lahat, and Ang Kabit ni Mrs. Montero.
"Actually, we met when I was in Viva Films," Sunshine narrates. "Nung Viva Films, that was yung time na nag-iba ako ng image from Regal [Films].
"Nag-Viva ako, nag-sexy ako."
When Cesar met her, she had just stepped into her twenties.
"So, it's just unfair for me. Siya ang first boyfriend ko! So what is there to prove?"
She eventually discovered, she says, that the man she married did not just have a temper--he was a troubled man.
"Yun nga, tinapon niya yung wedding ring namin... Siguro, mas marami yung times na ganun siya, kesa yung kalmado siya.
"And I was thinking na, maybe, it was just yung pagpapalaki sa kanya, upbringing niya.
"Baka talaga medyo may temper lang. Yun yung iniisip ko--may temper lang.
"'Tapos, lagi sa 'kin sinasabi ng ibang tao na, 'Maybe you just have to prove your worth as a person.' Ganun na lang lagi.
"That's what I did. Napasubo na ako, kasal na ako--anong gagawin ko?"
LEAVING TROUBLED PARADISE
Throughout their 13 years together, Sunshine tried to keep her marital woes from the public.
But this did not mean she did nothing; in 2007, she rebelled in a big way for the first time.
In December of that year, PEP.ph reported that Sunshine had left their Quezon City home on Christmas Day. She had brought her daughters with her.
This happened, according to the PEP.ph report of December 29, 2007, after a fiery argument with Cesar, whom she suspected of having an affair with Brazilian model Mariana del Rio, then 16 years old.
Cesar reportedly tried getting out of that issue by turning the tables on her. To her face, he said she was nothing more than a "porn star."
Devastated, Sunshine left the household.
She then sent this text message to worried friends: "All I want is a little respect."
Following the walkout, Cesar went out of his way to refute talk that his wife had left the marriage, describing what happened as simply a "tampuhan ng mag-asawa."
The report also had him accusing persons in his wife's circle of feeding her with messages that "poisoned her mind."
Sunshine confirms to PEP.ph, during the recent September 18 baring of the heart, that she did walk out on Cesar--and not just once, but many times.
"Sa totoo lang naman e aminado 'ko na maraming beses ako nag-alsa balutan.
"Maraming beses tatakbo ako sa nanay ko, sa parents ko, kasama lahat ng gamit ko. May balikbayan boxes na nga akong available, e."
What made Sunshine return?
"Susunduin niya ako sa bahay, kakausapin niya yung parents ko.
"Yun nga, kasi, talagang," Sunshine says, "hanggang kaya, hanggang kakayanin, kakayanin ko talaga."
Were there no signs things could go wrong when they were still at the courtship stage? That was, after all, two years?
"Marami, maraming signs," Sunshine admits, "pero kasi, parang, ang feeling ko that time--para kaming Romeo and Juliet, you and me against the world--parang ganun.
"So, parang feeling ko, siya yung kakampi ko nun, siya lang yung nakakaintindi sa akin."
Still, she says, at one point she actually called off the wedding.
"Merong sign e, before we got married," she begins. "Meron siyang nabitawan na salita sa akin, medyo 'kinagulat ko. First time ko narinig.
"Kasi, with my family, hindi naman sa nagmamayabang, hindi ko kelanman narinig ang papa ko na nagsasalita ng anything about my mom, never kong nakitang namalo or nahila or ganyan...
"I was in Cebu, meron siyang nabitiwang salita sa akin sa phone."
She made her move.
"I was calling off the wedding. I called Tita Norma Japitana [Cesar's former manager], and I said, 'The wedding is off! Ayoko na, ayoko na!'
"Kasi meron siyang nasabi sa akin--hindi maganda."
Even today Sunshine will not repeat the words she says she heard from Cesar. Shaking her head, she says, "Basta ang baboy, ang baboy. Hindi maganda, hindi talaga kaaya-aya."
"I called off the wedding," she continues. "Yun yung time na pina-pack up niya yung taping niya, may shooting siya dapat.
"He flew to Cebu, and lumuhod at nagmakaawa sa akin.
"Nagulat ako. Pero, imagine, na-pack up niya yung shooting niya? I think he paid more or less PHP100K dun sa damage na ginawa niya--and he flew and apologized to me."
But once they were married, Sunshine says, she found herself in a dark, chaotic home.
By her telling, "I would leave, then babalik ako, ganun. Parang, kasi, sinasabi niya bold star lang naman ako, wala nang kukuha sa 'kin...
"Kung before po makikita niyo ako, di ba lagi lang akong nakatungo?
"Parang hiyang-hiya ako sa sarili ko, kasi sarili kong asawa ganun yung tingin sa 'kin--what more yung ibang tao?
"Yun po iniisip ko."
Sunshine adds that Cesar was also against her pursuing a college degree.
"Ang dami-dami kong pangarap nun, gusto kong, alam mo yun, siyempre, pag asawa mo siya, dapat all-out support siya, e. Tutal wala na ako sa showbiz.
"Yun nga, nag-culinary pa ako, e. I had to pay for my own tuition fee--walang support.
"I wanted to go back to school kasi high-school graduate lang ako nun, e. Kaya nga ngayon ko nagawa yung pangarap ko. Ayaw niya." Sunshine now holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology degree from Arellano University.
Sunshine says she stayed in the marriage because she was truly in love with the man she married.
"I really fell in love with him. It's ano naman, e, talagang something na I will never deny."
However, also throughout her marriage to Cesar, another thing Sunshine could not understand is why Cesar's sister, Maria Mercedes "Ched" Manhilot Cantu, was constantly bad-mouthing her.
By Sunshine's account, it got so bad that, in June 2008, she went to court and sued Ched with two counts of libel.
Her lawyer Bonifacio Alentajan cited "mga masasamang bintang laban kay Sunshine, paninirang-puri, at kung anu-ano pang mga malalaswang description."
In the PEP.ph article published June 4, 2008, Sunshine mentioned that "hate e-mails" were being "sent to writers and TV stations."
One of the bad stories circulated about Sunshine was that she was having an affair.
Another rumor, circulated on Friendster, was that Sunshine's youngest, Chesca, was not Cesar's daughter.
This rumor resurfaced in July 2016, prompting Angelina, eldest daughter of Sunshine and Cesar, to tweet, "TO THE PEOPLE ACCUSING THAT CHESCA ISNT THE REAL DAUGHTER OF MY DAD, ARE YOU GUYS SERIOUS!!?!"
What happened to those cases?
"Na-indict siya," Sunshine says about Ched. "San Juan, sa San Juan yun, e.
"'Tapos, he [Cesar] was asking me to withdraw the case. Of course, I didn't want to withdraw the case! Kasi pati yung bunso kong anak, kinakalat nila na anak ko raw sa iba!
"Kinakalat nila that time sa Friendster, together with the eldest of Cesar, si Angela.
"Nilaban ko, kasi talaga binababoy po ako."
Retaliating, Cesar's sister, who is based in Italy, had a phone interview with the defunct showbiz talk show The Buzz.
Ched said, "Totoo ba yun? E, kung hindi naman totoo bakit siya magre-react? I don't even remember mentioning her in FS [Friendster].
"Ngayon, kung may lumabas na nagre-react siya, hindi ko na problema yun. Problema na niya yun.
"E, kung applicable sa kanya yun, e, siya yung nakakaalam, di ba? May kasabihan tayo, kapag may sugat daw, 'pag nabangga o nasangga ng iba, umaaray yung tao."
Where had this "rift" come from?
In the same interview, Ched revealed, "Nag-start yung rift namin talaga, yung mother ko pinalayas niya doon sa bahay nila. Parang she [Sunshine] was not happy to see my mother around."
She also mentioned an "away" in 2003 that was supposed to have happened between Sunshine and Angela, Cesar's eldest daughter by his first wife, the late Marilyn Polinga.
Sunshine was supposed to have thrown Angela out of her room.
In all this, Sunshine could not understand Cesar's almost cavalier attitude. He was hands-off for a long time.
In the PEP article published June 4, 2008, Sunshine said, "Too much na...and what hurts is the fact that Cesar is not protecting his family from his sister at all. I need to do something before they totally crush me."
At the time, Sunshine and Cesar were in a "cool-off" stage. Shine had declared she needed "time to heal and a little space" from the alleged affair of Cesar with the Brazilian model.
BUBOY & SHINE BLOW HOT AND COLD
On June 7, 2008, Cesar released his official statement through the now-defunct GMA talk show Startalk. It read:
"All ugly things said against my wife are not true, same with my sister Chedi. They both don't deserve to be treated that way just because of grudges, personal differences. Kawawa ang mga walang kinalaman, especially their children.
"They are both mature and adult citizens of this world. Shine and Ched must have known their own responsibilities to themselves--family, country, and God.
"From day one, I told them to stop destroying one another by saying harsh things. It can still be resolved. It's sad they declined.
"I love them with all my heart. Nothing can change."
Then, in a sentence apparently addressed to his wife, the actor said: "I pray that you soon realize you are destroying our family and your kids are part of it."
On June 10, 2008, Sunshine marched to the San Juan Prosecutor's Office to file libel complaints against Ched.
Based on her PEP.ph interview published June 11, 2008, Shine intimated that the decision was hers alone.
But Sunshine was still trying to protect her husband, "Sa totoo lang, I cannot blame Cesar. Of course, kapatid niya yun.
"Hindi naman sa hindi niya ako naipagtanggol, sinabi naman niya that it's not true.
"So, I understand him...I understand him."
In marching to court, the actress was accompanied by her mother, whom Shine praised in the same interview: "Kahit hindi siya makabangon, sinubukan niyang bumangon para samahan ako."
But, truth to tell, Sunshine had become unmoored.
She admitted in that interview, "I have been crying... Why? Parang sa panahon na ito na kailangan ko ng masasandalan, parang wala.
"I'm not blaming Cesar. It is not my fight against Cesar, so I am trying to understand him.
"At alam naman niya yun, it's just that, I need him. I need him right now."
Nearly two weeks later, or on June 20, 2008, Cesar rang up PEP.ph to defend his wife.
In the phone interview, Cesar said, "Gusto ko lang ituwid ang mga maling nasasabi, lalo na yung tungkol sa pinalayas daw ni Shine ang nanay ko sa Scout Rallos.
"There's no truth to that, walang ganyang pangyayari.
"Alam mo bang mahal na mahal ng nanay ko si Shine? Na kapag nag-aaway kami, kay Nanay nagsusumbong si Shine, at hindi na pinapakinggan ng nanay ko ang paliwanag ko?
"Sa akin siya [nanay] nagagalit kapag nag-aaway kami ni Shine, at ako ang hinahampas-hampas at pinapalo niya.
"Alam kong hindi kailanman ganyan ang trato ni Shine sa nanay ko, to the point na palalayasin pa niya.
"Hindi ko rin papayagang mangyari yun. So, walang katotohanan iyan."
Talking about the room that Angela, his eldest child, was supposed to have been driven out of, Cesar said: "Hindi nawawala ang kuwarto ni Angela sa Scout Rallos. Walang gumagalaw nun."
But Cesar made it clear in the same phone interview to PEP.ph that he never approved of his wife filing libel complaints against his sister.
"Pero, sino ba ang talo riyan?" the actor asked rhetorically. "Siyempre, kami. Kasi wala naman si Ched sa Pilipinas para harapin ang kasong iyan, di ba?
"But it's all up to my wife, kung ano ang diskarte niya sa bagay na iyan.
"Parang nakikita kong si Ched, pinagtatawanan lang kami niyan. Si Shine ang talo riyan dahil siya ang apektado.
"But, I know, I should be with my wife. Mahirap ang sitwasyon ko, at sana maintindihan ako ng mga tao na this is a family thing."
Looking back, Sunshine says in the September 18, 2018 PEP.ph interview, Cesar never really took her side in any of this.
"Wag ko daw patulan," she recalls him telling her. "Ang akin na lang, sabi ko nga, 'Okay, hindi ko papatulan--but protect the family!
"Kami na ang pamilya mo ngayon, bumuo ka ng pamilya--bakit hindi mo man lang sabihin na tigilan na ako, tigilan na kami?'"
Sunshine says Cesar simply could not defend her and their daughter against his sister.
"Hindi niya lang talaga kayang ilaban yung family when it comes to his relatives.
"Laging mas mahalaga, mas matimbang sa kanya, ang mga kapatid niya, ang pamilya niya."
In the end, she withdrew the cases against Ched.
Explaining why, Shine says, "Ang ginawa niya [Cesar], kakabalik ko lang sa kanya, e. Ito yung naglayas ako ng one year. Naglayas ako sa kanya e, 'tapos inamo-amo niya ako.
"Ako na naman si batang in-love na hoping for the best, bumalik ako sa kanya.
"Nung bumalik ako sa kanya, hindi ko makakalimutan yung moment na yun.
"Sinabi niya sa akin, 'Kung hindi mo iwi-withdraw ang case, lumayas ka ngayon, wala akong pakialam sa 'yo at sa mga anak natin, lumayas ka!'
"That time, hiyang-hiya na ako sa magulang ko. Saan ako pupunta? Sa mama ko na naman? So, winidraw ko na lang."
THE LAST STRAW
How did she finally decide enough was enough?
"Ano talaga--nung anak ko na. Anak ko na yung nagsabi sa akin na kausapin mo si Dad, kasi meron kaming nakita na picture niya with a girl."
The girl was Krista Miller, who became the leading lady of Cesar in his movie The Turning Cradle: The Untold Story of Alfredo Lim.
According to a PEP.ph report published January 18, 2013, Krista reportedly sent provocative messages and selfies to Cesar via Facetime, and was herself receiving personal gifts from the actor.
Sunshine says these are what her children saw.
She confronted Krista on Instagram.
This happened in January 2013. Shortly after, Sunshine left Cesar for good.
Her leaving the family home did not end their fights. On the contrary, their fights escalated into full-blown court battles.
As big an issue as infidelity was, this was apparently not the only problem in a marriage that started with such promise.
Sunshine says she suffered multiple abuse in her husband's hands--and that the abuse was not just verbal, it was also physical.
To comply with a gag order from the court, however, she would not say more than that.
What PEP.ph and other publications had previously reported is that, on March 8, 2013, Sunshine filed a complaint with the Quezon City Regional Trial Court against Cesar for allegedly violating Republic Act 9262 (Anti-Violence against Women and their Children) and R.A. 7610 (Anti-Child Abuse Act).
There, she cited three incidents of physical abuse: one in July 2009, a second in January 2013, and a third in May 2013.
On August 13, 2013, the actress filed another complaint, this time alleging rape on May 12, 2013, Mother's Day.
To the press, Sunshine offered no details of her complaint.
Atty. Alentajan, her lawyer, was more forthright. He told the press that Sunshine suffered all manner of abuse from Cesar.
"Lahat--psychological, emotional, financial," he was quoted as saying then.
When PEP.ph and other media reported about Sunshine's rape complaint at the time, the story was that Cesar had barged into her residence and attacked her.
Cesar Montano's legal counsel, Joel Ferrer, countered this in his interview with Unang Hirit on August 14, 2013: "Noong Mother's Day na tinutukoy, na ginahasa siya, nung araw na yun, nag-text si Shine kay Cesar, inimbita para mag-dinner sila kasama ang mga bata.
"Nag-dinner ho yung pamilya. After dinner, komo't nag-enjoy naman sila, walang away e, sa bahay ni Shine natulog si Cesar, at kinabukasan na ho umuwi, umalis si Cesar doon.
"After that, marami pa ho silang exchanges ng texts, sweet nothings, so, nagulat si Cesar."
Sunshine stood by her story. Today, the case of rape filed by Sunshine Cruz Montano against Cesar D. Montano remains docketed at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, where it awaits judgment.
One year and four months after the rape complaint against Cesar, on February 2, 2015, he was charged with another violation. This time against his minor daughters, under Republic Act 9262 (Anti-Violence against Women and their Children) and R.A. 7610 (Anti-Child Abuse Act).
On a February 22, 2015 PEP.ph article, Bonifacio Alentajan, Sunshine's lawyer, was quoted as saying, "Again, kasi he did something obscene in the presence of his three daughters."
"Nagreklamo ang mga bata, so minabuti ni Sunshine na ipa-husgado na lang ito, kasi di na niya kayang lutasin itong mga problema nila," Atty. Alentajan said.
According to news reports, the incident allegedly took place on November 16, 2014, when the three girls spent a night at their father's home at the Tivoli Royale Subdivision in Quezon City.
Cesar's legal counsel, Joel Ferrer, countered this charge in a February 19, 2015 interview with PEP.ph. He said this was about property and money.
"It's just about the issue on property relations," Atty. Ferrer said, "and the kids are just being used."
He explained, "It seemed that the complaint is with regard to sa isang pangyayari sa loob ng kuwarto nila Cesar sa bahay nila, wherein nandun yung mga bata.
"What they are complaining about is that Cesar daw, according to him, was masturbating while the daughters were watching TV.
"Cesar categorically denied about this, napaka-imposibleng magawa ni Cesar iyan sa mga anak niya."
To this day, all the VAWC cases that Sunshine filed against Cesar remain in the courts.
Sunshine admits to being overwhelmed by her legal battle.
She is not used to being in court, she says. On top of that, her regular counsel, Alentajan, fell sick, requiring the transfer of Sunshine's cases to Atty. Filmer Abrajano.
"Ang gastos-gastos kasi ng lawyer, imagine nagpalit pa ako ng lawyer. Siyempre, may acceptance fee uli yun."
Despite the mounting costs and the anxiety that the court cases were bringing her way, Sunshine says she prepared for each hearing. "Masyadong mabigat na, kailangan monthly pupunta ka sa hearing."
Worse, she says, "Nung nag-take ako ng witness stand, talagang parang nakakahiya lang, na kailangan mong hukayin ulit yung mga experience mo sa kanya.
"'Tapos, maririnig ng mga tao. Detalyado kailangan, 'Anong sinasabi niya sa iyo? Anong ginawa niya sa iyo?'"
Almost as comic relief, Sunshine recounts the stress of dressing up right for the court hearings.
"Pag pumupunta po ako dun ano, e, may uniform na ako, e--black pants, flats, and white shirt.
"Lahat po ng hearing ko, kung makikita niyo po, yung mga ganun lang po yung suot ko. Uniform ko na iyon basta may hearing.
"Yun lang po yung nakasanayan. Parang yun na lang, parang pag umaga, paggising mo, 'O, hearing. O, puti,' kailangan may collar."
At one point, she admits with a laugh, her lawyer made mention of her court uniform.
"Oo, actually inadvise-an po ako ng lawyer na mag-dress naman daw po ako for a change.
"E, hindi na po kami umabot sa ganyan, so thank you, hindi na po tumagal.
"Siguro naging lucky charm ko po yung itim na pantalon, flats, at white-collared shirt."
The issue on finances has been tortuous for Sunshine.
She thanks the heavens that, since their separation, she has been blessed with work.
"Kaya ko," she says. "I'm not asking for anything, for too much.
"Sa totoo lang naman, small chunk lang yung 'binibigay niya monthly sa mga bata--and it has been going on for so long, and hinahayaan ko na lang.
"Tatlo yung mga anak namin—and responsibilidad niya, bilang tatay naman siya, di ba?
"Oo, nakawala ako, pero it doesn't mean na pati mga anak ko kakawalan na niya."
Sunshine says that the amount Cesar must now give his family--including for the girls' tuition fees and payment for their service vehicles to and from school--have all been mandated by the judge.
The daughters communicate with their father through his secretary. Or, sometimes, the personal assistant for Shine's family communicates with Buboy's secretary.
And, between Cesar and Sunshine, everything is done through the courts.
SUNSHINE IS FREE; CESAR ISSUES STATEMENT
On September 18, 2018, Sunshine finally got what she wanted: her freedom. She had every reason to celebrate the day.
Smiling, she recalls how the day began for her, "Nag-aayos ako ng kuwarto, kakagising ko lang.
"Nagulat nga si Manang, yun daw puso niya tumalon! As in, isang pagkahaba-habang sigaw pagkita ko nung text. Yung puso ko, ganyan ganyan [pressing hand up and down her chest].
"Kape pa lang iniinom ko, talagang nanginginig ako, 'tapos thank you ako nang thank you sa lawyer ko."
The first to know were her daughters.
"Ka-message ko sila, tuwang-tuwa. Meron kaming group [chat], e. 'OMG. Congrats, Mommy, I'm happy for you.'
"Alam nila yung hirap."
She says about her ex-husband: "Kung meron mang pinagpapasalamat sa kaniya--lumakas ako, naging matapang, natuto akong lumaban, hindi ko nagagawa yun noon! At, siyempre, binigyan niya ako ng tatlong mga anak."
A DATE WITH MACKY
After the PEP shoot, Sunshine dressed up for a dinner date with Macky Mathay.
"Dapat sa Spiral, kaso ang traffic, kaya baka sa Melo's na lang," Sunshine says. Spiral is in Sofitel Philippine Plaza, Pasay City, Melo's Steakhouse is in Alabang, Muntinlupa, and Sunshine's place is in Paranaque.
Sunshine's eyes, however, reveal that the restaurant doesn't really matter.
The annulment, she says, was the closure she needed from Cesar.
She stated, "Not just for me, pero, I think we both deserve freedom--as in honest-to-goodness freedom from each other."
PEP.ph reached out to Cesar and his camp for their reaction.
Text messages have been sent to Cesar's manager, Shirley Pizarro, who has not responded as of September 28, 2018.
PEP.ph lead correspondent Arniel Serato sent a message to Ched via Facebook on September 28, and to Cesar via texts on September 28 and October 5, but did not receive any reply.
Arniel also sent messages to Cesar's lawyer, Joel Ferrer, whose text reply was: "Sorry but am not the lawyer for cesar anymore in that case."
Arniel learned that Atty. Dexter Lacuanan is now handling Cesar's cases. He sent messages on October 3 and 4 to the lawyer, who did not reply.
Through Facebook private messaging, PEP.ph got in touch with Dolly Anne Carvajal, one of Cesar's close media friends, who initially said, "Sorry he's not granting interviews."
But her Philippine Daily Inquirer column of October 6, 2018, issued a brief statement from the actor.
"I believe God allows everything to happen for a purpose.
"Marriage is one of the most expensive schools of highest learning in life. But more valuable than money is time.
"God didn't let me get out of it without learning something. God is good, all glory to Him."