Chiz, Heart: Against all odds?

MANILA, Philippines - The love story of Sen Chiz Escudero and Heart Evangelista has taken a turn, involving the actress's parents and the senator's past. Media is abuzz with the story; and while Chiz is on the re-election trail, it does not look like it will die down soon.

According to ABS-CBN.com, the nation’s imagination was first piqued when, in June 2012, Heart revealed in an interview on “The Buzz” that she and Chiz had already gone out for dinner twice.

This was only a few weeks after her break-up with Japanese-Brazilian model-actor Daniel Matsunaga. It was also around a month after the annulment of Chiz’s marriage to Christine Elizabeth Flores, the mother of his two children.

Like many love stories, the two said they met through a common friend. In their case, the bridge connecting their two worlds was Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, a close family friend of the Ongpaucos (Heart's real name is Love Marie Ongpauco).

Chiz was not as open about their relationship then. And in fact there were rumors that the relationship was all for show, a gimmick for his re-election bid in May.

Escudero then told media, “Hindi ko hinahayaang makialam ang pamilya o personal kong buhay sa trabaho ko. Hindi rin pwedeng makialam ang trabaho sa personal na buhay (I do not let my family or personal life interfere with my work. My work also can’t interfere with my personal life).”

But it was the lawmaker who dispelled all doubts to their growing romance 5 months later. During the October 5, 2012 episode of “KrisTV,” host Kris Aquino asked him if Heart was his girlfriend.

Chiz replied, “I would like to think so, yes.”

Sweet couple

The months that followed were peppered by sweet Instagram posts, Heart attending Chiz’s Christmas party for senate reporters (where she teasingly sang, “Chiz, bakit ngayong ka lang?”), a trip to San Francisco for Heart’s birthday on Valentine’s Day, and more signs that showed they were a happy couple.

In the same month as their LA trip (February 2013), the 43-year-old senator said he wanted to marry Heart (28 years old) within 5 years.

ABS-CBN.com reports that in an interview on “Showbiz Inside Report” aired on February 9, Chiz was asked if their relationship was heading towards marriage.

"Hopefully, yes, and it would be unfair, stupid, and wrong to say that you don't wish, you don't want it to head in that direction,” he replied.

Asked if he had a time table, he said, “In 10 years, 53 na ako. Huwag naman (In 10 years, I’ll be 53. I hope not that long). In less than 5 years.”

Last March 4, Heart captioned a photo of herself and the senator with, “I miss you busy bee @saychiz”

A week before, she had also posted a photo of them wearing couple bracelets. In an article on ABS-CBN.com, she explained, “Those were love bracelets. We got them from the streets of San Francisco when we were there for my birthday. The other one was something that we got para magka-match kami (The other one was something that we got so we would match).”

In the same article, Heart gushed, “Oh I’m very content. I’m very happy. Everything is just balanced, you know. Tamang-tama lang siya (He is just right),” she said.

FAMILY FEUD? Heart Evangelista and mom Cecile Ongpauco pose happily for the camera.

Screen shot from Heart's Instagram account (iamhearte)

‘Unacceptable’ relationship

All seemed to be well for the happy couple until March 19 when Heart’s parents, Rey and Cecile Ongpauco, held a press conference enumerating their reasons for opposing their daughter’s relationship with the senator.

The first reason for deeming their daughter’s relationship with the senator as “unacceptable” is Chiz’s inability to give Heart a church wedding.

Though the senator’s wedding with his first wife was annulled in July 2012, Cecile Ongpauco pointed out that Chiz still can’t remarry in church.

The Ongpauco couple also called Chiz “rude,” “arrogant,” and “an alcoholic.”

In an interview with Inquirer.net, Cecile Ongpauco relayed her husband’s first impression of the lawmaker:

“Heart called her dad very late at night, saying this man wanted to meet us. Rey relented. When Mr. Escudero arrived, he was reeking (of) alcohol. I was shocked to see him slouched on the sofa, his legs spread out. Heart’s dad is very conservative. He doesn’t even drink. Mr. Escudero asked him what he did for a living, as if it was a job interview.”

The second time Heart’s parents met her beau, he allegedly was drunk again.

“He was carrying a bottle of red wine,” said Mrs. Ongpauco. “He hardly spoke a respectful word," the Inquirer quoted her as saying.

More disturbing is Ongpauco’s allegation that Chiz has a personality problem. “He projects himself as a wholesome candidate, but we know better.”

“All these acts indicate that his public persona is far from his real character,” she said. “My husband and I are in the process of gathering evidence to prove that he is a Jekyll-and-Hyde personality, as suggested by a print columnist,” she told the Inquirer.

In Ongpauco’s statement, she claimed:

“According to Heart, Chiz has promised her that he will become President by 2016, and then she will be addressed as ‘First Lady.’ The staff of Chiz sometimes addresses him as Mr. President. This is pure seduction, because we believe Chiz does not stand any chance to become President or Vice-President, owing to his secret character.”

And though he has opened up to media his plans of marrying the actress, Ongpauco said, “He has never formally asked for our daughter’s hand, or explained how he will support her and his wife at the same time.” 

Chiz and Heart respond

In a text message to Inquirer on March 19, Chiz said in Filipino:

“It is enough to say at this time, that, even though I am slightly involved, as much as possible, I don’t want to meddle in the misunderstandings between parents and their daughter… I am not part of showbiz. I don’t combine work with my personal life and I don’t allow anything personal to affect my job.”

Heart came to Chiz’s defense saying, “Chiz and his family have shown me nothing but goodness and affection. There is no reason for them to get dragged into this.”

The actress added that her parents are merely playing the same tune. They had publicly decried her relationship with actor Jericho Rosales.

Though Heart eventually ended that relationship for the happiness of her parents, it is unlikely the same will happen with Chiz.

She told media, “Now I believe I already have the right to decide how to live my life, who to love and to be with.”

Will the fairy tale resume or will the drama continue? With reports from Pia Ranada/Rappler.com