Neighbors didn’t believe Ricky Pempengco was Charice’s father
By Maricar Cinco
Inquirer Southern Luzon
1:59 am | Thursday, November 3rd, 2011
A police investigator examines Ricky Pempengco’s body sprawled on a street in San Pedro, Laguna. GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE
SAN PEDRO, Laguna — Many of his neighbors in Laram village here, some 30 kilometers south of Manila, didn’t believe that Ricky Pempengco was the father of international pop star Charice.
“I myself couldn’t believe he was Charice’s father! I mean, ‘Look at him!’ He did not look like a father of someone popular we see on TV,” said a woman, who asked not to be identified because she did not want to be accused of meddling in the affairs of the singer’s family. The neighbor said Ricky, 43, often visited his sister, Ruby, in St. Joseph village here. Ricky and Charice’s mother, Raquel, separated when Charice was 3 years old.
Residents interviewed by the Philippine Daily Inquirer said Raquel left him because he used to beat her up. There were also reports that Ricky had gotten hooked on drugs and liquor.
His friends, however, came to his defense, saying “He was fine. ‘Pa-shot-shot’ lang naman (He just took a few swigs).”
Signs of mental illness
After the separation, neighbors said Ricky had shown signs of mental illness. “Granted that Charice felt bad about her father but she eventually earned a fortune! She could have at least sent him something for his medication,” the neighbor said. He added that Ricky never received anything from Charice. He said Ricky had looked untidy most of the time whenever he saw him. Ricky was the youngest and the only brother of his four sisters. His last home was with a friend in Laram village, where he got involved in a street fight and was stabbed dead on Monday night. His remains were first brought to the Miraculous Funeral Home here but was later transferred to the Divine Mercy Viewing Chapel in Muntinlupa City.
A group of men, who claimed to be Ricky’s close friends, assisted the family at the wake.
But just like the frustrated fans who waited for Charice’s arrival at the chapel, the friends failed to get a close look at the famous daughter Ricky used to talk about.
“He never talked much about the separation, but would always tell us that he used to accompany his daughter to her auditions when she was younger,” said a friend, who requested anonymity in line with the wish of Ricky’s relatives that only his family should give interviews to the media. Ricky, too, loved singing but Charice may have gotten her talent from Raquel, who used to join amateur singing contests before, Ricky’s friends said.
But as Charice received worldwide attention, Ricky remained in this neighborhood, staying at friends’ houses and working on construction projects. “Nobody then believed us whenever we tell other people that he was Charice’s father,” the friend said.
Patched things up
Past midnight on Wednesday, Charice stepped out of a van and headed straight to the chapel.
Through the chapel’s window, she was seen tightly hugging her relatives. With mother Raquel and brother Carl, 16, she stood for minutes before her father’s coffin, Charice’s manager, Grace Mendoza, said. Mendoza said Charice stayed at the chapel until Wednesday morning before taking a rest in her home in Tagaytay City. Ricky’s siblings, who earlier made biting comments about Charice in media interviews, and her Twitter posts generated a lot of buzz about the singer’s feelings toward her father. “When you’re at the height of your emotions, you tend to say things (you don’t mean). They’re OK now and have patched up. They’re all together inside (the chapel),” Mendoza said.
Several fans of Charice and friends from here, Muntinlupa and Parañaque City also came on the first night of Ricky’s wake. “We didn’t come here to ogle. We want to commiserate with the family,” a female fan said. Frustrated about not being able to see their idol, another fan said, “Look what money can do! She could have taken a seat for a while and be seen.” Rances, 20, came all the way from Parañaque and brought with him magazines and concert tickets with Charice’s autographs. “I feel sorry for her loss. She’s really my idol. I believe her when she said that she loved her father,” he said. Pedrina Dorcas, who is from here, said, “She’s a great singer. But I don’t like her from what I’ve been hearing about how she treated her father.”
Appeal to fans
Mendoza appealed to Charice’s fans to give the family some private time together. “We appreciate your all being here but I’m sure you understand what the family is going through right now. We appreciate the respect you are giving Charice and her family,” Mendoza said. She said the family would soon announce the schedule of the interment.
To some, the daughter’s gesture was kind but nevertheless useless. “What good would an expensive coffin or a costly chapel (for the wake) do when the person is already gone? It’s just like ‘what good is the hay when the horse is dead,’” said a neighbor of the Pempengcos, here, who knew Charice’s estranged father. Mendoza declined to confirm if the singer was shouldering the funeral expenses. Ricky’s sisters refused to say anything about the family at the wake. They said Charice had “told them” not to say a word to reporters.
One sister, however, said her brother never remarried or had any other girlfriend. Raquel, on the other hand, has been living with a man after the separation, according to sources in Cabuyao town where Raquel moved to. The parents of Charice did not have any other children outside the failed marriage, said a relative and close friends of Ricky’s.