It hurts only when they laugh (The 1982 Pepsi Paloma rape case) Part 1

Pepsi Paloma was reported to have committed suicide three years after the rape story.

Pepsi Paloma was reported to have committed suicide three years after the rape story.

By Cristina P. del Carmen

I wrote this article as a young reporter for WHO magazine — a publication of the Manila Bulletin — fresh out of journalism school in UP. In light of recent reports that the Philippine Daily Inquirer had taken down a series of articles suggesting Tito Sotto’s involvement in the coverup of the 1982 Pepsi Paloma rape case, this old article was resurrected on Facebook. It has since gone viral, generating nearly 6,000 Shares and 5,300 Likes.

The Inquirer removed the articles, on the request of Sotto, who is now Senate President. Sectors of Philippine society are up in arms urging a respect for press freedom.

This article provides some insights on what may have happened to Pepsi Paloma at a time when some personalities involved were just regular showbiz folks and not yet the powerful officials that they are now. The article is being republished below in two parts. — Cristina DC Pastor

Knowing that gimmickry is the stuff showbiz people are made of, how do you take sides on a rape charge involving movie stars without suspecting that the whole thing might have been rigged?

The complainant is a 15-year-old American serviceman’s daughter from Olongapo whose brief flight into fame was a role in the soft porn experimental movie “Brown Emmanuelle.” The defendants are three television emcees who have had their own share of bad publicity in the past: One used to go steady with his co-host until he dumped her in favor of a certain movie actress; the second is separated from his actress-wife and for a time was going steady with a bold starlet; the third had a string of drug cases against him.

The rape story – or gimmick – goes this way. Pepsi Paloma, the starlet, claims she was raped in the evening of June 21, at Rm 210 of the Sulo Hotel by Vic Sotto, Joey de Leon, with Richard Reyes, a.k.a Richie d’ Horsie taking pictures of the whole act. Even before this happened she claims that she and her friend Guada Guarin suffered the humiliation of having their blouses ripped open by the three TV hosts in a party at Broadcast City. While Richie pinned her arms at her back, so Vic could kiss her effortlessly on the lips, Joey allegedly took pictures. Joey’s turn to kiss her came after Vic. Pepsi claims Joey wanted to teach her how to kiss artfully.

The story hit the headlines July 31 when Rey de la Cruz, Pepsi and Guada’s manager, lodged a formal complaint with Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile. Movie and defense beat reporters were quick to pick up the story, which became entertainment fodder for newspaper readers for the whole month of August. The dailies conscientiously coughed out the rape story:

The WHO Magazine cover of September 29, 1982

The WHO Magazine cover of September 29, 1982. Photo published on Facebook by Clara Balaguer

Aug 1: Broadcast City bans Pepsi and Guada
Aug 2: Rey de la Cruz receives death threats
Aug 3: Pepsi no longer interested in a movie career
Aug 5: Pepsi’s mother urges daughter to pursue case in court
Aug 6: Prominent lawyers willing to take up Pepsi case
Aug 10: CWL (Catholic Women’s League) pressures Board of Review to take action on Pepsi case
Aug 18: Pepsi finally files charges of rape and acts of lasciviousness against Vic, Joey, and Richie before the Quezon City Fiscal’s Office
Aug 19: QC fiscal raffles case among assistant fiscals
Aug 26: Pepsi’s lawyers file counter-motion to dismiss libel case filed by defendants
Aug 30: Pepsi and Vic face one another in court
Aug 31: Vic presents alibi for evidence

What do Tito, Vic and Joey feel about the extended coverage lavished by the press on the alleged rape?

Joey de Leon and Tito Sotto were more in the mood for a hearty meal than talk about the case last week. It was 2 p.m. and they had just wound up another day of hosting the top-rating noontime show “Eat Bulaga.” Vic Sotto was not feeling well, begged off from the interview, and drove off to the UP Teachers Village home he shares with wife Dina Bonnevie and daughter Danica. Elder brother Tito apologized for Vic who he said has been avoiding reporters since the case erupted. He and Joey could fill in on the questions.

Vic is the shy type, Joey volunteered. Of the three, he is the least likely to commit a rape violation, Tito said in defense of his younger brother: Vic is frail and skinny; any woman can beat him in ‘bunong braso.’ “From that angle alone, the story looks sensational. No wonder the press picked it up. Imagine Vic Sotto, babakla bakla, raping a woman?” Tito mused.

Joey was baiting attention when he put down his cup of coffee. “I proposed a nationwide referendum,” he declared, so the case will be solved soon and his family – a growing 10-year-old daughter and a mother with a cardiac ailment – spared further embarrassment.

“Isa lang ang tanong sa taong bayan: Sino ang may sala?” he said with a straight face. In a magazine interview Joey put his family’s life on the line if he were ever found guilty of the charges. He dared Rey de la Cruz and cohorts to do the same. He also challenged them to appear on a nationwide telecast debate at Plaza Miranda, Quiapo, Rey’s turf, so the people could resolve the issue at least in their minds. The more heated Joey got, the more absurd his proposal sounded. The natural humorist of the three, he can poke fun at anything during even the most solemn moments without half trying. But Joey was serious when he called the unbalanced reporting in fan magazines a clear case of “trial by publicity.”

“Martial law should be declared again, so press freedom will be stopped,” he ventured. Tito, in the spirit of diplomacy, said he found nothing wrong with a free press. Joey countered that when the press takes potshots of what color panties movie stars are wearing, or why Maricel Soriano pays her paintings in installment, or why Teresa Carlson was given a monkey on her birthday, it no longer respects the “great word freedom.” Instead, it uses people, plays with them, and becomes unfair to those who get hit in the process. “Martial law should be returned,” Joey intoned.

NEXT: Tito and Joey talk about the rape case

Tito, Vic, and Joey and their comedic sidekick Richie d’ Horsie

Tito, Vic, and Joey and their comedic sidekick Richie d’ Horsie



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