What began as a domestic issue between celebrity couple Kris Aquino and James Yap nearly turned into political fodder in the simmering election campaign season. But about a week after the issue broke out, the controversy has died down and the celebrity couple has reportedly patched up their differences.
The popular TV host/actress and youngest sister of presidential aspirant Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III took offense at critics’ attempts to link her brother to a “domestic issue that does not even involve him directly.”
The “domestic issue” Kris was referring to was an incident on Jan. 13 when she “confronted” an alleged female fan of James and told her to stop bugging her husband about her personal problems.
According to a report in the Philippine Daily Inquirer last Jan. 14, Kris confronted a certain Mayen Austria, 35, outside the latter’s house in Valle Verde 2 Subdivision in Pasig City around 4 p.m. on Jan.13 after learning that Mayen had been calling and sending text messages to her husband.
Quoting Mayen’s uncle, Gabby Lopez (no relation to the ABS-CBN chair), Inquirer reported that Kris spent about 10 minutes at the gate of the house of the Austrias and allegedly shouted and hurled insults at Mayen and her mother.
The Inquirer also quoted an unnamed witness who said Kris threw invectives at Mayen and her mother.
“(Kris) also shouted at her (Minna): ‘Anong klaseng nanay ka? Anong klase ang palaki mo sa anak mo?’” the source said.
Lopez refused to elaborate on the incident but took a potshot at Kris’ brother, saying, “I now know who I will not vote for.”
Noynoy Aquino is the Liberal Party standard-bearer in the May elections.
Lopez’s remark incensed Kris. “Why is the issue being used as a political weapon against my brother?” she asked.
In a talk with the Inquirer last Jan. 15, she denied confronting and shouting insults at Mayen and her mother.
“In my 25 years of being in the public eye, nobody can ever say that it is in my nature na magmura or gumawa ng iskandalo,” she said. “I didn’t shout or create a commotion. [Mayen’s mother] graciously came to their gate and we had a peaceful conversation.”
Kris claimed she was “very polite” when she expressed her “discomfort about [Mayen’s] actuations” towards James.
“Mrs. Austria said it was all just a misunderstanding. I told her, ‘I’m sorry to be disturbing you, but I just had to come here. It makes me uncomfortable that your daughter is calling my husband,’” Kris continued.
“At this time, [Mayen] came out. She said James called her up to tell her that I’m on my way, and to just say sorry to me. She said, ‘I don’t know why I should. I’ve done nothing wrong.’”
She added: “I told her, ‘As a wife I’m telling you that it’s wrong. Why do you have to cry to my husband about your boyfriend leaving you when the guy is not even a friend of James’?’ I said to the mom, ‘Thank you. I hope your daughter would stop calling James,’ and then I left.”
A day or two after the confrontation, Kris, together with sons Joshua and James Jr., moved out of the home she shares with husband James to have “some space” at her sister Pinky’s house. But two days later, the TV host and her two sons are back in their Valle Verde house.
“Magkasama na uli kami ngayon,” she said in a TV interview last Jan. 22. “Pero pina-punish ko pa rin siya nang konti,” she chuckled. “Pero maayos naman na. Sinisikap namin na maging maayos ang pagsasama namin.”
While Kris admits that their troubled marriage needs some mending, she says the issue with James’ female friend, Mayen Austria, is over and that the Aquino and Austria families have sorted out the matter.
On Jan. 17, when she announced she was leaving their home temporarily, Kris told co-host Boy Abunda on The Buzz, “I’m not saying that the marriage is over. In my heart, gusto ko the marriage to work for our kids. I’m not putting a period, I’m not saying this is the end of the road. I’m hoping and praying maayos namin lahat pero kailangan ko rin ng space.”
“I love him and he knows I still love him. I’ve never given him any reason to doubt my fidelity. I just want the same thing in return,” she said. “Hindi naman puwedeng ako lang ang nagmamahal… Ako lang umiintindi. It takes two for this marriage to work. I want him to make me feel I’m really (his) wife, that (he’s) a responsible husband and a loving father and that this marriage has a future.”
According to Kris, she explained to her husband that it was not proper for Mayen to be confiding her problems with her boyfriend to a married man. “I told James, ‘You married me. You made this commitment to me. I am your wife. I have my rights as a wife. I will use those rights to protect myself and our children. I will protect my territory.”
In an interview with Philippine Entertainment Portal, the outspoken and controversial TV host said Mayen should instead consult a guidance counselor, a close female friend, sibling or her parents about her personal problems.
She said she told James, “Sa dami ng pinagdaanan natin, sa dami ng gusto kong ilabas noon, noong kailangan ko ng makikinig sa akin, wala akong iniyakan na lalake. Wala. Inisip ko kasi na hindi makabubuti iyon. Maaaring panggalingan lang ng gulo.”
She added: “Tama ba na iyakan ko si Gabby [Concepcion], na kasama ko sa soap ngayon? Hindi, di ba?”
Kris said she apologized to Noynoy for dragging him to the controversy. I told him, “Pasensya ka na that my marital crisis is now being used to attack you.”
Noynoy assured Kris he would always be available for her and James if they need his advice. “Let me reiterate, prioritize your family, never mind the campaign” he told Kris.
Noynoy appealed to the public not to judge the people involved in the issue. “Hintayin po nating makita yung buong picture bago tayo magsabi ng conclusion… Kung meron po tayong malasakit sa kanila, magandang bigyan ng espasyo ang dalawa. Sila ang makaka-solve ng problemang ito,” he said in a radio interview.
In 2007, Kris and James had a big fight after the latter was rumored to have had a romantic liaison with one Hope Centeno, then a receptionist at the Belo Medical Clinic.
Last Jan. 12, a day before the Valle Verde incident, the couple rendered a duet number during the birthday concert of Sharon Cuneta at the Araneta Coliseum. They sang the OPM hit Kung Tayo’y Magkakalayo of Rey Valera. Sharon blurted out, “Huwag naman!” when the couple reached the number’s refrain, “Aking nadarama / pagsasama nati’y ‘di magtatagal.”
Kris turns 39 on Valentine’s Day, Feb 14. On Feb. 15 James will mark his 28th birthday. Married in a civil ceremony last July 10, 2005, they have a three-year-old son, James Jr.