For decades, the urban legend about Alice Dixson and the rumored snake man in Robinsons Galleria has captured the imagination of many, to the point that people have created different assumptions, speculations, and versions of the story.
Did you hear that one about the snake laying gold, therefore supplying the family with even more wealth?
Anyway, here’s the gist of the urban legend. This half-man, half snake creature was said to be the twin of Robina Gokongwei, current president and CEO of Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc. The story goes that it came to a point that the snake man had gotten so big and could no longer fit in the family house that the Gokongweis built a mall with a big chamber so as to serve as the snake man’s home.
This snake man, the tale continues, likes beautiful women and he would check them out via the hidden cameras installed in the department store fitting rooms. Anyway, one day in 1990, half-man, half-snake chanced upon the beautiful star of the half-lady, half-fish movie Dyesebel. Robina’s ‘twin-bro’ got smitten, having chanced upon Ms. Dixson in Robinson’s and was after her. From the fitting room, the actress fell down to a secret room, found an underground corridor and ran towards the hotel beside the mall to escape.
It would have made a good plot for “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” but the tale instead made it to the headlines of tabloids. So when Alice didn’t step forward to give her side of the story, the rumor that she was paid 850 million pesos by the Gokongweis in exchange for her silence made the gullible in many say, “Puwede.” This also happened during the time when she suddenly disappeared in showbiz to go to Canada, giving the whole thing another hint of plausibility—at least in the minds of some.
The truth according to Alice
In a 15-minute video uploaded on her YouTube channel, Alice finally shared her personal account and a couple of theories on how the story grew—in the hopes of putting this whole urban legend to rest.
“What I remember on that particular day was, I went to Robinsons Galleria Mall, and to the department store to browse some clothing,” she began. “It wasn’t a special day. In fact, it was like any ordinary day. And when I finished choosing the clothes that I want, a sales lady assisted me and she directed me to the dressing room. I don’t even recall why I was in Robinson’s, kasi sa totoo lang mabibilang sa kamay yung ilang beses na nakarating ako sa mall nung time na yun.”
Somebody close to her and a couple of fans reminded her that the incident actually took place when she was in the mall for a movie shoot. It was nighttime and she was told by production people that she needed to change her outfit. She says she was directed to the bathroom outside the department store at the mall’s fourth floor to change.
“Natatandaan ko pa nga na may mga nag-uusyoso sa labas, and for some reason I was inside the bathroom. I said ‘Tuklaw, tuklaw,’” she recalls. “Now I don’t really know bakit ko yun ginawa. Siguro kasi I was just being funny, trying to get a laugh sa mga kasamahan ko. I was just being young and silly, and also because yung time na yun, yung kasamahan ko sa pelikulang Dyesebel, si Richard Gomez, he had a movie that came out called ‘Tuklaw.’ Uso yan noon.”
A few days later, gossip came out that Alice was bitten by a huge snake inside the mall. The following morning, her secretary received a call from a Robinsons representative. “Gusto ako kausapin. I believe they wanted to ask me if I had made these comments and accusations. But I dismissed it. I dismissed it and went on with my business,” she said, with a hint of regret.
However, the news did not die down, said Alice. Months after, her Chinese-Filipino friends would say there is actually truth to the rumors that the Gokongweis have an offspring that’s half-snake, half-human. “Of course this was usap-usapan lang. Wala namang pruweba to this,” she noted.
One of Alice’s theories—as to how an innocent costume change in a mall can grow into a full-blown urban legend has to do with some mass communication students who might have worked on a project that had to do with disseminating information. They wanted to “see how far, how convoluted and how long information could spread.” Alice, also a mass communication graduate, believes they used her story for this project.
Her other theory, on why the rumor kept being told, as if having a life of its own, was that she kept mum about it all these years—“My silence created a snowball,” she said in the video.
But in her defense, Alice said she isn’t really the type to answer rumors especially if they are untrue—even during those younger days. “Kahit ngayon, pag merong hindi totoong rumor, if there’s something false that’s circulating, naniniwala ako na hindi ko kailangang patulan. I don’t have to be defensive about it. That’s one of my reasons why hindi ako nagkomento noon,” she confided in the video.
She said she has nothing to deny because first and foremost, the rumor is actually false. “You deny something that’s true. But I’m not denying anything because what I am saying is that nothing really happened. Nothing really happened in the way that the urban legend or the myth dictates,” she reiterated.
“Kunwari, hindi naman ako nahulog sa trapdoor. Hindi naman ako tumakbo sa corridor palabas, papuntang hotel. Hindi rin naman ako nabayaran ng 850 million [pesos] at hindi rin nangyari yung na-cut yung pagsasalita ko sa isang TV show when I was trying to explain myself. Those things are all not true,” she continued.
“Kaya ba maraming naniniwala is because it’s just a well-hidden secret?” she asked in the video. “Kung totoo nga, bakit walang nag-step forward? There’s no security guard, there’s no maid, there’s no close friend. There’s nobody who actually witnessed...There’s nobody to corroborate this myth. Di ba? Wala!”
Alice noted though that shortly after the rumor came out about the snake man’s death, Robinsons reached out to her to participate in their digital ad campaign. “Now, is this a concidence? Well, kayo na lang po ang bahalang mag-decide kung ano’ng paniniwalaan nyo—if it is, if it is not,” she said in closing. “Basta sinabi ko na sa inyo ang truth ko. I told you what happened, and hopefully, this is the first and last time I’m gonna need to explain myself or say anything about it.”