Prior to their final separation in 2013, Sunshine Cruz attempted multiple times to end her marriage with Cesar Montano, the actress has revealed.
In a scathing account of the marriage described as “dark and chaotic” in a PEP.ph report, Cruz shared that she saw a “sign” of Montano’s supposed temper when they were already engaged to be married.
At the time, she recalled, their 2000 wedding was nearly cancelled.
Cruz narrated: “Meron siyang nabitawan na salita sa akin, medyo ikinagulat ko. First time ko narinig. Kasi, with my family, hindi naman sa nagmamayabang, hindi ko kelanman narinig ang papa ko na nagsasalita ng anything about my mom, never kong nakitang namalo or nahila or ganyan.
“I was in Cebu, meron siyang nabitiwang salita sa akin sa phone. I was calling off the wedding. I called Tita Norma Japitana [Cesar's former manager], and I said, 'The wedding is off! Ayoko na, ayoko na!' Kasi meron siyang nasabi sa akin--hindi maganda.”
Cruz, according to the report, preferred not to reveal the word used by Montano, only saying, “Basta ang baboy, ang baboy. Hindi maganda, hindi talaga kaaya-aya.”
After she decided to no longer push through with the wedding, Cruz recounted how Montano prematurely ended a film shoot at the time, flew to her, and pleaded.
“I called off the wedding. ‘Yun yung time na pina-pack up niya yung taping niya, may shooting siya dapat. He flew to Cebu, and lumuhod at nagmakaawa sa akin. Nagulat ako. Pero, imagine, na-pack up niya yung shooting niya? I think he paid more or less P100K dun sa damage na ginawa niya--and he flew and apologized to me,” she said.
The two eventually married on September 14, 2000. Cruz was 23 at the time, and Montano, 38.
During their honeymoon on a Caribbean cruise, Montano’s supposed temper surfaced yet again, according to Cruz.
“Masakit man aminin, pero honeymoon pa lang, tinapon niya yung wedding ring namin sa ano, nung nag-Carribean cruise kami,” she said.
The root of the outburst, Cruz said, was Montano’s insistence that she admit to having had actual intercourse with her co-stars in her past “bold” movies, prior to them getting married.
Cruz remembered being confused as to why Montano, himself an actor, had been adamant on the topic.
“Sabi ko, 'Kahit balatan mo ako, kahit itapon mo ako sa dagat, wala akong aaminin! Kasi, hindi totoo!' Sabi ko, that was a time na dapat masaya, honeymoon, nag-e-enjoy. Ano talaga, grabe,” she said.
As they were newly married then, Cruz decided to accept Montano’s disposition. Eventually, however, it became evident to her that the actor’s alleged temper was more the norm, than the exception.
She explained: “Mas marami yung times na ganun siya, kesa yung kalmado siya. And I was thinking na, maybe, it was just yung pagpapalaki sa kanya, upbringing niya. Baka talaga medyo may temper lang. Yun yung iniisip ko--may temper lang.
“Tapos, lagi sa 'kin sinasabi ng ibang tao na, 'Maybe you just have to prove your worth as a person.' Ganun na lang lagi. That's what I did. Napasubo na ako, kasal na ako--anong gagawin ko?”
In 2007, Cruz was reported to have left Montano, amid allegations that the actor was having an affair with a Brazilian model.
Cruz, in her PEP.ph tell-all, confirmed that this was not the only time she tried to end her marriage with Montano. It happened several times.
“Sa totoo lang naman e aminado 'ko na maraming beses ako nag-alsa balutan. Maraming beses tatakbo ako sa nanay ko, sa parents ko, kasama lahat ng gamit ko. May balikbayan boxes na nga akong available, e,” she said.
But her love for Montano, commitment to their relationship, as well as the actor’s apologetic gestures, always managed to pull her back.
“Susunduin niya ako sa bahay, kakausapin niya yung parents ko. ‘Yun nga, kasi, talagang hanggang kaya, hanggang kakayanin, kakayanin ko talaga,” she said.
Montano’s words, however, did not stop, according to Cruz.
“I would leave, then babalik ako, ganun. Parang, kasi, sinasabi niya bold star lang naman ako, wala nang kukuha sa 'kin... Kung before po makikita niyo ako, di ba lagi lang akong nakatungo? Parang hiyang-hiya ako sa sarili ko, kasi sarili kong asawa ganun yung tingin sa 'kin--what more yung ibang tao? Yun po iniisip ko,” she said.
Throughout their marriage, other factors also beset their relationship, including Cruz’s tiff with Montano’s sister. But even Montano supposedly siding with his sister did not yet form the deep wedge that would eventually cause their final separation.
That happened, Cruz said, when her daughters with Montano started to get affected by the actor’s actions.
They have three children — Angeline, 17; Samantha, 14; and Cheska, 11.
“Anak ko na yung nagsabi sa akin na kausapin mo si Dad, kasi meron kaming nakita na picture niya with a girl,” Cruz recalled.
She was referring to the time when Montano allegedly had an affair with his movie co-star at the time, Krista Miller. That same year, in 2013, Cruz left her husband for good.
To this day, Cruz and Montano remain estranged, amid their legal battles.
In September, one of those cases — Cruz’s petition for the annulment of their marriage — finally reached a resolution. They are now both legally single.
Several more cases filed by Cruz against Montano have yet to reach a final decision, among them her complaints over separate incidents of physical abuse and marital rape.
Asked for her message to her ex-husband, Cruz answered: “Kung meron mang pinagpapasalamat sa kaniya—lumakas ako, naging matapang, natuto akong lumaban, hindi ko nagagawa yun noon! At, siyempre, binigyan niya ako ng tatlong mga anak.”
Cruz is currently in a relationship with businessman Macky Mathay.
According to PEP.ph, Montano has not responded to any request for comment on Cruz’s account. The actor, however, released over the weekend a brief statement on the topic of his marriage with Cruz.
He said: “I believe God allows everything to happen for a purpose. Marriage is one of the most expensive schools of highest learning in life. But more valuable than money is time. God didn’t let me get out of it without learning something. God is good, all glory to Him.”