Photographer Lito Sy responded to netizens’ speculations on the cost of presidential granddaughter Isabelle Duterte’s Malacañang photoshoot by posting some of the figures on Facebook while claiming he did the shoot for free.
Sy said that he conducted the photoshoot for free because he is friends with Isabelle’s mom, Lovelie Sangkola Sumera. He described her as “a very good friend of mine in Davao during early 90s.”
He also claimed that the red gown Isabelle wore in the shoot was shipped via LBC from Dubai, as sponsored by the now Dubai-based Davao designer Garimon Roferos, another “good friend” of Isabelle’s mother.
“Ang red gown na ginamit was sent through LBC from Dubai na sponsored din ng Dubai based davao designer na good friend din ng Mom ni Isabelle noong di pa siya sikat,” he wrote.
The other gowns used in the shoot were provided by stylist Jeff Galang, who was said to have borrowed them from famous designers “in exchange for credits and milage (sic).”
Sy added that the expensive shoes were borrowed.
“Ang nga mamahaling shoes are pinagamit sa kanya ng ibat ibang brands para makilala kasi nga artista na si Isabelle under Viva,” he wrote.
He said that only Galang was paid for P25,000 as well as the make-up artist Winn Ramos for an undisclosed amount.
“Ang bayad lang po sa predebut shoot was Jeff Galang at 25k and the nake up artist na si Winn Ramos,” he added.
Sy emphasized that Isabelle’s father, presidential son and Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte did not pay for anything.
“Di po si Paolo Duterte ang nagbayad sa suppliers kasi may kaya naman po si Mommy ni Isabelle na isang business woman,” Sy said.
Sy’s post came after acclaimed Filipino writer Miguel Syjuco tried to come up with a “running estimate” of Isabelle’s photoshoot, which he tallied to be about P800,000 to P1.1 million. He also noted how Vice Mayor Paolo’s salary of less than a million a year won’t be enough to pay for this cost.
Syjuco also took note of the expensive fashion items Isabelle posted on her Instagram account this year, which he estimated to cost about P1.5 million, as well as Paolo’s P1.9 million Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph watch, which he claimed to be a fake and a gift.
The writer then posed his questions before ending his post.
“Yet the valid questions remain: Some P800,000 at a photo shoot? At least P500,00 humble-bragged on Instagram? About P1.9-million on a wrist at a Senate wrist-slapping? That’s roughly P3.2-million in luxury items sported by the young Dutertes (or a whole lot of fakes, which is certainly illegal, and definitely totally baduy.)” Syjuco wrote.
“So where do the Dutertes, who’ve been on government salaries for more than two-decades, get their money? And why won’t they be transparent about their finances? As citizens, we have every right to demand answers to these questions from our government officials and their families,” he added.
Syjuco said he got the estimate after making some calls and searching Google.
Reacting to Sy’s clarification about the cost of Isabelle’s pre-debut shoot, Syjuco said that some questions remained unanswered. He pointed out who pay for the luxury goods the teenager posted on Instagram, whether it is legal or ethical for the “politically powerful” to accept free services as gifts from service providers, and more.
“Are these free services considered gifts given to a relative of direct consanguinity to the president? Is it lawful or even ethical for this professional exchange between service providers and the politically powerful who each stand to benefit? And if her mother can afford Isabelle’s lavish lifestyle, are her assets clearly delineated or accounted for in the young vice-mayor’s SALN?” Syjuco asked.
“If you’re going to answer some of my questions, then please answer them all. The onus of transparency is on our public servants, not on us,” he wrote.
He also reasoned why he is asking the question he is asking now.
“And you, fellow citizens, shouldn’t you be asking these questions of the powerful, too? Instead of constantly making excuses for them? This is a matter of principles — which are principles because they are applied equally to whoever happens to be in power,” he said.
“We asked these questions of Aquino (with his Porsche and Kris’s heli flights), Arroyo (with her broadband and hubby’s heli sale), Erap (with his Petrus and mistresses and Blue Label) — and so we must also demand answers too from the Dutertes,” he added.
The netizens slammed Isabelle for her photoshoot for being “Imeldific,” being insensitive to the plight of the poor and the refugees and for using the presidential coat-of-arms as a background in some of her photos, among other issues. Malacañang said there was “nothing wrong” with the shoot while President Rodrigo Duterte called it a “small matter” and something similar to what ordinary Filipinos do when they enter the Palace.
“Wala naman ako doon. But even if I was there, itong granddaughter ko magpa-picture, lahat nga ng mga bisita pumupunta diyan, nagpapa-picture eh,” Duterte said.