Actress Sunshine Cruz is in a much better state now after the court finally granted the petition she filed for the annulment of her marriage with estranged husband Cesar Montano after four years of legal battle.
Cruz previously said that she was so happy that she cried upon knowing the court’s decision.
But in an exclusive interview with PEP.ph, Cruz decided to recall some memories from her marriage with Montano which she described as “dark and chaotic”.
The former couple got married in a fairytale-like wedding in 2000 which was exclusively attended by well-known personalities in politics and the entertainment industry.
But she said that there was a time when she almost called off the wedding after she saw signs that there was something off in Montano’s behavior.
Cruz said that, when they were dating, Montano would show signs of supposed temper.
“Meron siyang nabitawan na salita sa akin, medyo ikinagulat ko. First time ko narinig. Kasi, with my family, hindi naman sa nagmamayabang, hindi ko kelan man narinig ang papa ko na nagsasalita ng anything about my mom, never kong nakitang namalo or nahila or ganyan,” she said.
She continued to narrate: “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.”
But Montano tried to win her back by canceling a film shooting to fly to Cebu to persuade her once again.
“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.
Despite what happened, they eventually tied the knot on September 14, 2000, when she was only 23 at the time, and Montano was 15 years older at 38.
After they got married, she said that she experienced a honeymoon that was far from what she expected.
“Masakit man aminin, pero honeymoon pa lang, tinapon niya yung wedding ring namin sa ano, nung nag-Carribean cruise kami,” she said.
She said that Montano started to throw a fit during their honeymoon after she denied that she had sex with her co-actors with whom she starred with on her past “sexy” movies.
“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.
Cruz also said that there were more devastating times compared to the happy ones during her marriage with Montano.
“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?”
The actress also recalled that it was in 2007 when she decided to leave Montano after it was speculated that the latter was having an affair with a then 16-year-old Brazillian model.
She said that her marriage with Montano has sailed through many rough seas but the actor would find ways to win her back.
“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.
“Susunduin niya ako sa bahay, kakausapin niya yung parents ko. ‘Yun nga, kasi, talagang hanggang kaya, hanggang kakayanin, kakayanin ko talaga,” she said.
But Montano would often relapse and would even abuse her emotionally by using her sexy-star image against her.
“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.
She said that Montano would not even support her in achieving her dreams such as attaining a college degree. Cruz, who now holds a degree in Psychology, said that she was only able to go back to school when she separated with her ex-husband.
Cruz also recalled the time when she had a legal battle with Montano’s sister, Maria Mercedes “Ched” Manhilot Cantu, who would spread rumors about her.
However, the last straw to her marriage with Montano was when her three daughters found out that their father was having an affair with actress Krista Miller in 2013.
“Anak ko na yung nagsabi sa akin na kausapin mo si Dad, kasi meron kaming nakita na picture niya with a girl,” Cruz said.
That same year, she decided to leave her husband for good.
But the story did not end after she left Montano, Cruz decided to file several other cases against her husband revealing that she has experienced several instances of physical abuse from him.
She said that there were three instances of physical abuse – one in July 2009, a second in January 2013, and a third in May 2013.
Cruz filed another lawsuit against Montano after she claimed that he raped her on May 12, 2013, Mother’s Day. The rape case is still not resolved and remains docketed at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, where it awaits judgment.
Despite all of this, Cruz left some words for Montano: “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.”
After her separation with Montano, Cruz has been living with her three daughters Angelina Isabelle, Samantha Angeline, and Angel Franchesca, and has settled in a relationship with non-showbiz businessman Macky Matthay.