IT WAS A case of déjà vu: Kris Aquino on nationwide television, tearfully but lucidly telling her side of a headline-grabbing spat with a man who had shared her home long enough for them to have a child.

Last night as in September 2003, the broadcast was well mounted, the interview conducted with dispatch and precision and filled with personal details. And behind Kris both times, solid and unassailable family support.

Less than 10 years ago, it was her mother, former President Corazon C. Aquino. On ABS-CBN’s “TV Patrol” last night with political commentator Ted Failon, the TV personality was accompanied by her three elder sisters Ballsy, Pinky and Viel.

Wednesday night on prime time news programs, Kris’ estranged husband James Yap said she had threatened to do this exactly: Make sure no one believed anything he could possibly say about the incident simply by shedding tears on-cam.

(She is seeking a court order for Yap to stay away from her, their child and her entire household, after allegedly trying to seduce her in her condo unit.)

But for everyone who might accuse her of merely drumming up interest in her and her television shows, Kris had the ultimate surprise: She resigned from all three shows— saying, while sobbing, but still emphatically, that James Jr. or “Bimby,” 5, came first.

The TV host has a daily morning lifestyle/talk show, “Kris TV,” the weekly reality talent search “Pilipinas Got Talent” where she sits as judge, and the evening teleserye “Kailangan Ko’y Ikaw.”

Failon managed to sneak in what he acknowledged as widespread public sentiment, that the whole thing was “just drama.” His interviewee, just a little indignant, replied, “You know my family, we do not do drama.”

Just believe my son

Reminded that some people were not entirely disposed to take her side, Kris said, looking straight into the camera, “You don’t have to believe me; just believe my son.”

It was no joke, how the situation was affecting James Jr., Kris said, adding it was bad enough that part of what rightfully belonged to her older son Josh (with actor Philip Salvador) had gone into the settlement that Yap received when their marriage was annulled.

She vowed that nothing of the sort would ever happen again.

Was she leaving show business for good? Failon asked. At this point, Kris demurred and said something to the effect that “forever” was too big a word.

Failon ended the interview by asking Ballsy what she wished for Kris. All that the elder sister requested “those who love Kris” was for them to “pray for her and Bimby, because of everything they’re going through.”

Within minutes—maybe one of the interviews was taped—Kris and sisters were seen on rival channel GMA 7 with Jessica Soho on the news program “24 Oras” and then, when they ran out of time, on Soho’s GMA News TV show, “State of the Nation.”

Kris cried again as she defended herself against Yap’s previous statements, and cried some more as she professed her love for James Jr. who, she said was the one most affected by the situation.

“If we were ordinary people,” she said, “they would not feast on us this way. This is not about money. This is about staying strong for my children through this storm.”

Big sister Ballsy again defended Kris against Yap’s accusation that she was brainwashing their son. “I was witness to the times when Kris stopped Bimby from saying that he hated his father.”

Lawyer to ask for gag order
In a phone interview with Inquirer, Lorna Kapunan, Yap’s lawyer, called for an end to all the mud-slinging. “The country has more pressing problems,” Kapunan said. “A domestic dispute should [stay] between the estranged couple and should not be discussed in media.”
She said she was appearing in court today precisely to ask for a gag order. Meanwhile, she pleaded, “Let’s respect the privacy of the family and let James and Kris thresh out their problems on their own, especially since a child is caught in the middle.”
As for Aquino’s announcement that she would quit from show biz, Kapunan said: “Since the mother has decided to prioritize the best interest of her child, I am certain that she would also understand how a father feels when he is deprived of the chance to see his child.”
She would rather that her client kept mum on the entire scandal but, she said, since the news hit the front page of the Inquirer on Wednesday, she had to call an impromptu presscon that same day. “James asked me what he should tell the press. I told him that he should just tell the truth,” Kapunan said, adding that her client was standing by everything he said about Aquino.

Simple but not stupid
In that press con, Yap said Aquino had bragged that her brother had three more years as President and that all her past boyfriends’ careers had been ruined.
“He may be simple, but he is not stupid so as to expose himself …by telling lies,” Kapunan said. He is not that creative… to have made up those statements.”

She took exception with the “money” issue raised by Aquino: “James is not bleeding Kris for money… he is only asking for what is due him, half of the conjugal property (One Roxas Place. He even refused share from her inheritance.”

Kapunan pointed out, “James was the ‘Kris Aquino’ of the basketball world when they got married in 2005.” He was a top earner in sports, she said, and made significant contributions to the conjugal earnings.
She couldn’t understand, she said, why Aquino was being portrayed as an underdog when she had initiated this latest case. “She was the one who brought this upon her family.”

Still, Kapunan maintained it was best for the parties not to discuss details in public, the better for Yap and Aquino to decide what’s best for their son.
“I don’t want to fan the flames. I don’t want to engage in a pissing match with (Aquino’s lawyer) Frank Chavez,” she said. “Things are being blown out of proportion. This domestic matter should remain private— especially since Filipinos are being shot in Sabah and a UP student had to commit suicide because of unpaid tuition. Again, I say, our nation has bigger problems.”