In the nineties, when Sta Elena Golf Club, a joint venture between the Tantoco and Quiros families, was just beginning to rise among the world’s best, Gliceria Rustia or Glecy and Bienvenido Tantoco or Benny, the couple that built Rustan’s department store, would regularly go there to enjoy the fresh air. “We would pitch a tent, facing the greenery,” eldest child and only son Rico remembers. His wife Nena Vargas adds, “We’d lay down a banig [native mat], and prepare a picnic with delicious food from their house. And we’d all sit around them, enjoying the breeze as well. After a while, Mommy and Daddy would enjoy a nice afternoon nap.”
This nostalgic family picture is now just a treasured memory. The view of the grass that Glecy, who passed on in 1994, enjoyed looking at for hours is now the fully-developed sprawling Sta Elena Golf & Country Estate, a prime residential development around the 18-hole golf course listed in Golf Digest’s Top 100. Rico and his wife Nena have a beautiful country home here, which they call Villa Marina. Today, it hosts the huge Tantoco family of four generations, counting 87 for now—from the oldest, 97-year-old Bienvenido Snr, to the youngest, three-month-old Isoletta.
This is definitely not a small family picnic, yet one common element is clearly evinced in both pictures: familial strength. Through the years after this woman with a vision had passed on, that sense of family has stayed constant among the Tantocos. The obvious anchor of the family is Bienvenido, the still sharp and active husband of Glecy and who served as ambassador to the Vatican (1983-1986) and a recipient of the Sovereign Military Orders of Saint John, Rhodes, and Malta Award.
On this second day of the twin pictorials capturing the journey of this Filipino family that changed the landscape of luxury retail in the country, the love surrounding Lolo Benny (as he is now fondly called) is so much like that which surrounded Glecy in this same place, a couple of decades ago. When the patriarch emerges from his room to the spacious patio to take his lunch, everybody pauses from whatever they were doing to greet him. They’d come and go to keep him company, making sure this man with an easy smile would not be alone even for a second. As he digs into a cone of artisanal ube (yam) ice cream, Lolo Benny says he already misses Prince, his miniature pinscher. Then he proudly saysthat he is reaching 100 in three years and that Chris, one of his grandchildren, is eyeing the Php100,000 that all centenarians receive from the government. He genuinely enjoys the traffic of people around him, as he waits for his chance before the camera.
Creative Direction: Anton San Diego | Photography: Wig Tysmans & Raymund Isaac | Styling: Monique Madsen