Though she may not have brought her entire clan together at her grand debut on March 11, Julia Barretto partly got her birthday wish for peace among her warring elders.
All eyes were on the beautiful 18-year-old—who looked radiant in a fiery red gown by renowned Dubai-based designer Michael Cinco—when her aunt Claudine arrived at the grand ballroom of the Makati Shangri-La Hotel, with parents Miguel and Inday Barretto.
Claudine has been estranged from sisters Gretchen and Marjorie, Julia’s mom, when the two publicly confirmed the allegations of Claudine’s ex-husband Raymart Santiago in 2013 that she has psychological and drug abuse problems. Julia’s grandparents, Miguel and Inday, sided with Claudine, resulting in a highly publicized war of words. Julia was in the middle of all the controversy as she was then just starting her showbiz career.
Both tearful at the reunion, Claudine said to Julia: “You are our little princess and soon you will be a queen. I love you.”
Gretchen, however, was a no-show at the party, having left for London to visit her daughter with Tony Boy Cojuanco, Dominique, who was also invited to be one of the 18 well-wishers for Julia.
The birthday celebrant also proudly danced with her dad Dennis Padilla—her first dance for her 18 Roses—with whom she had a rift in 2014, when rumors came out she wanted to legally change her last name to Barretto. Julia announced before her birthday that she no longer had plans of doing so and that she and her father had reconciled.
Dennis’ message for her daughter in a VTR said, “I look forward to more bonding time with you; I’m letting you go but I will still hold your hand [if you need me]to see the real world.”
Fittingly, the debutante’s thank you speech at the end of the star-studded evening was centered on her family. “To my mom, ikaw ang tunay na may debut ngayon; ikaw ang lahat na gumawa nito. To my dad, I love you. Thank you to my family, the most controversial family [in showbiz]. But whatever happens, I’m still proud to be a Barretto.”
(Photos printed with permission from Star Magic and Thess Gubi’s Instagram account)