FFE Magazine

Valentines Series: Rustom Padilla and Carmina Villaroel

The Rustom-Carmina love team was a winning tandem of the 90s. The love team started in the reel world in the movie ‘Hindi Magbabago.’ The relationship went a step further with marriage. But everything went downhill for the couple from there… that is until they reached their recent, separate and personal happy endings.


Take a walk down memory lane with the romantic, tragic and ultimately redemptive love of Rustom and Carmina:


The love team

Rustom and Carmina’s worlds collided together twice in the early 90s with Hindi Magbabago (1990) and ‘Maruja’ (1996). But the success of the love team wasn’t merely limited to the movies. Pretty soon, the pair developed feelings for each other off screen, and they didn’t hide it from each other. In one particular Valentine’s day, Rustom filled their apartment with flowers and even scattered rose petals at the lobby to surprise Carmina after a taping.


Wedding scene from Rustom and Carmina’s movie Hindi Magbabago


In 1994, Rustom and Carmina consummated their love by marrying secretly .


The separation

The public did not know about Rustom and Carmina’s marriage until news of their separation reached the tabloids in 1997. Carmina believed she outgrew him, while Rustom believed they just hit a point in their marriage where they wanted to walk different paths.


Valentines Series- Rustom Padilla and Carmina Villaroel 1

 ‘Yung gusto niya iba na sa gusto ko.


Rustom and Carmina went their separate ways with no children between them. He tried dating other women when the couple’s annulment case was ongoing, including Angelu de Leon. An interview with Rustom three years after the shocking breakup revealed he had clung to faith to help cope with the separation.


Valentines Series- Rustom Padilla and Carmina Villaroel 2

‘When Carmina and I broke up, I dropped everything. I refused to talk to anybody, not even to my Mom. I was facing a blank wall. I became a recluse. I didn’t want to work. I didn’t talk to my friends.


Rustom and Carmina’s love story ended way before their marriage was finally annulled in 2012. The fact that Carmina was also starting to build a relationship with somebody else finally meant the door was closed between the two.


Zoren and Carmina

While Rustom was soul searching, Carmina moved on and healed her broken heart with the help of Zoren Legaspi. The two shared the screen in ‘Kahit Mabuhay Kang Muli’ (1998) and ‘Mano Po 2: My Home’ (2003). Prior to their relationship, Zoren had been going out with Ruffa and the couple and Carmina are fast friends.


But Zoren revealed that his love story with Carmina started when she was thirteen and he around 16. She had been his crush then he tried to court her then, but somehow his attention was diverted to Carmina’s friend Ruffa. After he and Ruffa split and Carmina’s marriage was annulled, Zoren said he visited Carmina: ‘Before I knew it, I was visiting her more than was necessary.’


Valentines Series- Rustom Padilla and Carmina Villaroel 3


Carmina and Zoren’s love for each other was finally bound forever by two gifts they received in 2002: the twins Maverick and Cassandra. The couple had their twins in America, but they chose to settle in the Philippines because ‘it’s where our hearts belong,’ said Zoren.


Life for Carmina and Zoren had been satisfying and full with Maverick and Cassandra. But this quiet life was rocked in 2006 because of a shocking revelation from Carmina’s past.


BB Gandanghari

In 2006 inside bahay ni Kuya in one candid and heartfelt episode of Pinoy Big Brother: Celebrity Edition, Rustom Padilla came out of the closet:



The simple statement sent shockwaves across the Philippines, and Carmina and Zoren were not immune to the barrage of questions everyone wanted answered. Many people speculated if the 1997 separation of Rustom and Carmina was in fact a gender issue. But Carmina waded through the controversy with her head held high.


She respected the questions, and gave consistent answers: no the separation was not a gender issue. They were simply not meant to be. However, she dropped a bombshell when she revealed in an interview that she was aware Rustom was gay for a long time.


Meanwhile, Rustom became the talk of town. He grew up in a family known for their brawn: his siblings Robin, Royette and Rommel are all certified machos in the industry. His past as a confused boy was unearthed. But the revelation also led to new projects that would mark his comeback in the industry.


Valentines Series- Rustom Padilla and Carmina Villaroel 4


In 2009 coming back from a trip in America, Rustom finally died and in his place BB Gandanghari was born. BB Gandanghari reflected the full transformation of the old Rustom… she had finally embraced and learned to love who she was despite what other people would think.


BB’s full transformation demanded a closure with Carmina, especially since both were still legally married. Since Rustom’s death cracked open the vaults of both BB and Carmina’s past, they had to close it again, together.



Both BB and Carmina were already happy in their separate lives, but many still believe there were a few strings to the two needed to cut to finally start a new life. Carmina’s wish is for her to meet face-to-face with BB without cameras.


But both have already sent their regards to each other through interviews. Carmina has wholly accepted BB and said she had moved on: ‘Hindi ako magiging ganito ka-happy, hindi ako makakapag-move on nang sobra kung mayroon pang hurt feelings. Pero wala na talaga.


Valentines Series- Rustom Padilla and Carmina Villaroel 5

Sa akin, kung ano talaga ang makakapagpaligaya sa kanya, maligaya na rin ako.’


BB meanwhile wished Carmina and Zoren to live a happy life together. She believed the couple deserved each other ‘I’m very happy for them. They should get married and be legally husband and wife. After 14 years of living together, doon na talaga dapat papunta ‘yun.


And it did go that direction. After the annulment between Carmina and Rustom was granted in June 2012, Carmina and Zoren’s wish finally came true after more than 10 years of being together:



Carmina and Zoren’s wedding went on to become one of the biggest and most romantic showbiz event of the year 2012. The wedding fulfilled many promises between Carmina and Zoren, including that of a happy ever after.


BB’s happily ever after, on the other hand, is reconciliation with her family. Her estranged relationship with brother was finally put to a close last year. Robin even plans to produce a movie starring BB Gandanghari and LGBT rights.


Rustom and Carmina may be over, but in the death of their sad love story came two love stories that completed both person. The story of the couple serves as a reminder that love can change people for the better.





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