Soap opera-loving and gossip-crazy Filipinos were stunned when the popular wayward daughter of former Philippine president Corazon Aquino revealed on national television her lurid and violent love affair with a married politician.
An emotional and shaking Kris Aquino accused Joey Marquez, mayor of the suburban city of Paranaque, of beating her up and poking and cocking a gun at her during a heated argument in their love nest before she walked out on him.
The younger Aquino also admitted that Marquez had given her a sexually transmitted disease during their 18-month relationship.
While the shocking confession, aired live on national television, was mostly a treat for soap opera fans and rumor mongers in the Philippines, the bittersweet love story has become a banner case for women's rights advocates.
"Kris has broken the Filipino women's culture of silence on domestic violence," according to women's group Gabriela. "We admire her courage and we hope more women will learn to fight back against their abusers."
Activists also noted that Kris was able to bring to the limelight the suffering of many women in the Philippines, who bear in silence the philandering ways of their husbands and even infections with sexually transmitted diseases.
The melodrama hit the spotlight when Kris, together with her elder brother Congressman Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino Junior and a battery of lawyers, rushed to the police headquarters to file a report on the gun-poking incident.
Raymond Fortun, Kris' chief lawyer, said the Aquinos were still considering what case to file against Marquez, who is also a popular comedian and a known womanizer.
"We are still discussing this together with her family," he said.
The 32-year-old Kris, herself, is not a spotless character, having had affairs with several married or separated local celebrities, including action and drama actor Philip Salvador, with whom she has a seven-year-old son.
"I am not a perfect person. I have many shortcomings as a daughter and a mother. I have violated many commandments of the Church. But I am not a liar," she said in her tell-all interview, dismissing insinuations of Marquez that she was not telling the truth.
Kris said she loved Marquez so much that she ignored the advice of her mother and brother who both strongly opposed the relationship.
She humbly admitted that she was "so stupid" to continue the affair even when Marquez demeaned her person and cheated on her openly and even brought another woman along while they were on vacation in the US in December last year.
"I don't know what he has that I loved him to this extent," she added. "I don't know why I became so stupid. He would often tell me that no other man would love me. That I should be grateful that he was putting up with me."
Psychologists and lawyers who work with battered women noted that Kris' experience epitomizes the helpless situation that victims of violent relationships often face.
Kris said that during her fight with Marquez, which began with a fit of jealousy over another woman, she grabbed at his genitals and set fire to their bed -- acts that psychologists described as desperate moves of a battered woman.
"I admit, they are saying I grabbed at his genitals, I did," she said. "I wanted to crush it."
The Kris-Joey fight has become such a national fanfare that it has hogged the headlines of even major newspapers for several days, pushing to the sidelines economic and security problems facing the country.