Tina Jacinto, Manila Bulletin Lifestyle society columnist, passes away

Tina JacintoManila Bulletin Lifestyle society columnist, passed away yesterday, after having been confined at University of Santo Tomas Hospital for two weeks. She underwent two surgeries.

Tina Jacinto

Together with her husband, "Faaabvlous" photographer to society’s upper crust Rupert Jacinto, the beautiful, always pristine Tina Jacinto gracefully stalked the social gatherings of Manila’s elite, of which she was a part, and dished about them with subtlety, familiarity, and grace as Manila Bulletin’s beloved longtime social columnist. At these parties, she cut a familiar gamine figure in her always chic tiny dresses, her hair in a signature bouffant, her kitten heels. In her inimitable elegant ways as society columnist non pareil, Tina Jacinto chronicled bashes big and small, her trusty companion Rupert by her side, for more than 10 years for her column “Having a Ball,” published every Sunday in Manila Bulletin.

The power couple has always been part of the glittering set. Many years ago, the Jacintos lived in New York, as Rupert pursued a career as a photographer to the fabulous. He has taken portraits of the Rothschild banking family, baronesses, Fifth and Park Avenues ladies, Ivana Trump, and in Spain, he has photographed the Duchess of Calabria and other royalty. Tina, who studied in Assumption and Maryknoll (now Miriam), would cover social events with Rupert for a New York publication.

Back home in Manila, their fabulous personal life intersected with their professional one, as they provided the reading public a sneak peek of the wondrous life of the privileged set, allowing readers to get to know the movers and shakers of Philippine society beyond just their party photos. 

To celebrate her 10th anniversary as a society columnist in 2018, Tina launched her coffee table book, Having a Ball, alongside her home publication Manila Bulletin. Held at the City of Dreams, guests flipped through all of its 258 pages, featuring 12 cover ladies and five society icons (portraits courtesy of Rupert, of course) with profiles written by Tina and her editor, Manila Bulletin Lifestyle’s AA Patawaran.

The cover featured society’s power women—Josie NatoriNedy TantocoMellie AblazaHeart EvangelistaKatrina Ponce EnrileCris AlbertMabel AbanoNonie BasilioMercy PadolinaMarivic BurgosAnna Racquel Santos, and Malu Martinez. These women weren’t just ladies who lunched, they were running empires and changing the country for the better. For the Jacinto couple, society wasn’t just about frivolous parties—it was about giving back, and celebrating people who changed the cultural landscape of the country. The couple strived to chronicle not just glitzy events, but social, artistic, and literary pursuits, paying tribute to women like Imelda CojuangcoMary PrietoChito Madrigal-CollantesPriscilla Sison, and Chona Kasten—all of whom have been photographed by Rupert in their prime—all of whom have had great impact on Philippine society.

In her book, as in her life, Tina supported worthy causes. She devoted attention to big events from the Spouses of Heads of Mission, the Club Bulakeño, Society for Cultural Enrichment, and Friends for Cultural Concerns of the Philippines.
This year, for her birthday in January, Tiffany & Co. general manager and longtime confidante and friend Mario Katigbak hosted a cocktail party in honor of Tina. It was a birthday bash to remember, and one that was worth the glittering life of society’s adored chronicler.  The evening overflowed with Moet & Chandon, with the jewels of Tiffany—Elsa Peretti diamonds, jewel boxes, necklaces with meticulously crafted keys—shining alongside the birthday girl.

In her column sharing what would be her last birthday, Tina breathlessly wrote, “Having lived in New York a few decades back, during my young and carefree days, I had my share of Holly Golightly moments. One spring weekend, I woke up early, brushed aside all apprehensions, put on my oversized Audrey sun­glasses, grabbed myself a Danish in the sidewalk truck, and headed for Fifth Avenue and 57th to simply admire the window display at Tiffany & Co. I visualized Audrey Hepburn’s Breafast at Tiffany—she with her gamine style and 20-inch waistline and her haircut, which is still oh-so-fashionable these days. That was my ultimate Tiffany moment.”

Tina is survived by her husband Rupert, and children Jacqueline, married to Peter Zuratynsky with daughter Vivian; Jeremy, married to Justina Antonio, with son Julian; Liezl, married to Yuki Sato with children Keiji, Arisa, and Shinji.