Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Power of Gold

Non omne quod nitet aurum est is the Latin phrase for 'Not all that shines is gold!' The proverb was used by Chaucer, by Cervantes in 'Don Quixote' and by Shakespeare in 'The Merchant of Venice'.

That proverb could have been used many centuries ago but today's post will once again prove the timeless and enduring truth of the adage.

The phrase simply means: just because something may look valuable, desirable or attractive, doesn't mean that it will definitely be worth having once you discover its true value or nature.

One of the elements that I will not forget in my high school chemistry is Au. I would always remember my teacher's story that Au came from the Latin word aurum meaning 'shining dawn'.

Her name is not Aurora, the Roman goddess of dawn which links the the warm, yellow color of gold and where the Au symbol of gold came from. But she is The Gal Behind the 'Golden Fleece'. (Click the link later after reading the whole post).

I felt for her children, for her husband, for her families and friends and for the many Filipinos who are building up the image of the OFWs and the Philippines. How easy it is for some to destroy the reputation of the Pinoy Expats and OFW abroad fin exchange for the glitter of gold! (in the literal sense of the word). It's really a shame but this has to be posted especially as a reminder for us OFWs who may be trusted with similar responsibilities.

I really deliberated many times today on whether to post this or not because I know this will spoil the excitement going on around in KaBLOGgywood for the 2009 Pinoy Expats/OFW Blog Awards. Everyone's anticipating with enthusiasm the 2nd PEBA Season's Hope of the Nation, Gift to the World Awarding Ceremony on the 27th of December 2009. So during those time of contemplation I just went to enjoy the music and video at Jee's Wit's Expression - Lipad Ng Pangarap that made me feel proud again to see the Philippine flag wave confidently beneath the azure skies.

Have a look at the story of the Woman Charged With Using Handbag to Steal $12M in Gold. She is the same Woman accused of taking 500 pounds of gold from job. (As advised earlier, click the links only after reading the whole story)

This is a sad and shameful story ---

NEW YORK—Prosecutors said a Filipina stole $12 million in gold from the jewelry company she worked for, squirreling it away in the lining of her purse over six years. Teresa Perez Tambunting, 50, a vault manager at Jacamel Jewelry in Queens , has been charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property. The company discovered in January that nearly $12 million in merchandise was missing.

Prosecutors said the thefts occurred from 2004 until Tuesday, and that a search of Tambunting's Scarsdale home turned up 450 pounds of gold. Tambunting was released Tuesday on $100,000 bail. Tambunting was a member of the 1977 high school class at the St. Theresa's College Manila. The other members of that class include journalist Patricia Adversario and doctors Concepcion Cruz Vesagas and Donna de Padua Dolores.

The New York Daily News reported that Tambunting had told relatives at a Christmas dinner that she was terrified of the recession, even though police this week found $12 million worth of gold and jewelry in her basement. She and her husband Edgardo, a director at Cantor Fitzgerald, a financial services company, had complained that 2008 hit them hard. The couple migrated to the US in 1991.

I was there at Christmas. They were saying this was one of their worst years, but this year is [going to be] much better, the Daily News quoted their nephew, Gregorio Perez, 28, as saying. Despite this optimism, Perez said, they were afraid the Wall Street turmoil would force Edgardo to change jobs. This recession is hurting everybody. I know they hit20a rough patch, Perez said. Teresa was the youngest of eight brothers and sisters, he said.

All the while, Teresa, her husband and their three teenage kids were sitting on a treasure trove of raw gold and jewelry that Mom hoarded in 5-gallon buckets in the basement of her home, prosecutors said. Perez told the Daily News he had memories of playing in that basement 10 years ago—when the only things stashed there were toys and power tools. We used to go over there a lot, Perez was quoted as saying. They welcomed us in, any time we needed. She was always a generous aunt to us, me and my sister and brother.

Tambunting, the vault manager since 1991, started working at Jacmel Jewelry shortly after its formation in 1977, and most recently earned $165,000 a year, police sources told the Daily News. Soon after the audit, Tambunting came to work dragging 80 pounds of fine gold and jewelry in a rolling suitcase—confessing to one of her bosses that she had to steal it, the Daily News reported. The rest of the stash was returned to the company from her home, said Jack Rahmey, Jacmel president.

Additional reporting by Lorena Mongelli

A larcenous longtime employee of a major Queens jewelry manufacturer walked off with a staggering 500 pounds of gold she smuggled out piece by piece over six years -- in her handbag, prosecutors said yesterday.

Teresa Tambunting, 50, of Scarsdale , sneaked the hoard out of a Long Island City vault by stashing "a few ounces" at a time in a false bottom she created in the lining of her pocketbook, authorities said. "I am a very sick woman. I took the gold," she told her stunned bosses once the jig was up, according to sources.Officials at Jacmel Jewelry caught on that they were being bled dry after doing an internal audit in January and noticing they were missing as much as $12 million worth of gold, which now trades for around $900 an ounce. "The defendant is accused of establishing a virtual mining operation in Long Island City which siphoned off millions of dollars' worth of the precious metal," said Queens District Attorney Ric hard Brown.

Tambunting had worked for Jacmel for 28 years, joining the company shortly after emigrating from the Philippines , and had been made a vault manager in 1991. She was paid $160,000 a year and was one of only a handful of "highly trusted" employees who had access to the company's safe, sources said. But even those people were subject to searches by security -- which Tambunting got around with the makeshift hole in a beaten-up black leather, banana-shaped purse she carried for years.. A few days after company officials started going over their books to see if they had made an accounting error, Tambunting walked into work wheeling a piece of luggage containing 60 pounds of "fine gold" -- or buck-shot-sized pellets of unrefined precious metal.

When asked if that was all she had taken, she said yes, but days later, she changed her tune and came in with her lawyer --and a couple of dozen five-gallon paint buckets filled with 447.8 pounds of gold necklaces, rings, earrings and other jewelry. There was enough gold to fill 12 large storage bins. The size of Tambunting's haul stunned employees.

"When they walked in the first time, they were shocked and their jaws dropped," a source said. "When she came back three weeks later, their jaws dropped even heavier.." The stash took company officials nearly three weeks to inventory. During that period, they discovered some pieces that dated back to early 2004. Then they went to the DA. In all, the value of the returned gold is roughly $7.3 million, meaning $4.7 million remains missing. Some of that, sources said, could have been lost in routine manufacturing processes. They said Tambunting and her husband, Edgardo, a director at Cantor Fitzgerald, appeared to be living within their means, but probers were still investigating their finances.

The couple lives with their three children in a million-dollar home. Jacmel Jewelry President Jack Rahmey called Tambunting "a longtime employee and a trusted one," but declined to comment any further. She was released Tuesday on $100,000 bail.. She faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.. Her lawyer did not return messages.


  1. hehe, I'll be the one to drop a comment.

    It was so disappointing to know that a fellow Filipino have done as "bad" as that. I don't have the right to judge the person but I can't see why she have to do it?(..And there's no way should somebody do like that) Its not because of poverty. She came from a good school and is earning more than enough. And according to the reports she was one of the trusted employees, apparently, not anymore coz she was driven by her selfish motives.

  2. it seems whàt they got is not enough, tsk tsk!

    when desperàtion àrises, àll the good moràl vàlues were put àt the side.

    Deàr, whàt is now in their nàme?

  3. I felt sorry for her... hmmm... temptations temptations.... jijijijiji.... Magpapicture na lang kasi siya kasama ng gold at least she take nothing but pictures! jijijijiji

  4. Literally and figuratively, nakakasilaw talaga ang ginto! Tsk, tsk, tsk...

    This is not a good example... Alam kong inilathala niyo po ito dahil gusto niyong iparating na ito'y hindi dapat tularan.

  5. Baka naman balak nilang magpatayo ng "branch" ng pawnshop sa escolta dyan state. : )

    That's one way of laundering all those golds.

  6. I don't know why but I don't feel remorse for her. Actually, parang in some ways I admire her pa nga. Ain't I twisted? Buti na lang hindi ako sa gintuan nagtatrabaho.

  7. hehehe, kagaya ng ask ko, sila ba may-ari ng tambunting pawnshop?

    kahit saan, Filipino's pagdating sa nakakasilaw na bagay,

    Basta hoping we will still live with the virtue of honesty, and integrity.

  8. @Niqabi - Natutulog ka pa ba? Lagi kang based ah. Hahaha! Yes, we should not judge her. Per her admission, she's sick. They suspected that she may have a form of obsessive-control disorder that leads her to hoard the gold. So it's not being rich or poor... Sakit na eh dahil hindi nya naman ni-encash...Baka itong disorder will help her get away from being convicted... I dunno... but the bottomline is nakakahiya talaga.

    @Francesca - I really don't see that she was desperate or greedy for the gold... the fact that she did not encash it or hide it somewhere is something that really puzzles me. nevertheless, it was a wrong thing that she traded for her values.

    @Xprosiac - Oo nga, sana blogger siya para maka pag pose siya then i-post niya... she will not need a flash dahil the basement could be shining literally because of the glow of the gold.

  9. @Doc RJ -
    Sa laki ba naman ng naipuslit nya, the basement could have been glowing with the glittering gold...
    I edited a line para nga lumabas na this was posted para malaman ng lahat na di dapat itong tularan.Pumipikit ng mga mata ko ng ni-re-review ko bago i-publish. Maraming salamat po... Btw, yung qoute mo sa bike nakalinya kasama sa mga linya nina Einstein atbp.

    @ParengVox -
    Hahaha.. It's not established if she's in any way related to the family of the Tambuting Pawnshop - Ang Takbuhan ng Bayan...Kung sakali man.. pero until now hindi ko maubos isipin kung bakit nya nagawa yun? Pawnshop sa Queens o sa Times Square?

    @Nebz -
    Iba ka nga. That thought crossed my mind for a magaling sya...matalino...She outsmarted all of them but the fact remains that she did something wrong and her mental disorder is not a valid excuse to do it.

    @Kenji -
    Kagaya rin ng sabi ko kay ParengVox - di ko alam. Makulet ka rin ano? Hehehe.
    Maalaala ko dati kwento ng mga Saudi friends ko, some Pinoys/Pinays would go inside a jewelry store here in Jeddah and bring along a half-filled softdrink in can... asks the jewelry store attendant for some jewelry sets tapos pasok ang isang ka-mafia hihingi rin ng kilatisin na set e di tameme ang attendant. what they do is to swiftly put the set in their mouth at magkunwaring iinom sa pepsi-in-can kasabay luwa ng ninakaw na ginto... when that was discovered bawal na ang Pinoy/Pinay to bring a softdrink or juice can inside a jewelry store... Walang pagkakaiba kay Madam Theresa di ba?

    Tough task..a tall order for PEBA but will be made easy by millions of OFWs through the support of committed bloggers that indeed the OFWs and Pinoy Expats are the Hope of our Nation and Gift to the world. Go PEBA! Go KaBLOGs, Go Kenji!

  10. this and many more. do they do this just because they are pinoys? or are there underlying reasons? just a few weeks ago here in thailand everyone was so jubilant coz of pacquiao's visit and his audience with the PM. then a few days later, there was a big headline regarding a group of pinoys who steal from others in jewelry shops or coming from ATMs etc.

  11. ang sabi sa kanta ni barabara some gold things never last, este good things pala :) aanihin mo pa ang kinang ng ginto if at the end you loose your soul.

  12. Thanks for sharing this story, I just found out from your post about this Pinay. Grabe, kasiraan na naman sa ating mga Pinoy ang kasalanan ng isang Pinoy. Minsan ang tao walang kasiyahan e, ang laki na nga ng sweldo niya nagawa pa niya ang magnakaw. Sakit kaya yun? Kasi di naman yata binenta yun at pinagtapat pa niya....hay kakaawa na nakakahiya :-(