the (PR) games that Nic & Cecilia play

Like many others, I’ve been tuned in to the Nic & Ceci Drama since it began in May when she supposedly found herself in the same flight from Taipei to Hong Kong with Edison Chen.

Anyone who has been watching Asian showbiz won’t forget Edisongate–where hundreds of photos he took with girls, including Cecilia–surfaced on the Internet thanks to a broken laptop.

The news of the Ceci-Edison “reconciliation” (she reportedly asked to move so she could sit with him and they even, gasp, took a photo together), curiously enough, came from Edison’s camp. Here’s another story.

Soon after, countless of speculations came out all zeroing in on one thing: that the Nic and Cecilia marriage, which had survived Edisongate, was in rocky territory and the couple was headed for divorce.

Nic was then filming his movie,The Viral Factor, in Kuala Lumpur, while Cecilia was in Hong Kong. Circus ensued as everyone weighed in on the marriage, including radio host Eileen Cha, who revealed quite a mouthful against Cecilia. Not many pointed out that Eileen is a family friend of the Tses and they concluded that her revelation must have had the go-signal of Nic’s family.

In addition, Eileen and Nic’s mother, Deborah Li, are very close friends so no surprise that news would come out on how Deborah had long put up with Cecilia’s bad behavior. It was no surprise either that Deborah herself would give the death sentence to the marriage of her son and Ceci a month or so later.

Eileen said trouble has been brewing in the Nic-Ceci household even before that controversial plane ride with Edison, all fueled by Ceci’s “greed”. Her version of the troubled marriage is consistent with other news coming out from his camp that the Edison incident was not the reason for the fallout and that it had long been coming. Among the reasons cited was her rash personality and her usual threats to get a divorce everytime they fight. Nic reportedly have had enough and called her bluff.

More reports came out against Cecilia including one about an ex-boyfriend claiming that her father asked for money before. Details of old issues like the post-Edisongate trip to Thailand that Ceci made to save her marriage came out, indicating that making threats was not entirely new as she supposedly threatened to kill herself and Lucas if Nic did not forgive her.

But if the Tses have Eileen and others in their arsenal, Ceci can’t be far behind. She enlisted friends to help her refute talks that she is a bad mother. Her friend Yuki Lee launched an attack against Nic online. Joining the counter-attack was Ceci’s younger brother, Ho-lung, who revealed that his sister once had a miscarriage and Nic did not even comfort her.

This is in contrast to the loving husband that Nic had cultivated with such declarations as “I love my wife more than my children” that even got him crowned as “best man of the century” with many netizens saying Ceci was such a lucky woman. In April, when he accepted the best actor award at the Hong Kong Film Awards, he told her at the beginning of his speech: “you look beautiful tonight”.

Things came to a head when Cecilia herself spoke up against Nic accusing him of being a bad man and father. Nic’s camp retaliated by releasing photos of him playing with Lucas while Ceci played with her mobile phone during a trip to Macau.

In June, at a press conference in Beijing for The Viral Factor, Nic addressed the issue for the first time publicly and declared that he still loves his wife, but he does not know where to go from here. He also released a statement where he thanked Ceci for the five years they had together and wished her well. Ceci, according to the ever-so-hardworking Hong Kong press was heartbroken hearing her husband’s confession.

Ceci, according to reports, have demanded for his properties and sole custody of the kids. Nic reportedly is willing to give her half of his assets. As part of their campaign to paint her as greedy, his camp is quick to point out that she continues to use his credit cards despite the impending divorce. But her camp insists that she wants the kids, not his money.

On July 8, the ex-couple met at Ceci’s apartment and guess what, some details were leaked including her shouting at him when he ignored her.

Now they’re saying that Ceci has apologised to Deborah saying she does not want a divorce. Other reports say that she even refused to sign the divorce papers despite that Nic went to the extent of bringing lawyers to their son’s birthday party. Her camp has even accused Nic of forcing her to sign the papers putting an end to their five-year marriage. Another report says she is willing to return the properties that Nic had turned over to her if only to save the marriage.

In the course of the divorce talks, what follows of course are stories on who gets what, and who when it comes to the children, Lucas and Quintus. And so the PR war has now expanded from who’s the bad spouse to who’s the bad parent not capable of taking care of the kids.

The biggest losers in this circus are Lucas and Quintus who are too young to understand what is happening but will forever be hounded by how their parents have washed their dirty linen in public. This story on Lucas telling Ceci that he won’t “go to daddy” is heart-wrenching more than cute as it illustrates just how caught in the middle the kids are.

It’s just a pity that a few months ago, Ceci was being hailed as the luckiest woman in the world and Nic as the best husband, and together with their two sons, Hong Kong’s most ideal and loving family.

Then in just one instant, everything is over. This just goes to show that we can’t really predict what will happen and that we don’t really know what goes on behind the scenes, paparazzi’s long powerful lenses aside.

One will never know that behind those smiles is a lot of pain, until it becomes a headline.

(Just a note on the media role: while breaking stories or following the developments in this drama, reporters are not just doing their job, but become unwitting parties to the PR war between the two.)

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