Reversal of Fortune

images_richIn my lifetime I’ve read and heard countless of rags to riches stories that gave me that pleasant feeling of joy and mild inspiration. After all, who wouldn’t be happy to hear about success stories of people who overcome overwhelmingly difficult challenges, especially those who come from the under privileged class. On the other hand, there are those born privileged, with a silver spoon in their mouth and by some twist of fate, lose their stature and wealth and fall from riches to rags. Just as the wind turns into a gale without warning, life is the same – utterly unpredictable. But I guess the worst kind reversal of fortune one could go through in this life is one that goes full circle – from rags to riches and back to rags. This is often the case where you hear of people blowing their brains out in total despondency and despair. One stint at the gutter is enough. A second trip is hell itself.

images_ragsWhen I was a young lad growing up in the Visayas I remember a family that was a classic case of the rags to riches story. With hard work the enterprising couple who were barely making 3 square meals a day were able to acquire land and engaged in real estate. The success was gradual but steady and the couple were able to acquire haciendas, moved to a very large house and bought cars, sent their children to private schools. Money was a plenty and life was great. I remember the man of the house having a haircut lying sideways on the hammock, occasionally dozing off , keeping the poor barber on his toes all the time, unsure whether he cut both “patilyas” properly. He would switch sides to get the other side done. If I was the barber I would f-off in a jiffy but he was da man and a great tipper so you got to do it his way. When you were a kid you didn’t think much about it but remembering it now makes you realize what a moron the guy was and I would rather cut a baboon’s hair than doing guesswork on a head that’s filled with what looked like curly pubic hair. When you got lots of money you get things done your way and people won’t complain. To make the story short – the kids went to school but none of them finished college, the family was embroiled in a nasty and protracted court case that depleted their treasure chest, the sugar industry suffered a paralyzing recession. The family lost everything and went back to the gutter. They went full circle. Sad indeed.


Behind the splendor and opulence of this elegant mansion named Casa Loma lies a tragic story of a reversal of fortune. Imagine yourself living in this majestic 98 room mansion on top of a hill with a stunning view of the city. One day the city officials drop by and confiscate the house because you owe the government a substantial amount of unpaid real estate taxes. Such was the reversal of fortune for the illustrious businessman and industrialist Sir Henry Pellat and owner of the famous Casa Loma. He lost all his wealth so badly that he was forced to live at the house of his chaffeur until he died because he had nowhere to go. The man who was once so filthy rich and reportedly owned as much as 25% of Canada’s economy never for once thought that he would lose everything he owned. A series of business misfortunes and the effect of the Great Depression of the 30’s that crippled the North American economy contributed significantly to his fall. The majestic house doesn’t belong to his heirs. In his time, no one could afford to buy the house. It is now a tourist attraction. It is indeed true, that the higher you soar, the harder you fall.

(click on pic for full screen view)When I took these photos, the front part of the house was under renovation hence the partial shots. I wouldn’t call this house a castle because it isn’t fortified as castles ought to be. The materials used in the construction of the house is best in class, including the furniture which had been very well preserved. The house features an underground tunnel which leads to the garage with its own gas pump, horse stable and the pottery room. I went up the towers but darn my camera battery dried up and I had to charge up at the basement where they have a Druxy’s restaurant to serve patrons. The in door pool was never finished. Sir Henry also had a secret door from his study to the wine cellar that holds 1800 bottles of his select wine. There is also a private museum on the third floor. I took photos of some of the rooms and there were many of them. I couldn’t quite remember the names of the rooms correctly.


The other day a Pinoy friend told me a funny story. A newly arrived Pinay immigrant phoned her supervisor and left a message in her voice mail, that she couldn’t report because her tooth that recently had a “pasta” was aching. “Pasta” of course is Tagalog for tooth filling. She also left a voice mail for a colleague saying the same thing. That day some of her colleagues phoned her at home and left a message on her voice mail inquiring if she was okay. She went back to work the following day and one of her colleagues asked her ” oh, how is your teeth now ? Did you break it because you bit some uncooked pasta? ” Another colleague later on asked her ” hey, how are you feeling ? I heard you passed out yesterday” :mrgreen:


37 Responses

  1. That’s a tragic story for the owner of Casa Loma. Maybe they should make a movie about it.

    Pasta ? What was she thinking? So hilarious haha 🙂

    • A movie won’t be that bad actually. It seemed that there was not a dull moment in Sir Henry’s life.

      For a moment I thought she was talking Taglish ( Tagalog English) 🙂

  2. pasta al dente. (al dente: “to the tooth”) . Reversal of fortunee is not about ytragedy. It is about the fragility that comes from holding on too tight.

    Perhaps some of these people found a peace, even after losing all their material.

    Maybe they were not happy when they were rich. I kn ow it sounds trite, but I do know that I am more saddened when a man loses his wife or his child, anbd I feel that way whether he rich or poor.

    • True. Some realize that happiness doesn’t always come with money and power. The song “I Miss The Hungry Years ” sorts of echoes the feeling.

  3. BW, thank you for visiting my site. I am not a very spiritual guy. I think yoga is about stretching, balance, and quiet. IU would never worry too much about ‘what kind of yoga’ I practice. I do know it makes me feel better.

    • Hey, I already linked you up 🙂 I was wanting to do the whole shebang – mental and physical aspects of yoga, thinking that if I get stranded in the forest while hunting I could make my mind control my body like falling asleep, impervious of my surroundings and the weather hahaha 😉

  4. What’s even sadder for the case of “from rags to riches to rags” is that when you’re wealthy, you gained countless friends and perhaps helped other people and when you’re completely down financially, you’re left on your own — no friends, no relatives even.

    • that’s the most tragic part, when people cast you into oblivion because you’re no longer what you are, you lost your money and power and you can’t be of benefit to them any longer 😦

  5. “the man of the house having a haircut lying sideways on the hammock, occasionally dozing off ”

    LOL. This guy is totally rotten spoiled 🙂

    That mansion is a symbol of power and extravagance more than anything. When you spend that kind of money you better know what’s coming. Look at MJ’s Neverland. It drove him to bankruptcy.

    Btw, those inside photos of the house are quality shots.

    • straight up, the man of the house was a complete dork 😆

      Absolutely. MC Hammer was once worth $250M but got bankrupt because everywhere he went he had an entourage of some 40 people. If he went to lunch, they all went to lunch too duh 😦

      Thanks. I didn’t use flash on those indoor shots 🙂

  6. the problem from people who came from rags then suddenly acquire enormous richness tend to forget their past & overreact with their newly acquired status… when God gives us the chance to uplift our life, we have to handle it with care… for chance usually does come just once…

    • In other words, they forgot where they came from and thought that money will be falling everyday like manna from heaven. I don’t know what it is but stats say that 43% of lottery jackpot winners who win millions end up bankrupt !

  7. I guess it is best to be just “middle class”… you can’t fall too high or rise too high… 😉

  8. Hmm, i have seen my share of people who came upon wealth so quickly that they thought their streak of good fortune would last forever. But, as things go in this world, naubos din yung pera. Instead of investing it wisely, kung anu-ano ang pinagbibili. house, cars, etc. Very particular are those who got their fortune by winning the lottery…

    • I’ve seen people here who have declared bankruptcy TWICE 😦 Now that tells me that it’s either that they’re totally dumb not to recognize their failure or that they have no control of their whims. It becomes even more disappointing when they are your friends 😦

  9. having a haircut while lying down and “sleeping”—– well I have my own story about something like this. back in college me and my dormmates sleep while our manicurist does our toenails. she wanted to make money even if we wanted to sleep first. since we knew her for a long time and she did our nails weekly (she comes to our dorm weekly) we would pay her before we lie down and when we wake up our nails are done properly.

    it does sound outrageous on hindsight, but that was how it was 😀

    • That’s totally cool IMO 😉

      I wish I could get someone to give me a massage me at home ( the real and not the hanky panky one hehe ) until I sleep and I can pay the following day 🙂

      Given, the high cost of labor here, I will be kinda pricey for sure. There’s a guy who would roast pig in his truck driven portable roaster – at your backyard. He needs 6 hours and charges you a whopping $700 for it – all inclusive. 😉

  10. Iron Mike Tyson’s winnings of $350million is gone. He never cared for me, so I won’t let him sleep in my house, hehe…

    Never watched any of Bruce Willis’ movies. He used to be a lowly bartender but got rich doing crappy movies, went back to the same bar he used to work and never tipped after a drink.

    In my lifetime, I’d like to see the Arroyos lose everything they stole! BUT, thieves are hard to bring down to the ground, just look at the Marcoses, wealthy and enjoying the loots of yesteryears. Imelda even professed she is broke, what a hag!

    My cousin’s front neighbor in Baguio during the early 70’s lived in a dilapidated small hut cooking/selling all kinds of Puto. It was really a classic rags to riches wherein the siblings and parents were involved in such business. Not sure though if the abundance of money got to their heads or not, as I’ve never asked what became of them. Maybe I should ask how they are nowadays.

    I’ll never sympathise with Rich to Rags type of people, no matter what. If Pakyaw loses it all, I’ll laugh!

    • Mike always visits the Pacquiao training camp and asks for free ringside tickets hehe 🙂

      I’ll be darned if Bruce Willis behaves that way. That’s being a total ass. Seems cheapstake Russel Crowe is a bit better. At least he leaves an autographed photo of himself as tip 😉

  11. Rags to riches story- Villar is a good exaple. Man, i am voting for this guy.

    About the last paragraph- tooth fillings contan a certain substance that may cause some mental retardation of kids of mothers who had it.

    • Yes, he was a rags to riches guy and this is enough to inspire people. Good luck to you on your choice of Villar bro. 😐

      yikes. That’s news to me. I also heard that women who go through full anesthesia like cesarean operation are susceptible to memory lapses. I guess we can never fully prove side effects of drugs eh ? 😦

  12. the place looks so imposing and majestic. sorry for the sad story behind it.

    • it is a tragic story. When I came to visit the mansion, I watched the 15 minute highlight reel of the story of Casa Loma in one of the rooms. Sir Henry was knighted by the English monarchy because of his wealth and stature and to die in your chaffeur’s home penniless like he did is one of the saddest reversal of fortune stories I’ve ever heard 😦

      On one hand he enjoyed his life immensely when he was rich. Sometimes rich people have the tendency to think that they are set wealthy for life. We know that there is no certainty when it comes to the business of money.

  13. That’s indeed a full circle rags to riches story. In relation to some of the victims of typhoon Ondoy, I know a few personally who are going through a full circle. It’s heartbreaking though that the fall is caused by Mother Nature. But there’s where faith will keep people going.

    • I composed this post with my recent trip to Casa Loma but never had an inkling that it will tie up with the Ondoy tragedy. I am very saddened by the tremendous loss some people have to go through.

      Whether it be mother nature, our indescretions or misjudgements that causes the tragic setback, one thing is certain, that life is totally unpredictable and it can reverse its course without warning. Sometimes we think we are in control when we really never are.

  14. Money talks, and everyone listens. Whoever has the money has the power, according to Michael Moore, who has a film delving on the trappings of capitalism.


    I’ve noticed that the new rich have a tendency to show off their new-found wealth and become “matapobre.”

    Kawawa naman yung barbero…


    A once very wealthy aunt of mine and her family in Bacolod lost all their money during the Asian financial crisis in 1997. It pained me to see them living from one house to another…nakikitira lang kung saan saan. But they became Christians because of this sad experience, which was a blessing in disguise.

    It is true that the fall of the high and mighty is much more painful than those who live simple lives.


    Nice castle. I feel sad to hear the story behind it.

    • True that sometimes a dramatic financial setback makes people see the meaning of life in a much better angle. On a much smaller scale, I’ve seen people sell their house so they can help relatives and end up having bad blood and burning the bridges with them ugh. 😦

  15. I know several stories of that type.

    Pero mahirap magsalita.

  16. Isn’t this the nightmare we always get nervy about every time?

    It’s so much worse when the misery comes so abruptly, that’ll be so mindnumbingly painful.

    Maybe that’s why i am feeling that I dont wanna be filthy rich, just very rich rich. That way, i wont get the risk of such merry go round that ain’t merry at all.

    • The filthy rich might be one of the most insecure people for all we know, too scared to lose the immense wealth they possess. Walking to have a bite a local restaurant becomes physically too risky a task for them . The thought of the street lampost accidentally falling on their head or food poisoning at the restaurant is unthinkable 😉

  17. I know one story of “rag to riches to rag”. In my hometown, there was a father who became rich thru hardwork, that he pampered his children, giving everything to them what he didn’t experience growing up. The sad thing is he pampered them too much that when he died, what he accumulated were spent on caprice and not so well thought investment by his spoiled children.

    I don’t know if I can fault the father.

    • Our role as parents is to make our children good stewards of our material and natural wealth. This is the burden of the rich, how to perpetuate their wealth when they are no longer around.

      If a child is spoiled from day one we can have a good basis for predicting that the ride would be a real bumpy one for the poor kid.

  18. heard a lot of rags to riches stories. there was a tagalog proverb that says ‘ ang di lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay di makapupunta sa paroroonan’. some poor people become so overwhelmed of the abundance that they tend to forget and fail to be ‘humans’ when they become rich.

    money is not everything in this world. it should be treated more as a necessity. that being said, we really do not need much more than we can afford to spend.

    • I just watched a TV program last night about a Mexican -American who is no longer in speaking terms with his mother and siblings after he won $62M from the powerball lottery. He said the gave everyone of them money but they all think he should have given and continue to give them more. Alas, how money can ruin relationships 😦

  19. Who would cheat on such an awesome wife?

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