Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sex and the Single Filipino President

Where love has gone; President Aquino still looking 

By Thelma Sioson San Juan
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Please ignore my love life muna, baka maging zero na (you might jinx it),” President Benigno Aquino texted me recently.
Mr. Aquino has brought home $2.4 billion in investment pledges from his US trip last September. And the windfall in foreign investments—$500 million from Nestle and P2.5 billion from P&G—should mean more jobs for Filipinos, a major campaign promise.
But do these figures stick in people’s minds? No. They’re not sexy enough. To a teleserye-obsessed country, “zero love life” is sexier. It whets the appetite for romance. Style makes better headlines than substance, especially in politics.
Can the country’s first bachelor President (if you don’t count the widower Elpidio Quirino) ever have a love life? Should he have one?
To the millions of women out there who might want to know how they can catch the attention, if not win the love, of the country’s first bachelor President in modern times, here are a few tips from those who know him well:
His type? According to a friend, he likes them fair and chinita, but then there could be exceptions. But certainly, his previous girlfriends were pretty, if not beautiful. Nice figures, too.
Makeup and style? As Liz Uy and Shalani Soledad proved, one can have either the barest of makeup or the glamazon look.
Dieting is a no-no. He’s not appreciative of dinner mates who are scared to eat.
Have friends who will not talk and will respect personal space, certainly not friends who will mount a media campaign. In a word, low-key.
Don’t have a political/business/military agenda.
Fight the urge to get a product endorsement.
Have a sexy body—and a sexier mind. Remember, he likes stimulating conversation.
And, as always:
Know and live your values. Magpakatotoo (Be authentic).
Know how to know, truly understand, appreciate and enjoy him, and each other.
We better stop right there because if the list gets any longer, he knows he might just have a zero love life.
Filial piety 
He told me years ago that he hoped to get married in his 30s, which became “40, and no later,” because he hoped to enjoy his children. Can you imagine I’d be 50 and my kid would only be 10 years old, he’d say, doing the maths. Those calculations are now moot of course.
Responsibilities to a famous mother who was destined to become the country’s democracy icon, former President Corazon Aquino, and to his siblings had always taken precedence in the life of this only son, to the point that filial piety became his comfort zone.
He did have a number of relationships but, although some lasted many years, none would end in marriage. Some attractive and interesting woman would invariably catch his eye, but a factor or two, in time, would, as a friend once put it, “kill the sparks” and somerelationship standards wouldn’t be met, and he would eventually opt out.
Like any single man or woman who’s been through many a relationship, he can spot a minefield kilometers away. And instead of traipsing right through it, he prefers to stay away.
Alone at day’s end
So now the bachelor President goes home to Pangarap, the presidential digs with a vast living and entertaining showcase, every night alone. Usually tired from the day’s burdens, when he enters the door, he walks across the living room and straight to his bedroom or to the music room beside it where, if he’s up to it, he listens to his extensive and varied CD collection.
He heads straight to his bedroom, he says, because lingering in that huge empty living room, he says, merely rubs in the fact that he’s alone at the end of the day.
Sure, he gets nonstop text messages 24/7, which he almost always tries to reply to (he does reply even past midnight), but then he’s the type who loves a good conversation. He loves talking to people, and in a relationship, it is stimulating conversation that keeps him reeled in. That, and good, delicious food. That’s why he enjoys going out on dates—his attempt at getting a life, or so he likes to think.
The councilor
At the start of their relationship, he and Soledad, the 30-year-old Valenzuela councilor who was his girlfriend until about two months ago, had great rapport, but their hectic schedules just did not prove conducive to a lasting relationship.
They tried to keep the spark alive to the very end, according to a friend. But then some incompatibility, perhaps in their perspectives on life, became apparent, the friend said.
But they have remained friends, and Mr. Aquino remains on good terms with Soledad’s mother, Evelyn.
Soledad, who now cohosts the ambitious prime-time game show of Willie Revillame, is being linked romantically to Revillame, with serious talk of marriage no less. She’s been spotted wearing the two-carat diamond he gave her—a token of goodwill when she signed up for the show, it is said. It’s also said that Revillame, who’s known to shower friends with gifts, is shopping around for a house for her. (See related story in Lifestyle on Page F1.)
The stylist
Mr. Aquino found his stylist Uy interesting, again because they had good rapport; she also indulged his love of music. According to a friend, what drew him most to Uy was her candor about everything.
(Of course, Soledad and Uy are physically attractive, to begin with.)
Mr. Aquino and Uy dated briefly, but they never went steady. And, according to a close friend, the bachelor President was not “busted” (repeat, not busted), contrary to the media spin. He stopped seeing Uy when it became obvious to him, said the friend, that he would have neither the time, the stamina nor mind-set to continue the pursuit. After all, he’s no longer a 20-year-old lovestruck bachelor—and he’s trying to run a country.
So who will be his stylist now? Presidential garb and grooming are the least of his worries, if they ever were in the first place. Besides he could always go to designers JC Buendia and Paul Cabral, who are responsible for his wardrobe.
Through all this, Mr. Aquino hasn’t really said a word, being the gentleman his parents raised him to be, and also because he insists, perhaps with some naivetĂ©, that his private life be kept private.
He still hopes he can have a little personal space, even in a “fishbowl,” as he puts it.
Perhaps his way of remaining grounded or down to earth is by keeping in touch with a few close friends and going out malling, or to restaurants, even fast food, if and when his schedule allows.
A new romance?
One evening, two Fridays ago he went to a clan gathering at the Lopas, his cousins. It was actually a private party. There, an observer noted, he was easily surrounded by people, many of them women. He stayed longer than usual because he became engrossed in a conversation with one woman who, in the next few days, media would identify as Len Lopez.
She’s a finance career woman in her 30s who is an Ilongga (though perhaps not belonging to the ABS-CBN Lopez clan). She works with his cousin-in-law. He asked her out that weekend because he became interested in her. Like him, she’s also not in a relationship.
Will they go on seeing each other? Depends on how that interest is sustained—and on whether or not she can stand the media heat.
Goldfish can live in the fishbowl because they know how.
Prizest catch
Whenever Mr. Aquino says that he fears women will stay away because they don’t want the intense public scrutiny, he seems to forget that he is President. And the President—whether in the movies (Michael Douglas in “The American President,” remember?) and in real life—is always a prize catch, if not the prizest catch.
But that’s precisely it, a friend says. Mr. Aquino doesn’t want a woman to go out with him just because he is president or because of his lineage. He can get rather suspicious of a woman’s motives, the friend says.
P.S. The President truly believes he will find the right one and will marry her—someday.

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