(SPOT.ph) When President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III was sworn into office, he wasn't warned that it would be tough being the bachelor-President of a nation that’s fond of matchmaking. Then again, he should know that by now.
In an interview published in The Philippine Star on February 21, 2010, PNoy revealed that he had his first girlfriend when he was 18. He said that since then he's been in many relationships, but, for one reason or another, he just hasn't gotten around to getting married. Well, he turns 52 today, February 8, and he's still (technically) single. And, yes, we still think he may just surprise us one of these days.
For his birthday, we've decided to cut PNoy some slack and, for a moment, forget the hardcore issues he faces. We figured it's time for some pointless fun. We know this won't change the world nor wipe out poverty in the Philippines, but, hey, we decided to list the women who have caught PNoy's eye over the years.
Since he became President, it sure looks like PNoy's love life is on overdrive. Aside from the women on the list, PNoy has also been linked to TV5's Trish Roque, actress Iza Calzado, and Bais City Mayor Karen Villanueva. His sister Kris Aquino also pointed out that he and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra would make a good pair. In any case, click on to check out the 10 who made the list.
Korina walked downed the aisle with PNoy's running mate, Mar Roxas.
The connection: For lack of readily available documentation, we date the PNoy-Korina Sanchez relationship sometime in the late 1980s to the early 1990s. We’re more or less sure of the break-up time frame as PNoy himself said in a 2010 interview that they called it quits “two decades ago.”
Armchair diagnosis: Broadcast journalist Korina—who is about five years younger than PNoy—is a career-driven alpha female who also wasn’t keen on settling down early. It’s no surprise that they split and just became good friends.
Additional factoids: Korina ended up marrying Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, who was PNoy’s running mate in the 2010 elections. Mar had initially wanted to run for president—but he stepped aside when PNoy decided to pursue the presidency as well. Unfortunately, Mar didn’t get named vice president. In any case, PNoy was tapped as one of the sponsors in Korina and Mar’s October 27, 2009 wedding. PNoy later named Mar as the secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications.
Maricel says PNoy was gentleman, but she was already in love with Ace Espinosa when they met in 1998. (Photo by PEP.ph)
The connection: When PNoy was newly elected, showbiz scribe Rey Pumaloy asked actress Maricel Morales about her involvement with him. Maricel revealed that she met PNoy in 1998. That same year, she was shooting the movie, Talahib at Rosas 2 (with Joko Diaz), in Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac. PNoy reportedly visited her on the set several times and they had dinner in Hacienda Luisita several times. According to Maricel, she and PNoy stayed in touch for four to five months. At some point, he even sent food to her house in Angeles City, Pampanga.
Armchair diagnosis: It was Maricel herself who revealed why nothing ever came out of the PNoy phase in her life. At that time, she admitted that she was already in love with action star Ace Espinosa.
The connection: When “sexy actress” Barbara Milano was interviewed on The Buzz by Kris Aquino in 2002, she and PNoy were no longer together. There’s no available video clip of the said interview—but we were lucky enough to come across a discussion of the TV interview in an archived online forum thread. In it, a user who saw the interview revealed that according to Barbara, she and PNoy got together sometime around the 2000 elections. She said that they had broken up in the middle of 2001.
Armchair diagnosis: Barbara starred in racy-but-forgettable flicks like MasarapHabang Mainit, Tikim, and Eskort. As such, pundits speculated that PNoy’s family didn’t really see her as a suitable partner for him. However, the Aquino clan’s ever-bubbly representative, Kris, declared on national TV that she liked Barbara.
Additional factoids: After she was elected as councilor in Talavera, Nueva Ecija, Barbara’s story was dramatized in GMA-7’s Magpakailanman sometime in 2004. In it, there was a character that was very obviously PNoy—although, perhaps to respect his privacy, they renamed the character as “Dondon.” He was played by Ricardo Cepeda, while Barbara was played by Katherine Luna. To drive home the fact that “Dondon” was really PNoy, there was a scene wherein the character was made to stand in front of a bank. In the background, there was a huge poster featuring a giant image of the P500 bill. At that angle, Ninoy Aquino’s visage seemed to be looking down on “Dondon.” The PNoy-patterned character was very solicitous but he had commitment issues.
Pretty newswoman Bernadette ended up marrying Emilio Aguinaldo IV.
Armchair diagnosis: In the Manila Bulletin article, Bernadette simply said that she and PNoy broke up because they were "too busy" with their respective careers. She also said, “I’d really rather not talk about him because he may have a girlfriend now and it’s not fair for her if I will talk about her boyfriend. Besides, I really want to keep my private life private. Plus, he comes from a respected and famous background and I don’t want to be accused na nakikisakay lang ako (of taking advantage of him) for popularity.”
Additional factoids: Bernadette ended up marrying Emilio Aguinaldo IV—the great-grandson of the country’s first president—on June 12, 2008. According to PEP.ph, Bernadette met her husband on June 12, 2006 in Cavite, probably when she was covering the Independence Day festivities.
Shalani ended up with Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo.
The connection: According to a GMA News Online article written by Sophia Dedace, “(Shalani Soledad) said she first met (PNoy) in July 2005 during President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address. She was then a reporter for UNTV while Aquino was a congressman representing Tarlac province.” They met again in 2008, when Shalani and other Valenzuela City officials met PNoy at Alfredo’s Steakhouse in Quezon City. In an interview on The Buzz, Shalani related how PNoy struck up a conversation with her: “Twenty years ago, sinabi niya na it’s a miracle na nabuhay siya dahil 20 years after makikilala pala ako (Twenty years ago, he said it was a miracle that he survived, because 20 years later he would meet me).” Their relationship became official on September 5, 2008. However, by November 2010, PNoy’s sister Ballsy Aquino-Cruz confirmed that he and Shalani had called it quits. We surmise that the actual break-up happened way before this confirmation.
Armchair diagnosis: We don’t know what really happened. Perhaps, the PNoy-Shalani relationship couldn’t survive the “shock of the new.” That is, the shock of PNoy being a newly elected president. There’s also the fact that Shalani is 20 years younger than PNoy.
Additional factoids: After breaking up with PNoy, Shalani became one of Willie Revillame’s co-hosts on his show, Willing Willie, which was renamed as Wil Time Bigtime. Then, in September 2011, news broke out that she had gotten engaged to Pasig congressman Roman Romulo. They tied the knot on January 22, 2012. Roman invited PNoy to the wedding. Unfortunately, the president couldn’t make it.
We hardly knew Barbie, who reportedly "didn't want to be the center of attention." (Screenshot from Saksi video clip)
The connection: On October 9, 2010, Saksi reported that PNoy and a woman identified as "Barbie Palagos" were photographed together. The photograph was flashed in TV networks’ news segments. Barbie’s face was edited out in the photo. According to various reports, the two allegedly had dinner at the Nuvo Restaurant and Wine Bar in Greenbelt, Makati.
Armchair diagnosis: It just fizzled out. The public never even got to know Barbie. Heck, we don’t even know if Barbie is her real name. She probably got scared of the spotlight. As PNoy said in a Sun.Star Manila article, “We may not be able to meet again because she does not want to be the center of attention.”
Armchair diagnosis: Perhaps the PNoy-Liz match didn’t evolve into a full-blown romance because there were just too many people who were getting ahead of themselves. At some point, rumors alleged that the two were engaged.
Additional factoids: It was actually PNoy’s sister Kris who suggested that Liz become his stylist. Kris had pointed out that PNoy’s fashion sense was not exactly updated. Liz is also the ex-girlfriend of actor John Lloyd Cruz.
Len's condo was featured in the March 2006 issue of Real Living magazine. (Scanned page from the magazine)
Caught on PEP.ph's camera: PNoy and Bunny at the Hotdog reunion concert (at 1:30 to 1;34).
The connection: On May 16, 2011, PNoy was spotted at the Hotdog reunion concert with Bunny Calica, who was described in reports as “a 27-year-old teacher who works with Korean students.” According to an Inquirer.net report, prior to the concert date, Calica had dinner with the PNoy and his sister Kris Aquino's sons, Joshua and Bimby, at PNoy’s private quarters in Bahay Pangarap. According to the story related by Kris, Bimby had supposedly asked Bunny, “Are you my tito’s girlfriend?” Before Bunny could answer, PNoy had reportedly answered, “No, but I hope so.”
Armchair diagnosis: They never made it past the dating stage. Maybe Bunny was also unnerved by the media scrutiny.
Additional factoids: The Inquirer.net report also revealed that Bunny and PNoy had first met in 2007—but had only reconnected in 2011.
Well, they (PNoy and Grace) really are seeing each other!
The connection: Grace Lee and PNoy first met in Cebu in June 2011. Grace, who was a co-host at the inauguration of the Korea Electric Power Corp, had been wearing a traditional Korean costume. In his speech, PNoy remarked that he found Grace—as well as the women of Cebu—beautiful. They ran into each other two more times—when Grace interviewed him for a Magic 89.9 radio show and when Grace was invited to Malacañang when South Korean Prime Minister Lee Myung-bak visited the country in November 2011. By January 31, 2011, PNoy had admitted that they were indeed seeing each other.
Armchair diagnosis: Even if they’re not “official” yet, people already assume that they’re a couple. Grace has heaped praises on PNoy in interviews, calling him the smartest man she has ever met and referring to him as a “walking encyclopedia.” Grace has even said that their 22-year age difference doesn't seem to matter.
Additional factoids: Grace is Korean—but she may as well be Filipino since she’s been living here since she was 10 years old.
Art by Warren Espejo.
Images used in collage from screenshots taken from various news video clips.