It took President Benigno Aquino III about four decades to confess to a company of political friends that he had a teenage “crush.”
While members of Team PNoy were having lunch at a seafood restaurant by the beach in Arevalo district in Iloilo City on Thursday, the President—out of the blue—admitted that Sen. Loren Legarda had been his crush since he was 18.
What made this confession startling, to say the least, was that he said it in front of the senator herself.
“When I saw Loren before—I will say it now in front of everybody—we were still teenagers, but I already had a crush on her,” Mr. Aquino said in a matter-of-fact tone.
Legarda blushed. The usually bubbly senator—known for thinking aloud, especially on climate change and disaster risk reduction, women and children, and culture and heritage—was speechless for a moment.
Some of those at the table said Mr. Aquino’s words were like Cupid’s arrows that hit the senator right in the heart.
At the time, Mr. Aquino was already having dessert—a slice of Brazo de Mercedes—while the candidates, who had come from separate rallies in the city, had barely started to eat.
Among those who heard the confession of Mr. Aquino—who is still a bachelor at 53—were Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, reelectionist Senators Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Antonio Trillanes IV, former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros, Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin and Las Piñas Rep. Mark Villar.
Mr. Aquino did not give them room for speculation. He pressed on, as if trying to refresh Legarda’s memory, dishing out interesting details of his first meeting with the lass from Malabon.
Mr. Aquino reminded Legarda that they met for the first time in Caloocan City sometime in the 1970s but he couldn’t make a move because he was with his girlfriend.
“We were still teenagers. Isn’t it? Remember, I met you in Caloocan when I was with a friend. From the time I was a teenager, Loren has been my crush,” he said.
Legarda, in an attempt to change the topic, blurted out a jumble of meaningless phrases, which quickly escaped the memory of those lunching with the President.
It took Roxas, a confidant of the President and former colleague of Legarda in the Senate, to break the shock of the presidential revelation by saying Mr. Aquino was not just embracing common candidates with open arms, but also doing it literally.
“Remember, P-Noy (President Aquino) embraced the common candidates from Day 1. That’s not just figurative, but also literal,” Roxas said.
A good laugh
This was the day the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) announced that it had decided to drop all three common candidates—Legarda, Sen. Francis Escudero and Grace Poe.
In a talk with reporters that day, Mr. Aquino said that since the launching of the slate last year, “we have already wholly embraced these three candidates. That’s figuratively, all right? Figuratively. So we have nothing to say about what the UNA intends to do. We have a democracy. It’s up to them. As for us, we will work hard for all our allies,” he said.
“And remember, six-year term, so even by the time that I stepped out of office, these are the people who can continue the transformation of our country. Therefore, it behooves me to really push and press and campaign as much as possible for each and everyone,” he said.
Legarda, the only female candidate to twice top senatorial elections (1998 and 2007), has decided to seek another six-year term in May to continue fighting for the rights of women, children, indigenous groups and senior citizens, as well as ensure that all the laws she has written will be implemented down to the grassroots’ level.
The President told reporters last December that he was looking forward to attending to matters of the heart after his term ends in 2016.
When he became President in 2010, he continued to date a few women—mostly out of the public’s view—but didn’t get his mind to wrap around the idea of finding a bride while in Malacañang.
Legarda, whose marriage to former Batangas Gov. Antonio Leviste was annulled in 2008, says she is content with being a single mother to two teenage sons.