At Large

P-Noy, Yingluck and Shalani

Poor P-Noy! Here he was, having to sit it out by (presumably) his lonesome in the cold clime of Baguio while his former girlfriend Shalani Soledad was basking in the sunshine of her wedding day as she got married to Rep. Roman Romulo, son of P-Noy’s former Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo.

Not only that, P-Noy could still be smarting from the “epic fail” of the botched matchmaking attempted by his youngest sister Kris, who tweeted, after watching her brother entertain visiting Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra at a lunch reception in Malacañang that she thought the visitor, described as “tall, slim and attractive” was “bagay (a good fit) for P-Noy!”


But a few things stand in the way of a match: Prime Minister Shinawatra apparently has a relationship of long standing with low-key businessman Anusorn Amornchat with whom she has a son, Suparek. Then there is Yingluck’s oldest brother Thaksin, widely regarded as her business and political mentor who is now on self-exile from Thailand, who described his youngest sister as “my clone,” and may not relish losing her to the bachelor president of this country. And as one snippy online commentator huffed, Yingluck’s husband “has thick hair.”

It wasn’t the bald comparison that especially irked P-Noy, though. It was the report (in this paper) that Yingluck, who stands a statuesque (by Asian standards) 5’7”, is an inch taller than the President, who is 5’6”. “I am not 5’6,” nor do I engage in 5-6,” commented P-Noy (in what I hope was a humorous aside), referring to the erroneous report on his height (he claims to be 5’10”) which he likened to the usurious daily lending rate of informal creditors.


* * *

Many of the commentators got on Kris’ case, but this is not the first time the presidential sister, famous for her gift of gab, has given away secrets in the complicated world of show business, including her own life. This may be the first time, though, that she has transgressed into the political arena, and may even have committed a diplomatic faux pas.

“Very polite and diplomatic” is how a long-time observer of Thai culture (who lived in Thailand for some time) describes the prevailing ethos among the Thai. And the impression that Premier Yingluck Shinawatra is single may have been created because her husband has chosen to keep a very low profile. “The spouse may have some influence but never openly intervenes especially if it is the woman who is in control,” writes this observer. “You don’t have a first gentleman like Mike Arroyo hanging around and seen actively pushing things.”

We Pinoys, who tend to see the funny side of things, may think this is all a laughing matter, but “in Thailand the Philippines is fast becoming a laughingstock,” writes the observer. Under Thai culture, he explains, “for a bachelor head of state to be seen in public needing a marriage broker is questionable.” It says something about that leader’s masculinity, for one.

Or it could all be a mistake due to ignorance and a sister’s eagerness to find a good match for her brother. Still, a briefing from the DFA not just for P-Noy and his officials but even for members of his personal family could have saved us all from this embarrassment. Again, another case for banning tweets from anyone remotely connected to official affairs, or invited to official doings. Some things are best kept to personal conversations with trusted confidantes.

* * *

I warned relatives visiting our home in Alfonso, Cavite, over the last weekend that, departing on Sunday morning, they could face considerable delays since they would be passing by Sta. Rosa where the wedding reception of the Romulo-Soledad nuptials was taking place.


Accounts said the reception area would be located around the lagoon of Nuvali, an upscale residential and business development that can be glimpsed from the highway as one drives down toward the South Luzon Expressway.

At least, though, even if they faced a crawling line of cars, commuters could still catch a glimpse of what could easily be the “Wedding of the Year.” Described as a “whirlwind romance,” the Shalani-Roman pairing is less than a year old. But considering the rather mature ages of the principals, I can fully understand why they saw no need for a prolonged courtship or dragged-out engagement. Time’s a-wasting, they may have thought, and it was time for them to get down to the serious business of marriage, which is having children. (All right, building a durable relationship is also part of it!)

And I am so happy for both Councilor Shalani and Congressman Roman that they found each other at the right time in their lives—finding themselves at the right place, mature enough to carry their responsibilities, but still young enough to believe in love and new beginnings.

* * *

I personally thought Shalani would have made an excellent first lady, liking the way she comported herself during the campaign, allowing her privacy to be breached to help P-Noy win the office he sought but without claiming privilege when she felt the limelight should be properly on him.

In the course of things, the relationship had to be sacrificed but I had always been rooting for Shalani to find her own place in the sun. And that apparently is by the side of Roman, who still faces a bright future in politics.

P-Noy was right to choose to spend his own “private time” in Baguio, to yield the limelight to the newlyweds, when his presence would not only have distracted, but also led to needless speculation.

Besides, love or romance does come when you least expect it, and from the most surprising of sources. Our bachelor President may yet surprise us all—and himself as well.

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TAGS: Aquino, featured column, opinion, shalani soledad, Yingluck Shinawatra
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