MANILA, Philippines?Yes, Sen. Benigno ?Noynoy? Aquino III has a girlfriend. She is a councilor in Valenzuela City.
No, he did not think she was planning to run for Congress.
These were Aquino?s cautious answers when he was peppered with questions Wednesday about gossip circulating in text messages and the Internet that his girlfriend, whom he refused to name, was eyeing a congressional seat.
?I think she?s opting for reelection,? Aquino told reporters. ?She hasn?t told me she has changed her mind,? said Aquino, but quickly added that it would be up to his girlfriend to decide what political road to take, and that he would be there to support her.
It was the first time the bachelor senator, who is now being touted as a possible presidential candidate, talked about his personal life.
Aquino, the only son of the late President Cory and martyred opposition leader Ninoy Aquino, both national icons, revealed that he and his girlfriend would celebrate their first anniversary as a couple next month.
He had already introduced her to his mother, who died on Aug. 1.
Aquino appealed to reporters not to insist that he name her. He said his girlfriend had been recently at the receiving end of many requests by some people.
?I don?t want to add to the chaos in her life,? Aquino said.
The tabloid People?s Tonight, however, has already identified the senator?s girlfriend as 29-year-old Councilor Shalani Soledad of Valenzuela City.
Asked if his girlfriend would be supportive if ever he decides to seek the presidency next year, Aquino said they haven?t had time to discuss the issue.
?I don?t think if I have a decision she will not be supportive of it,? he said.
In her public response during the funeral mass for the late President Cory, his sister and TV star Kris Aquino, quoted her son Joshua as having asked his uncle Noynoy not to get married.
Kris, however, followed this up by saying the senator had her blessings to ?go with whoever makes him happy.?
Soledad?s official website describes her as a native of Catanduanes and a graduate of Human Resources Management at De La Salle?s College of St. Benilde.
She used to work in the Senate as a staffer in the office of Sen. Panfilo Lacson in the Senate (2001-2003).
A source close to Aquino claimed the two first met in 2000 or 2001 when Soledad interviewed him for a media project. They met again, this time by accident, in August 2008 at Alfredo?s restaurant in Quezon City. Both were dining with their respective friends but they had their picture taken with each other and exchanged phone numbers.
The following month, Aquino reportedly introduced her to some of his friends, although he said they were just going out.
Aquino had been previously linked to a stewardess, a staffer of Sen. Francis Pangilinan and two actresses.
Aquino is also known to have dated news anchors Korina Sanchez (now engaged to Sen. Mar Roxas) and Bernadette Sembrano.