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Aquino dreams of vacation with good food and at least a book

By: - Deputy Day Desk Chief / @TJBurgonioINQ
/ 02:36 PM April 25, 2013

Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, right, arrives with Philippines President Benigno Aquino III for the 9th summit meeting of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area or BIMP-EAGA, in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, Thursday, April 25, 2013. AP

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei—President Benigno Aquino III said here Wednesday night that he would like to bring his own cook during a three day vacation he’s been dreaming to have before his term ends in June 2016 even as he downplayed his “date’’ with actress Bianca Manalo.

The President said he did pine for a holiday following an overnight stay at a hotel by the beach in Mactan, Cebu, but this should be much sooner than June 30, 2016, his last day in office.

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“I did fantasize once that after this campaign, the elections and the Sona (State of the Nation Address) has been prepared, maybe I could have some taste of tourism in the Philippines even for just three days,’’ he told reporters in a chat at the Philippine Embassy here late Wednesday night.

“Once there, I hope I would not be cornered by people with problems or proposals. So, whom will I bring with me? If I’m assured of my food, I’ll be OK. If there’s nobody to talk to for two days, I could bring a book. That should do it,’’ he added.

After aggressively making a pitch for tourism at the groundbreaking of new roads leading to destinations in the countryside, Aquino said that maybe it was about time he became a tourist himself.

“I’ve been making an aggressive pitch for tourism in the Philippines anywhere I go, but I noticed I’ve never been a tourist in the Philippines. That’s just my point,’’ he said of his speech in Toledo City last Friday in which he mentioned his longing for a holiday.

“Now if somebody tweeted that they too wanted to go to the beach, maybe I’m effective at inviting tourists,’’ he added, chuckling. “Now who I do want to bring with me?  Honestly, my cook, so I would have food to eat.’’

While crisscrossing the countryside to ground-break “tourism roads’’ and barnstorm for his handpicked senatorial candidates, the 53-year-old bachelor President has at times expressed his desire to see the rest of the archipelago after his term ends.

Aquino confirmed meeting Manalo, a beauty queen turned actress, twice but noted that these happened months ago.

“I met her,’’ he said when asked if he was dating her. “I met her and we had a subsequent dinner with a lot of other people who were with us. I don’t know if you consider that a date. We were introduced and we had another dinner subsequently. That was several months ago.’’

While he has remained a bachelor up to now, Aquino has indicated openness to marriage.  If he comes around to it, he said, he’d want five children. But then again, he said, this was a matter that should be discussed with the woman he would be marrying.

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“There seems to be a balance with five. But five will be too much now for any woman that I’ll be courting at this point. So can I just answer that that number is negotiable, especially for the person who will be bearing the children,’’ he said.

The President’s love life has been a favorite topic in the media since he assumed office in June 2010.

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