President Aquino: My love life like Coke–from ‘regular’ to ‘zero’
BEIJING—It used to be “regular,” then it got “light,” and now it’s down to “zero.”
That’s how President Benigno Aquino III, a known Coke drinker and now playing Mr. Lonely, summed up his love life—or lack of it—to perk up a speech before members of the Filipino community here on Wednesday night.
The 51-year-old bachelor had often appealed to the press in Manila to lay off his private, romantic affairs, yet here he used it as a punch line during a program capping Day 1 of his four-day visit to China. The affair gathered some 200 migrant and mostly Filipino professionals at the China World Hotel.
Near the end of his speech, Mr. Aquino said somebody mindful of his heavy schedule and responsibilities as President once asked him: “How’s your love life?”
“What I told him was, it’s like Coca-Cola,” Mr. Aquino said. “That person (at first) said he didn’t understand. I said Coca-Cola. Before it was ‘regular.’ Then it became ‘light.’ Now, it’s ‘zero.’”
The quip—a play on the soda’s different variants based on calorie content—drew laughter and applause from an audience that included Filipino journalist Jaime FlorCruz, the CNN bureau chief in Beijing.
At the beginning of his term in June 2010, Mr. Aquino was dating Valenzuela City Councilor Shalani Soledad. After they parted ways, he was reported to have dated celebrity stylist Liz Uy, Len Lopez, a stock broker; and Bunny Calica, a teacher.
On a more serious note, the President said his family seemed to have been marked by fate to clean up after unpopular administrations.
“Is that really the role of our family? When Mr. (Ferdinand) Marcos left, my mother replaced him and she fixed things,” he said.
He was referring to the late Corazon Aquino, the democracy icon who challenged and succeeded the dictator in 1986.
“Twenty years later, there was Mrs. Arroyo, and I was the one who put things in order,” he added, now referring to his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whose nine-year presidency was rocked by allegations of massive election fraud and multimillion-peso anomalies.
Addressing a crowd of expatriates, the President said he knew how it felt to miss the Philippines because his own family spent time in exile in Boston in the early 1980s, when the Marcos dictatorship was persecuting his father, former Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr.
He said his administration remained focused on providing bigger opportunities for Filipinos to move up the economic ladder without having to leave the country.
What’s our plan?
“We believe that many of our countrymen, who believe there is no opportunity in the Philippines, go abroad. In other words, they didn’t choose to go to other countries. They are forced to look for their fortune in another place because they have lost hope in our country,” he said.
“So what’s our plan? We want to increase (their) opportunities so that there is a way to really progress in our own country,” he added.
Mr. Aquino also reported that under his watch, the economy had shown signs of improvement, such as the recent rise of the Philippine Stock Exchange index to 4,500 points.
The PSE index previously couldn’t even reach 4,000 points, but now analysts projected that “it would reach 5,000,” he added.
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