MANILA - Why is President Aquino always being linked to different women?
According to Perfecto Uysingco, executive director of Training Research Information Development Specialist (TRI-DEV) Foundation, Inc., news about President Aquino's love life crop up from time to time to fend off malicious talk that he might be gay.
Aquino has dated several women since being elected President in 2010 including Valenzuela City councilor Shalani Soledad, stylist Liz Uy, stockbroker Len Lopez, TV host Grace Lee and beauty queen Bianca Manalo.
Last August, the President's sister, Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, hinted that a 29-year-old lawyer might be Aquino's new inspiration.
In an interview with ABS-CBNnews.com, Uysingco said the macho culture of Filipinos sometimes equates virility with strength.
He noted that many politicians who have had multiple affairs and numerous children are re-elected time and again because they are perceived as strong.
One politician, former Senator Ramon Revilla Sr., is reported to have sired 72 children but only 38 are officially acknowledged and carry his surname, according to a spokesperson.
"We have several politicians who have 80 ang anak pero ang sabi 40 lang. We have several politicians who continue to be elected because of that virile reputation.
Macho, ito ay tunay na lalaki. The macho image ng isang pulitiko. Ito ay isang sign ng pagiging strong leader, having a lot of relationships. Maaaring isang sign yun," Uysingco said.
He said Filipinos need to start rethinking the macho image of politicians since it does not necessarily equate to being a strong leader.
He said the election of the country's first bachelor President is already challenging this image although there are still some who try to question Aquino's sexuality.
"Right now, I am happy that we have a bachelor president. I don't know, hindi nga masyadong na e-emphasize pero nakikita mo parati siyang na li-link sa kung sino-sinong personalities para makita na siya ay isang lalaki at hindi ma ke-question ang kanyang sexuality," he said.
"In some ways, meron mga question question, na mga may pahiwatig. Not openly but isa ito sa mga palatandaan na tunay na lalaki. Maraming affairs at maraming anak. So isa siguro ito sa dapat tignan," he added.
Uysingco challenged the perception that family planning and reproductive health concerns are issues that should be tackled only by women.
He said educating men, including male politicians, would help improve reproductive health services in the country.
"Politicians are decision makers but people also need to get involved. Politicians are always on the popular side of things. People should voice out what they want," he said.
The TRI-DEV Foundation is currently involved in outreach work to educate men about reproductive health concerns, sexually transmitted illnesses and family planning. The foundation sets up "tambayan centers" at main truck depots and conducts "usapang lalake" sessions with truck drivers and tricycle drivers.
For his part, Dr. Camilo Aurelio Naraval Jr. said the macho image of a politician is no deterrent for male politicians to craft reproductive health policies that would help their constituents regardless of gender.
Naraval said Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was instrumental in passing a Women's Code, which supports family planning for women.
He said Davao also has an integrated gender and development division, which ensures gender and development activities in the city are fully funded.
"You can see how his policy direction influences the programs in Davao City, in particular the government health centers, making sure that these are available. Sa tingin ko, Duterte was able to put the issues of women on top of his agenda," he said.