Speculations over what really happened between Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach recently resurfaced following the death of the Philippine’s 15th President. Especially after the beauty queen, actress, and model expressed her sadness over the news in an Instagram story, adding she “will always be thankful for his friendship and support in my journey as Miss Universe.”
But did she really date PNoy? We asked her manager if Pia will answer our question. “Sorry, she won’t,” we were told.
Some of us may have followed PNoy’s romantic life as much as we did his pronouncements, policies, and projects in the six years he was in Malacañang. Since he’s the Philippines’ first bachelor president, and reportedly dated a couple of prominent women in the past, the public was naturally curious if someone would step in as First Lady during his presidential term.
Coming into the presidency, PNoy was dating then Valenzuela City councilor Shalani Soledad. But news of their breakup soon came and was confirmed by October 2010, four months after he assumed office. Rumors about the split, however, started surfacing during the early part of that year. Shalani was in attendance at PNoy’s oathtaking at the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park on June 30 but already noticeably missing in major presidential events after—the first State of the Nation Address at the Batasang Pambansa Complex on July 26, for example, and the event that marked his first 100 days in the Palace.
Noy and Shalani were in a relationship for over a year, and it was PNoy who was said to have initiated the breakup.
When PNoy met Pia
Several names were linked to the bachelor President after Shalani—fashion stylist Liz Uy, stockbroker Len Lopez, teacher Bunny Calica, and DJ/host Grace Lee. But the one the media followed the most, if memory serves, was the rumored romance with Pia Wurtzbach—and for obvious reasons: the prospect of a Philippine Commander-in-chief dating and possibly marrying a beauty queen was irresistible and titillating, as well as the possibility of the country having a Miss Universe as First Lady.
PNoy and Pia’s worlds first came together during a not-so-ideal time in his political career—this was in early 2015 and his presidency had just been shaken by the Mamasapano issue. Despite this, the half-German beauty openly expressed support for the president in an interview with TV Patrol’s Mario Dumaual. “He loves the country very much,” she told the entertainment reporter. “His heart is in the right place.” At that time, the initials M.U., or mutual understanding, was already being thrown around to describe the relationship.
Pia recalled first meeting the chief executive at an event hosted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) in February 2015, before she won the Binibining Pilipinas-Universe crown. He was 55, holding the highest, most important post in the nation; she was 26, about to be proclaimed the most beautiful woman in the country. Was there an attraction? In a TV interview, Miss International 2013 Bea Santiago, who witnessed PNoy and Pia’s first meeting recalled asking the president what his type of girl was—“morena, mestiza or chinita?” His answer: “chinita,” an easy description for Pia.
A couple of weeks after, stories came out linking Pia with the President. PNoy was quoted as saying he’d be ready to take care of his romantic affairs in a year’s time, once he finishes his term. “Baka nakalimutan nyo ho, I’m Noynoy Aquino, I am single and no children. Mga 460 days na lang ho, may laban na ako.”
PNoy’s sister and talk show host Kris Aquino had also made it known via an Instagram post one Sunday that the President had warned her to “be nice” to one of their guests on The Buzz. Using the hashtags #kinikiligkuyako and #butipasiya, Kris indirectly made reference to Pia who was, indeed, going to be a guest on the said showbiz talk show the same day.
Kris asked Pia why she was told to be nice, and Pia said, looking a tiny bit embarrassed, “Because I mentioned I was going to be here, uhm, sa The Buzz.” It appeared PNoy and Pia have spoken earlier about the guesting and she had expressed to the guy that she got “nervous” after seeing the show’s teaser, which announced she will be answering questions about the real score between her and PNoy.
In an interview with PEP in 2015, Pia admitted she and PNoy often do not have the chance to see each other, but they get to exchange text messages every once in a while.
Meanwhile, when PNoy was asked by the South China Morning Post in April 2015 if he was still dating the beauty queen, he could only muster the one-word answer, “Secret.”
Whenever they would go out, Pia said it was “always with a group of people, always with the other people, always with friends.” She also said there is no label to their relationship. “Magkaibigan. Yun lang naman talaga yun.”
In April 2015, Pia was asked again, this time by PDI’s Pam Pastor, if it’s true she’s dating the President. The beauty queen did not give a direct answer. Instead, she seemed to grapple with the right words to say. “I talk to him, yeah. He’s very … he’s very busy.” But she answered more questions about PNoy.
About his opinion on her Bb. Pilipinas Q and A answer: “Sabi ko, You didn’t like my answer?’ And he said, ‘It’s not that I didn’t like your answer, it’s just that…’ Then sabi ko, ‘How would you have answered it?’ Then he started answering and he starts saying this speech with words na napakalalim. It kinda sounded like a speech he would say at a UN conference.”
About what she liked about him: “Number 1, his number 1 priority really is his love for the country. I’ve noticed this because even when we’re talking casually, we’re still talking about the Philippines. (laughs)
“That’s how you know he’s passionate about it, because even when he’s resting, he’s still talking about it. And that’s good, that’s very good.
“And you don’t feel intimidated when he’s around. He’s very approachable. He’s always smiling. Or maybe that’s just me. Also, he’s ready to answer any question you throw at him.”
In another interview, Pia attempted a guess on why PNoy had taken a liking to her. “I think maybe he is surrounded by people who are so serious all the time so whenever I talk to him, I'm brave with my questions, like I ask him questions that maybe other people would be afraid to ask him...his favorite pastime, music he listens to...these little things.”
Asked by PDI if they had time to go out, Pia again said the president was “very busy,” that “he has his priorities.” But if they both had the time, they would most likely eat and talk. “Really, what I like about him is we can talk about anything under the sun. We always have good conversations.”
Flowers and a note
Before the Miss Universe pageant in December 2015, Pia admitted in Mornings @ ANC that she was waiting for PNoy to wish her good luck. Apparently, the former president had also wished Bea Santiago “good luck” for Miss International and she won the tilt.
PNoy did not disappoint as Pia found a bouquet of flowers waiting for her in her condo unit, complete with a handwritten note from the president.
On December 21, 2015, Filipinos the world over rejoiced after Pia won Miss Universe at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The title will change the course of her life, open many doors and offer many opportunities.
Pia and PNoy met again during her homecoming after the Miss Universe pageant, but this time in an official courtesy call in Malacañang. They both sported winning smiles but stood awkwardly at least a foot apart from each other. They also appeared to not know what to say to each other in front of the media and a host of onlookers.
A closed door meeting followed which most likely gave the two a chance to catch up. What could they have talked about? What words could have filled those minutes alone?
When she came out of the meeting and faced the media, this time without PNoy beside her, Pia said very formally that the President congratulated her and they talked about Miss Universe for a bit. She appeared at a loss for words, as if struggling to decide what she can share about the just-finished conversation. “He congratulated me; I also congratulated him for a successful term,” she shared with the press.
What happened behind closed doors, we could only guess. If there was a personal handwritten note and flowers that came after, just like before, we don’t know. Pia said she was able to read his congratulatory message at the Philippine government’s official website. Following the win, PNoy also seemed to have shunned talks linking him with the new Miss Universe.
In January 2016, at “Tonight with Boy Abunda,” Pia—freshly crowned Miss Universe, the toast of the entire nation—admitted to Boy Abunda she had been dumped. The talk show host asked if the “special someone” Pia had before she flew to Las Vegas for the international tilt was still present in her life. “This is present in my life,” she answered, touching her crown. “And I’m not saying this because pinagpalit ko siya—pinagpalit niya ako.” Ouch.
The irony was not lost on the beauty queen. “So see Tito Boy,” the lady continued, “kahit na manalo ka sa Miss Universe at maging Miss Universe ka hindi ka exempted sa sawi—sa pagiging sawi. Sa pain.” Of course, Pia didn’t name the guy she was talking about, and neither did Boy. Was it PNoy?