How Robi Domingo got Maiqui Pineda to say yes 2
Robi Domingo and Maiqui Pineda at the famed Shibuya Crossing on their engagement day. Photo from Domingo’s Instagram account
Culture

How Robi Domingo found Maiqui Pineda and got her to say yes

Last weekend, the TV personality finally introduced his non-show biz fiancée to the public after his viral Shibuya proposal
RHIA GRANA | Nov 21 2022

Robi Domingo’s followers on Instagram and YouTube should be familiar with her by now but the greater public have yet to be introduced to the lady the TV host recently proposed marriage to—Maiqui Pineda, his girlfriend of four years.

It was a happy surprise for his fans when the 33-year old TV personality posted photos of his engagement to the non-show biz beauty last November 6 and announced to the rest of the world that he’s “officially off the market.” He followed it up with another post a couple of days after captioned with his game show’s rallying cry, “GAME NA.

Robi Domingo and Maiqui Pineda
It was this year when the TV host really felt sure Maiqui is the girl he wants to marry. “Kasi nalaman ko na pareho kami ng dreams, pareho kami ng goals, at pareho kami ng values."

Robi finally let the public in on their love story Friday and introduced his lady love thru an interview with TV writer Darla Sauler on Star Magic’s YouTube Channel. The Pinoy Big Brother host said he has known of Maiqui since their high school days, although they didn’t go to the same institution—Robi was from Ateneo and she from a popular all-girls school. 

“Kami sa Ateneo, may listahan kami ng mga chicks,” he admitted to Sauler. “May [from] Miriam, Poveda, Assumption Antipolo, Assumption College. Napapansin namin, ‘Uy may magandang chicks dun sa isang school—at kasama doon si Maiqui.’”

But while she was already in his radar and found her attractive—or to use his words, “beautiful,” “matalino,” and “charming”—he didn’t think their personalities would complement. “Iba ang hilig niya, iba ang hilig ko.”

College came and they became batchmates in Ateneo. Robi took up Health Sciences, which was supposed to be his pre-med course, while Maiqui took up Business Administration and Management. A member of Maiqui’s barkada became Robi’s classmate so the two got to see each other on occasion. “Lalo na nung college, wala naman ako nun sa school palagi,” said Robi. “Kasi pagkatapos ng klase, diretso ako sa ABS-CBN.” The guy became a PBB Teen Edition Plus housemate in 2008, which opened doors to acting and hosting jobs in the Kapamilya network.

A holiday meeting 

In ABS-CBN, Robi would see Maiqui in Christmas parties. But it was only during the after-party for the network’s Christmas special in 2017—when both of them happened to be single—that they had the chance to talk and get to know each other.

The "Game Ka Na Ba?" host was already planning to skip the gathering because he was a little exhausted from taping the network’s holiday presentation which ran until 11PM. A call from actor and friend Piolo Pascual changed his mind. “Mahiya ka naman sa mga nagbigay sa iyo ng trabaho,” Piolo told him. “Umakyat ka rito.” 

And he did. And lo and behold, Maiqui was there. Robi has been single for a while at that time. He and TV host Gretchen Ho had broken up earlier that year. 

At that time, Robi had no intention of looking for a relationship. He was enjoying the single life. That night, however, he struck up a conversation with Maiqui and asked two questions. First: “Where is your other half?” referring to Maiqui’s twin sister. And second, “Where is your better half?”

“[Sa] first question ang sagot niya, ‘Wala dito, nasa ibang bansa, nagtatrabaho,’” he recalled in the interview. To the second question, the lady’s reply was “Wala na.” She had broken up with her boyfriend. 

Since they were in the same boat, Robi thought he could share his surviving-a-breakup hacks. “You want to talk about it?” he asked. And that started a conversation that lasted to the wee hours. From then on, they would talk every single day. “She was the perfect person na pagkuwentuhan ko ng mga kabaliwan na ginawa ko noon,” Robi said. “Even yung mistakes na ginawa ko.”

Maiqui on the other hand showed him a side not known to many. She likes keeping up to date with the latest show biz talk. “I have to say mas jologs pa siya kaysa sa akin, which is a good thing,” the 33-year-old host said, laughing.

When did he realize he was falling for Maiqui? A couple of months after that Christmas party. Aware the lady was a huge fan of the JaDine comedy-drama series “On the Wings of Love,” he gave Maiqui a James Reid and Nadine Lustre pillow as a Valentine’s Day gift. “Dun ko na-realize na, o teka lang, hindi na ‘to gift, landi na to ah.” 

Making it official 

It took several months before Robi and Maiqui would take their relationship to the next level. And it didn’t just happen in an old-fashioned dinner date but under the sea. On August 6, 2018, the couple went scuba diving in Anilao, Batangas. While enjoying the underwater experience, Robi made the following hand signals: “You. Me. Heart. Okay?” And Maiqui shot back with an okay sign.

After the dive, Robi asked Maiqui—“Wait lang, tayo na ba?”

Maiqui replied, “What’s that?”

“Are we BF-GF?”

“I guess.”

And that’s how they officially dove into a relationship.

Robi Domingo proposes to Maiqui Pineda
Robi was ready to propose to Maiqui since summer of this year. He already had the ring, picked with his mother and tita’s help.

Two worlds

While Maiqui is a fan of show biz, local movies and TV, entering into a relationship with an actual celebrity was a different story. “Mahirap…mahirap,” said Robi, when asked how she was able to adjust to his world. “Kaya saludo ako sa kanya.” 

He recalled telling Maiqui to ignore people weighing in unfairly on their relationship. While he also learned how to manage the dichotomy of a public and private life. 

“Kasi before talagang pakawala din ako minsan, lahat na lang sasabihin ko,” he admitted. “[Now] Pag may family gatherings, baba muna ang cell phone, walang video video, walang picture. Hindi lahat pwedeng i-post. Hindi naman lahat kailangan i-post. Yun ang na-appreciate ko.”

Robi said Maiqui has greatly influenced his life. For instance, her love of local artisans and crafts has rubbed off on him. Maiqui is a supporter of Artefino, a movement that provides a launch pad for Filipino artisans and small entrepreneurs to promote and sell their crafts. It was cofounded by her grandmother, the art patron Marites Pineda, in 2017. Maiqui, Robi added, used to visit different parts of the country to talk to people who make local crafts and textiles.

“Tinutulungan niya ang local communities na magkaroon ng magandang market.”

The best thing about the lady, said Robi, is her family. “They're very open and they're very supportive. Hindi lang kay Maiqui pero sa iba’t ibang mga tao as well. Kaya ang sarap mahawa sa feeling na yun. May purpose talaga ang family nila.”

Over the past few years, when life has been full of uncertainty due to the pandemic, the ABS-CBN shutdown, the national elections, Maiqui has been Robi’s closest confidant and adviser. “During those times na medyo hindi na stable ang franchise ng ABS-CBN, may mga ibang nanliligaw na companies, and I asked her, ‘Maiqs, anong gagawin ko dito? Should I go with something sure sa iba? Ano’ng gagawin ko?’”

Her advice: “Go with your purpose more than your finances. Go with your why. Kasi yung how, alam mo na yun lahat e. Kung alam mo ang why mo, kayang-kaya mong masagot ang lahat ng mga problems.” Robi listened. “I stuck to my values. I stuck with ABC-CBN—yun ang purpose ko.”

During the campaigns for the last election, Robi said he initially didn’t want to join rallies for fear he might get bashed. But Maiqui reminded him of his power. “Isipin mo na lang kung bakit binigay sa iyo ang platform na yan. Use your voice.” One of the things he learned from her when it comes to making major decisions in life is to consider their impact to society before personal gains.

Robi Domingo proposes to Maiqui Pineda
Robi wanted the proposal to have the elements of surprise and a kind of adrenaline rush, so he decided to do it at Shibuya Crossing. 

She’s the one 

It was this year when the TV host really felt sure Maiqui is the girl he wants to marry. “Kasi nalaman ko na pareho kami ng dreams, pareho kami ng goals, at pareho kami ng values. It’s one thing na ma-inlove ka sa kanya—siyempre maganda, matalino, maganda ang background—pero it’s another level na ma-inlove ka dun sa personality at sa kausap mo forever. Lalung lalo na sa pag-uusapan nyo in the future, kung ano nga ba ang pwede nyong magawa at pwede nyo ma-achieve.”

Robi was ready to propose to Maiqui since summer of this year. He already had the ring, picked with his mother and tita’s help.

But he asked his mom to keep it first. “Eto ang totoo, isang beses ko lang siyang nakita [yung ring]. Ayoko siyang pinagmamasdan kasi kinakabahan ako e,” Robi said. 

He planned to propose weeks after the PBB Big Night in May 2022, but then another project came after that—"Idol Philippines," which ran up to September. He was thinking of doing it this December, but then his schedule freed up November. He was informed he wasn’t on the list of talents going to Las Vegas for the ASAP show. He took it as a sign that it was time to do the proposal. “Ito na yun,” he thought. He planned everything in two weeks.

Robi Domingo proposes to Maiqui Pineda
"It's a yes!"

The first thing he did was ask for Maiqui’s hand in marriage. He took her parents to dinner at a Japanese restaurant. 

“Mahirap pala siya,” Robi recalled of the ritual. “Mas naiyak ako dun kesa sa actual proposal kasi siyempre hinihingi mo ang kamay ng anak nila e.”

“Pupunta daw kayong Japan?” they asked him.

He told them he thought it would be the perfect time to do the proposal, and would like to ask for their permission to go on ahead. The Pinedas nodded in unison. Robi assumed they were already expecting the question.

“I have to apologize kasi this is the first time I’ll be doing this,” he told them. Trying to lighten the mood, the parents said, “And we hope it’s the last time!” Laughter. 

Robi had several locations in mind for the wedding proposal in Japan—there was Disneyland, since Maiqui is a big Disney fan, and Mount Fuji, which is a very romantic spot. But a couple of weeks before the actual proposal, Robi decided to do it at the famed Shibuya Crossing. He wanted the proposal to have the elements of surprise and a kind of adrenaline rush.

Robi Domingo and friends
Robi and Maiqui with their friends from the Kapamilya network celebrated Halloween together in Japan. 

It just so happened his friends from show biz Joshua Garcia, Daniel Padilla, Kathryn Bernardo, Ria Atayde, and Zanjoe Marudo were also headed for Tokyo, so he immediately messaged Kathryn and told her about his plan. The whole gang got excited and wanted to be part of the event. This explains why they were all together at the Shibuya Crossing to witness that very meaningful moment in their friends’ life.

Robi recalled his speech that night, before crossing Shibuya. “For the past few months, I've been thinking about this moment, and for the past few weeks I've been talking to your family, your friends. And I've been praying so hard, only to realize that you are the answered prayer,” he told her. “And to cut the long story short, I love games so much. And this is a good representation of our game of life. We're at the crossroads and I'm ready to enter this game of life filled with challenges, happiness, purpose and goals with you.”

Then in typical "Game Ka Na Ba?" fashion, he asked: “Maiqui, you only have about 30 seconds to make one of the biggest decisions of your life. Game ka na ba?” 

Maiqui’s answer: “I guess.”

They then walked towards the center of the crossing and Robi went down on one knee and popped the question. It was an emotional moment for both and everyone present. Before the traffic light turned green, Maiqui said yes. Robi put the engagement ring on her finger, and off they ran.

Photos from Robi Domingo's Instagram account