MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE 1) - Winning presidential candidate Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III's girlfriend and newly-elected councilor Shalani Soledad said that Noynoy's priority now is the country.
Soledad, who was proclaimed winner last Thursday by the Commission on Elections, shared that from the start, she and Noynoy agreed that, if elected, they have to give up their personal interests to focus on their work as public servants.
She revealed that her priority now is serving the people of Valenzuela, an industrial and residential suburb north of Manila.
"From the start, I think it was very clear naman to the both of us yong trabaho namin and kung ano ang requirements nito and very supportive naman din siya in terms of my career. And of course, ako I understand na bayan muna," Shalani told Ces Drilon of ABS-CBN News late Thursday.
"Like I've always said, I will always stand by Noy kung ano yung kailangan niyang gawin. Nakasuporta tayo at naiintindihan natin yon," she added.
Soledad pointed out that Aquino has a big responsibility ahead of him.
"Akala kasi ng madami pag nanalo ka, it's all a bed of roses. Pero actually, napakalaking trabaho. Napakalaking hamon yung haharapin ni Noynoy so kailangan talaga mag-focus. Kasi ngayon, responsible na siya sa lahat sa atin. Yung reforms and agenda na gagawin, lahat yun para sa atin yon, sa buong bansa. So kung dati, medyo minimal yung kanyang level of responsibility, ngayon mas malaki syempre. Mas kailangan ng mas madaming atensyon," she said.
In a previous press conference, Aquino said that his girlfriend will have no official role in his administration since Soledad will also be busy doing her work as a councilor.
"Si Shalani naman will be performing her functions as councilor of the City of Valenzuela," said Aquino.
In an interview, Viel Dee, one of the senator's sisters, gave her thoughts on the issue that Soledad might be Noynoy's first lady. She stressed that her brother's priority now is the country and not settling down with Soledad.
"It's better if he has a wife so hindi lang kaming mga kapatid ang aasahan niya. Sorry to Shalani pero low priority yata talaga ngayon yong sa kanya," Dee said.
Historian Manolo Quezon says having a president who is single is not new to the Philippines.
According to him, there were three leaders who served the country without their husbands or wives.
During the time of the U.S. occupation in the country, American governor-general Frank Murphy had his sister take on the role of first lady.
Former President Elpidio Quirino's daughter Vicky also took the role of first lady while president Corazon Aquino, mother of senator Noynoy, had no escort during her official functions.
Quezon says that based on protocol, no title will be given to a president's girlfriend during official functions in the palace.
None of the senator's siblings want to be first lady and prefer to return to their private lives.
"Alam naman namin kung gaano kahirap, kung paano maging part of the first family. Every move you make is magnified a thousand times. Kung pwede lang back to normal life as much as possible," Dee said.
Quezon believes it would be better if Noynoy goes solo during official functions since his mother never had a problem running the government alone.