After her failed relationship with Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, is romance brewing for "I Love You, Hater" star Kris Aquino and a lawyer whom she thanked for "wanting to stay, come what may"?
This was the question of Aquino's many followers on Instagram over the weekend, as she named Atty. Gideon Peña, a lawyer and professor, in a "gratitude post" on Instagram.
Specifically, Aquino, 47, thanked Peña, 29, for consistently showing her "genuine concern, friendship, respect, and trust."
In his own Instagram post, apparently in response to Aquino's, Peña shared a "Harry Potter" movie image showing the title character and his friend, Hermione. Tagging Aquino, he captioned the still: "True friends don't leave even in the darkest of times."
Prior to this, the two have been exchanging playful messages on Twitter and Instagram, triggering rumors of a blooming romance. Here are some examples:
On June 28, Peña's Instagram page —
Peña's post: "Bakit hindi na [lang] tayo?"
Aquino's comment: "Atty G — if this is for me, wait lang please — I'm shooting for @samsungph now… but if it's not — she's a very lucky girl. (Sorry ha, the original Twitter posts were already sent to me by several people & this now popped up on my phone. Change of setup so I got to check IG)."
Peña's reply: "@krisaquino it’s just a shout into the void. The things I really mean are sent in private. P.S. Check your Viber."
On June 28, Aquino's Instagram page —
Aquino's post: "Don't rush into love, because even in fairytales, the happy ending takes place on the last page."
Peña's comment, quoting Barbara Johnson: "True love doesn't have a happy ending because true love never ends."
Aquino's reply: "@the.mightywarrior mahirap maki argue sa lawyer (it's hard to argue with a lawyer)… but to quote lyrics of ONE HELLO: 'If you're not afraid of what love brings, then endings are beginnings of beautiful things…' I'm still taking my time w/ that #OneHello because I don't want a repeat of Adele's version of #Hello…"
On June 10, Twitter —
Aquino, greeting Peña on his birthday: "Happy birthday @gideonpena. I know you went home to be w/ your Mom & siblings. Kung naging +10 ang age mo this birthday instead of just +1- pasok na sana."
Peña: "thank you!"
Aquino: "Follow up: I'm inviting you for a post birthday coffee meetup. Pero not in QC okay?"
Aquino: "Atty birthday boy- na mention ko lang QC, na quiet ka na. Sayang naman ang tapang ng Bicolano."
Peña: "When are you free?"
Aquino: "Independence Day of course."
Peña: "Hindi nakipaglaban ang ating mga ninuno laban sa mga banyaga para lamang tayo ay humindi kung kelan mayroon na tayong kalayaan. See you!"
That "coffee meetup" did happen, but with a slight change of plan. Aquino and Peña instead had a "chai tea date," where they got to know each other with the actress throwing questions they would both answer. Everything unfolded via a four-part "Unscripted" vlog on Aquino's YouTube channel.
Their playful banter went on in person. In one part of the interview, for example, Aquino asked Peña which one living one person he would want to meet. The lawyer answered: "Just one? I just met her."
In the comments on the series of videos, many expressed "kilig" over the date and the pair's playfulness. "Bakit kinikilig ako?" wrote one follower. "Gideon is blushing!" said another.
Weeks later on Aquino's Instagram Q&A session with her followers, Peña's name once again came up, when the TV host answered the question: "Who would you choose for a movie date? Mayor Herbert or Atty. Peña?"
Tagging Peña's account, Aquino answered: "@the.mightywarrior definitely."
However, despite their apparent affection for each other, Aquino clarified their relationship in a response to another follower, who asked whether Peña is courting her, and if so, whether he has "a chance in your heart."
Denying that he is courting her with a simple "no," she went on: "He is easy to love and respect, but I feel we are meant to remain friends."