Aguilar: Sana tigilan niyo na kami
MANILA -- For the 16-year-old wife of Freddie Aguilar, their Muslim wedding on Friday was a way of proving their love for each other amid criticisms aimed at them since the musician announced their relationship in October.
She briefly spoke during the round of media interviews shortly after the Islamic rites held in a restaurant in Buluan Maguindanao, saying she is happy with her decision to marry the 60-year-old "Anak" hitmaker.
"Syempre masaya ko, kasi hindi naman nabubuhay para sa ibang tao," she said. "Nabubuhay kami para sa sarali namin. 'Yung ginagawa namin [ay] dahil gusto namin 'to, mahal namin ang isa't-isa at pinapatunayan lang namin ang pagmamahal namin."
The singer said that among the reasons they decided to wed -- the couple initially planned to settle down when she turns 18 -- was to stop being the target of criticisms.
"Sana tumigil na 'yung mga detractors namin. Kasi kaya nga kami nagpakasal kasi ayaw ngang tumigil 'yung mga paninira sa aming dalawa," he said. "So naisipan naming dalawa na kung magpapakasal na kami ay titigil na lahat, hindi na nila iisipin na kasalanan 'yung ginagawa namin."
With his candid admission of the relationship on the sidelines of a music awards show in October, Aguilar stirred controversy and drew flak for being a supposed "cradle-snatcher" and a "dirty old man" -- terms the singer himself brought up and readily addressed.
Aguilar repeatedly mentioned having the approval of his girlfriend's parents, who are based in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro.
His partner stressed in a number of interviews that she genuinely loves Aguilar and dismissed speculations that she is only interested in his wealth and popularity.
Short of mentioning Catholic practices, Aguilar on Friday said, "Hindi po namin mahintay ang dalawang taon para pahintulutan kami ng tinatawag nating sistema na umiiral dito sa atin."
"Hindi na rin po kami makapaghintay na kung anu-ano ang tinatawag sa kanya, na kesyo ganito siya, kesyo ganyan ako. So para matigil na po lahat 'yon at mapatunayan na mahal namin ang isa't-isa talaga, nandito po kami... upang mag-isang-dibdib.
"At ngayon pong mag-asawa na kami, ay hindi na nila kami siguro tatawaging makasalanan," Aguilar said.
New life as Abdul Farid
He was also quick to reply when the subject of his conversion to Islam was brought up, saying he had long been reconsidering his faith.
While Aguilar did not mention it, Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu said in an interview before the wedding that the singer became a Muslim about six months ago.
Mangudadatu, a good friend of Aguilar, was one of the principal sponsors of the wedding.
"'Yung pagbabalik-Islam ko naman ay dahil matagal ko naring kinikwestyon 'yung conversion ko. Kahit nung high school palang ako, ayaw kong pumasok at pag-aralan 'yung religion doon, kasi ang pagtuturo nung high school ako ay Spanish.
"So sabi ko, 'Bakit ko pag-aaralan ang religion, eh iyang mga Espanyol na 'yan ang nagpahirap sa ating bayan no'ng araw?' So itong pagbabalik-Islam ko, tamang-tama, dahil dito sa Islam, tinatanggap ang pagmamahalan namin ni [girlfriend]," said Aguilar, whose Muslim name is Abdul Farid.
He added: "Kaya saan ako pupunta? Doon ako pupunta sa tumatanggap sa relasyon namin. Hindi 'yon ang dahilan. Ang dahilan -- ipakita na talagang nagmamahalan kami."
Mangudadatu explained that under Islamic practices, a couple can marry as soon as the woman has her first menstruation.
Presidential Decree No. 1083, which recognizes the system of Filipino Muslim laws, provides that "any Muslim male at least 15 years of age and any Muslim female of the age of puberty or upwards and not suffering from any impediment under the provisions of this Code may contract marriage."
The provision further reads: "A female is presumed to have attained puberty upon reaching the age of fifteen."
'Nandito na ako'
Asked if he is ready to stand by his decision -- converting to Islam and marrying his partner -- Aguilar said, "Nandito na ako. Ako po ay kilala ninyo sa paninindigan."
"Hindi po ako gagawa ng bagay na ikasisira ng matagal ko nang inaalagaang pangalan. At matagal ko narin pong hinahanap ang tunay na paniniwala sa Panginoon, at sa palagay ko po, sa tagal kong paghahanap, ay ito na po, natagpuan ko na," he said.
On the subject of having babies -- the couple have been candid about their plans of building a family of their own -- Aguilar said, "Kung ako ang masusunod at pahihintulutan ako ni Allah, eh kahit isa lang."
Aguilar has six children from different relationships with the youngest being 24 years old.
He separated from his third wife he married when she was just 17, almost 10 years ago.
"Gusto ko talaga ang maging bunso kong anak ay lalaki," Aguilar said. "Pero kung may pangarap si misis na mas marami pa doon, syempre susunod ako sa kanya!"