YOKOHAMA, Japan (UPDATED) - For the first time since news swirled around of a new romance in his life about two months ago, President Aquino confirmed reports he and his personal stylist Liz Uy are dating.
Interviewed here on the eve of the 18th APEC Leaders' Meeting, the 50-year-old bachelor said he saw nothing wrong if he and the 28-year-old stylist spent time together every now and then.
"We have been spending time together as our schedules would permit, but I guess, at this point in time, that is the extent of it," said the president, in response to queries from reporters.
Asked if this could be considered "panliligaw" (courting), the president replied: "At the present time, I'm just recovering also from a recent engagement, and there's just too many things. And the schedules on both sides are such that it's difficult to find common time, and especially when you are not given private time."
He was evidently referring to his widely reported but heretofore unconfirmed break-up with Valenzuela Councilor Shalani Soledad.
Mr. Aquino's admission came on the heels of news reports he was planning to "casually admit" that he and Uy were dating when he returns back to the Philippines on Monday. The information was attributed to talk show host Boy Abunda, who is a close family friend of the Aquinos as well as Uy's manager.
There are also reports which say Mr. Aquino and Uy were engaged and may get married next year.
The president denied the wedding part, noting that such reports contained too many factual errors to be considered true.
"Nabasa ko, pati birthday ko hindi tama. E medyo public record naman po yon ng pagkatagal-tagal," a somewhat exasperated Mr. Aquino said.
He also refuted Abunda's statement about an impending announcement on the part of the president regarding Uy.
"Well, hindi ko siya spokesman in this case," the president said of Abunda.
'Uy is smart, proper'
Abunda earlier told ABS-CBN News the real state of the relationship between Aquino and Uy.
“They're getting to know each other. They go on dates. They do dinners," he said.
When asked if they are engaged as reported, Abunda said, "Hindi eh! Hindi totoo na mayroon nang nakatakdang kasal."
Abunda said he was happy for Uy, one of his commercial talents.
"I am very happy for Liz that she’s getting to know a very important person in her life. Alam naman nating lahat ang pinagdaanan din ni Liz,” he said.
Asked what he thought of the idea of Uy becoming a First Lady, Abunda said, “Sana...She’s very smart. Proper, matalino, masipag. Of course, she will know what to wear."
Uy has opted to keep mum over her relationship with the president.
'Aquino has had 18 girlfriends'
In his article in the Philippine Star (PhilStar) published on Friday, entertainment columnist Ricky Lo said President Aquino's youngest sister, Kris, is in favor of Uy as her brother's girlfriend.
“She comes from a stable and religious family,” Kris told the PhilStar. “Her parents have been married for 33 years. They go to church together every Sunday."
Lo also wrote: “Liz and Noy share a birthday, Feb. 18,” added Kris who has been giving Liz branded gifts (shoes, bags, etc). “She’s wife material.”
Citing a unnamed source, Lo said Aquino has had “18 girlfriends, so far, including Korina Sanchez who is now Mrs. Mar Roxas."
"If and when P-Noy and Liz end up as sweethearts, according to the VDPA [Very Deep Penetration Agent], the Aquino sisters (Kris, Ballsy, Pinky and Viel) would suggest that they get married on Oct 11, 2011 which is the wedding anniversary of their parents, the late former President Cory Aquino and former Sen. Ninoy Aquino," Lo said.
Kris also told PhilStar's Lo: “Hayaan na natin masaya ang love life niya. If he’s happy, mas lalo siyang inspired magsilbi sa bayan (If his love life is happy, the more inspired he will be to serve the country).” -- with a report from Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News