This man of many strengths bared the other day his biggest weakness: sweets.
Asked in an open forum at the Bulong Pulungan Christmas party at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza what one word comes to his mind when the word “weakness” is mentioned, President Noynoy Aquino readily answered, “Sweets.”
Columnist Jullie Yap Daza, who asked the question, said she patterned her interrogation after a scene in the James Bond hit Skyfall, which, incidentally, the President has not seen.
Pressed to elaborate on what “sweets” meant to him, whether sweet food or sweetness in people,” the President texted me yesterday, “Mostly food.”
The President is said to especially like Lindt chocolates.
When I interviewed him at his Times Street home right before his miting de avance in June 2010, he was chilling out with Häagen-Dazs chocolate ice cream.
Perhaps, Christmas reminds him of the specialties of his late mom former President Cory Aquino: Apple Betty.
His sister Pinky Abellada says it is one of the President’s “sweet tooth faves that we used to have since we were kids”: baked sliced apples with cinnamon and buttered crumble on top.
According to Pinky, other Cory sweet treats that her only son loved, and probably misses, include her strawberry shortcake and butter cake. Few outside of Cory could come up with specialties her children crave for, but Pinky says their family friend “Bingle” comes up with chocolate chip cookies even the President eagerly awaits every Christmas.
On the way to the Sofitel ballroom, the President was asked if he had someone special to share meaningful occasions such as Christmas with, and he told us, “I’m working on it.”
Later he would tell me that his idea of “earthly happiness” was “having a family to come home to, especially at Christmas.”
When congratulated by columnist Domini Torrevillas for his staunch support of the RH Bill, which was seen as crucial for its passing by Congress, the President said the credit doesn’t belong to him. “Alalay lang ako.”
He has said couples should have as many children they can raise with dignity. He confided during the forum that he was appalled when he learned during one of his outreach visits to poor communities that a young mother with a drug-addicted husband traded her baby (probably her nth) for a carabao.
“Imagine that, a carabao?” he said, aghast.
He said he himself, if given a choice, would like to have five children like his parents Ninoy and Cory. But he conceded that five may be too much for his future wife, if ever, and so he said the number was negotiable. I personally don’t think the President has given up having children. He once said his great-grandfather, “the one after whom the camp is named” had children in his seventies (one of them former congressman Hermie Aquino).
The President said he is committed to leading “transformational” change in the country, and is willing to work with all his might to achieve this. He said next year’s mid-term elections would be like a “referendum” on his administration and he is determined to help his hand-picked candidates see victory. He said he will definitely campaign for them and spend nights being a “referee” among different camps.
He acknowledged the vote of confidence the Philippines is receiving from different international financial agencies and credit rating institutions, and he announced that in the forthcoming The World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland in late January 2013, “the Philippines will be highlighted.
According to published sources, the WEF unites international political leaders, business leaders and journalists from across the globe to discuss and shape global, regional and industrial agenda with regards to economics, health and the environment. It has about 2,200 participants.
President Aquino said he doesn’t heed all advice given him, but respects the giver of advice, solicited or not, because “I believe in freedom of speech.”
Asked the one word that comes to his mind with the word “regret” and the President was stumped for an answer.
“Why dwell on something that causes you pain?” he countered. Pressed further to come up with a one-word answer he associates with “regret,” he said: “None.”
No regrets, just a year full of hope for someone who said that his job, “is to think of myself last.”
(You may e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.)