A day in the life... of Noynoy Aquino

- Aurea Calica -

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III sat comfortably on a black leather sofa in a bistro in Davao City the night before their latest sorties in Mindanao. It was past 10 p.m. and he said he could not stay long since he would have to be up by 6 a.m. to prepare for a local radio interview.

But it was past midnight when he stood up to go, a rare chance for media to catch him relaxed since he became the Liberal Party’s (LP) presidential candidate.

Noynoy told The STAR his schedule had been punishing since he became the LP’s standard-bearer. He does early morning radio interviews, and is usually up before 5 a.m. to read the newspapers and be familiar with developments and issues before answering any questions from radio commentators.

He flew to Davao City the night before the sortie so he could rest and study after dinner and meet with some close friends and supporters. But their itinerary had to be adjusted because a no fly-zone was imposed until 11 a.m. because of President Arroyo’s visit to the area.

“So this is how it is. There are a lot of pressures and frustrations. But I get my strength from the warmth of the people wherever we go,” Noynoy said.

Noynoy said he often rushes out in the morning without breakfast. He admitted the kitchen of their house on Times street in Quezon City was no longer his favorite place since his mother, former President Corazon Aquino, passed away last August.

When Mrs. Aquino was alive, Noynoy recounted that his nephew Joshua usually wakes him up when he comes to visit his grandmother. “He would bang the door and say hello out loud right next to my ear. When I tried to ignore him and refuse to get up, he would shake me or jump into bed, and that’s no joke, he’s 200 pounds, you know,” Noynoy quipped.

“I’m not a coffee person. Along the way, I will have water and Coke with quick meals, usually in the car. Lunch for me are burgers that I eat while the car is moving. I have to be careful so the ketchup won’t spill,” he said.

Aside from endless meetings, he now has to contend with pictorials and shooting for infomercials. “Pictorial is something that I am not used to. You have to pose, smile, bend your arm, straighten up, look to the left,” he laughed.

Because of these pictorials, Noynoy said a visit to the dermatologist would sometimes have to be squeezed into his schedule. “I think my skin (gets irritated) with the powder and make-up they put on me.”

He asks his staff members to try and give him time for decent dinners every now and then, especially when he is very tired. “When I want something fast to eat, I have pizza or gyoza (Japanese dumpling). When there is time, I have kare-kare but mostly just the sauce and the sitao (string beans). Sometimes, siomai or pancit (Chinese dumplings or noodles),” Noynoy, who loves Chinese food, said.

Being a bachelor, it is long-time household staff member Yolly who cooks for him and takes care of his laundry and other domestic details.

Bedtime these days is very erratic because of the campaign schedule, and before sleeping he would read and study.

“I have to study, study and study because I have to learn everything,” Noynoy confided. “Everyone expects me to be an expert on everything.”

When Congress was still in session, Noynoy said he could not be absent since he also had duties to fulfill as a lawmaker.

The LP bet admitted he could not easily give up his vices – smoking and regular Coke. He relaxes by playing computer games since he could no longer do practical shooting and billiards. He also loves music and is an audiophile.

Noynoy lamented he hardly has time for family or his girlfriend, Shalani Soledad. They spent Valentine’s Day “hibernating” at a friend’s house where his barkada and their spouses gathered for a barbecue. He wouldn’t say what his gift to Shalani was, only that it “wasn’t that expensive.”

They then went to the joint birthday celebration of his sister Kris and her husband James.

“I miss Joshua and he tells me he misses Tito Noy too, and then tries to embrace me tight. I also used to meet with my sisters every Sunday, but now our reunions have become sporadic. It’s funny and sad that we need an appointment just to be together because of our busy schedules,” he said.

If elected, he said he would prefer to still live in their Times street home rather than in Malacañang, to keep him grounded and also to give him a little respite away from the spotlight and the pressures of the presidency.








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