Roman & Shalani walk 118 kms on their second honeymoon
10 THINGS - Bianca Gonzalez (The Philippine Star) - August 10, 2014 - 12:00am

It was a quiet, rainy evening in their lovely, modest home. Without an ounce of makeup and with her hair tied, his polo tucked in and his hair combed neatly, their eyes sparkled as they looked at each other and posed for the photographer. Hot tea was served and standards were playing in the background. Everything was so low-key, you wouldn’t guess it was a congressman’s home.

Here are 10 things you should know about Rep. Roman and Shalani  Soledad-Romulo.

1. Shalani was 30 years old when she first met her biological father.

“That was the first time I saw him. People were asking me, ‘Wala bang galit?’ At that point, parang tapos na. I was done asking questions like, ‘Sino ang daddy ko?’ or ‘Bakit hindi niya ako hinahanap?” I was just happy to finally see him. At that time I had my own career, I was happy with life, it was a bonus for me. And finally the missing piece,” she shares. “Meron, yes,” she says about lukso ng dugo. “You will just know, there’s something inside you that will tell you.”

When asked if she ever went through a rebellious stage growing up, she says: “I guess the normal phase. When it was a school day I usually had to go home at 7 p.m. but sometimes I’d be out for dinner with my friends and go home at 8 or 9, or I’d ask permission to go out to Alabang but we would go to Star City. Typical lang, wala naman yung tipong naglayas ng bahay,” Shalani says. “Yes, I would get grounded!”

2. Roman, on growing up in a political environment: “They would constantly remind us that if we do something, it would reflect on the family.”

“Weekends we were all together, Sunday Mass together, lunch all together, it really didn’t disrupt the family life,” he says of his dad, former DFA Secretary Alberto Romulo’s job. “Growing up, nakagisnan na namin yung eleksyon. I remember when we were young, when my dad’s uncle Carlos P. Romulo ran, my dad was the campaign manager. We would tag along in the campaign sorties that would go on for weeks. As a kid it was more of fun. Of course, you’d want to win, but being a kid, you didn’t really know what the position was like. Basta natapos yung eleksyon, we’d all go back to our own lives.”

On the pressure to not get into any trouble because of their name: “In my college days, my dad was a senator. Especially in UP there was a lot going on, na-limit talaga ako. I never really went to gimmicks or girly bars, because, of course, you’ll never know what can happen. That’s what I always tell Lans, at least she’s sure that growing up, I never got into that,” he says laughing. Shalani giggles, too.

3. Shalani, on her bashers when she tried her hand at showbiz: “I really didn’t take it personally, I took it positively.”

“It wasn’t a goal, it was something that was just offered to me,” she says of her hosting duties for the game/variety show Willing Willie. “At that time I was intending to turn it down but ended up saying yes, and eventually I really enjoyed the show. You get to meet different kinds of people and learn from the experiences of others. When you are watching TV, you say, ‘Ay, ang dali ng trabaho nila.’ Hindi pala. It entails a lot of hard work and discipline.”

On bashers who criticized her hosting style: “I know naman I’m not the typical host that’s very bubbly. When other people give comments, I really take it as constructive criticism. Because I know there is always room for improvement. When they criticize me, it means they get to watch the show.”

Roman, on if he ever got to watch Shalani host on TV: “Nakapanood ako ng konti. The times I would watch was more for timing, because I would pick her up after work. So more or less I know when I’d have to leave,” he says. “I was courting her at the time so I was more concerned about what to do after picking her up. Dinner ba, or pupunta ba sa bahay nila? Basta kailangan masaya siya.”

4. Roman, prior to meeting Shalani, was already certain he wanted to bring his future girlfriend/wife on a European trip. Sure enough, their honeymoon was in Paris and Rome.

“My contemporaries, most got married at a certain time. Ako na lang yung single. We’d go out, tatlo kami, because they were always a couple and ako lang. Or we’d travel to Singapore or Hong Kong, they would all be couples. But to go to Europe, such a romantic place, ang hirap naman to go with friends or couples, especially. So I told myself that’s one thing I will really do, travel to Europe with my girlfriend or wife,” he shares.

Roman went through the whole bachelor phase of dating, until he met Shalani over three years ago. “We hit it off well after some time, not immediately. I was very interested, obviously she’s very pretty. Then we started going out, and as we got to talk, it was not that difficult to be a match. It was easy to get along with each other,” he says.

The day after their wedding, they flew off for their honeymoon. It was Shalani’s first time to Europe. “Paris is really a magical place, so romantic, everywhere the scenery is so nice, and you’re with your husband pa,” she recalls as she looks at Roman and smiles. “It was winter, ang lamig. And we loved walking around. Every now and then we’d go into a cafe even if we wouldn’t order coffee, just because it was too cold.”

Summer this year, they returned to Europe (convinced by a promo for a good deal on plane fare) but this time, to London and Spain. “We did the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage, we walked 118 kilometers for five days,” Roman recalls. “We’d be walking around 10 hours a day, sleep at small inns in different municipalities, until we reached our destination,” he adds. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Shalani says.

When asked if they ever argue when traveling because of hunger or tiredness, they both laugh. “At one point I told Roman, ‘Ang sakit na talaga ng paa ko, mag-taxi na tayo,’ He said sayang naman because we started it already, but if we wanted, me and another friend we were with, could go ahead and take a cab. But, of course, I couldn’t leave him, so kahit umuulan naglalakad na din ako. If it wasn’t for Roman and his stubbornness to finish, baka hindi namin natapos.”

5. Roman and Shalani in numbers:

7: Number of months from the day they met to the day they got married, Jan. 22, 2012.

5: Number of minutes it takes Roman to get ready in the morning.

90: Number of minutes it takes Shalani to get ready in the morning.

13: The age gap between Shalani, 34, and Roman, 47.

9: Number of years Shalani served as councilor of Valenzuela, from 2004 to 2013.

39: Number of bills authored/co-authored by Roman since 2013, including the Unified Financial Assistance Bill and the Voluntary Student Loan Program, both already passed in Congress and waiting for Senate approval

6. They don’t necessarily have the same opinion on political issues.

“Even if we have different beliefs, we discuss. We try to present our sides,” Shalani says. “At the end of the day, we will compromise, okay that’s what you believe in, this is what I believe in. We respect each other’s decisions.”

On the FOI: “We’re both for it. Yun naman, obvious.”

On the DAP: “We both agree that the Supreme Court is the arbiter, the protector of the right thing, they have the final say that is non-political.”

On the RH Law: “I was not for it,” Roman says. “I’m pro-choice,” Shalani says. “I’m pro-life,” Roman rebuts. They both laugh.

On Roman’s move from the Lakas Kampi Party to the LP: “Yes, in a way because Lans was already in LP, but not only that, currently it’s run really well. It’s good to belong to a party whose leader is sincere.”

On the possibility of Shalani running for public office again: “For now, no plans.”

7. On the upload of their wedding photo online with their ninang Janet Napoles, during the height of the Napoles trial with the whistleblowers: “We were just hopeful that people would discerning enough to know the truth.”

“We just wanted the truth to come out. When I was in office and in Roman’s handling of his office, never did we put any money there.  All of the money that was allocated to the office was really used by the office for the people, for his constituents in Pasig, and in my case our constituents in Valenzuela,” Shalani says.

“We were more surprised than anything. We honestly did not have a deep relationship, she was known as a businesswoman and since we never dealt with her on that level, when these things came out, it was more of a surprise,” Roman says.

8. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the name...

P-Noy

Roman: Honest person.

Shalani: Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.

Willie Revillame

R: Funny.

S: Willing Willie.

Kris Aquino

R: Cory and Ninoy.

S: Queen of all media.

VP Binay

R: Good leader.

S: Kay Binay, gaganda ang buhay.

Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile

R: Institution in the Senate.

S: One of the longest-serving public officials.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada

R: One of the Greenhills basketball boys.

S: Son of Erap.

Sen. Grace Poe

R: FPJ.

S: FPJ.

Mayor Erap Estrada

R: Charismatic.

S: Erap para sa mahirap.

Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

R: Strong leader.

S: Strong leader.

US President Barack Obama

R: There’s still so much he can do before his term ends.

S: Broke all records.

9. Early on in their relationship, they established a “No Edit Policy.”

“Whatever you want to say, your feelings on a certain matter,” Shalani says. “Ilabas mo lahat,” Roman finishes her sentence. “Otherwise nagpapatong-patong. Even the smallest things, even if it is so far from the issue, say it,” she adds. “Hindi kami yung tipong nagdadabog, or one would be on this side and the other would be on the other side. We really discuss,” he adds.

On a surprising trait they discovered about each other after marriage: “Lans cooks, which was a pleasant surprise. She can cook anything and hindi namin problema kahit kaming dalawa lang dito sa bahay,” Roman shares. “In terms of his clothes, hindi siya maarte or mapili. He doesn’t mind the brand, he doesn’t mind if luma as long as functional pa. I fold his clothes so I see sometimes may butas na yung shirt but he’ll still use it because it’s his favorite or because it’s comfortable,” Shalani reveals.

On their best advice on marriage: “Always remember your commitment. It isn’t going to be perfect, may times maiinis ka, but always remember why you chose this person para maalala mo that you love this person,” Shalani says. “That it’s normal that you don’t agree on everything, so it’s best to talk and talk and talk,” Roman says. “Sinasabi niya yan pero minsan kapag ako yung may issue, he’ll say, ‘O tapos ka na,” Shalani laughs. “Kailangan kasi mailabas lang,” Roman adds and they both laugh again.

10. On who between them is the better politician. Roman says it’s Shalani, and Shalani says itis Roman.

“To be a politician, dapat mabilis mong makuha yung pulso ng tao, and Lans has that,” Roman says.

“I see his work ethic, at any given time, kapag may kailangan yung constituents niya, even if he is sleeping, even at his most inconvenient time, gagawin niya. Not because he’s my husband, it is really what makes him stand out for me,” Shalani says.

On what life in politics has taught them: “Kailangan talaga humility, especially in dealing with people. Ang daming points of view and kahit sino kausap mo, kailangan makinig ka,” Roman says. “You will not always be in office, so once you are in that position, make sure you maximize it and really do something good,” Shalani says.

* * *

I asked what their plans are in, say, 10 years. “Hopefully with kids,” Shalani answers with a smile. “That’s the one thing we’re really hoping for as soon as possible,” Roman adds. “Sana twins!” Shalani says. “Pinaka masayang times namin are with family when we are all together, even with our pamangkins. Ultimately ‘yun naman ang gusto mo, maging masaya ang buhay,” Roman ends. After our long chat, the couple personally accompanies us out the front door, holding hands, and still with that sparkle in their eyes.

* * *

Email the author at askiamsuperbianca@yahoo.com or message me on Twitter or Instagram at @iamsuperbianca.

 

 

REALLY ROMAN ROMAN AND SHALANI SHALANI TIME WILLING WILLIE YUNG
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