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Aquino’s love life

Leandro DD Coronel
By Leandro DD Coronel
MANILA

President Benigno Aquino III’s love life is in the news again here. Why can’t we give the guy a break and lay off his personal life?

The President is a bachelor, of course, the most eligible bachelor in the country at that. Thus, all eyes are on his amorous pursuits, whenever the press smells something in the air.

Is he dating? Who is the lucky girl? Where does he take his date(s)? What’s his style of courting?

These questions and many more are the topic of press speculation. The poor guy can’t go to a restaurant, theater or shopping mall without the media jumping on him and his companion. Have we all really become snoops, sniffing around for tidbits on the private moments of the No. 1 Bachelor in the country?

Bunny CalicaAs I write this column, the newest object of the President’s attention is a woman named by the press as Bunny Calica, reportedly from the southern city of Cebu (a place, incidentally, known for its pretty, Spanish-looking beauties). She’s been photographed in the company of the President at a pop concert recently.

The presidential Palace is predictably mum about the President’s date. Palace staff seem to know very little about the latest presidential date, and members of Aquino’s inner circle who may be in the know aren’t talking either.

And so it should be. It’s nobody else’s business who the President is dating and whom the President is infatuated with. Discretion among the President’s associates should indeed be the order of the day.

Personally, I find this excessive and obsessive snooping into the President’s love “affairs” unseemly and inappropriate. It’s nothing but voyeurism, an invasion of the person’s privacy, and is not unlike a Peeping Tom drooling over other people’s personal and private conduct.

The President himself has begged the media to please lay off and give him a measure of privacy when it comes to his personal activities. Many times he has chided the press for paying inordinate attention to his personal time-offs.

And he’s right, of course. His personal life is his own and no one else’s; he’s entitled to privacy.

It’s OK for the press to report on the President’s dates because, after all, every activity of the top official of the nation is subject to public scrutiny. But once the media learns that the President is on private time, reporters should just report briefly on the President’s outing or date in a factual account and leave it at that. They should then keep a distance and not intrude.

Can you imagine being on a date and having several reporters prying around to find out what you and your date are talking about, what food you’re eating and drinks you’re having, and what time you’re going home? Isn’t that an invasion of your privacy?

That is, exactly, what Aquino has to go through whenever he finds time to go on a personal date. How much fun is that?

Is it all right for the media to dig into the background of the President’s dates?

Yes, it is, just in case the woman has a sordid background or a questionable past that might compromise the President. But beyond that, it’s no longer anybody’s business who and what the woman is. So, unless  the woman is a modern-day Matahari, a secret agent of another country or corporation, or a notorious embezzler or woman of loose morals, the media should just lay off and leave the President alone after a perfunctory news story. No juicy details please, especially if there isn’t any to be dug up.

Mr. Aquino is now 51 years old and presumably he wants to get married and have children of his own. Something a normal, red-blooded man would do or want to do. All the kibitzing around and prying into his personal life and that of his female friends is not helping him any in successfully winning the affections of his date(s).

Lay off guys, let the guy do his courting in peace.

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Hottest issue.
Speaking of reproduction, the hottest topic in Manila these days is the debate on a bill in Congress for a reproductive health program of the government. It is a complicated issue and the debate has degenerated into name-calling between the opposing sides, including, the Catholic Church.

Indeed, many members of the clergy have been vocal in their opposition to the bill and one or two bishops have threatened to excommunicate President Aquino for his support for a family planning program.

It’s impossible, but to try to put a complex issue simply, proponents of the reproductive health bill call it a measure to help women in planning the size and health of their families and in the process slow down the potentially runaway growth of the country’s population. Those against call it a forcible dictation on couples on how many children they can have and a potential massive drain on the government’s finances because it would cost billions to implement the project (because, for example, it would be mandatory for schools to teach sex education classes and for public health centers to provide reproductive health advice and paraphernalia like condoms).

As I said, it’s complicated. And I will stop here and simply say that I am in favor of giving women the choice of family planning method to use ( as long as it’s not against the law) and for the government to be equipped to provide advice for women to be able to make their choices.

To opponents of family planning, I will just say: if you don’t want artificial family planning methods and want Filipinos to multiply unabated, will you then be willing to feed all the unwanted children, all the street children who face a certain bleak future, and all our countrymen who are out there, jobless and unproductive because their parents were not responsible enough to realize that they, the parents, wouldn’t be able to feed and educate them sufficiently to grow up and be able to contribute to the nation’s growth? What will you do when the teeming masses of people go rampaging in the streets because they have no food to eat, are uneducated because they were too poor to go to school, and don’t earn their own keep because they’re unqualified for any meaningful work?

Food for thought.

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