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A Closer Look at Shalani Soledad - Philstar

Beauty-contest connoisseur Gerry Diaz (not Garcia as wrongly identified in a recent Funfare item) had a close-up look at Valenzuela City Councilor Shalani Soledad, Sen./Presidentiable Noynoy Aquino’s girlfriend, during the recent 2009 Miss Bicolandia contest in Naga City where they sat as judges. Here are Gerry’s impressions:

She impressed me with her simplicity, natural beauty and youthful looks. I couldn’t believe that she’s 29. Asked by a candidate during the pre-judging if she thought Noynoy would win, Shalani replied, “It’s not for me to say; it’s the Filipino who will answer that come election time.”

A native Bicolana (from Baras, Catanduanes), she speaks fluent Bicolano. She readily accepted interview requests even when she was in the middle of her breakfast. And I admired the way she declined to answer questions about her relationship with Noynoy Aquino aside from saying that he has a good sense of humor behind that serious image.

She was very nice and well-bred. Whenever people approached her for a photo op, she readily obliged, flashing that bright, warm and sincere smile. When introduced to a group of joggers having breakfast in a Naga hotel, she approached each and everyone of the 40 or so people to shake their hands.

During the finals, Shalani looked even lovelier in a silver and gray one-shoulder gown. That night, I saw that she has a good fashion sense — simple, yet classy and elegant. I asked her who made her gown and she said that she just bought it off the rack in a mall in Quezon City.

While waiting for the pageant to start, I turned to Shalani and told her she looked like she could be a beauty queen herself. And when I asked if she ever joined a personality or beauty contest, I was surprised to know she participated in the Miss Philippine Centennial pageant. She did not represent Bulacan or Catanduanes but the Filipino community of Kuwait because at that time, she was in Kuwait where her mom was working.

One quality I liked about about Shalani was her humility and unassuming ways. When I asked her to autograph her business card, it took her some time to do so and signed it only after asking, “Gerry, seryoso ba ‘to?” Only when I said yes did she sign her card with a personal dedication.

I told her about my dedication to Ina, Our Lady of Pe├▒afrancia, and invited her to the Naga Basilica. I told her that we could go up to the back of the altar where she could touch Ina and offer her prayers. So the following morning she went there, accompanied by lawyer Leni Robredo and Nene de Asis. She made her offering to Ina in a private altar where the original image of Ina was kept.

When Monsignor Vergara told her she could write her petition to Ina and leave it at the altar, she got a small piece of paper and wrote her petition. I could only guess what the petition was!

Source: FUNFARE By Ricardo F. Lo (The Philippine Star) Updated September 19, 2009 12:00 AM

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