[PHOTO - President Aquino with the members of the Bulong Pulungan press group and their guests during their Christmas party at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza. In photo (from left) are Resty Vergara, Thelma San Juan, Chay Santiago, Secretary Sonny Coloma, Rina David, Tonypet Albano, Jullie Daza, Mandy Navasero, Domini Torrevillas, Charito Planas, Rose Libongco, Beth Tagle and Deedee Siytangco. (Kneeling) Frank Evaristo and Donnie Ramirez.]

MANILA, DECEMBER 21, 2011 (STARnewsmakers) PEOPLE By Joanne Rae M. Ramirez - For the second straight year, President Noynoy Aquino honored the Bulong Pulungan Christmas party at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza with his presence, and this year he came armed with confidence, charm and candor.

Buoyed perhaps by news that amid the furor over the arrest of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and his undisguised attack on the independence of the Supreme Court, his approval and trust ratings continue to defy gravity, P-Noy was the picture of a Chief Executive comfortable in his own skin.

“Kinikilala ko po na ang boss ko ay ang taumbayan. Tapos ang boss natin ang nagsasabi kung anong direksyon natin. So, iyong approval and trust rating comes from the fact that I think I am speaking for and we’re trying to realize the dreams of the vast majority of our populace.”

He had but one request: “Kaunting pabor lang sana, pamasko ninyo na lang po sa akin: sana’y maipagpatuloy at mapagtibay pa ninyo ang pakikiisa sa ating kampanyang ipaabot sa publiko ang mabubuting bunga ng ating mga reporma. Kapag may good news po tayo, huwag lang po sana natin itong ipagbulungan, huwag lang po sana natin itong iimbak sa ating mga tanggapan, huwag po tayo mag-atubiling ipagmalaki ang mga ito at ipagsigawan ng malakas.”

Okay, that isn’t too hard to gift-wrap.

[PHOTO - The President with Bulong Pulungan’s special public service ‘Exemplars:’ Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office GM Joy Rojas, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Palawan Mayor Ed Hagedorn and Vice Admiral Alexander Pama.]

I asked him what else he wanted under his Christmas tree, and he said, “If I can maintain the goodwill and the support that the people have been giving me, that is really such a tremendous gift and I hope to be deserving of the same.”

But he said he was already blessed even before the Christmas season because, “I think I have the people who are really driving this whole administration towards that goal of an improved society. And I think they should be recognized also for their sacrifices and efforts have been producing really good results.”

He has set aside hopes of getting his dream car this Christmas, or for the next four Christmases. When asked by motoring columnist Aida Sevilla-Mendoza what his dream car is, he said he is putting the dream on hold until 2016.

“ My dream motor might be entirely different by that time. So rather than hope for something right now, I’ll just look at what’s available roughly on June 30, 1 p.m.”

He was just as candid about his Christmas wish for former President Arroyo and Chief Justice Renato Corona. When asked by Jullie Daza what he wanted for them, Mr. Aquino said without batting an eyelash: “I think I answered in one particular question, “Hope springs eternal,” and in terms of Mrs. Arroyo, that she was given an opportunity to lead our country for nine and a half years. I was in the opposition, I don’t think she led us properly. Perhaps she can rectify what has been done by helping us really achieve the reforms and the transformation of the society by telling us how exactly… what exactly was done, how it was done, what were the loopholes that were exploited and so on and so forth.

“For the Chief Justice and with all due respect perhaps he can revisit the oath that we all in government have to undertake and remember exactly whom he made the promise to and what was promised.”

P-Noy was conscious that he, too, isn’t perfect and that there is always room for self-improvement. When asked if he had any plans of a Cabinet re-shuffle, he said: “I’m very happy with the Cabinet, but at the same time, all of us are human. We are all imperfect beings, and there is always room for improvement. And if the day comes that any member of my Cabinet -— or myself included -— says we’re so perfect, we know it all, there’s no improvement, then I think that’s the time we should all be resigning because we’ll be dangerous to the people at that point in time.”

How does he relax? “A lot of times I find myself listening to my music collection as a means to decompress at the end of the day,” he said in response to Chay Santiago’s question. “Sometimes it’s old stuff, sometimes it’s new stuff, depends actually on how energetic I guess I am at the end of the day. Going here, I needed to relax, so I was listening to some jazz music by Bob James, the slower portions of Bob James.”

When Thelma San Juan tried to coat a personal question on his love life by asking something about poverty in the same breath, P-Noy quipped: “Unlike poverty, it is not being addressed.”

I told you he was candid.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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