MANILA, JANUARY 12, 2012 (STAR) By Delon Porcalla - President Aquino wishes only the best for Valenzuela Councilor Shalani Soledad, his former girlfriend, in her upcoming wedding with Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo on Jan. 22.

In a chance interview at SM Mall of Asia, President Aquino said the family is the most basic institution in any society, and expressed hope that the Romulo-Soledad nuptial would be one that is strong.

“Our emphasis is always to strengthen family,” he said. “We believe that a lot of the solutions to the problems in the country will be best addressed by a family that is strong, united and strengthening and caring for the children that they bring into this world.

“We hope that this will be what the union of Roman and Shalani will be able to achieve.

“They have found the right person in each other. They will be able to nurture the children that they will be bringing into this world, more responsible, productive citizens joining our society.”

[PHOTO - Noynoy kisses Shalani in LP oathtaking, NOV 24, 2009]

Aquino could not yet say, however, if he could attend the wedding, because he has to check his schedule for that day.

“Normally iyung schedule ko and my wishes are not synchronized,” he said.

“In this particular case, I would have to provide the appointments committee the reasons for attending that particular event. It’s not my decision, there are so many factors I have to weigh.

“I don’t look at my schedule earlier than a day or two days before because it really makes one exhausted, just reading all the engagements you have to go to. So I don’t know what Jan. 22 has in store for me.

“I have so many roles and all those roles consume all the time that I have available.

“Normally, if I ask for personal time, the last trip that I had to Tarlac took me four to five months to organize.”

When asked what would be his gift to the couple, he said he has not yet had time to attend to it.

“I haven’t been to the bridal registry,” he said.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda declared in a news briefing: “May the road rise to meet you. May the wind always be at your back,” reciting a portion of the Irish blessing and prayer for couples.

He clarified, however, that a check with the office of Aquino showed that no invitation to the wedding has yet been received by the Chief Executive.

“We just confirmed with the Private Office that the President has not yet received an invitation and we will let you know what the response of the President will be,” the spokesman said.

Soledad was Aquino’s girlfriend for almost two years until their separation sometime in October 2010, or a few months after the President assumed office.

They were a couple before the 2010 presidential campaign started, or when Aquino was still a senator.

Romulo belongs to the ruling Liberal Party where Aquino sits as chairman. He belongs to the administration coalition in the House of Representatives.

The lawmaker said he is hoping the President would attend their wedding.

“He (President Aquino) is invited. Although we understand that he is a very busy person kasi presidente siya (because he is the president), hopeful kami na makarating din siya ( we hope he will attend),” he told ABS-CBN News earlier.

Meanwhile, the couple shared that Soledad will be walking down the aisle alone and not escorted by her parents.

“It’s the bride’s moment and she is old enough to stand on her own. I’m looking forward to a long, long life with Shalani,” Romulo said.

The couple is expecting more than 400 guests for the wedding.

Veteran fashion designer Inno Sotto has been tasked to design “a simple wedding dress” for Soledad. This is in keeping with the couple’s decision to have a “simple and private” wedding ceremony to be held in St. Benedict Church in Silang, Cavite.

Romulo also said they decided not to grant exclusive media coverage for the wedding.

The couple is still deciding if they will spend their honeymoon in Amanpulo, Palawan.

Last September, Romulo announced his engagement to Soledad. He proposed to her at the Our Lady of Fatima church in Valenzuela.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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