Nathalie Tomada – The Philippine Star

October 22, 2021 | 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian recently talked about marriage plans with girlfriend Bianca Manalo.

“That is a very difficult question. I feel like I’m sweating on that question,” joked Gatchalian when asked about a possible wedding date during the recent virtual celebration of the 7th World Pandesal Day spearheaded by businessman, STAR columnist and Kamuning Bakery owner Wilson Lee Flores.

“Wala akong maibibigay na definite date. Ang aking pananaw diyan, of course, it’s in God’s time. Pag-uusapan namin na mabuti kung ano yung pinakamagandang oras for both of us. (I can’t give a definite date. My view there, of course, it’s in God’s time. We will talk carefully about what is the best time for both of us). This is a mutual decision, so in God’s time,” he said.

The 47-year-old senator and his 34-year-old actress-girlfriend will mark three years as a couple on Nov. 18. On Instagram, Manalo previously revealed Gatchalian won her heart by pursuing her for six years. Early 2020, the former beauty queen sparked engagement talk after sharing their sweet photos in Paris, which netizens mistook for a prenup shoot.

Asked if a wedding will happen before the May 2022 elections, Gatchalian said, “I’m not very sure but knowing how stressful elections (are), baka mahirap makabuo.”

Nevertheless, he admitted to envying friends who have families of their own. “In fact, yung mga ka-age kong friends, nag-graduate na sa college ang mga anak nila. Ako hindi pa nag-uumpisa. So, those are the things that I envy a lot of our friends.”

Meanwhile, Gatchalian welcomed the reopening of cinemas, which coincided with the World Pandesal Day, after over a year of shutdown due to the pandemic. For him, it’s about time theaters and other business establishments open. He said the new alert system is good “because it’s granular” and “not sweeping,” allowing local governments to have the flexibility to “implement whatever alert levels they deem necessary.”

“It’s a very difficult balancing act, I know, but we need to slowly open up our economy dahil hindi kakayanin ng gobyerno na bigay nang bigay ng ayuda. We’re not a rich country, we don’t have unlimited resources and we have other important things to finance also,” he said.

Gatchalian was among the guests from both politics and showbiz at the World Pandesal Day, which this year did away with the tradition of distributing 70,000 breads whole day to urban poor communities in Quezon City. Instead, breads were delivered to children’s shelters, orphanages and other communities to continue to “honor the Filipino bread pandesal” and “highlight global hunger and poverty.”

VIPs who gave special messages were President Rodrigo Duterte, Vice President Leni Robredo, senators Bong Go, Grace Poe, Sonny Angara, congresswoman Loren Legarda, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, and GMA Network boss Felipe Gozon.

During the event, Regal Entertainment matriarch Lily Monteverde also shared her thoughts on the reopening of cinemas, calling it a “new beginning.” She announced that Regal will soon co-produce movies with GMA Network. She expressed optimism that after “this difficult pandemic,” the filmmaking industry “will be more alive again.”

Rights lawyer Neri Colmenares, who also attended the World Pandesal Day, was queried about his aunt, actress Angel Locsin, who was earlier rumored to join the 2022 elections following her philanthropic works.

He said, “Well, si Angel, yung pagiging matulungin niya hindi dahil sa akin or sino pa man, she’s her own person. She developed that because of her life experiences. She wasn’t a famous star initially… until she became a big star. She knew people in all walks of life and she’s very active (in that aspect).”

He confirmed repeatedly asking her if she was running because a lot of people wanted to know. “I really relayed them to her… ‘Maraming gusto at nagsasabi sana tumakbo ka.’”

Colmenares recalled that a former colleague in congress said Angel could run under a party-list, while others raised the possibility of a spot in a senatorial slate.

“(But) really, it’s not in her,” he explained. “She said, pwede naman akong tumulong na wala dyan at saka hindi yan yung politika (niya) ba. Several times, I asked her and told her, ‘I am just relaying, hindi kita pinipilit (not forcing you). But ayaw niya talaga, hindi talaga siya pwede. (She really doesn’t want to, she really can’t).”

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