Sunday, September 14, 2014

10 Things You Should Know About Solenn Heussaff

Why Solenn Heussaff can’t cry
The Naked Truth: Solenn will be one of the Bench superstars to walk the ramp on Sept. 19.

I greet Solenn in her newly opened restaurant, Crisp. She has zero makeup on, her hair is messily tied, wearing a loose tank top and shorts. She has just finished painting a wall inside the restaurant. Right now she’s eating a steak and salad (she takes a few bites of a deadly chocolate dessert), one week before the much-talked-about Bench Naked Truth fashion show. Here are 10 things you should know about Solenn Heussaff.

1. It takes serious work to get Solenn’s body: “Rest day? Just because my coach says I need to.”

“I work out six days a week. Now, if I didn’t have this interview, I would’ve probably gone for a run,” Solenn says. “Of course when my work sched is full I can’t work out as much, but I go a minimum four times a week. I work out so early in the morning, that when it gets to the evening and I have nothing to do, I’ll work out again. I love boxing, Plyometrics, and the gym. I do have times when I eat anything I want — fried food, crispy pata, burgers. But it’s all about balance. If I have a heavy meal on a Monday, the next day is light. I want to enjoy life and food!

“My brother Erwan and I started getting fat when I was around eight years old. From there, we gained and gained and we were fat until I was 14. I was called Free Willy and Shamu,” she recalls. “There was a time I became anorexic. Our parents left for vacation for around a month, so I ate an apple a day for that whole month. I became so thin, I got hospitalized, and I lost a kilo a day. I didn’t even think that was possible. From then on, I started eating healthier,” Solenn recalls.

“Back then, all my crushes were insulting me about my weight. When you’re young you get super affected. Now they all have a crush on me, and I’m like, back off,” she laughs.

2. She didn’t “learn” how to make friends until she was in college.

“All my friends were half-French. We all grew up in the same place, we were in the same school from kindergarten to Grade 12, so we never had to make friends. We were born with friends. We were in this little bubble where we never had to mingle,” she says of her days at the Eurocampus. “When I moved to Paris for college, it was so hard. I didn’t know how to approach someone to strike up a conversation. So my dad enrolled me in a dorm instead of an apartment, we were around 100 girls with a communal bathroom. It was a convent.

“I had a boyfriend at that time back in Manila who was very strict. I never took the subway so my phone wouldn’t lose the signal, so I walked an hour to school every day,” Solenn chuckles. “I took up fashion design at Studio Bercot. I had my phone on my lap all the time! I regret it now. If I could go back I’d work extra hours and wouldn’t be so stupid to have my relationship in the way. While in college, I did all the fashion weeks in Paris. I was a dresser and I earned 500 euros a week! We’d dress the models with outfits with, like, 300 buttons, we’d dress them up all day with the entire collection. Then I became an intern for Fanny Liautard, a bridal designer. All our customers had these extravagant weddings and I was tasked to embroider all the veils. With butterflies, with little pearls, I embroidered for hours and hours.

“I came home to Manila and it ended up not working out with my boyfriend, so I was heartbroken. I worked as an intern with Lulu Tan-Gan, but after a few months I just decided I had to leave the country. I liked putting makeup on my friends so I decided to go back to Paris to study makeup in Fleurimont for three months. I ended up staying a year and a half. While in Paris, I came across Bobby Carlos of Make Up Forever who I had worked with before, and he said, ‘Why don’t you join us?’ So when I came back to Manila, they signed me up as one of their makeup artists.”

3. On her artistic side: “For someone who loves design and painting, I hate museums!”

“My mom enrolled me in painting with my kinder teacher and we were there every Saturday for seven years. After that I enrolled in painting in Ayala Museum, I learned tapestry with the wife of the Israeli Ambassador, then I took up painting again with an Indian teacher. I kept on taking lessons until I was 18, and from then on I just painted on my own with what I learned,” Solenn shares. “I love exhibits, but I don’t like museums. I had art history in school but I was like, ‘Ugggh.’ I like creating but I don’t really like the studying. I do have my favorite artists, like Salvador Dali, Paul Gauguin and Pablo Picasso. I get my inspiration from traveling.

“I have so many paintings at home that are so nice, I made the face so well, but when it comes to the hands — I hate hands — I’ll say, ‘Okay, I’m gonna rest.’ Three years later, they’re still hand-less! I’m scared to ruin it,” Solenn laughs.

4. On what most people probably don’t know about her: “I’m super kuripot!”

“My first ad was for a junk food brand, but the one where I got noticed was Pop Cola, the one where I was wearing glasses. I was around 15, it was right after my fat phase,” Solenn recalls. “Then I did a facial wash ad, then I joined this Teen Philippines magazine model search. I won! That’s when I got a modeling contract with Cal Carrie’s. I flew to Thailand a lot to shoot TVCs, for everything from shampoo to soap ads. I’d earn maybe P30,000 a project at the most, and I saved everything in my bank account. I didn’t even have a first big purchase. My first car was a gift from my parents when I turned 21. Kuripot ako!

“I’ve only probably had two designer bags my entire life. And even that I probably think about for like three months, reserve it, go back, before buying it. I’m into shoes, but in my entire closet I only have around five designer pairs. This is me,” Solenn stops to look down at what she’s wearing and laughs. “That’s it!”

5. Solenn Heussaff in numbers:

10: Number of hours it takes her to paint a whole canvas. “When I paint, I need a whole day. That’s my problem, if I don’t finish it, I will never touch it again.”

4: Number of restaurants she’s invested in with her brother Erwan: Hatch 22, Crisp on 28th, and two more opening before the year ends.

4: Number of hours of sleep she gets when she has straight taping days. “I try to sleep in between takes, but I usually study my Tagalog lines every minute I have.”

410,588: Number of views of the YouTube video “Solenn Heussaff Wears A Man’s Suit” for Esquire Philippines.

6: Number of tattoos she currently has. “The mother I have on my left rib cage is the most recent one.”

6. On her top travel destinations: “I spend on travel, but not on the hotel. I just want the toilet to be clean, and I’m happy.”

Patagonia, Argentina: “I love the outdoors. There, in the summer, you’re basically hiking on the glaciers in a T-shirt. Ten minutes away from that you have horseback riding and rock climbing. I’m not really a lamb eater, but the lamb there, it’s so freaking good.”

Paris, France: “Paris will always be my favorite. I’ve worked there, all my friends are there. It’s up to date in fashion, food, exhibits, there are all these festivals, everything is there.”

Amalfi Coast, Italy: “It’s both the beach and the mountain in one place. I’ve always had a fascination for Italian things. Like I wanna get married in Tuscany but I’ve never even been there! I just watched a movie and now it’s my dream wedding destination,” she says with a laugh.

7. She had zero plans of joining showbiz. “When I started in 2011, I said after three years I’d stop. Time goes by so fast!”

“I was in Lulu’s office three times a week, and the rest of the days were either free or for doing makeup. I did the makeup of Heart (Evangelista), and Mond and Ruffa (Gutierrez). One time I went to Ruffa’s house and she said, ‘Chard (Gutierrez) is hosting Celebrity Survivor, you should join.’ And I was like, ‘First of all, I’m not a celeb. Second, I don’t speak Tagalog. And third, I’m not gonna be on TV!’ But Lulu left for two months to be with her daughter in the States, so she said, ‘Solenn, don’t come to the office.’ Wow, what was I gonna do for two months? I’m not that sikat in makeup so I don’t have work every day, so I decided to send my résumé. GMA called me in. I was super nervous. I went there and all they asked is if I could swim, or do this and that, and I said, ‘Yeah.’ Weeks after, I was with Erwan and Anne (Curtis) at Coachella and I got a text saying I was accepted for Survivor. What did I get myself into? All my friends and even my parents thought I couldn’t do it. I’m very sheltered and I’ve had a good life. Even Mond was like, ‘Sos, see you in five days!’ So when I was there, I was like, eff all these people. I thought, might as well do things well while I’m here. I ended up second place!

“After Survivor, they created this whole love angle with Chard. But when I look at Chard I see Mond, so I was very comfortable around him. I rode along with it. Then, they offered me a role in Captain Barbell. What?! I don’t speak Tagalog and I’ve never acted a day in my entire life. All my friends were telling me to not do it. But my dad spoke to me and told me, ‘People join these things to get this chance. And now it’s practically being given to you. Why don’t you try it? If you don’t like it you’re not losing anything, just go back to your designing, and we’re comfortable, we can take care of you.’ So I decided to try it. After that I got a movie, then tuluy-tuloy na and I started enjoying it. I’m learning Tagalog and I’m getting to know my roots. I’m only learning now how to cry for a scene!”

8. On having trouble crying for a scene: “I’ve never been screamed at in my life!”

“My first-ever crying scene was for the movie Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow. Jun Lana was the director. I told him from the very beginning that I can’t cry. He made me do this workshop. He tried to make me think of sad things. Not working. Tried to make me think of something happening to my family. Not working. What could I do? I’ve had a happy life. So he had this girl come. She held my hand, and cried in front of me. And I started sobbing. I felt her energy. He’s like, ‘We’ll be fine for the movie,’” Solenn recalls. “Shooting day comes and I had to cry. I could not. He screamed at me. Direk said, ‘Don’t make me think that I made the wrong decision!’ Deep inside, I said, ‘Yes! I’m going to cry because I’m so embarrassed right now!’ But, still, I couldn’t cry. I just had teary eyes. He had to shoot me separately for the crying. Now I’m starting to understand it. If I need to cry, I’ll be emo in the corner. If I need to be angry, I’ll scream in the middle of the set.

“I’m working on a movie with Judy Ann Santos now, the remake of Tiyanak, with direk Peque Gallaga. Last day of shooting will be a scene with me and Juday, full-on crying. I’m so nervous. Aaaah! But I feel I will be able to deliver.”

9. On her boyfriend Nico Bolzicco: “Before, I didn’t really care about getting married, but now, I know I want to. I feel he’s the one.”

“We met in Opus four years ago through Tim Yap. Tim made me touch his abs,” Solenn laughs. “It was a time I was single and set on staying single. When we met in Opus, even if he was good looking, I was enjoying being single so I didn’t really mind him. But I kept seeing him after that. One time, we went to Time, and a common friend introduced us again. I told him, ‘I’ve met you like seven times before, you just don’t remember me.’ He said, ‘No, I remember you.’ I asked him, ‘Where’s your next modeling stint? Japan or Thailand?’ And he was like, ‘What?’ I said, ‘Aren’t you based three months here, three months there, you keep moving, right?’ He smiled and said, ‘I’m an economic analyst.’ Wow! My eyes brightened,” Solenn beams. “We exchanged numbers and that was the start of that. Apparently, he was working for Bloomberg, moving every three months. All of Africa, Israel, and his first stop in Asia was Manila. He was supposed to leave but he ended up staying. Now he has his own company here. His dad is a farmer in Argentina and they have hectares and hectares of land with cows, so he decided to bring the machinery and technology for agriculture that they had there, here to the Philippines. He’s been doing projects everywhere from Bulacan to CDO. He knows Philippine geography better than I do!”

On haters bashing her for being open about living together with Nico: “For me, no matter how long you’re together as a couple, you won’t fully know that person until you see how they live. It’s the little annoying things, like him leaving his T-shirts on the floor. It pisses me off. But I’ve learned to deal with it. So many married couples separate or cheat. I just believe you really have to know the person well before marrying them.”

10. On how she sees her next 10 years: “I’m not gonna be an actress forever, but right now, I’m enjoying it.”

Currently juggling doing a movie, two teleseryes, a Sunday noontime show, and hosting two other programs, Solenn isn’t planning to slow down anytime soon. “I wanna go back to designing for sure. But lately I’ve become such a fan of weddings. My sister Vanessa is into it, she’s a very good graphic designer, and she organized her own wedding in Sri Lanka. Not knowing anyone, she put it all together. I wanna get into that industry with her. Now, I’m also investing in Erwan’s restaurants, we come up with concepts together. I also want to teach art to kids. I got in touch with my first art teacher and spent a week with her in Catalan, Spain, learning child psychology and how kids perceive art. I’ll teach probably when I have my own kids, I’ll have classes for my kids and their friends,” Solenn says with a smile.

* * *

It isn’t just Solenn’s fit body and gorgeous face that makes her hot. It’s her energy, her unapologetic way, and her openness to life that makes her arguably the country’s sexiest woman. Every girl calls her a girl crush, and every guy dreams of being with her. To this she says, “Of course I’m flattered. They also inspire me to keep fit because I don’t want to disappoint them if they see me in person! ” Gotta love this girl.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

10 Things You Should Know About Ramon Bautista

Help! Ayaw na ni Ramon Bautista sa syota niya!
Comedian, professor, filmmaker, radio DJ and best-selling author Ramon Bautista: “Oo, naiisip ko din kung nakakainsulto na ba ako. ‘Okay ba ako? Wala ba akong kakwenta kwenta?’ Sobrang yabang mo na kung hindi ka dumadaan sa ganun.”
One of the Millennial generation’s favorite funny men was first an independent filmmaker, then a teacher, then a host and radio DJ, then a best-selling author. His undeniable wit has landed him everywhere from huge endorsements to hot controversies. Here are 10 things you should know about Ramon Bautista.

1. On getting into trouble because of his jokes: “Gusto kong maging matapang na sabihin na walang magbabago, pero syempre, parang hindi na natuto yun. Hindi ko pa rin alam what is next.”

“Sa ngayon, hindi ko pa iniisip kasi medyo mabigat pa siya,” Ramon says about the next steps after his public apology and statement, saying he respects the decision of the city of Davao declaring him persona non grata following a recent event. “There are other people who tell me to just continue what I do. I’m happy that there are people like my manager (director Erik Matti), who are usually the first to tell me if I’m doing something wrong, that still believe in me.”

A favorite host and guest speaker of corporate and school events, Ramon says, “I’m usually told about the topic beforehand and I prepare for it. Minsan yung mga talk parang iniimbento lang nila, parang gusto lang nila ako makita. Hindi sa pagmamayabang, pero parang ganun,” he laughs shyly. “I’m often invited when the topic is about love, and usually for that, I speak more spontaneously.”

2. He wasn’t the class clown at school. “Seryoso lang ako nun. Isa akong wallflower.”

“Napakaboring kong bata noon!” Ramon declares. He admits to being an above-average student (“Out of 30, siguro pang-12 ako”) who just loved drawing doodles in class. “I would read Time, Newsweek, or National Geographic because that’s what I would find at home. I would read pictures and captions ng lahat ng mga kagulugan sa mundo. Yung comics wala masyado,” Ramon reveals. “Nung bata ako, hindi ako masyadong lumalabas, hindi ako masyadong nagsasalita, tahimik ako sobra. I was so shy that whenever I would speak in front of a lot of people, I’d pat myself on the back kasi kinaya ko. I never imagined I would be a teacher because I’m afraid of public speaking. Pero dahil kailangan ng okasyon, gagawin ko.”
Lifestyle Feature ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch:

3. On their first YouTube video that mattered: “Dan Michael Master Magician.”

“Fresh out of college, my friend R.A. Rivera and I worked for a show on UHF channel UNTV called Strangebrew. I was the editor for the videos and motion graphics, and I’d also help write the skits for our hosts Tado Jimenez and Angel Rivera. Since the show really didn’t have any budget, whenever they would need an extra to play a doctor, or taong grasa, o sirena, kami yun. Syempre di ka makaangal kasi kung umangal ka, tatagal ang shoot at made-delay ang production. Eh biglang okay ang feedback, so nilagay na nila ako,” Ramon recalls. “When Strangebrew was dissolved, I worked as a producer in TV5, made music videos for Radioactive Sago Project, and when YouTube came out in 2006, isa kami sa mga unang nag-upload. That’s where it really all started.

“We were at that gas station outside UP talking. You know David Blaine? Ano kaya kung sablay siya no? Yung hinuhulaan niya, mali? We kept on laughing about that. So that’s what we did,” Ramon says. “Those videos were commissioned by MTV for an event, and they asked us to do more. After some time, we decided to pitch a new idea, The Ramon Bautista Show. I interviewed Raimund Marasigan, Kean Cipriano when he was starting, and other big rock stars. Tapos dun na dumating yung mga commercials.”

4. On how he started as a filmmaker: “Alam mo yung ‘reverse inspiration’? Yung na-inspire ka sa pangit?”

“When I was in high school, idol ko si Pol Medina, Jr., yung gumagawa ng Pugad Baboy. He was an architect. Gusto ko maging architect para makagawa ako ng comics, hindi bahay. Para makagawa ako ng parang Pugad Baboy,” Ramon shares. “First sem, I slowly realized architecture had nothing to do with comics, pinakasilbi lang nito gumawa ng boxes gamit ang T-Square. At that time, R.A. and I were invited to watch a film festival in UP. Eh ang pangit ng mga pelikulang pinalabas. Sabi namin, kaya namin gumawa ng ganito. So that’s when we shifted to film.”
His thesis film titled Makina made it to international film festivals (“VHS tape pa na ipapadala, wala pang burn burn ng CD noon”) and even won in Gawad CCP. Aside from being a filmmaker, Ramon once applied at Cinema One (“Nung nagpass ako ng résumé, nakipagkwentuhan ako sa ilang batchmates, naisip ko parang di ko kaya ginagawa nila,”) and applied at an ad agency (“Taga-isip ng commercial, eh habang hinihintay ko ang resulta, nag-text na si R.A. tungkol sa UNTV.”)

5. On where he got his funny side: “Hindi ko alam, buong pamilya ko boring, walang nagsasalita sa amin!” he says laughing.

“Yung tatay ko, si Ernesto, clerk, at yung nanay ko, si Leonida, teacher at admin staff, pareho sila dito sa UP. Dito lang ako since birth, anything sa labas ng campus, outer space na yan sa akin,” Ramon says. “We are three siblings, my older sister is in the States, my younger sister is a preschool teacher. Gitna ako. Sabi sa akin, yung middle child syndrome, pang-babae lang daw yan. Pero nafe-feel ko all the time. I always want to be alone, I feel like I have to prove something and I have to work hard to prove it. Pero, sinasabi sa akin ng magulang ko na ako ang paborito nila. Pero, sinasabi naman nila sa lahat, nahuhuli ko eh,” he laughs.

6. Ramon Bautista in numbers:

100,000-plus: Number of Bakit Di Ka Crush Ng Crush Mo books sold nationwide. The movie adaptation starring Kim Chiu and Xian Lim earned P124 million.

1.76: Ramon’s college grade point average at U.P. “Konting konti na lang, pasok na ako cum laude! Isang frustrating na point.”

200: Number of pesos he used to charge per hour when he did side projects as an editor for other students in UP, while in college.

7: Number of episodes of Tales From The Friendzone, their hit online show, with a total of over 3.5 million views.

1,130,000: Number of followers on his Twitter account, @ramonbautista

7. On the best lesson he’s learned as a professor: “It’s that feeling that you can be happy with the simplest things. I’m reminded na, eto yun. Eto lang dapat tayo.”

His career as a teacher at the UP Film Institute started as just something he wanted to try.

“The teacher for Animation class left, and there was no one else who specialized in animation at the time. So they asked me to teach. The next sem, they added to my units. So I taught Film Sound. Hanggang ngayon, tuloy pa rin ako.

 I teach the general education course on Philippine Cinema and World Cinema.”
On giving grades: “I think I’m fair. I usually give a 1.75. Pag di pumapasok, 5 talaga yun.”

On getting mad: “Oo naman, pero hindi ako sumisigaw. If they fall asleep in class, I tell them to sleep in the library and I mark them absent. Ganun lang.”

On being taken seriously as a teacher: “First day of class, I lay out the guidelines. Teacher ako, estudyante kayo. Alam naman nila iba yung sa TV.”

On having a female student try to charm him: “Wala! Sana nga may ganun,” he says jokingly. “Hindi, yung mga estudyante ko para silang naglalakad na class card sa mata ko. Sagrado ito. Ayoko mag-screw up sa kahit ano dito sa UP.”

8. He admits that the very first time he cried over a heartbreak was when he was 29 years old.

“Tanda na ako, mga 2007 yun. Dati, wala akong pakialam, hayaan mo sila kung ayaw nila. Eh, eto, gusto ko talaga,” Ramon admits. “That is how the book Bakit Hindi Ka Crush Ng Crush Mo and the show Tales From The Friendzone came to be. Sabay yun lumabas nung 2012. Oo, yun ang hugot nun, dala ko all that time, ganun katindi yun,” he laughs. Their story: “Naging kami. Brineak niya ako kasi meron na siyang iba. Wala naman kaming problema nun. Diba, maiiyak ka talaga.” He admits he and the girl-who-first-made-him-cry are okay now, and when he told her she was the inspiration for the book, she quipped, “Dapat may cut ako sa kinita mo.”

On how many times he has been in love: “Marami akong mga One True Love. Diba dapat isa lang? It’s a continuous process eh,” he says, laughing.

“Dati napanood ko si Aga Muhlach, ang galing o, nag-sorry tapos wala nang problema. Puppy-dog eyes. Ako, pag-nagsorry at nag-puppy dog eyes, lalo ako masarap i-break eh! Etong problema sa mukha ko, yung charisma ko may problema,” he explains. “Mukha akong walang credibility, mukha akong hindi sincere, pero sincere talaga ako. May problema lang sa mukha ko. Kaya nasa business ako ng katatawanan.”
He admits he does want to settle down in the future. “Oo syempre, masarap din na may bata kang hinihintay lumaki. Parang Tamagochi.”

9. On remembering Tado: “Kaibigan, inspirasyon, mentor, kung ano ako ngayon, ginagaya ko lang siya talaga.”

“Tino-tone down ko, kanya kasi sobrang tapang. Kung baga sa Milo, yung ka-Milo-han niya hanggang dito (points to the middle of a glass), ako lalagyan ko ng tubig hanggang dun (points to the top of the glass), para hindi masyadong wild.

“We were brainstorming for the show Science of Stupid on Nat Geo. I got a text, ‘Totoo ba yung kay Tado?’ I thought, ‘Sino nanaman inaway nito?’ Isa pang text. ‘Ano nangyari kay Tado?’ Tapos 3rd, 4th. Mukhang hindi gumawa si Tado ng trouble para sa sarili niya,” Ramon recalls Arvin “Tado” Jimenez’s untimely death earlier this year. “Nakakatawa na parang joke. Yung tipong si Tado lang makaka-pull off. Tapos yung tipong anytime, o Tado! Pakita ka na, tama na yan.” Ramon says. “Yung energy niya, paano niya tignan ang mga bagay, nakaka-inspire. Yung pagkawala niya isang super sad na bagay.”

10. Ramon is known to give amazing love advice to young Pinoys and Pinays. The most popular of which is: “There is more to life than love.”

The most common questions he is asked, and what advice he gives:

Q: Anong gagawin kapag hindi maka-move on?

A: Wag mag-move on at gamitin ang energy na yun to be a better version of yourself.

Q: Hindi pa raw siya ready for love, anong gagawin ko?

 A: Siguruhin mo kung hindi lang siya ready, o kung hindi lang siya ready sa IYO. Either way, wag mo nang ipilit. There are many fish in the sea, in cans, and at the grocery.

Q: Tama lang ba na umamin ng feelings sa best friend?

 A: Tama lang, kung kaya mo i-risk guluhin ang napakaganda ninyong samahan.

“Based on personal experience, stories of friends, and common sense,” he says about where he gets his knowledge on love. “Oo, naiisip ko din kung nakakainsulto na ba ako o annoying na ba ko para sa tao. Sa lahat ng umaakyat ng stage o nagsasalita sa mga tao, naiisip mo, ‘Okay ba ako? Wala ba akong kakwenta kwenta?’ Sobrang yabang mo na kung hindi ka dumadaan sa ganun.”

* * *

A comedian’s life is tough. You’re expected to make people happy, and people are quick to judge when they don’t see you happy. “Minsan pag mag-isa ako sa bahay naiisip ko, wag na lang kaya? Hindi na lang ako magpo-post, hindi ko na kayo pasasayahin lahat. Pero natutuwa ako na marami pa ring naniniwala sa akin,” Ramon says. However, life does go on, and following his best-selling book, Ramon is soon releasing Help! Ayoko Na Sa Syota Ko. “A lot of people are obsessed with having a love life, this book explores a lot of other angles. Okay lang na walang syota! Relax,” he smiles.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

10 Things You Should Know About Roman and Shalani Soledad-Romulo

Roman & Shalani walk 118 kms on their second honeymoon

Roman Romulo and Shalani Romulo: “When we have different beliefs, we discuss. We respect each other’s decisions.”
It was a quiet, rainy evening in their lovely, modest home. Without an ounce of makeup and with her hair tied, his polo tucked in and his hair combed neatly, their eyes sparkled as they looked at each other and posed for the photographer. Hot tea was served and standards were playing in the background. Everything was so low-key, you wouldn’t guess it was a congressman’s home.

Here are 10 things you should know about Rep. Roman and Shalani  Soledad-Romulo.

1. Shalani was 30 years old when she first met her biological father.

“That was the first time I saw him. People were asking me, ‘Wala bang galit?’ At that point, parang tapos na. I was done asking questions like, ‘Sino ang daddy ko?’ or ‘Bakit hindi niya ako hinahanap?” I was just happy to finally see him. At that time I had my own career, I was happy with life, it was a bonus for me. And finally the missing piece,” she shares. “Meron, yes,” she says about lukso ng dugo. “You will just know, there’s something inside you that will tell you.”

When asked if she ever went through a rebellious stage growing up, she says: “I guess the normal phase. When it was a school day I usually had to go home at 7 p.m. but sometimes I’d be out for dinner with my friends and go home at 8 or 9, or I’d ask permission to go out to Alabang but we would go to Star City. Typical lang, wala naman yung tipong naglayas ng bahay,” Shalani says. “Yes, I would get grounded!”

2. Roman, on growing up in a political environment: “They would constantly remind us that if we do something, it would reflect on the family.”

“Weekends we were all together, Sunday Mass together, lunch all together, it really didn’t disrupt the family life,” he says of his dad, former DFA Secretary Alberto Romulo’s job. “Growing up, nakagisnan na namin yung eleksyon. I remember when we were young, when my dad’s uncle Carlos P. Romulo ran, my dad was the campaign manager. We would tag along in the campaign sorties that would go on for weeks. As a kid it was more of fun. Of course, you’d want to win, but being a kid, you didn’t really know what the position was like. Basta natapos yung eleksyon, we’d all go back to our own lives.”

On the pressure to not get into any trouble because of their name: “In my college days, my dad was a senator. Especially in UP there was a lot going on, na-limit talaga ako. I never really went to gimmicks or girly bars, because, of course, you’ll never know what can happen. That’s what I always tell Lans, at least she’s sure that growing up, I never got into that,” he says laughing. Shalani giggles, too.

3. Shalani, on her bashers when she tried her hand at showbiz: “I really didn’t take it personally, I took it positively.”

“It wasn’t a goal, it was something that was just offered to me,” she says of her hosting duties for the game/variety show Willing Willie. “At that time I was intending to turn it down but ended up saying yes, and eventually I really enjoyed the show. You get to meet different kinds of people and learn from the experiences of others. When you are watching TV, you say, ‘Ay, ang dali ng trabaho nila.’ Hindi pala. It entails a lot of hard work and discipline.”

On bashers who criticized her hosting style: “I know naman I’m not the typical host that’s very bubbly. When other people give comments, I really take it as constructive criticism. Because I know there is always room for improvement. When they criticize me, it means they get to watch the show.”

Roman, on if he ever got to watch Shalani host on TV: “Nakapanood ako ng konti. The times I would watch was more for timing, because I would pick her up after work. So more or less I know when I’d have to leave,” he says. “I was courting her at the time so I was more concerned about what to do after picking her up. Dinner ba, or pupunta ba sa bahay nila? Basta kailangan masaya siya.”

4. Roman, prior to meeting Shalani, was already certain he wanted to bring his future girlfriend/wife on a European trip. Sure enough, their honeymoon was in Paris and Rome.

“My contemporaries, most got married at a certain time. Ako na lang yung single. We’d go out, tatlo kami, because they were always a couple and ako lang. Or we’d travel to Singapore or Hong Kong, they would all be couples. But to go to Europe, such a romantic place, ang hirap naman to go with friends or couples, especially. So I told myself that’s one thing I will really do, travel to Europe with my girlfriend or wife,” he shares.

Roman went through the whole bachelor phase of dating, until he met Shalani over three years ago. “We hit it off well after some time, not immediately. I was very interested, obviously she’s very pretty. Then we started going out, and as we got to talk, it was not that difficult to be a match. It was easy to get along with each other,” he says.

The day after their wedding, they flew off for their honeymoon. It was Shalani’s first time to Europe. “Paris is really a magical place, so romantic, everywhere the scenery is so nice, and you’re with your husband pa,” she recalls as she looks at Roman and smiles. “It was winter, ang lamig. And we loved walking around. Every now and then we’d go into a cafe even if we wouldn’t order coffee, just because it was too cold.”

Summer this year, they returned to Europe (convinced by a promo for a good deal on plane fare) but this time, to London and Spain. “We did the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage, we walked 118 kilometers for five days,” Roman recalls. “We’d be walking around 10 hours a day, sleep at small inns in different municipalities, until we reached our destination,” he adds. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Shalani says.

When asked if they ever argue when traveling because of hunger or tiredness, they both laugh. “At one point I told Roman, ‘Ang sakit na talaga ng paa ko, mag-taxi na tayo,’ He said sayang naman because we started it already, but if we wanted, me and another friend we were with, could go ahead and take a cab. But, of course, I couldn’t leave him, so kahit umuulan naglalakad na din ako. If it wasn’t for Roman and his stubbornness to finish, baka hindi namin natapos.”

5. Roman and Shalani in numbers:

7: Number of months from the day they met to the day they got married, Jan. 22, 2012.

5: Number of minutes it takes Roman to get ready in the morning.

90: Number of minutes it takes Shalani to get ready in the morning.

13: The age gap between Shalani, 34, and Roman, 47.

9: Number of years Shalani served as councilor of Valenzuela, from 2004 to 2013.

39: Number of bills authored/co-authored by Roman since 2013, including the Unified Financial Assistance Bill and the Voluntary Student Loan Program, both already passed in Congress and waiting for Senate approval

6. They don’t necessarily have the same opinion on political issues.

“Even if we have different beliefs, we discuss. We try to present our sides,” Shalani says. “At the end of the day, we will compromise, okay that’s what you believe in, this is what I believe in. We respect each other’s decisions.”

On the FOI: “We’re both for it. Yun naman, obvious.”

On the DAP: “We both agree that the Supreme Court is the arbiter, the protector of the right thing, they have the final say that is non-political.”

On the RH Law: “I was not for it,” Roman says. “I’m pro-choice,” Shalani says. “I’m pro-life,” Roman rebuts. They both laugh.

On Roman’s move from the Lakas Kampi Party to the LP: “Yes, in a way because Lans was already in LP, but not only that, currently it’s run really well. It’s good to belong to a party whose leader is sincere.”

On the possibility of Shalani running for public office again: “For now, no plans.”

7. On the upload of their wedding photo online with their ninang Janet Napoles, during the height of the Napoles trial with the whistleblowers: “We were just hopeful that people would discerning enough to know the truth.”

“We just wanted the truth to come out. When I was in office and in Roman’s handling of his office, never did we put any money there.  All of the money that was allocated to the office was really used by the office for the people, for his constituents in Pasig, and in my case our constituents in Valenzuela,” Shalani says.

“We were more surprised than anything. We honestly did not have a deep relationship, she was known as a businesswoman and since we never dealt with her on that level, when these things came out, it was more of a surprise,” Roman says.

8. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the name...


Roman: Honest person.

Shalani: Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.

Willie Revillame

R: Funny.

S: Willing Willie.

Kris Aquino

R: Cory and Ninoy.

S: Queen of all media.

VP Binay

R: Good leader.

S: Kay Binay, gaganda ang buhay.

Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile

R: Institution in the Senate.

S: One of the longest-serving public officials.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada

R: One of the Greenhills basketball boys.

S: Son of Erap.

Sen. Grace Poe



Mayor Erap Estrada

R: Charismatic.

S: Erap para sa mahirap.

Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

R: Strong leader.

S: Strong leader.

US President Barack Obama

R: There’s still so much he can do before his term ends.

S: Broke all records.

9. Early on in their relationship, they established a “No Edit Policy.”

“Whatever you want to say, your feelings on a certain matter,” Shalani says. “Ilabas mo lahat,” Roman finishes her sentence. “Otherwise nagpapatong-patong. Even the smallest things, even if it is so far from the issue, say it,” she adds. “Hindi kami yung tipong nagdadabog, or one would be on this side and the other would be on the other side. We really discuss,” he adds.

On a surprising trait they discovered about each other after marriage: “Lans cooks, which was a pleasant surprise. She can cook anything and hindi namin problema kahit kaming dalawa lang dito sa bahay,” Roman shares. “In terms of his clothes, hindi siya maarte or mapili. He doesn’t mind the brand, he doesn’t mind if luma as long as functional pa. I fold his clothes so I see sometimes may butas na yung shirt but he’ll still use it because it’s his favorite or because it’s comfortable,” Shalani reveals.

On their best advice on marriage: “Always remember your commitment. It isn’t going to be perfect, may times maiinis ka, but always remember why you chose this person para maalala mo that you love this person,” Shalani says. “That it’s normal that you don’t agree on everything, so it’s best to talk and talk and talk,” Roman says. “Sinasabi niya yan pero minsan kapag ako yung may issue, he’ll say, ‘O tapos ka na,” Shalani laughs. “Kailangan kasi mailabas lang,” Roman adds and they both laugh again.

10. On who between them is the better politician. Roman says it’s Shalani, and Shalani says itis Roman.

“To be a politician, dapat mabilis mong makuha yung pulso ng tao, and Lans has that,” Roman says.

“I see his work ethic, at any given time, kapag may kailangan yung constituents niya, even if he is sleeping, even at his most inconvenient time, gagawin niya. Not because he’s my husband, it is really what makes him stand out for me,” Shalani says.

On what life in politics has taught them: “Kailangan talaga humility, especially in dealing with people. Ang daming points of view and kahit sino kausap mo, kailangan makinig ka,” Roman says. “You will not always be in office, so once you are in that position, make sure you maximize it and really do something good,” Shalani says.

* * *

I asked what their plans are in, say, 10 years. “Hopefully with kids,” Shalani answers with a smile. “That’s the one thing we’re really hoping for as soon as possible,” Roman adds. “Sana twins!” Shalani says. “Pinaka masayang times namin are with family when we are all together, even with our pamangkins. Ultimately ‘yun naman ang gusto mo, maging masaya ang buhay,” Roman ends. After our long chat, the couple personally accompanies us out the front door, holding hands, and still with that sparkle in their eyes.